Where We Got the Bible – Our Debt to the Catholic Church

– the content of the Bible was written by men chosen by God who were divinely inspired

– an estimated 1500 years elapsed between the writing of Genesis an Revelation

– the Bible is a collection of different books which in Greek was called “biblia” meaning “the books”.

– the original language of the Old Testament was Hebrew, while the common language of the New Testament was Greek

– the Bible was not printed in any language for about 1500 years after the birth of Christ which presents issues for those Protestants who believe that the Bible alone can save men’s souls.

– after the dispersion the Hebrew language begins to die off creating a need for a translation to Greek.  This translation is known as the Septuagint.  This work was done in Alexandria about 250 years prior to the birth of Christ.  Translation to other languages followed.  Jerome creates the Latin translation known as the Vulgate in the fourth century. This version became the official text in the Catholic Church.  The Council of Trent  in 1546 issued a decree stating it was the only recognized and authoritative version allowed to Catholics.  It was from the Vulgate that the English Douay Version comes.

– as far as we know today, Jesus himself never wrote a line of scripture and He never told His apostles to write anything.  Rather, He called them to “Go forth and teach all the nations,” “Preach the gospel to every creature,” and “He that heareth you heareth me.”  He was asking them to deliver the Word of God to people by the living voice – to convince, persuade, instruct and convert them through face to face interaction.  He did not ask them to entrust this message into a book that could be destroyed, misunderstood, misinterpreted, and/or corrupted.  This is what the apostles did with only five of the twelve writing anything that has been preserved for us.  The first of these writing occurring 12 or so years following the death of Jesus.  This makes clear that the Church and the faith existed before the Bible and that people were converting to Christianity before the scriptures even existed.  The Holy Spirit comes upon them at Pentecost allowing them to speak in different languages so that they cold go in to all the lands proclaiming the good news.

– the books of the New Testament were produced and called forth by special circumstances that arose.  They were written to meet particular demands and deal with emergencies.  The apostles were not writing with the intention that their works be collected into some form of a Holy Book. This does not undervalue the written Word of God or place it on a level inferior to what it deserves.  Rather, this positions it for what it was meant to be for the Church.  It was written by the Church, by members of the Church, it belongs to the Church, and it is her office, therefore, to declare what it means.  It is intended for instruction, meditation, spiritual reading, encouragement, devotion, and serves as proof of the testimony of the Church’s doctrines and divine authority; but as a complete and exclusive guide to heaven in the hands of every man – this it never was and never could be.  The Bible in the Church, the Church before the Bible, the Church the maker and interpreter of the Bible – this is right.  The Bible above the Church, the Bible independent of the Church, the Bible and the Bible alone as the basis of one’s faith – this is not correct.

– the Council of Carthage, held in 397 AD, through the influence of Augustine, settled on the collection of New Testament scriptures and confirmed the decision of the Council of Hippo in 393 AD.  This was decreed and sent on to Rome for confirmation.  It was this action by the Catholic Church to which we owe the presence of the New Testament.  As a part of this work, many “spurious” books floating about in the Christian community up until that time were definitively removed from consideration for inclusion into the Bible.  This result was reaffirmed at the Council of Florence in 1442 and the Council of Trent in 1546.  These decrees of the Roman Church and these only are the means and the channel and the authority which Almighty God has used to hand down to us His written Word.

– seven books together with seven chapters of Esther, sixty-six verses of the third chapter of Daniel, and the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of Daniel are commonly missing from Protestant versions of the Bible.  They were removed under criticism and remarks of reformers like Luther and Calvin who found their content in conflict with their personal interpretations.  Luther went so far as to add the word “only” to the passage from Paul that read “we are justified by faith”.  This type of action can occur when there is no supreme authority outside of yourself. The result produces endless splits/denominations that corrupt the Holy Word of God and its true meaning.

– while the Bible is divinely inspired, it has taken an authority outside of ourselves to give us the Bible.  This authority is the Catholic Church, established by Almighty God as His organ and mouthpiece and interpreter, unaffected by the changes and unshaken by the discoveries of the ages.  To her we listen; to her we obey; to her we submit our judgment and our intellect, knowing she will never lead us wrong.  In he we find peace, comfort, satisfaction, and solution for all of our difficulties, for she is the one infallible teacher and guide appointed by God.  This is a logical, consistent, clear, and intelligible method of attaining and preserving the truth, a perfect plan and scheme for Christianity.  It is Christ’s plan.  No other plan has or will stand a moment’s analysis at the bar of reason, history, common sense, or even of Holy Scripture itself.

– Prior to the invention of the printing press, the Catholic Church adopted every means at her disposal to bring knowledge of God’s Word to those who could not read as well as to those who could.  Latin was the universal tongue and most did not know how to read.

– Karl Pearson, a Protestant authority, wrote in August of 1885 in Academy, “The Catholic Church ought to have recognized the Bible once for all as a work absolutely unintelligible without a long course of historical study, and so far as it was supposed to be inspired, very dangerous in the hands of the ignorant.”  No evil results whatsoever followed the reading of the Bible prior to the sixteenth century because the people had the Catholic Church to lead them and guide them and teach them its meaning.  It was only when the principle of “private judgment” was proclaimed that the book became “dangerous” and “unintelligible” and this remains so for those who will not receive the true interpretation of it at the hands of the Catholic Church.  Those attempting to interpret it on their own are as competent to do so as they are to explain or prophesy the movement of the heavenly bodies.

– John Wycliff’s version of the Bible was not a correct version and was condemned because he was using them as a means of corrupting people’s faith and teaching false doctrine.  The Catholic Church claims the right to see that readers have a true version of the Scriptures to read and not a heretical version.

– Rome claims that the Bible is her book, that she has preserved it and perpetuated it, that she alone knows what it means, that nobody else has any right to it whatsoever or any authority to declare what the true meaning of it is.  She has declared that translating it, explaining it, printing it, and publishing it belongs strictly to her alone.  Since she cannot prevent those outside her fold from tampering with it and misusing it, she at least take care that none of her own children abuse it or take liberties with it and hence she forbids any private person to attempt to translate it into another language without authority from ecclesiastical superiors and also forbids the faithful to read any editions but those approved by the bishops.  The Catholic Church does this out of reverence for God’s Word.  She desires that the pure, uncorrupted gospel should be put in her people’s hands as it came from the pen of the apostles and evangelists.  She does not want her children to believe the additions and changes introduced by foolish and sinful men that supported some pet theories of their own.

– In the 12th and 13th centuries the Waldenses and Albigenses revolted (a/k/a “protested”) against Church authority and overran the country. Some of their “scripture based” teaching included that there were two Gods (a creator of good and a creator of evil), that there was no real presence of our Lord in the Eucharist, and that there was no forgiveness of sins after baptism.

– C. F. B. Allnatt in his book Bible and the Reformation states “It has long been a notorious fact that all the early Protestant versions of the Bible literally swarmed with gross and flagrant corruptions consisting of willful and deliberate mistranslations aimed against the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church.

– In 1531 King Henry XIII with advice from his council and prelates, published an edict that “the translation of Scripture corrupted by William Tyndale should be utterly expelled, rejected, and put away out of the hands of the people, and not be suffered to go abroad among his subjects.”  He issued another act in 1543 that stated that “all manner of books if the Old and New Testament in English, being of the crafty, false, and untrue translation of Tyndale shall be clearly and utterly abolished , extinguished, and forbidden to be kept or used in this realm.”  In his last speech to Parliament Henry VIII said “I am extremely sorry to find how much the Word of God is abused, with how little reverence it is mentioned, how people squabble about the sense, how it is turned into wretched rhymes, sung and jangled in every alehouse and tavern, and all this in a false construction and counter meaning to the inspired writers.  I am sorry to perceive the readers of the Bible discover so little of it in their practice, for I am sure charity was never in a more languishing condition, virtue never at a lower ebb, nor God himself less honored or worse served in Christendom.”

– The Catholic Church alone remains the sole Christian body to save the Bible from destruction – both in content and in interpretation.  This she will do as she has ever done in the past; it is part of her office in this world; there is no other that has the right or the power to do it.  A simple study of of the Catholic Church’s history of her attitude towards the inspired Scriptures, in comparison with that of all other bodies, provides the strongest argument for why she is the True Church of Christ.

– Venerable and inspired as Catholics regard the Bible, great as is their devotion to it for spiritual reading and support of doctrine, we do not lean upon it alone as the rule of faith and morals.  Along with it we take the great Word that was never written, Tradition, and hold by both the one and the other interpreted by the living voice of the Catholic Church speaking through the supreme head, the infallible Vicar of Christ.  Here we have a guide that has never failed, and never can, in teaching us our duty both to God and man.

– Individual interpretation of the Bible – the most sublime but also the most difficult book ever penned – can never bring satisfaction, can never give infallible certainty, can never place a man in possession of that great objective body of truth which our Blessed Lord taught and which is necessary to salvation that all should believe.

– The well catechized Catholic has not the least doubt what doctrines he has to believe, what is meant by them, and how they can be proved.  The system is absolutely flawless and impregnable; it is a beautiful and unimprovable unity.  Protestants on the other hand find themselves in intellectual and spiritual confusion despite any training they may have received due to things being changeable, undefined, and contradictory. Students are sent forth indoctrinated with the views of the professors that happened to teach with the most brilliance and persuasiveness.  They become yet another person feeling entitled to use their own private judgment concerning the interpretation of scripture and the manner in which Christian doctrine is defined and applied.

– The Catholic Church is united in her religious tenets.  Disbelief, doubt, or denial of a single article of defined doctrine causes one to be guilty of grave sin against God.  As Catholics we have infallible authority on one hand and supernatural faith on the other.  The Catholic Church is the teacher sent from God, and her children, knowing her to be such believe her teaching with divine faith.  Protestants cannot claim this, do not have this, and do not wish to have this.  They cannot sin against an interior faith nor against an exterior authority because they don’t have one.  They have no fixed, definite, circumscribed, cut-and-dried body of religious truths which must be believed under pain of sin.  To them truth is progressive and changes and advances with the march of ages. Therefore, personal interpretation of the Bible works well with these conditions.

– A Protestant minister is not the same as a Catholic priest.  Rather than a shepherd, he (or she) is a president or chairman of a religious society whose members are more or less united in the same views and aims and who agree to make the person their head.  This leadership is only constrained by the collective decision of the membership as much as the leaders choose to be bound.  Because of this lack of authority there is confusion and disunity.  The Protestant community continues to splinter with an estimated 30,000+ denominations and an enthusiasm and excitement among them when there is a “new church plant”.  The whole conception of the Christian revelation as delivered by Jesus Christ was that his true Church must be one, that there could not be two churches teaching contradictory doctrines, and whatever modern indifferentists might find as their convenient excuse, it could not be true that one religion was as good as another – Almighty God never meant it so!  The apostle Paul wrote that “if even an angel from heaven preached any other gospel than that which had been preached to them, let him be accursed.” This disunity occurs because is the result of setting up the Bible as the ultimate authority in religion.  The Bible was never meant to be the sole and self-sufficient guide to men in learning the revelation of Almighty God. It could not have been such an authority for there was a period of time that it did not exist as the Bible and due to the difficulty in properly interpreting its contents, when left to individuals it only led to divergence and incompatible conclusions.  Having abolished an infallible Church, they set up an infallible Bible.  The Bible is not an infallible guide without infallible interpretation which Almighty God did not gift to individuals.  You can see the unity of the early Church in Acts chapter 2 verses 42 and 44 which state “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.  All who believed were together and had all things in common.”  Also in Acts chapter 8 verses 30 and 31 it reads “So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”  And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”  This guidance comes from the Church that Jesus himself created – the Catholic Church.

– The Incarnation of the Son of God, and His sojourn among men, and His teaching His apostles and declaring God’s truth to them, and His founding a Church would have been superfluous, absurd, and useless if He had not intended that men should be taught with unerring certainty what to believe.  The very object and purpose of His coming down from heaven was to give men certainty about God and their relation to Him, both in the present and for the future.  To leave them, then, still in uncertainty and doubt, pursuing after the truth, struggling to find it out, confessing that they really could not take it upon themselves to say with absolute confidence whether or not this or that doctrine was true – makes void the work of Jesus.  If this were the true view of Christianity, then man is in little better shape now than he was before the coming of Christ.  We have as much right today for certainty in matters of religion as did the first disciples.

– The Church of Rome has been an organism like that of a human being, growing from childhood to boyhood, from boyhood to manhood, still preserving the same individuality through all development and growth and possessing a memory that never fails.  With a single brain, the Church is endowed with a continuous historic memory, is constantly ale to explain and restate doctrine and to attest, as though from personal experience, the facts of its early history.  When there have been issues and questions that needed resolution, Rome stood forth as not only claiming but exercising jurisdiction, and this was obeyed.  She would not have been obeyed had she not the rite and title to such apostolic authority.  Every bishop has been a successor of the apostles and has had a flock committed to his jurisdiction.  This jurisdiction was derived from and in submission to the bishop of Rome.  Jesus set it up this way with Peter and this structure has stood the test of time to today.  The fact that some have chosen to “protest” this authority in no way revokes it.

– Confusion, division, and disunity on the most vital and fundamental matters where each man is a law unto himself and does which seems right in his own eyes.  This is the comfortable and pleasing state of religion for Protestants.  Freedom from all authority except your own, intellectual liberty or license to think out doctrines for yourself.  This is a pleasing and popular creed to profess, one that flatters human nature and human pride, panders to self-conceit, and frees a man from all external authority.  This is utterly opposed to the will of Christ, to His intention, and to His teaching.  He intended every Christian to hold precisely the same truths, the same set of doctrines, and that these must always be the same, must be unchangeable, and all for the simple reason that He himself had descended from heaven to teach certain set of truths, that these truths were divine and could never be altered, and that anything and everything different from these truths must be false.  For truth to be truth – there can be only one!  This conception of Christianity is that of the Catholic Church.  No Catholic doctrine from one century to the next has ever come into conflict.  No pope has ever contradicted another pope on the matters of faith and morals.  This lack of contradiction and stability is the result of the protection of the Holy Spirit the divine guardian and protector of the Church.  The Catholic Church has declared that all of her doctrines are matters of revelation.  None of them are contrary to reason, instead are grounded in reason, and none of them are opposed to the teachings of Holy Scripture.  Many passages of scripture which taken by themselves are meaningless and/or unintelligible become clothed with significance and consistency when understood in conjunction with the Church’s faith, interpretation, and teaching.

– The Catholic Church is the only Christian body now existing which fulfills our divine Lord’s prophecy about the persecution and slander that would overtake his true disciples.  The fact that she has survived, prospered, and progressed in spite of the weaknesses and wickedness of her members and officials proves that she has a divine side that no other body has.  The failings of these people have nothing to do with the teachings of the Church.

– It is the belief of Catholics (as it is a fact) that Almighty God has shown us not only the right faith, but also the right form of worship.  He has prescribed a method of offering Him public adoration.  He has not just left us to haphazard chance or for us to figure it out on our own.  The Catholic Mass is the liturgy that Almighty God has willed as the chief act of Christian worship, and we have no right to attempt any other.  All the grandeur and beauty about Catholic worship is designed to give glory to God and to magnify His praise.  Only in Catholicity are fulfilled Christ’s words that His followers would worship Him in “spirit and in truth.”  Unity of worship is present within the Catholic Church as hour by hour around the world the same divine Sacrifice and the same liturgy are celebrated.