Imprimatur: Joannes Gregorius Murray, Archiepiscopus Sancti Pauli
86 questions and answers on the Bible — its history, various versions, Protestant vs. Catholic attitude toward it, its proper interpretation, the role of Tradition, etc. Every Catholic should be familiar with these basic apologetic questions, so they can defend the Faith whenever the modern world assaults it!
In a pamphlet I just read the Catholic Church is charged with destroying the Bible.
Yes. The Church is accused of hating the Bible, destroying the Bible, keeping the Bible from the hands of the people, of burning it wherever and whenever she found it and of sealing it up in the dead language of Latin which the majority of people can neither read nor understand. And all this she does (so they say), because she knows that her doctrines are absolutely opposed to and contradicted by the letter of God’s written Word, and that she holds to dogmas and creeds which could not stand one gleam of the searching light of Holy Scripture. But in reality the Bible was always available to the people and many editions appeared before the Reformation.
Did not the great revolt against the Roman Church let the people see how they had been befooled and hoodwinked?
Many believe that putting the Bible into the hands of the people brought about the Reformation. The multiplicity of Christian religions was brought about by putting the Bible into the hands of the people without a proper interpreter of what the Scriptures were saying. The Bible was in the hands of the people long before the Reformation as you can observe through statements elsewhere in this pamphlet.
Do real honest scholars believe the present-day Protestant statements against the Church for her attitude on the Bible?
Dr. S. R. Maitland, Protestant secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury, explodes the common opinion of the masses who believe such charges because of tradition handed down to them from their forefathers since the “Reformation,” by minister, teacher, and parents; through sermon, catechism, newspaper, radio, fiction, and history. They believe the tradition that monasteries and convents were sinks of iniquity and corruption; or that Catholics pay money to have their sins cancelled, etc. The Protestant account of pre-Reformation Catholicism has been largely a falsification of history and all the good the Church did has been misconstrued, misjudged, misrepresented as Dr. Maitland and other students of history admit after their study of the documentary sources. It would be well for readers of this pamphlet to investigate and if they do they will come to the conclusion of the story, told about Charles the Second, the Merry Monarch of England. Charles the Second propounded to his learned and scientific men the following profound problem: “How is it that a dead fish weighs less than a living one?” The scholars discussed the grave difficulty and wrote long articles to win the favor of their Royal inquisitor, but they came to no satisfactory solution of the problem. Finally, it occurred to one of the scientists to test whether a dead fish does weigh less than a living one; and, of course, he discovered the lie or the joke; for the fish weighed exactly the same, dead or living. People act in the same gullible manner when treating statements concerning the oldest Christian Church in the world. It would be well to investigate and you will soon remove the mountains of abuse, calumny, and false supposition.
The books in our public library give testimony that your Church is the enemy of the Bible.
By a calm consideration of the facts of history and a mind open to conviction on genuine Catholic and non-Catholic evidence, you will admit by sheer force of honesty that the Catholic Church is not the enemy of the Bible for she has been the parent, the author and maker of the Bible; she has guarded it and defended it all through the ages against those who would destroy the Bible; she has ever held it in esteem and has refused to allow the fallible brain of man to tamper with the Bible; she has grounded her doctrines upon the Bible; she, of all the Christian Churches in the world has the right to call the Bible HER OWN BOOK—she can boast to the world that she alone possesses the true Bible and the whole Bible of not 66 books but 73 books, and that copies of the Scriptures outside the Church are partly incomplete and partly defective and that whatever in them is true, is true because it comes from the Bible which the Church preserved from the days of the Apostles who were the authors of the New Testament.
We can have a Bible without a Church.
You cannot, for common sense would tell you that what comes first is the Church and then her writings. We must not get the cart before the horse. The Jewish Church or Synagogue existed before Moses wrote a single line of the Old Testament and in the like manner the Catholic Church existed before a single line of the New Testament was written. Pentecost Day, the Birthday of Christianity, was not the coming down of the Holy Ghost in the form of a book, for there was no book as Johannes Jorgensen, the famous convert writer of Stockholm, Sweden, declares. The Holy Ghost came down in the form of tongues of fire symbolising that Christianity was to be spread not through the written but the spoken word. It is reasonable that Divine Providence had the Jewish Synagogue to protect the Old Testament from mutilation and it is logical and reasonable that the Church that gave the Bible to the world should be set up by God to preserve and perpetuate the inspired writings of the New Testament.
Was the Bible given to the world by God?
The Bible was not served to the world all complete upon a golden platter as the Book of Mormon is supposed to have been served to the fifteen-year-old boy, Joseph Smith. It did not suddenly appear upon the earth through the instrumentality of angel or seraph, but it was written by men like ourselves who used a pen or reed and wrote on parchment in the original languages of the Orient. They were divinely inspired, but they were human beings chosen by God for the work.
Was the Bible written all at once by one man?
NO. About 1500 years elapsed between the writing of Genesis (the first book of the Old Testament) and the Apocalypse or Revelation of St. John (the last Book of the New Testament). The word Bible comes from the Greek plural word “biblia” which means “books. ” The Bible is not a single book but a number of books written at different times by different men. If you lived at the time Moses died all that could be given to you of the Bible was the first five books of the Old Testament, written by Moses himself. His writings formed the first record of the inspired Word.
In what language was the Bible written?
It will not be out of place to say here that the Bible wasn’t written originally in English as so many seem to believe, judging from their arguments. Some believe that the Scriptures were written first in English and then set forth in the barbarous languages of Latin, Greek or Hebrew for the sake of inquisitive scholars and critics. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek. The Hebrew text of the Old Testament was translated into Greek, before the time of Christ by 70 translators.
When was the Old Testament compiled?
The fact that the Old Testament was already translated into Greek more than 100 years before Christ, indicates that the original Hebrew text existed long before that time.
What do you mean by the Septuagint Bible?
Because of the “Dispersion” of the Jews and their growing familiarity with Greek which was then the universal language, it was necessary to furnish the Jews with a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament in the Greek language. The first Greek translation was done by 70 translators, who worked at Alexandria. Septuagint means 70 in Latin hence the name of that first Greek version. Our Lord and the Apostles used this version whenever they referred to the Scriptures. It contained the Catholic number of Old Testament books, namely 46 and not merely 39, as found today in the Protestant Bibles. The Septuagint version used by Christ and the Apostles was begun about 280 years before Christ and finished in the next century. It was the acknowledged Bible of all the “Jews of the Dispersion” in Asia, as well as in Egypt, and it was used not only by Christ, His Apostles and Evangelists but by Jews and Gentiles and Christians in the early days of Christianity. It is from this list of 46 books that Christ and the New Testament writers and speakers quote when referring to the Old Testament. Of the 350 quotations of the Old Testament found in the New Testament, 300 are taken directly from the Greek Septuagint Bible. Pope, the Biblical scholar in his “Aids to the Bible,” i. , 54, mentions 18 passages, citing Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus and Judith, books rejected by the reformers. The early Christians of Rome were acquainted with the 7 books rejected by Protestants, for the frescoes of the Catacombs picture Susanna and the elders as well as Moses and Jonas. The writers of the first three centuries often quote or allude to the books eliminated from the Protestant Version.
What books are not found in the Protestant Bible?
They are Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch and the two Books of Machabees, together with fragments of Esther (10:4; 16:24), and Daniel (3:24-90; 13; 14). These books were contained in the Alexandrian List or Canon of Books which was used by the Greek-speaking Jews of Alexandria, Asia Minor, Greece and Italy.
Well it may be that the clergy knew the Scriptures but certainly the lay people did not.
The usual statement is that it was a closed and sealed volume to the poor lay people, because it was found only in the Dead Language of Latin. Dr. Maitland declared that all civil and historical as well as religious writings were saturated with Scripture when he says of the writers of the Middle Ages, “They thought and spoke and wrote the thoughts and words and phrases of the Bible … not exclusively in theological or ecclesiastical matters, but in histories, biographies, familiar letters, legal instruments, and documents of every description. “How many lawyers, doctors, professors, and lay folk of today quote the Scriptures? We have millions of copies of the Bible and they had but the common Bible of the monastery or parish church. The Catholic Church had to do the best she could in the circumstances of those days before the discovery of printing and she did a marvelous job. Vast numbers could not read and the Church was not to blame for that. Latin was not a dead language, but the universal language of all who could read. For those who could not read, the Church had the medium of art, sculpture, Passion and Miracle Plays, to teach the people the contents of Christian doctrine. The evidence brought out by the Protestant scholar, Dr. Maitland, gives the lie to those who hold [that] the Church despised, hid, and dishonored the Bible.
Is your Church doing anything to encourage Catholics to study the Bible?
The Church is trying to get Catholics to read and study the Bible by granting them indulgences for doing so. On a page in front of the Old Testament or else in front of the New Testament you will find printed these words, “An indulgence of 300 days is granted to all the faithful who read the Holy Gospels at least a QUARTER OF AN HOUR. A plenary indulgence under the usual conditions is granted once a month for the daily reading. ” Certainly, this does not look as though the Church was striving to keep the Bible out of the hands of the people.
Were the people acquainted with the Bible in the Dark Ages?
The Dark Ages were not Dark but they were the AGES OF FAITH. Protestants in general have the false notion that from the eighth to the fifteenth century, the centuries were the ages of ignorance, oppression, superstition and what not. The people were supposed to be in that period illiterate, immoral, half civilised and constantly at war like barbarians. All this chaos of darkness was attributed to the blighting yoke of Rome which held the masses in ignorance of the Word of God. The light of the Reformation shone out in this darkness and gave light and freedom to these European masses. No, the Dark Ages were ages full of light in comparison to what 400 years of Protestantism have brought upon the world, which has been deformed instead of reformed.
Two centuries from now writers can call our twentieth century the century of injustice, misery, free love, debauchery, banditry, drunkenness, dishonesty, immorality, unbelief, etc., compared to which the so-called Dark Ages can be termed the Holy Ages. The Dark Ages built the gorgeous Cathedrals, and Abbeys whose architecture has not been rivalled by any architectural genius of the twentieth century of progress and high education. Look at the terrible contrast between the paintings of our century and those of the Dark Ages. Are our universities producing philosophers, thinkers of perennial thought like St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure, and Albertus Magnus and Scotus and Bacon? Has this age a scholastic system that betters that of the Schoolmen, whose method of learning and thinking is now being imitated in our universities after years of shunting true education? An age which produced such sociologists as Francis Xavier, Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, and a host of others could not be intellectually dark and barren of Scriptural lore. The practical teaching the people of those reputed dark days received from priests and monks in church and school was of far more real moral and intellectual value than what our youth is getting today. The mediaevalists had the knowledge of God in their souls and that is why the Protestant scholar, Dr. Maitland, writes in such high praise of the Dark Ages. His book on the Dark Ages will show that it is the Middle Ages which have been a closed and sealed book to Protestants. His impartial scholarship unlocks the treasures of those grand centuries. On page 469 in his “Dark Ages” he writes, “The fact is … the writings of the Dark Ages are, if I may use the expression, made of the Scriptures.” Another Protestant historian says, “The notion that Bible-reading was frowned upon by ecclesiastical authorities of that age is quite unfounded.” Proof is quite abundant that the Church made ample use of the Bible in instructing the people before the Reformation. The Mass is almost all Scripture and at every Mass it was customary to read a portion of Scripture and explain it to the people. The people were asked to stand in respect for the Holy Word of God whilst the Gospel was read to them. Sermons of the Middle Ages abound with more Scriptural quotations than are heard from the pulpits of today. The divine office or breviary said each day by the clergy is made up from the Bible. The Rosary was another Bible in the hands of the people for this pious devotion taught the Catholics to meditate on the Biblical mysteries. The fundamentals of the New Testament teaching are meditated on when the Rosary is properly said. Before the printed Bible came, the Church instructed people through, “Miracle and Passion Plays.” If the Church kept the Bible from the people, how explain the intimate knowledge of the Scriptures on the part of Chaucer, Dante, Shakespeare and other Christian authors? How explain the statement of Ruskin that the walls of St. Mark’s at Venice were the poor man’s Bible? How could Michelangelo, Murillo, Raphael and other Catholic sculptors and artists portray on canvas and in stone such Biblical scenes if the Church kept the Bible from the people?
Were the clergy of the Dark Ages ignorant of the Bible?
They had a profound knowledge and understanding of the Bible, for Bishops and Abbots required all their priests to know the Scriptures. In the old Constitutions of different dioceses we find that the clergy were obliged to know the Psalms, the Epistles, and Gospels. The Council of Toledo, 835, issued a decree that Bishops were bound to inquire throughout their dioceses whether the clergy were sufficiently instructed in the Scriptures. The documentary history, as Dr. Maitland shows, proves that multitudes of ordinary priests and Bishops had the Scriptures on their lips. Abbots caused the whole of the Old and New Testament to be read through every year, and they had the Scriptures read daily during meals in monasteries. Sermons of today are valueless because they are like fishing nets without fish, whilst sermons of the reputed Dark Ages are invaluable because they are like fishing nets overloaded with fish as a result of their incessant Scriptural quotations. What a silly legend it is for modern pamphleteers to be still stating that Martin Luther first discovered by accident the Scriptures, a book which, as a monk, he was bound to have known and studied and recited for years! No modern minister can equal the priest of the Middle Ages in knowledge and familiarity with the written Word of God.
Was Martin Luther the first one to translate the Bible into the language of the people?
No. The Bible had been translated into Spanish, Italian, Danish, French, Norwegian, Polish, Bohemian and Hungarian long before Martin Luther gave out his Lutheran Bible. Seven hundred years before the birth of Luther we had an English translation. At the end of the seventh century we have in the English tongue the work of Caedmon, a monk of Whitby. In the next century we have the well-known translation of Venerable Bede, a monk of Jarrow. The Preface of the Authorized Version refers to previous translations of the Scriptures into the language of the people and after speaking of the Greek and Latin Versions, it says, “The Godly learned were not content to have the Scriptures in the language which they themselves understood, Greek and Latin … but also for the behoof and edifying of the unlearned which hungered and thirsted after righteousness, and had souls to be saved as well as they. They provided translations into the Vulgar for their countrymen, insomuch that most nations under Heaven did shortly after their conversion hear Christ speaking unto them in their Mother tongue, not by the voice of their minister only but also by the written Word translated.”
When did Luther’s Bible come out?
It came out in 1520 and before his Bible appeared there were exactly 104 editions of the Bible in Latin; there were 9 before the birth of Luther in the German language, and there were 27 in German before the Lutheran Bible appeared. Before the Protestant Bible appeared there were already in Italy more than 40 editions and 25 of these were in the Italian language with the express permission of Rome. In France there were 18 editions before 1547. Spain began her editions in 1478. In all, 626 editions of the Bible with 198 in the language of the laity, had been edited before the first Protestant Bible was sent forth into the world. With all this evidence why should there be those intellectuals who declare that the Church despised the Bible? This testimony shows that the Church fought to preserve it, translate it, and multiply it. She saved it from utter destruction at the hands of infidels; she saved it from total extinction by guarding it as the greatest treasure of all ages.
Why did the Church keep the Bible in Latin until the Reformation gave the people the Bible in the vernacular?
The usual belief is that the Church kept the Bible in Latin so that the masses could not read it, and thereby discover the wiles of priestcraft. That nobody but priests could read the Bible is nonsense. There were just two classes of people in the Middle Ages: those who could read, and those who could not read. Those who could read read Latin and were perfectly content with the Scriptures in Latin, and those who could not read Latin could not read at all. So why should the Church prior to the spread of education in the vernacular translate the Bible from Latin for them? Latin was then the language of all cultured men and it was the common language of Europe. Students heard their lectures in Latin and they talked Latin. Retreats to nuns were preached in Latin and they understood the discourses. Hence, Latin was not a dead language but a living one. If the Church desired to keep the Bible from the people then why did the Church translate the Bible out of Greek into Latin and call the Vulgate Version of the fourth century the “Bible of the People”?
Did the Catholic Church burn all Bibles, and punish those who had copies?
No. The Catholic Church would have been very stupid to have copies multiplied by her monks and nuns only to destroy them. She did burn Bibles that were counterfeits of the Bible, such as the Coverdale, Tyndale, and Wycliffe Bibles. When the printing press was invented by the German Catholic Gutenberg (called in English “Gooseflesh”) the first book ever printed in the world was the Bible and that was in 1445, 80 years before Protestantism had been heard of.
Yet does not the Catholic Church scoff at Bible societies as dangerous to Christianity?
She condemns the principle that Bibles should be peddled indiscriminately to people on the understanding that they will be able to ascertain the truth without the guidance of the Church, and by their own unaided efforts. The wildest fanatical religions have resulted in America from the theory of private judgment or interpretation of Scripture, and if it is not dangerous to Christianity to have a new pretended Christian Church arising every 10 years from some madcap reading of an isolated text, what is really dangerous to Christianity? The fact that 60 millions or more of Americans have no church affiliation whatsoever today is due to madcap readings of the Bible. In the City of Chicago recently the newspapers took an account of all those who went to Church on Sunday within the confines of the city. The final count showed that 85 per cent of the Sunday Churchgoers went into Catholic Churches and the remaining 15 per cent went into Protestant Churches and Jewish Synagogues. Hence, the multiplication of Bible societies creates agnosticism, indifferentism, for truth cannot be divided.
Does your Church prohibit the reading of Scripture in the vernacular?
No. There are various Catholic societies for the diffusion of the Holy Gospels in the vernacular, such as the Society of St. Jerome, approved by the Church. In the front of every Catholic Bible you will find that Pope Leo XIII. on December 13, 1898, granted “An indulgence of 300 days to all the faithful who read the Holy Gospels at least a quarter of an hour. A plenary indulgence under the usual conditions is granted once a month for the daily reading. ” Well, this doesn’t look like keeping the people ignorant of the Word of God. The following letter of His Holiness Pius VI to the Most Rev. Anthony Martini, on his Translation of the Holy Bible into Italian, shows the benefit which the faithful may reap from their having the Holy Scriptures in the Vulgar Tongue, “At a time that a vast number of bad books, which most grossly attack the Catholic Religion, are circulated, even among the unlearned, to the great destruction of souls, you judge exceedingly well, that the faithful should be EXCITED TO THE READING of the Holy Scriptures; for these are the most abundant sources which ought to be left open to everyone to draw from them purity of morals and of doctrine, to eradicate the errors which are so widely disseminated in these corrupt times, etc.”
Then why did Pope Clement XI., in 1713, condemn the doctrine that the Bible is for all to read?
He did not condemn the doctrine that it is good to read Scripture. He merely condemned the theory that it is necessary to do so in order to know what is Christianity. Christ’s method was to establish a teaching Church, it being necessary to be taught by that Church. He did not order the Apostles to peddle Bibles. If the reading of Scripture were necessary to salvation, Christ would have written a book instead of giving the commission to His Apostles to teach, adding: “He that heareth you, heareth me.” And before the discovery of printing could Christ make the possibility of His religion dependent upon that discovery by John Gutenberg? How about the illiterate and the unlearned of all history? It is absurd to make the Printed Page the Pope of religion. Pope Clement XI. wisely condemned the proposition that the reading of Scripture is necessary to all.
Have you a correct translation of the Bible?
Yes. We have one that is recognized by Protestant scholars as being a substantially true translation. A Catholic is forbidden to read those Protestant Versions in which there are many mistranslations and in which the text is often distorted to suit the enemies of the Catholic Church. Counterfeit texts are no longer the Word of God.
You Catholics seem afraid that Catholics will be harmed by the reading of Scripture.
Even granted a most perfect and correct version, thousands of people have been harmed by the reading of Scripture, thinking themselves capable of interpreting it aright. The Pharisees read Scripture, yet managed to use, or misuse, quotations from the Bible as an argument against Christ, just as men today quote Scripture as an argument against the true Church of Christ, the Catholic Church.
You say that you have a Bible and that Catholics can read the Bible, but do they do so?
Some do and some don’t. All are free to do so, but it is not absolutely necessary that they should give themselves to the private reading of Scripture.
I know many Catholics who have no Bible in their homes.
Catholics are quite free to possess and read approved versions of the Bible; good Catholics will see to it that they have in their homes the One Book given to the world by God.
I have known Catholics to admit that they have never read the Bible, so why doesn’t the Catholic Church teach it to them?
The doctrines of the Bible are taught to her people by the Catholic Church more faithfully than by any other Church on earth. The Bible tells us that Christ is God and this, Protestant ministers in growing numbers deny. The Bible tells us that Christ established a living, visible Church and this Protestants deny. The Bible tells us that the consecrated bread and wine is the true Body and Blood of our Lord and this Protestants deny. The Bible tells us that Christ’s ministers of reconciliation have the power to forgive sins and this Protestants refuse to believe. The Bible condemns divorce even in the case of adultery and this Protestants by practice consider as nonsense. Catholics know more fundamental doctrine than the man who, parrot-like, can quote the Bible. Knowledge of text is not knowledge of doctrine. Some Catholics do not read the Bible very much, but they know the doctrines taught by the Bible more clearly than any other Christian people on earth. A Catholic may be at a loss when you quote some particular text, but he knows clearly what must be done to save one’s soul and he knows all that Christ condemns; namely, divorce, birth prevention, mercy killings, sterilisation, prohibition, the injustices of Capital and Labor, etc.
You must admit that Protestants love the Scriptures more than Catholics.
How can they when they slaughter all the doctrines taught by Christ?
Protestants have a true copy of the Bible.
How can they when they cut out seven books from the Old Testament; namely, Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, the two Books of Machabees, and the various sections of other Books. They have many errors in their supposedly true copy of the Bible.
Do you accuse the Protestant translators of grossly infamous conduct in tampering with the text?
I absolutely do. Dixon, in his “Introduction to Scripture” says, “That the early Protestant translations were full of gross errors no unprejudiced Protestant will now deny, and that these errors were wilful, Ward, in his ‘Errata’, satisfactorily proves.” Blunt, in his “Key to the Knowledge and Use of the Bible” says, “The characters of the translators were not such as to command the respect of men.” Robert Gell writes that “Truth was often outvoted. Dogmatic interests were in some cases allowed to bias the translation. The Calvinism of one party, the prelatic views of another, were both represented at the expense of accuracy.”
Is not the Douay Version poorer in English than the Protestant Version?
The Douay Version is not a version deliberately accommodated to Catholic teaching. It is a substantially true Version which, because true, necessarily indicates the Catholic Church as the true Church. For that is the truth of Scripture. From a literary point of view, it is a less beautiful translation than that of the Authorized Version, because it is a more exact translation. When a foreign language, classical or modem, is translated into English, the more one clings to the text, the less purely literary beauty one attains in the new language. To obtain a more beautiful rendering one must translate more freely, thus more or less forfeiting the exact sense of the original. But in the matter of God’s Word, we want, not so much literary beauty, but just what God intended. And for that, the Douay Version far surpasses the Authorized Version, despite its rather awkward literary structure at times.
It is much better to have the Bible out of the hands of Rome.
Henry VIII. himself will answer that for you in his last pathetic speech to Parliament: “I am extremely sorry to find how much the Word of God is abused; with how little reverence it is mentioned; how it is turned into wretched rhymes, sung and jangled in every ale house and tavern; and all this in a false construction and countermeaning 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. ” Due to taking the Bible out of the hands of Rome by the end of the sixteenth century we find 270 sects and because of this, Dr. Walton writes in the Preface to his own Polyglot Bible, “There is no fanatic or clown from the lowest dregs of the people who does not give you his own dreams as the Word of God. For the bottomless pit seems to have been set open from whence a smoke has risen which has obscured the heavens and the stars, and locusts are come out with wings - a numerous race of sectarians and heretics, who have renewed all the old heresies, and invented monstrous opinions of their own. These have filled our cities, villages, camps, houses - nay, our churches and pulpits, too, and lead the poor deluded people with them to the pit of perdition.”
Is not the Catholic Church arrogant in claiming the Bible as her own?
The Bible is her book and you cannot disprove it. She has preserved it and she alone knows what it means. No one else has any right to it whatsoever, or any authority to declare what the texts mean. The work of translating it, of printing it, and editing it, belongs strictly to her alone and if she cannot prevent those outside her jurisdiction from tampering with it and misusing it then she will take care that her own children must avoid perusal of counterfeit Bibles. History shows that the Church has been wise in prohibiting private persons from translating the Bible without ecclesiastical authority. For instance, look at what Judge Rutherford has done with the Bible. The Church is very wise in prohibiting the faithful from reading Bibles that are not approved by her, for she desires that the pure, uncorrupted Gospel should be placed into the hands of the people. Mr. Allnatt (in his “Bible and the Reformation”) says, “That all the early Protestant versions of the Bible literally swarmed with gross and flagrant corruptions — corruptions consisting in the wilful and deliberate mistranslation of various passages of the sacred text, and all directly aimed against those doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church which the ‘Reformers’ were most anxious to uproot. They did give the people an ‘Open Bible,’ but what a Bible.” Hence, to hate the Bible is one thing, and to prohibit a false version like the notorious Wycliffe, Tyndale and Coverdale Bibles is quite another.
The Bible, and the Bible alone, is enough for me.
Which Bible? Have you the right Bible? Are you certain that your Bible contains all and only the true words that came down from the hands of Apostles and Evangelists? Are you positive that no other word has been inserted by man or dropped out deliberately by man? Have you an exact copy of the Holy Scriptures identical with the writings from Moses to St. John? If you haven’t then why talk about the Bible and the Bible alone theory? How do you know the Bible came from God? Do you prove it by the intrinsic merit of the writings or do you rely upon the religious quality of the Scriptures as sufficient evidence? The intrinsic merit of the Bible and the inspiration it gives the reader is no argument that it has God as the author for we have other books as, for instance, “The Following of Christ,” which is much more inspiring than some parts of the Bible. We know that the Bible is the Word of God, because the Catholic Church that gave the Bible to the world says so. You, to believe in the Bible, must admit some third party to come between you and God. The Catholic has as his third party, the Catholic Church which comes between him and God to tell him what’s what about the Bible.
The Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father is in the Bible, but the Catholic prayer differs from the Protestant.
Protestants use a conclusion which was not in the original Greek copies of the New Testament, namely, “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen. ” Catholics say the Lord’s Prayer properly, for the Protestant conclusion taken from the King James Version is a marginal gloss, put in there by some copyist, who had in mind words borrowed from the Greek liturgy. They were rejected as not authentic by St. Jerome in the fourth century, as they have been rejected by the authors of the Revised Version of 1881. Some versions put these words today in parentheses. Even the King James Version omits this gloss in Luke 11: 4. Such an addition was not uttered by Our Lord and that is why Catholics do not use it. This is an excellent example of how errors occur in the various copies made by old scribes. Pious Bible students may hold up their hands in horror and cry out, “There are no mistakes in the Bible. It is all inspired. It is God’s own Book.” Yes. But God never guaranteed that every individual scribe who took in hand the copying of the New Testament would never copy wrongly. The original Scripture is free from error because God is the author of the original.
Are any of the original writings of Moses or Paul, or John in existence today?
No. None of the originals exist today, but we know from history and tradition that these were the books they wrote. What we have now is the printed Bible; but before the invention of printing in 1438, the Bible existed only in handwriting or manuscript form. We have in our possession now copies of the Bible in manuscript which date back as early as the fourth century. We have not the originals but copies of the originals for several reasons: (1) The persecutors of the Church for the first 300 years destroyed everything Christian they could lay their hands on. (2) The material upon which the inspired writers wrote was papyrus, a frail, brittle, perishable, substance not destined to last long. (3) When copies were made of the originals for the various Churches there was not the same necessity for preserving the originals. The early Christians certainly did not consider it necessary for salvation that the very handwriting of St. Paul, etc. , should be preserved. Since they had the living, infallible Church to teach and guide them, they were content with mere COPIES of the original works of the authors. Manuscript or handwritten copies of the Bible known to be in existence number about 3,000 today. None have yet been found earlier than the fourth century.
Why did Luther reject 7 books from the Bible?
Because they did not suit his new doctrines. He had arrived at the principle of private judgment-of picking and choosing religious doctrines; and whenever any book, such as the Book of Machabees, taught a doctrine contrary to his taste he rejected it overboard and overboard that book went because it says (in 2 Machabees 12:46) : “it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from sins.” He not only cast out certain books, but he mutilated some that were left. For example, not pleased with St. Paul’s doctrine, “we are justified by faith,” Luther added the word “ALONE” to make the sentence read: “We are justified by faith alone.” His explanation of this insertion is found in his own words, “I know very well that the word ‘alone’ is not in the Latin and Greek texts; but Dr. Martin Luther will have it so, and I order it to be so, and my will is reason enough.” St. Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Luther creates a Lutheran Bible under his own audacity. He shows little respect for the Bible when he calls the Epistle of St. James “an Epistle of straw with no character of the Gospel in it.” He spoke disparagingly about the Epistle of St. Jude, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the beautiful Apocalypse of St. John.
Were there other writings besides the New Testament esteemed as Scripture?
Before 397 A. D. there were 3 classes of sacred writings being read in the Churches. First, there were the genuine writings accepted universally by the Christian Church which hailed this first group of writings as actually written by the Apostles whose names they bore. The second class of sacred writings, which were being used by the Churches, was the disputed class. In some places they were accepted as genuine Scripture and in other places they were not so accepted. In this second class, or disputed list, were St. James, St. Jude, the second Epistle of St. Peter, the second and third Epistle of St. John, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Book of Revelation (Apocalypse). Then there was a third class of writings spread about, which was never accepted by any of the Churches as genuine Scripture, books which contained all sorts of fanciful stories or fables of the early life of Our Lord. In 397, the Catholic Church gave a definite decision as to which should be admitted into the Bible and which should be rejected, and every book which is in the Protestant New Testament today, was put there by Pope Siricius and the Catholic Bishops in the year 397 A. D. If Christ had intended that men should learn Christianity from the New Testament, what about the hundreds who lived before the first Bible was given to the world by the Catholic Church?
You seem to undervalue the written Word of God.
No. I am simply showing the position it was meant to occupy in the Christian Church. It was written by the Church; it belongs to the Church and it is her prerogative to declare what it means. It is intended for enlightenment, meditation, spiritual reading, encouragement, exhortation, devotion, and it also gives testimony of the Church’s doctrines. It is not a complete guide to heaven.
Is the Old Testament a civil and political history of the Jews?
No. It is their history as the Chosen People of God, chosen as the receivers and carriers of His progressive Revelation through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and the Prophets. The Old and New Testaments can be called a great work of UNITY, since the Old Testament looks forward to the one central figure, the Messiah, Jesus Christ and the New Testament looks back to that Messiah.
Didn’t the Apostles intend to make the New Testament a compendium of Christian doctrine?
The books of the New Testament were produced as a result of special circumstances that arose among the converts. They were written to meet the particular demands and emergencies of the time. The authors never dreamed of writing the New Testament or composing works which would one day be taken as the sole rule of religion. The Apostles would stand dazed if told that what they wrote would one day be held up as the complete and exhaustive statement of Christian doctrines. No writings were ever intended to be used as an easy guide in faith and morals, independent of any living and teaching authority to interpret them. St. Paul himself says, “How shall they hear without a preacher? How shall they preach unless they be sent? Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.” When the Apostles speak they claim to speak with Divine authority and they nowhere claim to be laying down a system of Christian doctrine. Their teaching was at first ORAL, and it was no part of their intention to create a permanent literature. They wrote to believers, not to unbelievers. The Church existed and functioned before they wrote anything.
Before a line in the New Testament was written (1) Christ established His Church; (2) the Apostles preached Christ’s Gospel; (3) St. Peter converted 3,000 Jews; (4) Council of Jerusalem was assembled; (5) Jewish ceremonial law was abrogated.
Before the last book in the New Testament was written (1) the Catholic Church celebrated her golden jubilee; (2) 11 of the Apostles had died.
Hence, THE BIBLE CAME FROM THE CHURCH. THE CHURCH DID NOT COME FROM THE BIBLE. Christianity existed over 300 years without one single Bible Christian.
Did Jesus Christ write any of the New Testament?
Our Blessed Lord Himself never, so far as we know, wrote a line of Scripture. He never told His Apostles to write anything, and He certainly did not command them to commit to writing what He had revealed to them. He never said, “Go and write,” but He did say, “Go ye and teach all nations,” “Preach the Gospel to every creature,” “He that heareth you heareth Me.” He, therefore, commanded them to do just what He was doing; namely, delivering the Word of God to the people by the living voice by which they were to convince, persuade, instruct, and convert. Faith was to be won by hearing, not by reading. Christ did not entrust His message to a dead book which might perish and be destroyed, mutilated, counterfeited, misinterpreted by man.
The very action of Christ proves that the Word of God was to be preserved by a Living Tradition and not by a Written Message.
What is the Protestant and Catholic position on the Bible?
The Protestant, believing in Christ, holds that He left no authoritatively teaching Church, but only the Bible, which each individual may read and interpret for himself on the principle of “private judgment. ” All churches are manmade. No one of them was founded by Christ. The Catholic, believing in Christ, holds that He founded an authoritative Church which has the right to guide all her members in matters of faith and morals. The Catholic believes the Church is infallible and cannot make a mistake or teach error. The Catholic goes to the Church as his immediate Guide and Teacher. The Catholic believes in the Bible and Tradition, whilst the Protestant believes in the Bible alone.
What is the difference between the Hebrew, Protestant, and Catholic Bibles?
The Hebrew Bible contains only books of the Old Testament, since the orthodox, reformed, or liberal Jew does not accept our Lord as the Messiah. The Palestinian Jews had 39 books in the Old Testament and the Alexandrian Jews and the Jews of Dispersion had 46 books in their Bible. The Protestant Bible contains in the Old Testament, 39 books of the Palestinian Jews and the 27 books of the New Testament, 66 books in all. The Catholic Bible contains 46 books of the Alexandrian Canon or list of Old Testament books and the 27 books of the New Testament, 73 books in all.
Besides the difference of numbers of books is there any other difference between Catholic and Protestant Bibles?
A serious difference is in the accuracy of translation. Protestant preachers and Bishops have written volumes to point out the errors in the King James Version and the Revised Version. In a convention of ministers at St. Louis, Mo. , some years ago, a Presbyterian minister urged the necessity of a new translation of the Protestant Bible and held that there were no less than 30,000 errors. Another difference is the titles of books: “Canticle of Canticles” for “Solomon’s Song,” “Apocalypse” for “Book of Revelation … . . First and Second Kings,” for “First and Second Samuel,” etc.
Why are the names in the Protestant Bible spelled differently from those in the Catholic Bible?
The Protestant version has, for instance, Nebuchadnezzar, the Catholic Nabuchodonosor. The Protestant forms follow the Hebrew, the vocalised text of which was fixed by the Massoretes between the fifth and seventh centuries after Christ; the Catholic forms follow the Greek which was fixed about the second century before Christ. The Catholic spelling has been in some cases confirmed by archeological discoveries.
You say the Church came before the Bible.
YES. The books of the New Testament were scattered around the Mediterranean civilisation for 300 years before the writings were gathered up and compiled into one collection. It is a fact of history that the Council of Carthage (397 A. D. ) settled the Canon Table of Contents of the New Testament as we Catholics have them today.
Was there ever a collection of the Scriptures before 397?
We find lists of books of the New Testament drawn up by St. Athanasius, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and many other authorities, but their lists do not correspond perfectly to the collection we possess now. It was the Council of Carthage (397 A.D.) that settled all doubts on the canon or list of books which all Christendom had until the Reformers changed that list. If other lists of books existed before 397, then the action of the Council of Carthage teaches the world that the Catholic Church selected, sifted, and stamped with her authority the Scriptures of the New Law. It is through the Catholic Church that Protestants get their Bible. Imagine what standing Protestantism would have if the Catholic Church were indeed the enemy of the Bible and had destroyed all manuscripts in the days of the infant Church.
What do you mean by Inspiration of the Bible? Does God act as the author of every word written?
Inspiration means the fact that God as the author of each and every book of the Bible did not take away from Moses, David, Isaias, the Apostles, etc., anything at all except the power to write something God did not want them to write. Moses, for instance, could not write what God did not want him to write or in a way God did not want him to write. His writing was controlled by God, yet it still left him a free human agent and author. God allowed freedom of style to each writer, but God was responsible for each and everything the writer wrote. God may inspire the very words they use, but this is not essential to the motion of inspiration. We may hold, for example, that Moses is the author of the first 5 books of the Bible, but the Biblical Commission tells us that we are not bound to believe that Moses wrote or dictated everything himself. Writing under inspiration he may have “committed it to one or more to write, yet in such a way that they should faithfully express his meaning, write nothing or omit nothing against his will, and that the work… approved by Moses, the chief inspired author, should be published in his name.”
What do you mean by the Vulgate Edition?
Translations of the Bible were made into Latin, Armenian, Syriac and Coptic, Arabic and Ethiopic for the benefit of Christians in these lands. Latin first appeared in 150 A. D. and other translations into Latin later. The best and grandest Latin version was made by St. Jerome and this was called the “Vulgate” - that is, the common, or current or accepted version. St. Jerome, who was a monk, and the most learned scholar of his day, at the request of Pope St. Damasus in 382 A. D. made his fresh Latin translations correcting the existing Latin versions with the Greek manuscripts he could find.
Is the Vulgate the official version of your Church?
St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate is the official text in the Catholic Church, and all Protestant and Catholic scholars admit it to be the best down to the Reformation. The Council of Trent, in 1546, issued a decree, stamping it as the only recognised and authoritative version allowed to Catholics. The English Douay Version comes from the Vulgate.
The Bible was not printed in any language until 1500 years after the birth of Christ.
How could it when there was no such thing as printing? What would happen to the Protestant principle “the Bible and the Bible alone,” if printing were never discovered? If we lived before Mr. John Gutenberg discovered the art of printing in the fifteenth century we should have to read manuscripts of some monk or nun who wrote out a copy of the Bible on pages of parchment or vellum. Are we to convert the world by peddling printed Bibles to the heathen and unconverted sinners? How about those who lived before the Bible was printed? How were nations made familiar with Christianity before the discovery of printing? Christ desired to save those who lived before printing was discovered as well as those who lived after its discovery. If the reading of the Bible is the only medium of salvation, how about those who cannot read and those who are too poor to buy one?
THE BLUNDERING BLUNDER OF ALL HISTORY is that people fail to understand that for the first 300 years of Christianity there was not one single BIBLE CHRISTIAN in the world and that they do not sufficiently realise, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the fact that the Bible was not multiplied in printed copies until 1,400 years after Christ.
Do all ministers believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God?
No. Professor G. H. Betts, of the Northwestern University, not long ago sent out a list of 56 questions on religion and theology to 1,309 Protestant ministers then in active service, and to 5 Protestant theological seminaries. Between 700 and 800 ministers replied, and also a large number of students in the 5 seminaries. Here are the results concerning the Bible as published by Prof. Betts, himself a Protestant, 2 percent of the Lutheran ministers, 38 percent of the Baptist ministers, 56 percent of the Presbyterian ministers, 60 percent of the Episcopalian ministers, 65 percent of the Methodist ministers, 83 percent of the Congregational ministers, and 92 percent of the students denied or doubted the divine inspiration of the Scriptures. In view of this astounding revelation we see who, indeed, is the enemy of the Bible.
Protestant sects claim to be founded on the Bible, and the Bible alone. THEN WHY IS IT THAT WE HAVE SO MANY OF THEM?
It is just because there are so many different interpretations as to what the Bible means. It is the sad result of the doctrine of the right of private judgment. Every Protestant denomination claims to be founded on the Scriptures. Then how can they all be right? Is the Methodist right, or the Lutheran, or the Baptist or the Episcopalian? They can’t be right for they all differ in doctrine and government. If they do not differ, then why are they separated? Protestantism says, “Let each one read the Bible for himself and then the Holy Ghost will guide him into the truth.” Well, then the Holy Ghost must be blamed for the Babylon of religions around us. If the Holy Ghost guides one man he becomes a Baptist, if he guides another he becomes something else and so on until people give up religion entirely. The Holy Ghost inspires no one using his own private interpretation. The Holy Ghost was guaranteed to the Church and not to individuals in the teaching of truth.
By way of analogy, suppose our Constitution of the United States could be termed our Bible of Democracy. Just think what confusion would happen if every Tom, Dick, and Harry using the right of private judgment interpreted the laws of our nation as he felt himself inspired by the Holy Ghost. See what would soon happen to our 48 states if we didn’t have the Supreme Court to tell us what the Constitution is saying. Without the Supreme Court our nation would come to an end as a democracy if we tolerated in government the absurd and fallacious principle of private judgment. As we must maintain a Supreme Court in government is it not all the more rational and reasonable that we have a Supreme Authority to interpret the Bible, our Constitution of Christianity, to avoid religious confusion? The proper authority to interpret the Bible is the Supreme Court of the Catholic Church, which gave the Bible to the world.
Was Luther responsible for the private judgment theory?
Yes. It was inaugurated by him and shortly after, when he saw the numerous sects growing and multiplying, he said in his Epis. ad. Zwingli (ap. Balmes, p. 423), “If the world lasts for a long time, it will again be necessary, on account of the many interpretations which are now given to the Scriptures, to receive the decrees of councils, and take refuge in them, in order to preserve the unity of faith.”
Did Luther ever acknowledge the danger of private judgment?
He says this, as quoted in “An Meine Kritiker” (by Johannes Jorgensen, p. 181), “There are almost as many sects and beliefs as there are heads; this one will not admit Baptism; that one rejects the Sacrament of the altar; another places another world between the present one and the day of judgment; some teach that Jesus Christ is not God. There is not an individual, however clownish he may be, who does not claim to be inspired by the Holy Ghost, and who does not put forth as prophecies his ravings and dreams.” We have over 60 millions of Americans quite indifferent to the doctrines of their Protestant ancestors precisely because – “In Religion, What damned error, but some sober-brow Will bless it, and approve it with a text?”
Some books speak of 72 books and others speak of 73 books in the Catholic Bible.
Some editors unite the Prophecies of Jeremias with the Lamentations of Jeremias and make one book out of both, thereby accounting for 72 books, and other editors separate Jeremias and Lamentations entirely into two books making thereby 73 books.
Where do you get the statement that Luther discovered the Bible?
In the Lutheran World Almanac and Annual Encyclopedia for 1923, you will find the hoary falsehood running thus: The “incomparable Luther” gave to the world “The Open Bible…” “In the university he discovered a chained Latin Bible,” the study of which “brought him the peace of mind which he craved the assurance of justification and of salvation by faith alone, without the works of the law…” That there was a “chained” Latin Bible in the university is very likely. Even today public telephone books are chained for the purpose of keeping them in their proper place. Bibles were chained down to the pulpit, rostrum or monastery table, for there were thieves in those days as there are thieves today. The Church chained the Bible not to keep the Bible from but for the people. A Bible in those days, declares the Protestant scholar, Dr. Maitland, would cost anywhere from $1,000 up, because it was a manuscript copy made on costly parchment or vellum. You will find Bibles still chained down today in churches on the continent of the Old World, in monasteries, and twentieth century museums for obvious reasons. That Luther had access to the Bible in his youth is attested by himself in his “Table Talks” (ed. 1566, p. 22). “When I was young, I acquainted myself with the Bible, read the same often, so that I knew where any reference was contained and could be found when anyone spoke about it.”
The Gospel of Christ is simplicity itself.
In one way it is. It tells us clearly that Christ established a definite Church which He commissioned to teach all nations. It is very simple from this point of view, for men have but to accept the Catholic Church, and be taught by that Church. But the Gospel is not simplicity itself in the way you intend. Men have devoted their lives to the study of the Gospels, preparing themselves for the task by profound research in the Hebrew, Syrian, Arabic, Greek, and Latin languages. And even then, many passages are most difficult to understand.
But at least the plan of salvation can he understood by the simplest person. We Protestants even tell our children to read their Bibles in order to discern it.
According to the findings of your simple readers there must be hundreds of conflicting plans of salvation, all revealed by the one Christ. As for the capacity of your children, you might as well give them the article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica on “Spectroscopic Analysis” as the subject matter of their studies. But the Bible itself is against your theory. Thus, St. Peter says (in 2 Pet. 3:16) that in Scripture there are certain things “hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” To his mind the private interpretation of Scripture can be most dangerous.
God has given us brains to think for ourselves. We do not need help to understand Scripture.
God had given men brains before He came to teach them Himself, and He came to teach them precisely because their brains could not succeed in finding out the things which were to their peace. If you say that His revealed teachings in the Scriptures together with our brains are enough, those very revealed teachings tell you that they are not. Even in the Old Law, God said (in Malachy 2:7) “The lips of the priest shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth.” In the New Law, Christ sent His Church to teach men, transferring to His Church that authority of God once possessed by the priests of the Old Law. In the New Testament itself (in Acts 8:30), we find Philip the Deacon saying to the Ethiopian, who was reading the Scriptures, “Thinkest thou that thou understandest what thou readest?” and the Ethiopian replying, “And how can I unless some man show me?” St. Peter (in 2 Peter 1:20), too, explicitly refutes your ideas. “No prophecy of Scripture,” he writes, “is of any private interpretation.”
St. Peter means that the prophets did not prophesy by their own will, but by the Holy Spirit. He does not refer to interpretation by us.
Your own Protestant Bishop Ellicott says of these verses. “The words ‘private interpretation’ might seem to mean that the sacred writers did not get their prophecies by private interpretation, but by divine inspiration. But this is certainly not the meaning. The real meaning is that the reader must not presume to interpret privately that which is far more than ordinary human thought.”
Any man who can think has the moral right to interpret anything.
He has not. The very laws of the state are not subject to the interpretation of each and every citizen. There is such a thing as thinking erroneously. In difficulties of civil law a man consults a lawyer who knows legal practice and parallel statutes. Who gives you the right to take greater liberties with divine legislation? A man who knows nothing of Hebrew or Greek, and is quite untrained in Scriptural exegesis, would misapprehend the sense of Scripture in hundreds of places.
Did not Christ promise that He would send the Holy Spirit to teach us all truth?
He did not promise that the Holy Spirit would teach each individual separately. If every individual were under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, all who read Scripture sincerely should come to the same conclusion. But they do not. The frightful chaos as to the meaning of Scripture is proof positive that the Holy Spirit has not chosen this way of leading men to the truth. It is blasphemy to say that the Holy Spirit does not know His own mind, and that He deliberately leads men into contradictory notions. Christ promised to preserve His church as a Church by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the only Church which shows signs of having been preserved is the consistent Catholic Church. The individual is guided by the Holy Spirit to a certain extent in the ways of holiness, but in the knowledge of revealed truth he is to be guided by the Catholic Church which Christ sent to teach all nations.
I don’t see the need of learning to understand a simple story for simple people.
The Bible is not a simple story for simple people. We live thousands of years after the Bible was written, and our language and customs are very different now. No book written at one age is easy for another age. The study of antiquities demands a knowledge of primitive languages of which few are capable, and for which still fewer have the time. Anyway, God never intended the Bible to be the sole guide to religion for all time. Christ taught orally and with authority, and He sent His Church to teach in the same way and with the same authority.
How does it help to know Hebrew or Greek?
Because one must know what the original words meant in the language in which Scripture was written. A knowledge of Hebrew and Greek soon shows that the translators do not always find an English word to express the exact sense of the original. God inspired the thoughts of the original writers, not the work of the translators. And if you read a sense into Scripture which God did not intend at all, you no longer have God’s Word.
Christ chose poor fishermen, not learned men.
He trained them personally, and infused into their minds an exact knowledge of His doctrine. We cannot claim to have received a similar revelation, that we should rank ourselves with them.
Then Catholics have to believe just what the priest likes to tell them?
The priest cannot tell the people just what he likes. He is obliged to teach just what Christ taught, and which has been taught him in the Name of Christ by the infallible Catholic Church.
Is your Church afraid that people will form opinions for themselves?
If we consider some of the opinions people have formed for themselves from their private reading of Scripture there is need to be afraid. Christ’s method was to establish a teaching Church. Protestants have a peculiar method of their own, but you cannot blame the Catholic Church for not using the Protestant method, a method which has led to nothing but uncertainty and widespread unbelief.
Admitting the necessity of guidance, are not our Protestant ministers as capable as Catholic priests in telling us what Scripture means?
They might be, if priests had not an infallible Catholic Church to guide them. The Catholic Church rejoices in the special assistance of the Holy Spirit, and the priest has the help of her defined doctrines and the constant Catholic tradition as a safeguard. But your Protestant ministers do not claim to be spokesmen of an infallible Church. On their own principles they have to admit that they are possibly wrong. And, as a matter of fact, where all priests are agreed in the essential teachings of Scripture, your ministers come to all kinds of contradictory conclusions. The unity of teaching among Catholic priests is a greater indication of capability than the chaos which prevails outside the Catholic Church. But the capability of Catholic priests has little to do with authoritative teaching. It is derived from the authority of the infallible Catholic Church.
You speak of the authority of the Church and the weight of tradition. But I have been taught that Scripture is the only rule of faith.
You have been taught wrongly. Scripture itself denies that it is the only rule of faith. The last verse of St. John’s Gospel tells us that not all concerning our Lord’s work is contained in Scripture. St. Paul tells us over and over again that many might be able to cite hundreds of texts yet not know Christian doctrine by any means. In fact, the adoption of the Bible only has led to as many opinions as there are men-amongst non-Catholics. Finally, Scripture tells us most clearly that the Catholic Church is the rule of faith, that Church which Christ sent to teach all nations and which He commanded men to hear and obey. He who believes in Scripture as his only guide ends by believing in his own mistaken interpretations of the Bible, and that means that he ends by believing in himself.
Is not the Church built on the knowledge it gets from the Bible?
No. The Catholic Church was built by Christ and upon Christ before a line of the New Testament was written. She received her doctrine immediately from the lips of Christ, and is safeguarded from error in her teaching by the Holy Spirit. Between 40 and 80 years after her foundation, some of her members wrote the books of the New Testament. If the Gospels were the only rule of faith, then before they were written there could have been no Christian rule of faith at all!
Christ (in John 5:39) gave us the command to search the Scriptures.
That was a retort, not a command, and you cannot turn a particular rebuke into a universal law. Were it a universal law, it would have been impossible of fulfilment by the vast majority during the 14 centuries prior to the invention of the printing press! But take the context. The Jews, who boasted of their fidelity to the Mosaic Law, would not believe in Christ. He challenged them: “(you) search the Scriptures, for you think in them to have life everlasting; and the same are they that give testimony of me.” The Catholic Church could say in the same way to Protestants: “You are ever speaking of searching the Scriptures as opposed to my methods, and think in them to have everlasting life independently of me; yet the same are they that give testimony of me.”
Do we not read (in Acts 17:11) that the early Christians searched the Scriptures daily?
They first received the true doctrine from the teaching Church, and then merely checked it in the Scriptures. That is the right procedure, and Catholics today do the same. But your way is not first to be taught by the Church, and then verify, but to try to make out your own religion from the Bible with an untrained mind and by that private interpretation which Scripture itself forbids.
Well, I am afraid of nothing as long as I have the pure Word of God to fall back upon.
Without the Catholic Church you cannot prove it to be the pure Word of God. Nor need anyone be afraid of the pure Word of God. What we must fear is the Word of God adulterated by people who read into it whatever they like.
I object to the way you put human traditions on the same level as Scripture.
As a source of doctrine the Catholic Church relies upon divinely guaranteed tradition, not upon merely human tradition. This divine tradition is the teaching of Christ, given orally to the Apostles and handed down in the Church, although not written in the pages of the New Testament.
Then you appeal to tradition in addition to Scripture?
Yes, and I am quite Biblical in doing so. Christ sent the Apostles to teach all things that He had taught them. In the last verse of his Gospel, St. John tells us that not all is written in Scripture. If all is to be taught, and all is not set down in Scripture, part of Christian doctrine must be elsewhere. Where? St. Paul tells us clearly (in 2 Thessalonians 2:14), “Brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our Epistle.” And (in 2 Timothy 1:13) “Hold the form of sound words which you have heard of me in faith.” And (in 2 Timothy 2:2) “The things thou hast heard of me by many witnesses, the same commend to faithful men, who shall be fit to teach others also.” All Christians from the very beginning believed that Christian revelation was contained not only in Scripture, but also in tradition. Acts 2:42, tells us that “they were persevering in the doctrine of the Apostles,” that is, in the oral teaching of the Apostles which they taught to one another, and handed on to their children. Those who repudiate tradition have lost the complete doctrine of Christ.
I do not question traditions contained in Scripture. I object to the Roman traditions which are not in Scripture and which are against Scripture.
The Catholic Church rejects all traditions which are against Scripture. She accepts divine traditions which are complementary to Scripture, and which are in perfect harmony with the principles taught in Scripture. The traditions themselves cannot be in Scripture for the traditional Word of God cannot be the written Word of God. But Scripture itself says that tradition exists, and that it is of equal authority with the written Word of God.
Did not Christ (in Mathew 15:3) blame the Pharisees, saying, “Why do you transgress the commandment of God for your tradition”?
He did, but he called it their tradition, condemning their erroneous and merely human tradition, not the right traditions to which, according to St. Paul, we must hold fast. You quote this text merely because it happens to contain the word tradition, and without any appreciation of its true sense.
St. Paul himself warns us (in Colossians 2:8), “Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy and vain deceit; according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ.”
The text warns us against wrong traditions, but in no way condemns traditions which are not merely of human invention, but which are according to Christ. St. Paul does not contradict his own teaching.
St. Peter (in 1 Peter 1:18) condemns tradition, saying, “You were not redeemed by your vain conversation of the tradition of your fathers.”
This is not a condemnation of Christian traditions, but of doctrines held by those to whom St. Peter wrote, and handed on to them by human tradition from their fathers. These were the traditions our Lord condemned in Matt. 15:3.
I admit the force of Apostolic traditions for the early Christians. But they could be sure of them as we cannot today.
Were the Apostolic traditions part of the Christian faith then? Is it therefore impossible to know the full Christian truth now? Did Christ mean it when He said that He would be with His Church all days till the very end of the world? Or would you suggest that He meant it, but could not accomplish it? He sent the Church to teach all things, yet you say that it is impossible today. Be sure that the Catholic Church has all necessary traditions embodied in her teachings. Within her fold each succeeding generation of Bishops has taught faithful men who have been fit to teach others also. But you refuse to be taught by that Church. You rely upon your own fallible judgment. And as long as you adopt that method you will never be sure, not only of the Christian traditions, but even of the true Christian doctrine to be derived from Scripture itself.
You keep insisting, not only upon tradition, but also upon the teaching authority of your Church. Why follow her interpretations?
Because we cannot safely follow the interpretation given by anybody else. All guides except the Catholic Church confess to being fallible. The Catholic Church alone claims infallibility, and proves her claim. I prefer to follow so sure a guide. Those who refuse to do so are at sixes and sevens as to the true meaning of Christianity.
Have not laymen as much intelligence as priests?
Apart from the fact that priests give, not their own human ideas, but the teachings of the Catholic Church, it is certain that the layman cannot know theological matters as do priests, even as you are not as well acquainted with jurisprudence and surgery as lawyers and doctors. A specialist in a subject, by years of study, is bound to know more of that subject than the man in the street. If an average man is so liable to error in the interpretation of human law, how can he have the vanity to think himself expert in the interpretation of divine legislation?
What special qualifications has the Catholic Church in the interpretation of Scripture?
(1) The New Testament was written by members of the Catholic Church. She existed before a line of the New Testament was written. Protestantism came on the scene centuries afterwards. The Gospels are really the family papers of the Catholic Church, and she alone, possessing the family traditions, can interpret what those family papers really mean. (2) The Catholic Church carefully and jealously preserved the Bible through the ages, so that Protestants would have no Gospel were it not for her. (3) She has been much more faithful to Scripture than any of the Protestant Churches. Whilst many Protestant leaders are prepared to sacrifice the Bible in order to appear scientific and modern, the Catholic Church consistently demands that every jot and tittle of God’s Word must be accepted in the original sense intended by God. (4) The Protestant Churches owe their separate existences to the fact that each denies that the others really know what Scripture means. (5) The Catholic Church was established by Christ as the rule of faith, and He declared that a man is to be regarded as a heathen if he will not hear the Church. The Catholic Church is the only qualified interpreter of Scripture.
The Bible tells us (in 1 Thessalonians 5:21) to prove all things. The Catholic Church demands that her adherents prove nothing, accepting all on her authority, and without question.
Have you proved all things? Your own fantastic interpretations show that you have not. The text you quote has a meaning very different from that you attribute to it. It refers to conduct. The full text is, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. From all appearance of evil refrain yourselves.” In other words, “Reflect, test, examine your conscience before you act, and do the right thing.” In the same way, St. Paul (in 1 Corinthians 11:28) said that one who desires to receive the Holy Eucharist must “prove himself, and so let him eat, for he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself.” Your interpretation of Catholic requirements is just as fantastic. The Catholic Church does not demand that her adherents prove nothing.
She wants them to examine the reasons for their Catholic faith, and prove the claims of their Church. We prove that she is the only possible Church historically, Scripturally, and logically, and that she must be infallible. Then when she speaks in the Name of Christ we reasonably accept her teachings. If I consult a doctor whom I know to be competent, I accept his decisions. I do not fight every inch of the way, disputing, arguing, and challenging his statements. So, once I know that the Catholic Church is divinely qualified to speak the truth in religious matters, I accept her decisions and definitions. Nothing could be more wise than that. In fact, it would be sheer folly to do otherwise.
What Non-Catholics say about Protestantism and the Bible:
Addressing the “Bible League,” Dr. Booth says: “If the assaults on the Scriptures continue, the time will come when to those always faithful to God there will be but one refuge, and that will be the Roman Catholic Church.”
Says the Rev. C. Tinsley, a Methodist minister: “The Bible is a very embarrassing book because of its many contradictions.”
In “History of Literature” by Hallam, we read: “The translation of the Old and the New Testaments by Luther is more renowned for the purity of his German idiom than for its adherence to the original text. Simon has charged him with ignorance of Hebrew and when we consider how late he came to a knowledge of that or the Greek language, and the multiplicity of his employments, it may be believed that his knowledge of them was far from extensive.”
The Rev. Dr. Aked, a Baptist minister, writing in “Appleton’s Magazine,” Sept. , 1908, said: “In the pages of the Protestant Version of the Bible are to be found historical errors, arithmetical mistakes, inconsistencies and manifold contradictions, and, what is far worse, one finds that the most horrible crimes are committed by men who plea, ‘God said,’ in justification of their terrible misdeeds. Moreover, the English Bible is a version of a version which is a translation of a translation. It has come down through Hebrew, Greek and Latin into English. In all its earlier stages it was copied by hand from one manuscript to another by different writers, a process certain to result in many mistakes.”
The Anglican Bishop of London, Eng., Dr. Ingraham, says: “At the present moment, there is only one Church in England that officially accepts the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God, and that Church is the Church of Rome.”
Dr. Decosta said: “The Church of Rome stands before the English-speaking world and Protestants everywhere as the solitary defender of the Bible in its integrity and entirety.”
The Rev. O. J. Nelson, of Bellingham, Wash., says: “Strictly speaking, none but the Catholic has an infallible Bible and none but the Catholic can be rightly called an orthodox Christian… There is only one Christian Church of real and consistent authority and that is the Catholic Church.”
Charles Buder, in his “Horae Biblicae,” says: “For the sacred writings which contain the Word of God, and for the traditions of the wise and good respecting it, we are almost wholly indebted, under Providence, to the zeal and exertion of the priests and monks of the Church of Rome.”
The Protestant Biblical critic, George Campbell, says: “The Vulgate may be pronounced, on the whole, a good and faithful version.”
An editorial in the New York “Sun,” says: “The time is coming, if, indeed, it has not already, when these Churches must take their stand definitely and decidedly on the question whether the Bible is of God or only of man. As it is now, the Pope is the sole bold, positive and uncompromising champion of the Bible as the Word of God.”
Rev. Dr. A. S. Crapsey, addressing the “Free Religious Association”: “Most of the Protestant denominations are drifting backward, gravitating toward the Catholic. They are losing their intellectual leadership by not keeping pace with the scholars. Protestantism will follow and obey the law of gravitation, disintegrate, and thus lose all power.”
The Methodist Bishop, Dr. Seliew: “The spirit of Protestantism is declining in America with the progress of Catholicism. It is dying, and will soon be a thing of the past.”