On Exorcism and Rome’s Authority

Exorcist-rite
Exorcism rite is based on Rome’s authority

In previous articles, the authority of Rome has been examined in the light of the Bible, its history, doctrinal and institutional consistency, and its Petrine office (its presumed succession from apostle Peter, infallibility and moral credentials).

The spiritual credential of the Roman Catholic institution, specifically in the context of its exorcisms, has also been engaged previously.

After reading The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio (Doubleday: 2009), it dawned on me that more needs to be said on this rite, as it had been sensationalised and overrated in popular culture.

I will quote mainly from Baglio’s The Rite to highlight my arguments that even in this rite, the legitimacy of Roman Catholicism is shown to be patently undermined.

The Vatican issued a decree which says:

Among her sacramentals, the Catholic Church, in obedience to the Lord’s Prayer, already in ancient times mercifully provided that through pious prayers her people may ask God to liberate the faithful from all dangers and especially from the snares of the Devil.

In a truly unique way, exorcists were established in the Church who, in imitation of Christ, could cure those obsessed by the Evil One, even by commanding demons in the name of God, so that they might depart, lest for whatever reason they do further harm to human creatures (Decree from the Congregation for Divine Worship of the Faith, Nov. 22, 1998).

This establishes that exorcism is a sacramental in which the exorcist imitates Jesus in liberating the faithful from the powers of the devil and commanding demons to depart.

This presupposes an authority that comes from Christ and is exercised uniquely by Rome. The Catechism of the Catholic Church brings this out more clearly:

When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism … Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church.” (par. 1673).

From this, it can be inferred that the rite of exorcism is based on:

1. The authority of Jesus Christ
2. What Jesus taught and did
3. Having the same results that Jesus had.

On a flip side, if this rite is based on the authority of an institution, or prevalent superstition, if it’s not based on how Jesus and the apostles expelled evil spirits and the results seen conflict with what was obtained within the pages of the New Testament, then the authority of Rome is dubious and the Jesus it appeals to is not the Jesus of the Bible.

Before I elucidate on these arguments, I want to point out that not everything stated or described in The Rite is actually false or misleading. There are parts of it that are quite revealing, though not in the way the author supposes.

For instance, it correctly draws the curtain on the existing tension between a religious institution that is blinded by its rigid structures, elitism and skepticism and the European culture which in the past relied on it for its dictates.

It quotes Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII (Pope John XXIII Community Association), that “about 25 percent of Italians, or about 14 million, are involved in some way or another in the occult.” (p. 16) Note: about 83% of Italians are Roman Catholics.

Whilst many European Catholic priests and bishops scoff at the existence of the devil and demons, Tarot card readers congest the late-night cable channels hawking their divination wares and “lucky” amulets.

It was also estimated that “as many as 8,000 satanic sects with more than 600,000 members exist within Italy” alone.

The book appealed to an occult expert, Fr. Aldo Buonaiuto, a member of the Pope John XXIII Community Association, who admits the prevalence of many hardcore satanic groups in Italy.

He classifies them into “Youth Acid” (consisting of mostly young people involved in the physical trappings of Satanism), “Power Satanism,” (those seeking power and riches from Satan) and “Apocalyptic Satanism,” which has as its goal, the total destruction of life as we know it (p. 45).

These startling realities have been fuelled, in part, by a traditional church that has failed to provide spiritual succour and a sound moral template to souls hungry for God and His intervention.

Roman Catholicism has lost much of its respectability in the West. While drowning in the cesspools of clerical concubinage, pederasty and paedophilia, it can’t be griping about satanic ritual abuse perpetrated by satanists without being hit by an irony of shame.

By whose Authority?

There are several guidelines that are laid down by Rome on how exorcism must be conducted

The Ritual itself has undergone several adjustments over the centuries and the one currently used is the 1998 Revised Ritual.

Guideline 13 of the Ritual stipulates that only a priest found worthy and nominated by a bishop of a diocese can perform an exorcism.

If a priest doesn’t have the express permission of a bishop, he can’t cast out any demon. His prayers “wouldn’t have the same effect on the demon because essentially the exorcist would be praying the Ritual in a state of disobedience and the demon would know it,” writes Baglio (p. 58).

But from the NT, it’s evident that every disciple of Christ had the authority from Christ to cast out demons. Jesus spelt it out:

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons” (Mark 16:17).

This was why the early church had no officially appointed “exorcists” since it was generally known that every Christian has received power to cast out all evil spirits.

Paul and Silas didn’t need any permission from a bishop in Philippi in order to cast out a demon from the diviner following them in Acts 16:18.

It now gets fuzzy when Baglio writes, “Not everybody has to be a Catholic, or convert to become liberated, though some do.” He appealed to the authority of Fr. Gabriele Amorth who “has exorcized Muslims and Hindus on rare occasions, but mentions that he will pray the Ritual using the name of Jesus Christ. ‘I also ask them to fulfill their spiritual duties. For example, Muslims have the obligation to pray and so I tell them to do so'” (p. 149).

So even if a person doesn’t submit to the authority of Jesus Christ, he/she is still supposedly liberated using Christ’s authority. Quite intriguing isn’t it?

Again, Jesus clearly stated that demons are expelled using His name, but this rite appeals more to the authority of Catholic icons of veneration and religious objects.

In the prologue of the book, Baglio recounts an exorcism in which the demon speaking through Anna describes seeing “St” Gemma Galgani, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Pope John Paul II and Mary the Queen herself joining the exorcists in the spirit to cast him out (pp. 7-8).

Quite a scintillating conference of spirits. But that’s not all. Baglio also informs us:

“Many exorcists invoke Mary during the Ritual. ‘The demon is so terrified of her that he will never pronounce her name. He’ll say ‘that woman’ or ‘she destroys me,’ says Father Amorth. ‘The Marian prayer, especially the rosary, is a very powerful weapon in the fight against Satan,’ explains Father Bamonte. ‘That is why [Mary] insists so much that we pray the rosary; the rosary is a prayer that really whips the demon into a frenzy’.” (p. 137)

It would seem to us that these demons are rather excited that the exorcists are perpetuating the very deception they wish to plant in the minds of many Catholics. Baglio adds:

“For the Church, these sacred objects (holy water, blessed oil, a crucifix) possess a kind of “power” because they carry the blessing of the Church (p. 119).

In plain terms, this rite is not essentially based on the authority of Jesus Christ. It’s based on the authority of an institutional hierarchy, Mary, saints, objects and like the case of Silvia recounted in the book, the promise of a demon (p. 147).

How Jesus expelled Demons

Without missing words, Jesus never performed an exorcism and was not an exorcist. Exorcism is not even biblical; it was an old Jewish ritual that was observed by the sons of Sceva – who had their clocks cleaned in return (Acts 19:12-16).

Modern exorcisms are marked by rituals, incantations, formulas, liturgies along with incense, holy water, and crucifixes. Sometimes they are interspersed with candle lighting. None of these things can expel demons.

A Roman Catholic publication says:

‘‘Elements of the rite include the Litany of Saints; recitation of the Our Father, one or more creeds, and other prayers; specific prayers of exorcism; the reading of Gospel passages and use of the Sign of the Cross’’ (Matthew Bunson, 2004 Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Almanac. Indiana, 2004, p. 137).

When we compare this complicated Roman ritualism with the simplicity and demonstration of authority with which Jesus and the apostles expelled demons, a striking contrast is seen.

For example, in Mark 1:25, ‘‘Jesus rebuked a demon, saying, ‘Be quiet, and come out of him!’’’ and he did at that instant.

Again in Mark 9:25, Jesus said, ‘‘I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!’’ The ease and brevity with which Jesus dealt with evil spirits is far from what is being practiced in the rite of exorcism.

The New Testament contains great resources for the believer’s spiritual warfare: the Saviour’s victory at Calvary (John 12:31, Rev. 12:11). The promise of overcoming (1 John 5:4-5; Rev. 21:7). The intercessory ministry of Christ (John 17:15, 20). The knowledge of Satan’s tactics (2 Cor. 2:11). The believer’s spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-17). The Holy Spirit’s indwelling power (1 John 4:4). The believer’s prayers (Matt. 6:13; Eph. 6:18-20; Mark 9:29). The instructions for defeating Satan (James 4:7-8) and the stripping of Satan and his ranks of their powers at Calvary (Col. 2:15).

Having abandoned and rejected these spiritual weapons that are mighty through God to deal with the powers of darkness, Roman Catholicism has as substitutes, carnal weapons, religious paraphernalia, fetishism and rituals that are rooted in medieval mythology and ethnic folklore.

Such traditional rites were known in the time of Christ, He simply didn’t acknowledge them.

Jesus refused to endorse their superstition and cryptic formulas because it has always been the work of devil to complicate things that are otherwise simple – especially receiving spiritual freedom.

The Jews in the time of Jesus believed demons dwelt in crumbs so Jesus had the apostles gather up the leftover bread to enjoy it.

The Jews believed demons dwelt on unwashed hands, but Jesus did not insist on ceremonial hand washing.

The Jews believed that demons prowled in deserted places, but that is exactly where Jesus goes to enjoy
communion with God the Father.

They believed that demons infested Samaria, so Jesus boldly went there. He intentionally negated these rules because they are based on human wisdom and devoid of spiritual value (William Alexander, Demonic Possession in the New Testament, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1980, pp. 28-29).

On the other hand, Rome’s belief in the “power” of the Eucharist, rosaries, medals, “holy” water, incense and images of the Virgin to vanquish demons are vestiges of older folk or sympathetic magic as well as subjective demonic manifestations.

Rome’s failed experiments

If the exorcist is actually representing or imitating the Jesus of the Bible, then the results of these exorcisms should match what we see in the Gospels.

In The Rite, Baglio makes at least seven references to fruitless exorcisms (all emphasis mine):

• A group of Catholic charismatics in Italy who tried to cast out an evil spirit from a man. “Without warning, the demon turned on them saying, ‘Who are you?’ Then he launched a bookcase at them, sending them all
to the emergency room with injuries.” (p. 63)

• A demon possessed nun named Janica who has been exorcised for 9 years without a headway (pp. 99-102).

• A statement credited to Fr. Amorth, the late Vatican foremost exorcist: “I have people that I’ve been exorcising for twenty years” (p. 130).

• A statement credited to Fr. Carmine: “the hardest thing is that the liberation never happens right away. Sometimes you need years and years, and this methodical perseverance is not only very tiring, but the demon takes advantage of it…’” (p. 134).

• Giovanna who “had been undergoing exorcisms for more than forty years, and her case was considered one of the most severe…” (p. 142).

• Beatrice who had a “grueling two-year battle involving weekly exorcisms” (p. 151). The evidence offered in support of her liberation is as deluded as her visions during the rite itself.

• Stephanie who was said to have been sexually abused by her father and was demonized. She and her husband, Chris, “searched for other priests who might be willing to help them but had been turned away each time” (pp. 170-177). They eventually didn’t receive any help.

• Maria, a twenty-seven-year-old originally from Honduras, who had been seeing demons and hearing them tell her, “You belong to us!” After the exorcism, her mother told Fr. Gary that “her daughter’s reaction to the prayers had been similar to the [pagan] exorcism in Honduras, this time it was much more intense.” (pp. 177-178). That gives little or no hope.

Neither Jesus nor the apostles spent months or years in expelling demons from people. Yet the diary of the Catholic exorcist is laden with clients who struggle fruitlessly for decades to be free from defeated foes.

In a bid to offer a convenient excuse for these failed experiments, Baglio says God “does permit it [demon possession] for some good purpose (similar to temptation).”

He cements this with a quote from John Chrysostom, “Possessed persons can obtain a twofold benefit from their condition. In the first place they can become more holy and good; secondly, having paid the debt for their sins here on earth, they can present themselves pure before the Lord.” (p. 47).

This is a colossal tragedy. Imagine being told week after week by a religious system you trust that God who sent Jesus to deliver the oppressed and destroy the works of the devil relishes your demonized state of suffering and this is how the debt of your sins will be cleared!

This is a doomed religious vessel; a destructive cage that every truth-seeking Catholic must escape from.

This work is not how exorcists are made, it’s how deceivers are schooled and the deceived are groomed.

 

 

Was Sunday Observance adopted from Paganism?

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The myth that Sunday was formerly a pagan day of worship of the sun adopted by the church, is a proverbial horse that has been ridden to death. Even worse, this ghostly horse has taken on a life of its own and has moved beyond the religious fringes where it was initially stabled.

The basic idea is this: Sunday was the established day of rest, the weekly holiday in the ancient pagan world. On this day each week, the Romans, Greeks, and other pagans, gathered in temples to worship their pagan gods, particularly the Sun-god—hence the term Sun-day.

This misinformation has been repeated so much that it’s time we threw it in the dustbin for the falsehood that it is.

In two previous articles (one/two), I’ve examined the erroneous claims made by Seventh Day Adventists regarding the Jewish sabbath and the Lord’s day from historical and biblical perspectives.

Now, I still intend to refute the tortuous, incoherent and intellectually suicidal connections they (and other religious groups adhering to the Jewish sabbath) forge between Sunday as a day of worship and ancient Greek or Roman Paganism.

1. Those making this claim of “Sunday stolen from the pagans” usually fail to back it up with historical sources. They will quote virtually anyone but a reputable historian – and by this, I mean someone whose credentials are in History and has published academic works in that field.

If you scan through SDA materials, you will observe the curious absence of citation of primary sources to corroborate their assertion of Sunday being a pagan day. Instead, they conveniently declare this information to be historical “fact” and quickly move on to their next rhetoric.

But on the odd occasion that a source is cited, it’s usually Arthur Weigall’s 1928 work “The Paganism in Our Christianity,” in which he states that the church made Sunday sacred “largely because it was the weekly festival of the sun; for it was a definite Christian policy to take over the pagan festivals endeared to the people by tradition, and to give them a Christian significance” (p. 136).

Aside from the fact that this man had cultic agenda (he was a Unitarian), SDA writers who cite him don’t disclose to their readers that he also declared:

  • The virgin birth is of pagan origin (p. 44)
  •  Jesus’ miracles are of pagan origin (p. 58)
  • Jesus didn’t really die (p. 93)
  • The Jewish Sabbath is of pagan origin (p. 136)

It’s clear that Weigall’s work is a sword that cuts three ways. If it proves Sunday to be a pagan day, it must also prove Saturday to be a pagan day, and if either assertion is to be accepted as valid, then Christianity as a whole would have to be rejected as pagan! Certainly, this is not a source a believer would want to appeal to.

2. A competent study of history and ancient Greek and Roman religions shows that neither the Romans nor the Greeks ever had a regular weekly day of rest from secular work.

Neither did they have a regular weekly festival day. They didn’t have a regular day of the week on which they gathered for pagan worship. These are facts of history.

Dudley M. Canright, a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor, researched these facts early in the 20th century. He sincerely believed Sunday worship came from paganism—since this teaching had been passed on to him. But when he began to look into the subject more fully, he came to a different conclusion.

It was at his time (c. 1913-1914) that he contacted four Greek and Roman history scholars with ten questions that he submitted to them separately. These scholars were:

F. N. Pryce of the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum.

R. Rathborn of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.

George F. Moore, Professor of Ancient Roman and Greek History, Harvard University in Cambridge.

Prof. W. H. Westerman of the University of Wisconsin.

D. M. Canright reminds us that: “All four of these specialists in ancient history agree in answering these questions though neither one knew that they had been submitted to the others yet all four exactly agree in every particular, though widely scattered … Such a unanimous agreement would settle any question in a court of law.”

These findings were published in his work, The Lord’s Day From Neither Catholics or Pagans. I reproduce here only two of the historians’ answers:

From the world renowned British Museum in London, England, Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities

Sir: I am commanded by the Assistant Keeper of Greek and Roman Antiquities to reply as follows to your questions on the ancient week:

Q. 1. Did the pagan Romans and Greeks ever have any regular weekly day of rest from secular work?
Ans. No.

Q. 2. Did they have any regular weekly festival day?
Ans. No.

Q. 3. Did they have any regular weekly day when they assembled for pagan worship?
Ans. No.

Q. 4. Did they have any special day of the week when individuals went to the temples to pray or make offerings?

Ans. No; both for Greeks and Romans the month was the unit and not the week. The Greek calendar varied in different states but the month was generally divided into three periods of ten days. The Romans reckoned from three fixed points in the month, the Kalend or first, the Nones fifth or seventh, the Ides thirteenth or fifteenth. These subdivisions in themselves had no religious significance.

Also in the Roman calendars were nundinal, or market days, at periods of eight days, or, as the Romans reckoned time. On these days farm work, etc., stopped and citizens flocked into the town markets. To some extent this may be a regular stoppage of secular work.; but it had no religious significance, except that it was considered an evil omen when the nundinal coincided with other festival days, e. g., the: Nones. The nundinal period seems derived from a blundering reminiscence of a quarter of a lunar period, and there seems no connection with the later seven days’ week (see below).

Q. 5. As Sunday was sacred to the Sun, Monday to the Moon, Saturday to Saturn, etc., were those supposed deities worshipped on their own particular days more than on any other days?

Ans. No; the old worship of the gods was disappearing when the seven-day week came about. The significance of the deities’ names was astrological, not religious, e.g., if a person were born on Monday, the moon would influence his horoscope, but the moon was never an object of common worship.

Q. 6. When was our week of seven days first introduced into the Roman calendar?

Ans. There are traces in the literature of the late republic (first cent. B.C.) that the Romans used the week of seven days for astrological purposes, in connection with the many Eastern superstitions of the period. It was probably the third century, A.D. before the seven day week came into common use.

Q. 7. From whom did the Romans learn the week of seven days?

Ans. From the Jews, alternately the Assyrians and Babylonians; the names were probably fixed by the Hellenistic Greeks.

Q. 8. Did the pagan Greeks ever adopt in common life, or in their calendar, the week of seven days?
Ans. No.

Q. 9. Did Apollo, the Sun god, either among the Romans or Greeks, have any special day on which he was worshipped with prayers or offerings more than on any other day?

Ans. There were certain set festivals at various temples; these were annual, not weekly.

Q. 10. Did the pagan reverence for Sunday have anything to do in influencing Christians to select that day as their rest day?

Ans. No; it can hardly be said that there was any special reverence for Sunday in pagan times (see answer to No. 5).

I am, sir,
Your obedient servant,
F. N. PRYCE.

3. The following was the response from George Moore, Professor of Ancient Roman and Greek History, at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Dear Sir:

There are two seven-day weeks: the Jewish week, with a Sabbath on the seventh day; and the Astrological week, with days named after the sun, moon, and five planets, in our order determined by the theories of astrology, but without any day of rest

The Astrological week first appears in Greek and Latin writings about the beginning of the Christian era … It had no use in ordinary life. Abstinence from labor on the seventh day, or on one day in seven, is a distinctively Jewish institution.

The edict of Constantine (321 A.D.) closing the courts on Sunday and prohibiting some kinds of labor on that day, is the first recognition of a seven-day week in Roman law. The ancient Romans had a market day every eight days, when the peasants came to town to market, but it was in no sense a day of rest.

In the old Roman calendar there were many days when the courts were closed and other public and private business was not done. They had also many festivals on which the people left their ordinary occupation to take part in the celebrations, but these have no periodicity like that of the week

The planetary week in which the days were named from their regents, Saturday, Sunday, etc., was an invention of the astrologers, probably in the second century, B.C., and has no relation to religion or influence upon it. Saturn, for example, was not worshipped on Saturday, nor Jupiter on Thursday. The festivals of the several gods were never weekly festivals, nor did they occur on days fixed by other divisions of the month, say the tenth day …

Private persons went to the temples when they had occasion to offer prayers or sacrifices or to make vows, etc. There were no stated days for such visits-though some days were in some temples luckier than others, and there was nothing like a stated day for the assembling of a worshipping congregation except the festivals of the local calendar.

Very truly yours,
George F. Moore.

4. One of the most detailed works on ancient Roman religion that I’ve read is, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic by Warde W. Fowler (The Project Gutenberg, e-book released in 2009).

In it, Fowler describes Roman festivals in detail but says nothing about a weekly day of worship. This would have been a strange omission if Sunday had been “a venerable day of the sun” observed by pagans in Rome. Instead, the work shows that their festivals were seasonal or monthly.

The Roman annual calendar started on March 1; April was regarded as the month of opening or unfolding vegetation; May was the month of growing and June, the month of ripening and perfecting.

The Roman calendar at the time of Christ was divided into months, not weeks; they didn’t use our modern calendar. Therefore, the idea that the Romans specially worshipped the sun on Sunday, the moon on Monday or Frigg on Friday is a hoax.

5. The Encylopedia Britannica, article “Week” says: “For a time the Romans used a period of eight days in civil practice, but in AD 321 Emperor Constantine established the seven-day week in the Roman calendar and designated Sunday as the first day of the week.”

The Encylopedia Americana on the same topic says, “The Romans and Greeks …were not acquainted with the week till a late period. The Romans had, however, for civil uses, as the arrangement of market days, a cycle of eight days, the ninth being the recurring one, instead of the eighth as with us.”

In other words, the edict of Constantine in 321 A.D. was the first time in Roman law that Sunday was set aside as a holiday. It simply means before then it wasn’t recognized as a pagan holiday of the Empire. Before Constantine, the Roman Empire had eight days in a week (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, then 1, 2, 3, 4 etc.), but he made it into seven (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 then 1, 2, 3, 4 etc)

Assuming the Roman or Greek festivals were observed weekly, this calendar eliminates the possibility of pagans holding a feast for the same deity on the same day of the week, let alone being adopted by the church. Ralph E. Woodrow aptly pointed this out:

“Now this should be carefully noticed. IF pagans gathered on the first day of the week to worship Apollo, Mithra, or some other Sun-god, this would not correspond, week after week, to what we call Sunday. For example: Suppose our calendar had eight days in a week (instead of seven), and we met for Christian worship at seven day intervals. This would require a change of day each week!

“If we met the first week on Saturday, seven days later we would meet on Friday. Seven days later we would meet on Thursday. Seven days later we would meet on Wednesday, etc. There is simply no way that the first day—of an eight-day cycle—will consistently correspond with the first day of a seven-day cycle. This cries out in a loud voice, then, that the pagan Romans did not observe what we call Sunday as a weekly sacred day!” (Did Sunday Worship Come from Paganism? Palm Springs, CA., February 1999, p. 3).

It’s one thing for a denomination to say, “We meet for worship on Saturdays because we believe the New Testament does not really impose any particular day on believers, but gives us freedom to choose our own day of gathering for worship in church” – which is biblically fair. And I personally respect such sincere differences.

But it becomes a totally different ball game when a sect dogmatically says, “Sunday observance came from paganism! It originated from the worship of the Sun god in Rome and it won out because church leaders rebelled against God’s law. Sunday means ‘day of the sun,’ so if you go to a church on a Sunday, you are worshipping the sun god – Satan, and God told us through a 19th century visionary that Sunday worshippers will receive the mark of the Beast!”

This is a rhetoric laden with gross misinformation, falsehoods, fanaticism, poisoning the well, and religious mind control.

Did Catholicism give us the Bible?

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In almost every discussion of sola scriptura, there is a favourite jingle Catholics rehash:

“Since you Protestants hold to sola scriptura, how did you know which books of the Bible were inspired or belonged in it? Did your Bible-only theory provide you with an inspired table of contents? You only knew this by the authority of the Catholic Church. Without the Catholic Church you wouldn’t have the Bible!”

While this argument gives the Catholic a warm, fuzzy feeling, it is faulty on several levels.

1. Catholics misrepresent sola scriptura in order to tear it down. What sola scriptura really says is that inspired Scripture alone is the infallible authority of the church. It doesn’t mean that one cannot appeal to traditions, councils, confessions of faith or church authority.

What Catholics ignorantly attack is solo scriptura which means holding to the Bible alone as authority. This is not the historic, Christian position.

John Maxfield, a church historian, stated that:

“Among the sixteenth-century reformers the principle of sola scriptura … meant that scripture was the supreme authority over all other authorities” (Luther’s Lectures on Genesis and the Formation of Evangelical Identity, 2008, 43).

The Westminster Confession of Faith stated:

“The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture” (1:10).

The 1561 Belgic Confession, Article 7, The Sufficiency of Scripture says:

“Therefore we must not consider human writings – no matter how holy their authors may have been – equal to the divine writings; nor may we put custom nor the majority, nor age, nor the passage of time or persons, nor councils, decrees, or official decisions above the truth of God, for truth is above everything else.”

That Evangelicals appeal to the authority of a tradition or history in the recognition of the canon does not follow that they take it as their ultimate authority.

2. Internal evidence reveal that the New Testament was recognised as inspired right from the time they were written.

Apostle Paul, for example, placed Luke’s writings on par with the Old Testament writings when he quoted Luke 10:7 and Deuteronomy 25:4 as “the Scripture says” in 1 Timothy 5:18) Apostle Peter also recognised Paul’s writings as “Scriptures” (2 Pet. 3:15-16).

These inspired writings were directed “to the church of God in Corinth” (1 Cor. 1:2), to be “read in the church of the Laodiceans [Colosse]” (Col. 4:16) and “read unto all the holy brethren” (1 Thess. 5:27).

Jesus told John, “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches” and this is “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants” (Rev. 1:1, 11).

A scholar reminds us that:

“Letters were expensive to produce (on parchment or papyrus), and letters from apostles were rare blessings in a time when local charismatic leadership (1 Corinthians 14). The Colossian church was instructed to read the letter Paul wrote to Laodicea and vice versa (Colossians 4:16). Clearly such letters were deemed valuable and authority” (The Portable Seminary, ed. David Horton, Bethany House, 2006, 46).

The teaching of an apostle of Christ – whether written or oral – was regarded as authoritative and a fundamental criterion of genuineness.

The fact that the Scriptures were written to the churches shows they weren’t “made” by the church and the idea that generations of Christians lived and died without knowing what was Scripture until the Roman church came on the scene is a hallowed myth.

3. Early church writings indicate that the NT books had been widely known and accepted among Christians from the first century.

Clement (c. 95 AD) makes references to at least 8 NT books. He wrote to the Corinthian church:

“Take up the epistle of the blessed Paul the Apostle. What did he first write to you at the beginning of his preaching? With true inspiration he charged you.” He then refers to the matters in 1 Corinthians 1 (1 Clement 47:1-3).

Justin Martyr (100-180 AD) in his Dialogue with Trypho used the expression “it is written” when quoting from the book of Matthew (XLIX). He quoted from the 4 Gospels, epistles and Revelations.

Polycarp (105 A.D.) mentions 15 NT books, Tatian (110-180) wrote his Diatessaron based on the 4 books of the Gospel; Ignatius of Antioch (115) mentions at least 7 books; Ireneaus (185) mentions 21; Hippolytus mentions 22; Tertullian mentions all NT books except 3 while Origen mentioned all of them.

These men were neither “Roman Catholics” nor “Protestants.”

4. The canon of the NT was recognized from early times. It wasn’t “determined” by a church or council.

The Muratorian Canon (170 AD), which was a compilation of books recognized as canonical at that early date by the church included all the NT books except Hebrews, James and one epistle of John.

Many in the early church recognized the canonical books by considering its:

a) Apostolicity – if the author was an apostle or had a connection with an apostle.

b) Acceptance – if accepted by the body of Christians at large.

c) Content – if the book reflects consistency with sound doctrine.

d) Inspiration – if the book reflects the quality of inspiration and bear the evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit (Everett Harrison, Introduction to the New Testament, Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1964, 103-6).

“In the absence of any official list of the canonical writings of the New Testament, Eusebius finds it simplest to count the roles of his witnesses” (Bruce Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament, Oxford Univ. Press, 1997, 203).

Harry Gamble admits that “in the fifth century a more or less final consensus was reached and shared by the East and West. It is worth noting that no ecumenical council in the ancient church ever ruled for the church as a whole on the question of the contents of the canon” (Lee Donalds and James Sanders, The Canon Debate, 2002, 291).

5. On its website, Catholic Answers said “the canon of the entire Bible was essentially settled around the turn of the fourth century. Up until this time, there was disagreement over the canon … in practice Christians accepted the Catholic Church’s decision in this matter.”

While Catholics assert that the Councils of Hippo (373 AD) and Carthage (397 AD) “essentially settled” the canon of the Bible, this is refuted by Athanasius’ 39th Festal letter of 367 (and the Council of Laodicea in 363) which listed the 27 books of the NT as the only true books. This precedes Hippo and Carthage.

As explained here, the canon defined at these local councils were not the same as the one defined at Trent.

Furthermore, the councils of Hippo and Carthage never stated that their canon came from the traditions of the apostles or that it was definitive. In fact, Catholic scholars admit that there was no “infallible” listing of the canon before the Council of Trent:

“For the first fifteen centuries of Christianity, no Church Council put forth a definitive list of biblical books” (Joseph Lienhard, The Bible, The Canon and Authority, The Liturgical Press, 1995, 59).

“The Tridentine list or decree was the first infallible and effectually promulgated declaration on the canon of the Holy Scriptures” (H. J. Schroeder, Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, 178).

Going by the Catholic standard, the councils of Hippo and Carthage were local or regional ones, therefore, their canon list weren’t binding on the entire church.

Furthermore, the church of the 4th century was not the Roman Catholic Church. They didn’t believe in papal authority, sacrifice of the Mass, Marian dogmas, auricular confession and other novelties Catholics today believe.

Since Roman Catholicism didn’t exist in the first 4 centuries, its boast of giving us the Bible is at best, an empty drum noise.

6. History testifies to the antagonism Catholicism has towards the Bible.

For several centuries, Rome kept the Bible from the hands of the people by putting it in Latin only, forbidding translations, literally chaining it to the walls, restricting the people’s literacy and burning those who owned it at the stakes.

The Council of Toulouse (1229) forbade owning or reading a Bible. The Council of Tarragona (1234) forbade reading it in a native language and the third Synod of Oxford made it a heresy crime to have an English Bible.

Why these efforts? Because Catholic leaders knew too well that many of Rome’s teachings oppose the plain teachings of the Bible and the only way they could keep Catholic followers in lockstep obedience was to take the bible from their hands.

Today, Catholics are now allowed to have the Bible in their hands and are even told to read it, but Rome still keeps it from their hearts by insisting that only the Church Magisterium can interpret it.

At the same time, they undermine confidence in the Bible by touting some parts of it as “fiction” or unreliable “human traditions.”

For example, Catholicism denies that a literal prophet named Jonah was swallowed by a literal fish. Even Karl Keating wrote that “the story of the prophet being swallowed and then disgorged by a ‘great fish’ is merely didactic fiction, a grand tale told to establish a religious point” (Catholicism and Fundamentalism, Ignatius Press, 1988, 129).

Joseph Ratzinger (former pope Benedict XVI) also watered down the inspiration of the book of Genesis by dismissing its creation account for a variant of Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis:

“The moment when creation became a dominant theme occurred during the Babylonian Exile. It was then the account that we have just heard -based, to be sure, on very ancient traditions – assumed its present form” (In the Beginning, Eerdmans, 1995, 10-11).

This rejection of the Bible’s creation account has opened the door wide to evolution within the ranks of Catholicism.

For all its brag, Rome can’t still prove who wrote the books of Hebrews, Job, or Esther, instead they pick and choose which they want to accept as inspired as if they are in an ice cream parlour.

In 1955, the Pontifical Biblical Commission granted Catholics the complete freedom to believe Matthew did or did not write Matthew (Raymond Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 1993, 45-46).

The canon of the Bible is based on its divine inspiration. This inspiration bears witness within the readers who are themselves indwelt by the same Holy Spirit who inspired the writing of Scripture. God gave us the Bible – not a religious system. He used the Jewish prophets to give us the OT and the apostles of Christ and their associates to give us the NT.

If the Catholic church wasn’t needed to give us the Old Testament, then it was not needed to give us the New either.