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Joined: 2007/4/3
Posts: 293


At the end of the day, the RCC's ability and authority to definitively interpret Scripture without error lies in the RCC's interpretation of Scripture. This sentence is why this issue cannot be meaningfully debated with an RCC apologist.

 2009/8/24 13:45Profile

Joined: 2006/7/31
Posts: 3057


Greetings Catholic

You wrote:But let me say that there is a reason why the puzzle isn't quite fitting for you.

For me there are no puzzle that are not quite fitting as you said. I have peace and joy in the Lord that I never had as a Catholic. I know Jesus personally as my Lord and Savior. I seek to walk with Him daily and grow in Him moment by moment. I do not need a priest to tell me about Jesus because I have the Holy Spirit that convicts and guides me and the Bible that confirms Gods truth.

You also wrote:But I know you all want and need answers.
Sadly if you are espousing the lies of the Catholic church then you have no answers that I need. IF I have questions I have no further then the Bible to find the answers I need. I also can pray directly to the Lord(no need of dead saints or mary) to find those answers.

The Catholic church is still filled with much false pagan tradition, from the veneration of mary, to the praying for the dead, praying to dead saints, mary being co-savior, confessing of sins to men(priest) the lists goes on and on. The Catholic church is "NOT" the body of Christ. Jesus is the head of the body of believers called the church and His work on the cross is sufficient for them. We have no need of mary to pray or intercede for us because we have fellowship with the Lord Jesus personally.

I am praying for you to see the truth, just as I am praying for others that are lost inside the Catholic church. Jesus is deserving of His reward, He alone suffered and died so that we might have life. Sadly in the end there is no way you and I can walk in agreement or fellowship with one another. You follow the false teaching of a pagan faith that holds no life. My hope is in Jesus alone, while as a Catholic your hope is in the Roman Catholic church system.
May God open your eyes to see His truth before it is to late.

 2009/8/24 14:00Profile

Joined: 2007/9/13
Posts: 1752


Catholic wrote:

But I know you all want and need answers.

Friend... Just a quick reminder. You came here trying explain why we need the catholic church. Maybe it is you that is needing and wanting answers on why you [i]need[/i] the catholic church.

Friend. Please open yourself up to council from the elect that are here. I pray that you will find the truth and wisdom behind those here who truly fear and honor the Lord. May the Lord open your eyes to His truth.


 2009/8/24 15:10Profile

Joined: 2007/4/25
Posts: 1565
Scotland, UK

 Re: Sola Scriptura is logically untenable

Catholic wrote:

The Bible never claims to be the only rule for faith and practice.

But the Sacred Scriptures are NOT the only authoritative rule for belief and practice

It is not sufficient. And I would submit that the wide variance of opinions held by sincere seekers is proof that it is insufficient.

Romans 15:4 For [b]whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,[/b] that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

2 Timothy 3:16 [b]All scripture is given by inspiration of God,[/b] and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

1 Corinthians 4:6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; [b]that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written,[/b] that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

Catholic wrote:
It is amazing to me to see so many who believe that the Holy Spirit was able to preserve the written text of Scripture and yet not believe that He preserved an infallible interpreter of those Scriptures.

So I guess by this statement you mean that the Popes is the infallible interpreter of scriptures.

That, however, which Catholics assume as self-evident that God has appointed someone on earth able to give infallible guidance to religious truth admits of no proof, and is destitute of all probability.

Catholicism claims that Christ intended us to learn His religion, not from the Bible but from the Church. If the Pope is infallible, why was the Bible was given?

Another reason Catholicism gives for keeping back the Scriptures from common use is the claim that they are too difficult for the unlearned to understand.

Historically, Catholicism discouraged Bible reading by the laity for a very good reason: they knew some were likely to be struck by [b]the fact that the Church of the NT is very unlike that of modern Romanism.[/b]

When translations printed in the languages of Europe, a knowledge of the New Testament became general when discrepancies between Catholic doctrine and Scripture became apparent, Catholic apologists stopped insisting that the doctrines of the Church could be deduced from Scripture and revived the theory of some early heretics, that the Bible does not contain the whole of God’s revelation and that a body of traditional doctrine existed in the Church equally deserving of veneration.

When it was pointed out that things were taught in the Roman Church for which the Bible furnished no adequate justification, Roman advocates insisted that though the Bible contained truth, it did not contain the whole truth, and that the Church was able by them to supplement the deficiencies of Scripture, having in those traditions a secure record of teaching on many points on which the Bible contained only obscure indications, or gave no information at all.

[b]The Pope, the ecumenists and their dupes tell us, is a truly godly man, a sweet and blessed representative of Christ, the 'Holy Father' in deed and in truth!

Matt. 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

The ordinary man in the pew must know where the truth lies. If the Lord Jesus be Christ, SERVE HIM. If the Pope be Christ, SERVE HIM.[/b]

Edit:- Typo put Matt 23:99 instead of Matt 23:9.

Colin Murray

 2009/8/24 15:45Profile

Joined: 2006/1/31
Posts: 4991

 Re: Sola Scriptura is logically untenable

Is Roman Catholicism Biblical?


John MacArthur

In today’s spirit of ecumenism, many evangelicals have called for the Protestant Church to lay aside its differences with Rome and pursue unity with the Catholic Church. Is that possible? Is Roman Catholicism simply another facet of the body of Christ that should be brought into union with its Protestant counterpart? Is Roman Catholicism simply another Christian denomination?

While there are many errors in the teaching of the Catholic Church (for example its belief in the transubstantiation of the communion wafer and its view of Mary), two rise to the forefront and call for special attention: its denial of the doctrine of sola Scriptura and its denial of the biblical teaching on justification. To put it simply, because the Roman Catholic Church has refused to submit itself to the authority of God’s Word and to embrace the gospel of justification taught in Scripture, it has set itself apart from the true body of Christ. It is a false and deceptive form of Christianity.

The Doctrine of Sola Scriptura

In the words of reformer Martin Luther, the doctrine of sola Scriptura means that “what is asserted without the Scriptures or proven revelation may be held as an opinion, but need not be believed.” Roman Catholicism flatly rejects this principle, adding a host of traditions and Church teachings and declaring them binding on all true believers—with the threat of eternal damnation to those who hold contradictory opinions.

In Roman Catholicism, “the Word of God” encompasses not only the Bible, but also the Apocrypha, the Magisterium (the Church’s authority to teach and interpret divine truth), the Pope’s ex cathedra pronouncements, and an indefinite body of church tradition, some formalized in canon law and some not yet committed to writing. Whereas evangelical Protestants believe the Bible is the ultimate test of all truth, Roman Catholics believe the Church determines what is true and what is not. In effect, this makes the Church a higher authority than Scripture.

Creeds and doctrinal statements are certainly important. However, creeds, decisions of church councils, all doctrine, and even the church itself must be judged by Scripture—not vice versa. Scripture is to be accurately interpreted in its context by comparing it to Scripture—certainly not according to anyone’s personal whims. Scripture itself is thus the sole binding rule of faith and practice for all Christians. Protestant creeds and doctrinal statements simply express the churches’ collective understanding of the proper interpretation of Scripture. In no sense could the creeds and pronouncements of the churches ever constitute an authority equal to or higher than Scripture. Scripture always takes priority over the church in the rank of authority.

Roman Catholics, on the other hand, believe the infallible touchstone of truth is the Church itself. The Church not only infallibly determines the proper interpretation of Scripture, but also supplements Scripture with additional traditions and teaching. That combination of Church tradition plus the Church’s interpretation of Scripture is what constitutes the binding rule of faith and practice for Catholics. The fact is, the Church sets itself above Holy Scripture in rank of authority.

The Doctrine of Justification

According to Roman Catholicism, justification is a process in which God’s grace is poured forth into the sinner’s heart, making that person progressively more righteous. During this process, it is the sinner’s responsibility to preserve and increase that grace by various good works. The means by which justification is initially obtained is not faith, but the sacrament of baptism. Furthermore, justification is forfeited whenever the believer commits a mortal sin, such as hatred or adultery. In the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, then, works are necessary both to begin and to continue the process of justification.

The error in the Catholic Church’s position on justification may be summed up in four biblical arguments. First, Scripture presents justification as instantaneous, not gradual. Contrasting the proud Pharisee with the broken, repentant tax-gatherer who smote his breast and prayed humbly for divine mercy, Jesus said that the tax-gatherer “went down to his house justified” (Luke 18:14). His justification was instantaneous, complete before he performed any work, based solely on his repentant faith. Jesus also said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24). Eternal life is the present possession of all who believe—and by definition eternal life cannot be lost. The one who believes immediately passes from spiritual death to eternal life, because that person is instantaneously justified (see Rom. 5:1, 9; 8:1).

Second, justification means the sinner is declared righteous, not actually made righteous. This goes hand in hand with the fact that justification is instantaneous. There is no process to be performed—justification is purely a forensic reality, a declaration God makes about the sinner. Justification takes place in the court of God, not in the soul of the sinner. It is an objective fact, not a subjective phenomenon, and it changes the sinner’s status, not his nature. Justification is an immediate decree, a divine “not guilty” verdict on behalf of the believing sinner in which God declares him to be righteous in His sight.

Third, the Bible teaches that justification means righteousness is imputed, not infused. Righteousness is “reckoned,” or credited to the account of those who believe (Rom. 4:3–25). They stand justified before God not because of their own righteousness (Rom. 3:10), but because of a perfect righteousness outside themselves that is reckoned to them by faith (Phil. 3:9). Where does that perfect righteousness come from? It is God’s own righteousness (Rom 10:3), and it is the believer’s in the person of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:30). Christ’s own perfect righteousness is credited to the believer’s personal account (Rom. 5:17, 19), just as the full guilt of the believer’s sin was imputed to Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). The only merit God accepts for salvation is that of Jesus Christ; nothing man can ever do could earn God’s favor or add anything to the merit of Christ.

Fourth and finally, Scripture clearly teaches that man is justified by faith alone, not by faith plus works. According to the Apostle Paul, “If it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace” (Rom. 11:6). Elsewhere Paul testifies, “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Eph. 2:8–9, emphasis added; see Acts 16:31 and Rom. 4:3–6). In fact, it is clearly taught throughout Scripture that “a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Rom. 3:28; see Gal. 2:16; Rom. 9:31–32; 10:3).

In contrast, Roman Catholicism places an undue stress on human works. Catholic doctrine denies that God “justifies the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5) without first making them godly. Good works therefore become the ground of justification. As thousands of former Catholics will testify, Roman Catholic doctrine and liturgy obscure the essential truth that the believer is saved by grace through faith and not by his own works (Eph. 2:8-9). In a simple sense, Catholics genuinely believe they are saved by doing good, confessing sin, and observing ceremonies.

Adding works to faith as the grounds of justification is precisely the teaching that Paul condemned as “a different gospel” (see 2 Cor. 11:4; Gal. 1:6). It nullifies the grace of God, for if meritorious righteousness can be earned through the sacraments, “then Christ died needlessly” (Gal. 2:21). Any system that mingles works with grace, then, is “a different gospel” (Gal. 1:6), a distorted message that is anathematized (Gal. 1:9), not by a council of medieval bishops, but by the very Word of God that cannot be broken. In fact, it does not overstate the case to say that the Roman Catholic view on justification sets it apart as a wholly different religion than the true Christian faith, for it is antithetical to the simple gospel of grace.

As long as the Roman Catholic Church continues to assert its own authority and bind its people to “another gospel,” it is the spiritual duty of all true Christians to oppose Roman Catholic doctrine with biblical truth and to call all Catholics to true salvation. Meanwhile, evangelicals must not capitulate to the pressures for artificial unity. They cannot allow the gospel to be obscured, and they cannot make friends with false religion, lest they become partakers in their evil deeds (2 John 11).


 2009/8/24 17:01Profile

Joined: 2006/1/31
Posts: 4991


I dont agree on everything brother MacArthur has ever said or what he believes, but concerning catholic teachings and practices i agree with him, for those who would like to "dig in" you can find much on this link if you scroll down a bit.



 2009/8/24 17:05Profile


Woops, I posted this on the wrong thread. It belongs here on this one. Sorry for the inconvenience and here you all go:

Let me first say that I am NOT "Roman Catholic". I am an Eastern Catholic. I am under the authority of the Patriarch of Antioch and then the Pope. We are the church that was first called "Christian." Further, "Roman Catholic" is not any official name for the Catholic Church as such. It is a pejorative term applied at the Revolt/Reformation to Catholics through ignorance. Latin Catholics have accepted the term unofficially in many cases. But it can never apply to the whole church. Possibly to the West. So please refrain from referring to me or the Church as "Roman Catholic."

The assumption of the Protestant Reformers that the Bible contains an adequate account of all that is necessary for a Christian to believe accounts to a great extent for the widespread Protestant prejudice against "tradition," which unfortunately is understood by them as implying a merely human tradition, far removed from Catholic doctrine on the subject. For, where it is a question of the transmission of revealed truths in the Church, the Catholic doctrine is concerned, NOT with any merely HUMAN traditions, but with what is known as DIVINE tradition - that is, with truths ORIGINALLY REVEALED BY GOD and handed down IN the Church under the protection of the Holy Spirit against all dangers of distortion or perversion.

Now it is certain that there were many important doctrines taught by Christ and by the apostles which were not written down in the books of the New Testament, books which were essentially of a fragmentary character. NONE OF YOU CAN DENY THIS.

As a matter of fact, as we have already seen, it was not until some twenty or thirty years after the foundation of the Church that even part of the apostolic preaching which we have in the New Testament was committed to writing.

What the first Christians treasured was the apostolic teaching, a teaching which has been preserved in the Church partly by the New Testament writings, partly by tradition.

So St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, "Brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle" (2 Thess. 2:14). St. Jude speaks of the necessity of maintaining "the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). He does not speak of that part of it only which was written in the books of the New Testament. Christian teaching in its fullness, not merely the part of it which was written in the New Testament, has been preserved in the official teachings of the Catholic Church.

The transmission of traditional doctrines, however, MUST NOT be thought of as a kind of mechanical and continuous handing on by word of mouth from age to age of every express teaching of Christ and of the apostles, over and above that written down in the New Testament. (like the game of telephone) Some of these doctrines may be found recorded in the writings of the early Christian Fathers, but ONLY those which came within the scope of the particular subjects which happened to engage their attention.

Others may be discovered from a study of archaeological inscriptions, or of religious customs prevailing among the faithful, or of disciplinary canons and liturgical books. But all these are only points, as it were, where the living consciousness of the Church breaks through to the surface.

Stuck with a partial presentation

Tradition is essentially the living memory of the Church, manifesting itself primarily in her authentic and infallible teachings, in which the Holy Spirit, according to the promise of Christ, preserves her from the possibility of error and leads her into "all truth" (John 16:13).

Those who will not hear the infallible voice of the Catholic Church and who take the Bible only as their guide are committed to a merely partial presentation of Christianity, even granted that they may possibly at times accurately understand so much as is contained in the written Word of God. At least within the Canon they admit.

It was William Tyndale who imagined that even "the boy that driveth the plough," if given the Bible in his own language, would find no difficulty in discovering its true meaning. But things have not turned out as he expected. And how differently Protestant scholars speak today!


Thus we find Dr. W. K. Lowther Clarke writing, "To understand the Bible thoroughly one needs an equipment of wide and varied knowledge compared with which that needed by, say, a Shakespearean scholar is modest . . . We see men with their limited capacities grappling with ideas which they comprehend only in part; obscurities, misapprehensions, even contradictions, are inevitable."

Translators as traitors

In the first place it must be remembered that, where it is a question of translating from one language into another - and it is still more difficult in translating ancient languages into modern speech- it is not always possible to convey to us exactly what the original writers meant.

It is this difficulty which has given us the Italian proverb " Traduttore traditore" - a "translator is a traitor." In many passages, it is true, substantial accuracy can be attained, but in others, and very important ones, the true sense will almost necessarily be obscured in any other language than the one originally spoken. For even when words of practically identical meaning are chosen in the new language to translate words of the original language, there are characteristic differences of thought and culture between the two languages which introduce variations of meaning.

Scholarship no guarantee

Besides a knowledge of Hebrew and Greek words and grammar, therefore, one who would understand the sense intended by the original writers of the books in the Bible needs a thorough knowledge of the ideas current in their time. A further element of difficulty also arises where the Bible is concerned from the fact that it is not an ordinary book. It contains a mysterious revelation of God, and the wisest men, left to their own resources, are not competent judges of revealed truth.

So we see even the MOST LEARNED Scripture scholars, men profoundly versed in Hebrew and Greek, the fruit of YEARS of study, falling into innumerable and serious errors, CONTRADICTING ONE ANOTHER and engaging in endless controversies.

Would any one of you dare to deny this? You know it is true. Admit it.

There is but one way out. The interpretation of Scripture must be controlled by the constant Christian teaching handed down in the Church from the very beginning, if it is not to go astray, and only the authoritative voice of the Catholic Church can give us absolute certainty as to what that authentic and traditional Christian teaching really is.

Is it any wonder that those brought up in a Protestant environment should be bewildered by the host of conflicting sects confronting them or that they should be dismayed when they come across such words in their Bible as those of St. Paul: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that ye speak the same thing, and that there be no division among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Cor. 1:10)?

In sheer despair, seeing the diversity of denominations, some have decided that it is wrong to belong to any of them, and they have washed their hands of them all, determined to live their own lives, attached to no particular church, but just following out the teaching of the Bible as they themselves have conceived it to be. Yet what, more often than not, has happened in such cases? Again and again the same phenomenon has occurred. Unable to keep their ideas to themselves, such people have gathered around them others whom they have persuaded to adopt their views, and the result in the end has only been to add further new denominations to the already existent multitude of sects, rendering "confusion worse confounded." . . . Had the Protestant Reformers been true to St. Paul's admonition they would never have left that Church in order to set up rival churches, with all the divisions and sub-divisions to which they have led. And those among their later followers who have realized this have returned to the Catholic Church as converts, now from this Protestant denomination, now from that, as I myself have done.

Their Bible is from our Church

One can understand, of course, the reluctance of present-day Protestants to turn back to the Catholic Church for the solution of their difficulties, however disconcerting the position at which they have arrived. They still treasure the thought of the "open Bible," and the whole of their tradition is that the Reformers had to leave the Catholic Church in order to give it to them.

Moreover, they have inherited the idea that if they returned to the Catholic Church they would have to abandon such devotion to the reading of the Bible as they may have retained. If we add to these the many charges they have heard or read of actual hostility to the Bible on the part of the Catholic Church, we are still less surprised by their refusal to so much as consider her claims to their allegiance.

Yet the fact remains that all such impressions are based upon a misunderstanding and that much more thought needs to be bestowed upon the subject than is usually given to it.

There is no need to dwell at length upon the antiquated charge that the Catholic Church used to burn all the Bibles she could lay her hands upon in pre-Reformation times, in order to keep them out of the hands of the people. What the Catholic Church did condemn and order to be burned were false translations of the Bible, and that was out of her sheer reverence and respect for the Bible as the Word of God which she positively refused to allow to be corrupted. Or maybe someone can answer why the Douay Rheims English translation predated your beloved King James Version which copied the DRV in many places.

We could have obliterated it

Always the Catholic Church has held Holy Scripture in the highest esteem as constituting one of the greatest gifts of Almighty God to mankind. Through the centuries before the invention of the printing press her monks carefully multiplied copies of the Bible by hand in beautifully illuminated manuscripts, thus preserving Holy Scripture for later ages.

Had the Catholic Church wanted to destroy the Bible she could easily have done so during the millennium and a half before the Protestant Reformation, when all the manuscripts of it were practically in her sole possession!

Nor were manuscript translations into the vernacular wanting in pre-Reformation times, although naturally they could not be widely diffused before the invention of the printing press. But these versions were known and read and quoted by the writers of all the countries both in the East and in the West. Many people have labored under misconceptions on this subject, but as the facts are becoming better known less and less is heard of any charges that the Catholic Church has ever wanted either to suppress or destroy the Bible.

Even so, it is urged, although the Catholic Church has no wish to suppress or destroy the Bible, she does not regard it as necessary. Here we come to an impression which is not without some grounds for it.

Indeed, Catholic apologists themselves have stressed the fact that even if the Bible should suddenly perish from the earth, through some great calamity, it would not affect one single doctrine of the Catholic Church nor imperil her existence (See Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:4:1 [A.D. 180]). BTW - Irenaeus was the disciple of Polycarp who was the disciple of the apostle John.

It is to be noted that such a loss would, in the estimate of Catholics, be a GREAT CALAMITY. They regard the possession of the Bible as a very great blessing. At the same time, they declare that the Bible is not necessary to the existence of the Catholic Church or to the continuance of her mission to mankind, and it is that which needs to be understood.

We could be reminded from the outset, as mentioned above, that if the Bible has not perished from the face of the earth we owe it to the Catholic Church, for, as we have seen, she it was who preserved it in manuscript form through all the earlier centuries.

The Bible is not strictly necessary

But a much more important aspect of the subject must here be considered. The actual statement under discussion is quite evidently true, for the Catholic Church existed before a line of at least the New Testament was written, and if she could exist then, she could undoubtedly exist and have continued existing had not a line of the Gospels and of the rest of the New Testament ever been committed to writing.

We must remember that the tremendous tidings of the birth of our Savior and of his accomplishment of our redemption were made known from the very beginning by the preaching of the apostles, and certainly the three thousand converts from St. Peter's first sermon in Jerusalem were not given New Testaments!

In the Acts of the Apostles, written about sixty-three years after the birth of Christ, we have the remark added that when St. Peter had completed his first discourse in public "the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47). And we have already seen the statement in an earlier verse that the first Christians were "all persevering in the doctrine of the apostles" (Acts 2:42).

Advantageous not essential

So the Church existed then, even though not a line of the New Testament had then been written. Yet those first members of the Church were equally Christians with those of later centuries who had the good fortune to possess copies of the Gospels.

Nevertheless, although it was not absolutely essential to the existence and mission of the Church which Christ had founded, as an additional advantage to her in her work God was pleased to inspire the apostles and evangelists in their later years to commit the main part of their teaching - not all of it - to writing.

Even so, a general diffusion of the documents they left as a legacy to the Church, documents which had to be laboriously transcribed by hand, was not possible. The vast majority of Christians had still to depend on the teaching of the Church as their immediate guide to an understanding of their religion. And the invention of the printing press some fifteen hundred years later, which did make the distribution of printed Bibles possible, could not alter the age-long and God-appointed method of dependence upon the authority of Christ's Church as the authentic source of doctrine.

There is a great difficulty here for Protestants who base their religion on the written Gospels. They are naturally puzzled by the period which elapsed between the death of Christ and the writing of the New Testament. How did Christians manage without the New Testament in the days when it did not exist?

Acutely aware of this difficulty, the prominent American Baptist, Dr. Stanley I. Stuber, declared that Protestants "believe that the New Testament preceded and paved the way for what we know today as the Church. If it had not been for the letters of Paul, the Gospels, and the Book of Revelation, there might have been no Church at all." But that is simply to defy the facts of history. If there is one thing certain, it is that the New Testament depicts Christ as having called his twelve apostles and as having personally founded his Church upon them (Matt. 16:18, Eph. 2:20), although not a book of the New Testament was written until some twenty or thirty years after the death of Christ.

Insuperable difficulty

The Catholic, who accepts the Church as his guide and knows that the Church existed before the New Testament was written, has no difficulty in this matter. If, however, a man thinks of the New Testament as his only guide, the difficulty for him is insuperable. But he has a mistaken notion.

Not the reading of Scripture, but the teaching of the Church, was intended to be the guide of Christians. That is why Christ said, "I will build my Church," and later commissioned that Church to go and to teach all nations (Matt. 16:18,28:19-20).

To complete our brief study of these matters, it is now necessary to consider the actual attitude of the Catholic Church in our own days toward Bible reading. For there are many misconceptions prevalent among non-Catholics from this point of view also. One can understand that this is almost necessarily so.

The still-accepted idea that the Bible should be an "open book" and that everyone is capable of reading and interpreting it correctly for himself must make it difficult for those brought up as non-Catholics to understand the much more guarded attitude of the Catholic Church toward Holy Scripture. As a result of such an outlook, wise control is almost inevitably interpreted either as a prohibition of Bible reading or at least as reluctance that it should be engaged in at all.

Let's abandon silly notions

In this matter difficulties are due above all else to one's initial mental approach to the subject, and to keep one's mental outlook balanced it is necessary to take comprehensive historical views.

In the first place, all thought that the Catholic Church, during the centuries before the invention of printing, kept her people in ignorance of the contents of Holy Scripture must be abandoned. Educated Protestants are more and more altering their conclusions on this point. Thus Dr. Cutts writes, "There is a good deal of popular misapprehension about the way in which the Bible was regarded in the Middle Ages. Some people think that it was very little read, even by the clergy, whereas the fact is that the sermons of the medieval preachers are more full of scriptural quotations and allusions than any sermons in these days, and the writers on other subjects are so full of scriptural allusion that it is evident their minds were saturated with scriptural diction."

From Germany comes similar testimony. The Lutheran, Kropatscheck, says, "It is no longer possible to hold, as the old polemics did, that the Bible was a sealed book to both theologians and laity. The more we study the Middle Ages, the more does this fable tend to dissolve into thin air." Another German Lutheran scholar, Dobschutz, writes, "We must admit that the Middle Ages possessed a quite surprising and extremely praiseworthy knowledge of the Bible, such as might in many respects put our own age to shame."

Vernacular nonsense

A great deal of nonsense has been written on the subject of translations of the Bible into the vernacular or current speech of the people. It is often asked whether it is not true that, before the Protestant Reformation, the Bible existed only in Greek and Latin manuscripts. It is forgotten that the Latin manuscripts themselves were translations from the Greek into the vernacular or current speech of the Latins. And from the earliest times, in all countries, there were further translations of Scripture into their various languages.

Restricting ourselves here to England, we find St. Thomas More writing in the sixteenth century that "the whole Bible was long before his [Wycliffe's] day, by virtuous and well-learned men, translated into the English tongue; and by good and godly people, and with devotion and soberness, well and reverently read." The Venerable Bede died in 735 as he was finishing the translation of the Gospel of St. John. A manuscript containing a complete Anglo-Saxon interlinear translation of the Book of Psalms, dating from 825, is still preserved in what is known as the Vespasian Psalter.

King Alfred the Great also undertook the work of translating the psalms into the vernacular English of his time. The abbot Aelfric about 990 translated many parts of both the Old and the New Testaments into English.

This translation was condemned by the Catholic authorities mainly because it was issued with a prologue containing the heretical views of the Lollards, Wycliffe's disciples. Later editions of it, without the prologue, escaped ecclesiastical censure and attained to a wide general use even among Catholics -as far, of course, as the laborious transcription by hand in the pre- printing press days would permit the multiplication of copies.

Ecclesiastical permission slips

From the time of the Lollards onward, and above all during the first years following upon the invention of the printing press and the flood of Bibles which then began to be circulated, Catholics had to obtain ecclesiastical permission to possess and read vernacular translations of Holy Scripture. But it was wisdom itself on the part of the Catholic Church to condemn unauthorized translations and to insist that those who did read approved copies must interpret them in the light of consistent Catholic teaching through the ages, granting permits for such reading only to those sufficiently well-instructed in the faith. The Catholic Church had learned by long experience the danger to the faith of the people themselves if, without sufficient knowledge and instruction, the reading and interpreting of Scripture without reference to any authoritative guidance became widespread.

The history of the heresies in the first years of the Church, and in the earlier and later Middle Ages, long before the Protestant Reformation, had amply proved the fallacy and danger of the private interpretation of Scripture.

Every heretic made the Bible mean just what he wished. Misuse of the sacred text by the Albigensians in France, by the Lollards in England, by the Hussites in Bohemia, and by other heretics compelled the Church to adopt a conservative attitude and restrict permissions for Bible reading to persons qualified according to the judgment of local ecclesiastical authorities.

The proof is in the pudding

The results which followed almost immediately among Protestants after the Reformation and their general acceptance of the "open Bible" theory are really the best possible vindication of the prudence exercised by the Catholic Church in this matter. The more thoughtful among Protestant scholars are themselves beginning to see this. Thus the Anglican Canon Wilfrid L. Knox wrote, "There can be no doubt that the Catholic claim that the Bible without some standard of interpretation cannot be applied to the daily life of the Christian individual was true.

The Reformers' claim that the Bible alone is the final and sufficient guide for Christian belief and morality was entirely untenable. In actual fact it involved not the appeal to the Bible, but the appeal to the Bible as interpreted by some particular Reformer. The result was a multitude of warring bodies, each holding a different system of belief and anathematizing all others, the only ground of agreement being their denunciation of the errors of Rome."

To a great extent the heated controversies of the sixteenth century belong to the past, together with all the actions and reactions they provoked. In many matters accordingly the disciplinary laws of the Catholic Church have become much milder than those designed to meet emergencies then, and here it will be of interest to ask what the Catholic position is today where Bible reading is concerned.

In the first place it must be said frankly that until recently it has not been customary in Catholic churches to lay stress on the practice of Bible reading, although Catholics are certainly in no way discouraged from engaging in it. In Catholic churches stress is naturally laid on the fulfillment of necessary duties, attendance at Mass on Sundays and other days of obligation, reception of the sacraments, the duty of personal prayer, the observance of the Ten Commandments, and fidelity to the precepts of the Church. Outside these basically necessary duties, Catholics are encouraged to participate in extra and optional devotional functions and to increase their knowledge of their religion by keeping up their Catholic reading of religious books, magazines, and newspapers.

Bible known well if indirectly

They cannot do all this without growing in their understanding of the religion of the Bible, even though they do little or no direct reading of the Bible itself. It is not an exaggeration to say that if a Catholic knows his religion well he knows the religion of the Bible, and that is far better than reading the Bible yet not understanding what it really means.

How many non-Catholics there are, hosts of them, who do give themselves to Bible reading and who end by being able to quote a veritable torrent of Scripture texts they misunderstand, and who equally end therefore with very little real knowledge of the Christian religion!

Who has not encountered Christadelphians, Seventh Day Adventists, Witnesses of Jehovah, and others like them, who pour out streams of Scripture texts without rhyme or reason, and who seem to make almost the whole of their religion consist in their ability to do so!

It would, however, be an understatement to say of Catholics merely that they are "not discouraged" from taking up the study of Holy Scripture for themselves, leaving it at that. They are positively encouraged to do so. Thus it is usual to find in the introductory pages of Catholic translations of the Bible various papal commendations of the regular habit of Bible reading. Catholics are there informed that Pope Leo XIII granted an indulgence of 300 days to all the faithful who devoutly read the Scriptures for at least a quarter of an hour each day, that Pope Pius X conferred special blessings upon Catholic societies established to propagate ever more widely among Catholics the reading of the Bible, and that Pope Benedict XV declared, "Our one desire for all the Church's children is that, being saturated with the Bible, they may arrive at the all-surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ. "

We must not, of course, misinterpret these exhortations as constituting a law. The reading of Holy Scripture for themselves still remains optional for Catholics, not necessary. There is no room in the Catholic religion for the "bibliolatry" which would like to make Bible reading the very foundation of the Christian religion. It is not.

We must not lose sight of what has been said earlier in this booklet. Christ never ordered a line of Scripture to be written. He did not command his apostles to go and distribute Bibles. He commanded them to teach all nations as he had taught them and said to them, "He who hears you, hears me" (Luke 10:16). His religion is not the "religion of a book," but the "religion of a Church" - the religion of the Catholic Church founded by himself. . . .

Even in reading approved Catholic versions, since there is always the possibility of individual readers misinterpreting the Bible, Catholics are obliged to make sure that they do not adopt any interpretation which is opposed to the defined teachings of the Catholic Church. Catholics at least have the humility to admit that, where it is a question of the meaning of Holy Scripture, they themselves are more liable to be mistaken than the Catholic Church, with its accumulated wisdom of two thousand years and the abiding protection of the Holy Spirit promised to their Church by our Lord himself.

We aren't fetishists

It is sometimes said by non-Catholics that Catholics do not read their Bibles or that at least they give no signs of being familiar with them. Now it is true that Catholics do not make a fetish of memorizing an endless list of isolated Bible texts in order to be able to quote from them, whether intelligently or unintelligently, whenever an opportunity occurs. But in devout Catholic homes it is common that they participate in the Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office whereby they join with monastic communities worldwide to pray the Psalms each night and through the Scriptures throughout the year.

But, as we have seen, it would not really matter if they did not. Bible reading is not necessary for salvation, and it is even better not to read it than to read it and be led astray through one's own incompetence, "wresting it," as St. Peter says, to one's "own destruction" (2 Pet. 3:16).

If any individual Catholic is ignorant of any particular aspect of biblical knowledge, it would obviously be because he had had neither the time, nor perhaps the ability, nor even perhaps the inclination to devote himself to the study of the particular aspect in question. But whatever may be said from that point of view, no ordinarily well-instructed Catholic is ignorant of the substantial contents of the Bible.

Even though he does not devote additional time to reading the Bible for himself, he has been taught his Bible history during his school days, he hears the Bible read publicly and explained to him at Mass on Sundays, he finds biblical truth enshrined in all forms of Catholic devotion, and he knows how to live the faith which the Bible teaches.

In conclusion, let us sum up briefly the position I hold. Firstly, without the authority of the Catholic Church there can be no absolutely certain guarantee that the Bible is the Word of God. Secondly, the Bible is a book which needs an interpreter. Thirdly, the Bible itself tells us that it is not the only source of religious truth and that Christian tradition is also a source from which we can learn what God has revealed. Fourthly, the Bible tells us that Christ instituted his Church to teach us in his name what we must believe and do in order to be saved.

Our immediate standard, therefore, is the official teaching of Christ's Church. The Bible and tradition are remote standards of doctrine, to be understood as interpreted by the Church. The Catholic Church insists that all men must accept the true religion of Christ and that all those teachings she has defined as articles of faith truly represent the religion of Christ. And however else they may differ, she does secure the complete unity of over four hundred and fifty millions of Catholics throughout the world where the essential teachings of their religion are concerned.

She outnumbers in membership all other Churches separated from her, and these other Churches are ever lamenting their divisions among themselves and their inability to devise ways and means to attain to a unity which is a reality in the Catholic Church.

It is in the Catholic Church, then, and in the Catholic Church only, that the unity for which our Lord prayed is to be found, and the innumerable converts who have become Catholics in order to share in that unity are unanimous that the Bible itself, properly understood, leads only in the direction they took and which led them to that "peace of Christ in the kingdom of Christ" which he wills all his followers to possess.

 2009/8/24 19:03


I dont agree on everything brother MacArthur has ever said or what he believes

How decidedly Protestant of you. :-)

You guys always disagree with each other. Did you ever consider that the problem might just be "Sola Scriptura"?

 2009/8/24 19:06

Joined: 2009/4/5
Posts: 2010
Joplin, Missouri


Here is something to think about.

God created man as a perfect and good creation, but man fell. Because of this fall man was corrupted in every way, physically, mentally, etc. Because of this corruption, man is fallible. This means that man does not always interpret scripture correctly. On this point I hope we can agree.

So, if we are not to rely solely on scripture as the final authority in all matters spiritual, on what are we to rely? On the word of a spiritual leader, be it the Pope or Billy Graham? These men are both equally fallible as I am. Should we rely on a special revelation from God, a vision or a dream? I have had dreams that were motivated by what I ate the night before. I cannot trust any of these things to be authoritative in themselves. How can my corrupted mind which is fallible be sure that any one of these other authorities are even trustworthy?

I must not trust subjective authority. I must have a totally objective authority to which I can compare all other subjective authorities and judge their merit. If I do not have this one objective authority then there is no such thing as authority at all.

I contend that this one authority is the written word of God. I don't mean in any way to pick a fight with you when I say that I accept the canon that is accepted by the majority of the protestant world both because it is the one accepted by the majority of the men forming apostolic foundations of the church, but also because these books are in unbroken harmony.

I believe in special revelation from the Lord through His Holy Spirit, but this revelation must ALWAYS be considered subjective and compared to the inerrant objective truth of the Bible. I dare not trust my own fallible mind and heart.

If sola scriptura is in error, then my question is, "What objective measure of truth and revelation do we have with which to compare all other subjective truths?"


 2009/8/24 20:31Profile

 Re: catholic

dialoging with the devil

 2009/8/24 20:42

Promoting Genuine Biblical Revival.
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