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.

Papal Primacy or Papal Mania?

The pope is so ingrained in the Catholic mind that they can’t imagine their religion without him. I call it pope mania. It is a presuppositional view that makes Catholics see their pope everywhere – in Scripture and history – even though he is absent. It’s like the saying, “Once you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Nowadays, Roman Catholicism has replaced the term “papal” or “papacy” with “Peter’s successor” or “the Petrine ministry” so as to closely identify the pope with apostle Peter.

The snag is that the actual teachings and lifestyle of Peter in Acts and the Epistles feature very little in the Catholic doctrinal system. This is like erecting a huge structure in Peter’s name and dumping his teachings into a nearby pit.

The idea that the pope got from Peter a “full, supreme and universal power over the whole church” – papal primacy – though thrown around, is challengeable on several levels:

i) The idea of a centralized, pyramidal authority is foreign to the New Testament. Jesus said “For one is your master; and all you are brethren” (Matt. 23:8). If Peter was the pope, and his church alone had Christ’s validation, Jesus would have denounced the non-apostles proclaiming His name, but He didn’t (Mk. 9:38).

ii) When the church in Samaria started “the apostles in Jerusalem…sent Peter and John” to them (Acts 8:14). If Peter was a pope, he would have been the Supreme Pontiff of Jerusalem, sending the apostles not being sent by them.

iii) The antagonistic Jews identified apostle Paul as “the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law” (Acts 21:28). If Peter was the “Prince of the Apostles,” the enemies of Christ would have majored their attacks at him or make a reference to him.

iv) In the Corinthian church dispute, Paul brings himself, Apollos and Peter on the same footing (1Cor. 1:12). If Peter was exercising supreme authority over the church, Paul would have made this clear. Rather, he said “I consider myself not inferior to the most eminent apostles” (1Cor. 11:5). There was simply no Petrine primacy.

v) Speaking of Peter’s position in the early church, Paul wrote that he was among those “reputed to be pillars” (Gal. 2:9). Notice the plurality (pillars) used. There was not a single pillar in the church, and Peter was reputed so. Why did Paul use this term if everyone believed Christ had given Peter primacy?

vi) When Paul was converted, Christ didn’t send him to Peter to be instructed or have his apostleship legitimised. If Peter was the “Chief Apostle” why did Christ bypass him and instead sent Paul to Ananias? Paul didn’t even consult with any apostle before his missionary journey (Gal. 2:6). Barnabas – not Peter – was the one who confirmed his conversion to the church.

vii) The gathering of the apostles in Jerusalem shows that the NT leadership was a power-sharing, collective one. Both the elders and apostles were present at the council (Acts 15:6, 23). Peter, Paul, Barnabas gave their speeches; James gave the final sentence and the whole church was involved in choosing the delegates (v 25-27). No Petrine primacy there.

viii) The Epistles (Eph. 4:11-12 and 1Cor. 12:28-29, 1, 2 Timothy and Titus) mentioned church offices and ministries, without a single reference to a “Petrine ministry” or “papacy.” This is a strange omission if the papacy was the highest office attainable.

ix) The book of Hebrews talks extensively about authority and the priesthood, yet says nothing about a Petrine ministry. A Catholic scholar says this letter was addressed to a first century congregation in Rome (Raymond Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, 1997, 697). The letter was addressed to the Hebrew Christians – not to a pope or bishop in Rome.

x) It seems Paul had more primacy than Peter. He was the only apostle who publicly rebuked and corrected another apostle (Gal. 2:11); was the first apostle taken to heaven to receive a revelation (2Cor. 12:1-4) and whose teachings had deeper insights that even Peter admitted they were “hard to understand” (2Pet. 3:15).

Early Church History

In his debate with Dave Hunt, Catholic apologist, Karl Keating, tried to prove papal primacy from patristic writings saying:

Clement, writing in the year 96 is exercising that primacy. Here is what happened … The Corinthians in 96 appealed to the bishop of Rome, Clement, to resolve some dispute. He sent them a letter. We still have it.”

Clement was a Roman bishop who sent a letter to the Corinthian church. Catholic scholar, Joseph Kelly, notes that this “was a letter of remonstrance addressed c. 96 to the church at Corinth (where fierce dissensions had broken out and some presbyters had been deposed) which Clement probably drafted as the leading presbyter.”

He never wrote as a pope. His letter was not a papal letter, but a letter from the church at Rome.

Keating claims Clement was “exercising his primacy” but Joseph Kelly points out that: “While Clement’s position as a leading presbyter and spokesman of the Christian community is assured, his letter suggests that the monarchial episcopate had not yet emerged there, and it is therefore impossible to form any precise conception of his constitutional role” (The Concise Dictionary of Early Christianity, 1992, 8).

Clement’s letter showed that a plurality of elders – not a monarchial episcopate – existed in Rome. Throughout his letter he used the plural “we” not “I.”

Keating said: “Now why didn’t they [the Corinthian church] appeal instead to the apostle John who was still alive and living on Patmos, living much close to them – the last apostle alive? Why not to him to settle? Because already they knew the successor of Peter as the primacy in the Church.”

This meretricious argument can only sway the audience of an oral debate. It was a common trend in the early church for letters to be sent e.g Ignatius’ letter to Polycarp, Polycarp’s letter to the Philippian church etc.

There is no jurisdictional or papal authority implied by the sending of Clement’s letter. In fact, the letter was sent in the name of the church of Rome, not the bishop of Rome.

The fact that apostle John didn’t submit to the allegedly higher authority of Roman bishops (Linus, Anacletus, Clement) at that time blows the theory of an early papal primacy into pieces. The earliest church records clearly shows that no one looked up to a pope in Rome to settle their disputes – and why would they, when they had a plurality of leaders? Even in the Shepherd of Hermas (c.150 AD), we read:

“But you yourself will read [my book] to this city [Rome], along with the elders [Gr: presbuteroi] who preside over the church.” (Vis 2.4)

Ignatius (and others) discussed matters of church government and offices in his letters and even wrote a letter to the Roman church, yet he said nothing about a papacy. The martyrdom and persecution accounts of the early church made several references to Christian bishops being killed, but none about the papacy.

The early Christians never mentioned anything suggesting a pope of Rome in their letters to one another. Not a single opponent of the Christian faith noted anything suggesting a papacy. Now, why would early Christians document much about the ideas and customs prevalent in the Roman Empire and yet omit the papacy if it was existing?

Keating: “Irenaeus, in his book Against Heresies [3:3:2] said: ‘With that church, the church of Rome, because of its superior origin all the churches must agree; that is all faithful in the whole world. It is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained their apostolic tradition.”

His quote doesn’t support papal primacy, unless it is read into the text. Irenaeus believed in Roman primacy, but not papal primacy. Catholic scholar, William La Due, admits that although some people try to find Roman primacy in Ireneaus’ words, “there is so much ambiguity here that one has to be careful of over-reading the evidence.”

He adds: “For him [Irenaeus], it is those churches of apostolic foundation that have the greater claim to authentic teaching and doctrine. Among those, Rome, with its two apostolic founders, certainly holds an important place. However, all of the apostolic churches enjoy what he terms ‘preeminent authority’ in doctrinal matters” (The Chair of St. Peter, 1999, 28).

The Roman primacy Irenaeus believed in was not because of a pope in Rome, but because of the Roman church’s alleged historical link with two apostles, its location in the capital of the Empire and its familiarity with other churches.

Catholic historian, Eamon Duffy, dispels much of the smoke: “Neither Peter nor Paul founded the Church at Rome, for there were Christians in the city before either of the Apostles set foot there. Nor can we assume, as Irenaeus did, that the Apostles established there a succession of bishops…for all the indications are that there was no single bishop at Rome for almost a century after the death of the Apostles” (Saints and Sinners, p. 2)

In his book, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, Keating quotes Cyprian saying:

Would heretics dare to come to the very seat of Peter whence apostolic faith is derived and whither no errors can come” (p. 217)

When Cyprian spoke of the seat of Peter (cathedra Petri), he wasn’t referring to what Catholicism today define it as. Back then, the people believed the “chair of Peter” refers to all the bishops in the world. Cyprian didn’t believe the bishop of Rome had any universal jurisdiction.

Catholic scholar, Robert Eno admits: “it is clear that he [Cyprian] did not see the bishop of Rome as his superior, except by way of honor… in Cyprian’s mind, one theological conclusion he does not draw is that the bishop of Rome has authority which is superior to that of the African bishops” (The Rise of the Papacy, 1990, 59-60).

Cyprian, quoting Mt. 16:18 wrote: “Thence, through the changes of times and successions, the ordering of bishops and the plan of the Church flow onwards; so that the church is founded upon the bishops and evey act of the Church is controlled by these same rulers” (Epistle, XXVI). Notice his reference to a plurality of bishops leading the church.

When Stephen (254-557) attempted to exert supreme authority as Peter’s successor, Cyprian wrote to him opposing his stance. “In his controversy with Bishop Stephen,” says a Professor of church history, “Cyprian expressed the view that any bishop, whether in Rome or elsewhere, was included in Jesus’ message to Peter. Like Tertullian, Cyprian is unwilling to accept the claim of exclusive authority for the bishop of Rome on the basis of Mt. 16:18-19” (John Meyendorff, The Primacy of Peter, 1992, 63).

Keating says in his book: “Augustine of Hippo summed up the ancient attitude when he remarked, ‘Rome has spoken; the case is closed” (p. 217).

It’s doubtful if Mr Keating actually read what he quoted. He cited Sermon, 131, but the text says: “…for already on this matter two councils have sent to the Apostolic See, whence also rescripts [reports] have come. The cause is finished, would that the error may terminate likewise.”

Here, Augustine was battling a heresy known as Pelagianism in North Africa, and his sermon was refuting it. Two councils had concluded on the issue and the bishop of Rome had agreed. He wasn’t talking about the authority of the bishop of Rome or hinting that he was infallible.

“Of the eighty or so heresies in the first six centuries,” wrote a Catholic historian, “not one refers to the authority of the Bishop of Rome, not one is settled by the Bishop of Rome… No one attacks the [supreme] authority of the Roman pontiff, because no one has heard of it” (J. H. Ignaz von Dollinger, The Pope and the Council, 1898, 308)

Darwinian Excuses

Countering the myths pop Catholic apologists love to throw around, Jesuit scholar, Klaus Schatz said: “It is clear that Roman Primacy was not given from the outset; it underwent a long process of development whose initial phases extended well into the fifth century” (Papal Primacy, 1996, 36).

This “long process of development” is an euphemism Rome uses for novelties invented later and made to appear ancient. For the first 1000 years, Roman bishops took their decisions together with their synod once or twice yearly. Whenever there was a matter concerning the universal church, it was decided by an ecumenical council – not a pope.

Even when bishop Leo I used Matthew, 16:18 to affirm his primacy over other bishops, he was still subservient to the Council. When he wrote his letter to Flavian in 449, he acknowledged that his treatise could not become a rule of faith till it was confirmed by the bishops.

Popes like Vigilius, Honorius etc were condemned and excommunicated by Councils. Emperors also had the power to depose popes. It was when the popes succeeded the Roman emperors that they began to wield universal authority over the church.

Rome was the only See in the West, while the East had Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Constantinople Apostolic Sees. The primacy of the Roman bishop was as a result of the primacy of the Roman church in the Western See. When the bishop of Rome tried to exercise supremacy over the whole church, it resulted in the Great schism between the West (Roman Catholicism) and the East (Eastern Orthodoxy). This is why the latter reject the papacy till date.

Having lost the historical argument behind papal primacy, some scholars of Rome are trying to shift the goalpost. Karl Rahner admits “it is not basically and absolutely necessary that we would have to trace back to an explicit saying of Jesus the more concrete structures of the constitution of the (Catholic) church which the church now declares are always obligatory…we grant her merely the possibility of free and accidental changes depending on the concrete situation in which she finds herself…” (Foundations of the Christian Faith, 332).

“Free and accidental changes”? That sounds like Darwinian superstition, in which a fish evolves to a frog, then becomes a snake and a snake eventually becomes man. This is pure fiction, consequently, the papacy is based on myths and lies.

Examining The Authority of Rome

All the teachings of Catholicism rest on a single pillar: the authority of the Catholic Church. The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine (1977, 25) states:
“Man can obtain a knowledge of God’s Word [only] from the Catholic Church and through its duly constituted channels.” Why is this so? A Catholic website explains that the Bible “is younger than the Catholic Church and is the product of the Catholic Church. This means that the Bible is not the sole rule of faith for Christians, but rather the Church”.

This is what we call “sola ecclesia“. The 3 assertions made are:
1. The Bible can only be interpreted by the Catholic church
2. This is because the Catholic Church wrote the Bible.
3. Therefore, the authority of the Catholic church is greater than the Bible.

These claims do not hold water. Even in the Old Testament times, the common people were expected to know God’s Word, not through rabbinical interpretation but for themselves, and were able to. Psalm 1 speaks of the blessed man – not a special class of highly educated experts – who meditates on God’s Word day and night.
A “young man” is also expected to “heed” God’s Word- without a hint that it must be explained to him by a rabbi (Ps. 119:9).
The epistles of Paul were written to all Christians and were expected to understand them by the indwelling of the same Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures (2Pe.t 1:21). Timothy knew the Hebrew scriptures from early childhood (2Tim. 3:15) and it was taught to him at home not by a rabbi but his mother and grandmother (2Tim. 1:5). No one in the OT times looked up to any hierarchy for an official interpretation of Scripture. Nor do the early church. Nor should we today.

The second assertion made is as false as it sounds, since the Hebrew Scriptures existed long before any church came into existence. It must be emphasized that while the New Testament church pre -existed the New Testament canon, it didn’t pre-exist God’s Word. The NT church was constituted by apostolic preaching, so historically, the Word preceded the church. The only distinction is between the spoken and written word. Also, priority in time doesn’t equal to priority in rank. That Moses preceded Christ doesn’t make him superior to Christ. The NT books were addressed to the NT churches (Gal. 1:2, Col. 4:16, Jas. 1:1 etc). The church was obliged to submit to the authority of the written document, not the other way round. They were inspired writings that had authority over the church.

In a Catholic Answers tract titled What’s Your Authority? we are told: “The only reason you and I have the New Testament canon is because of the trustworthy teaching authority of the Catholic Church“. Yet they didn’t tell us why Rome’s authority is trustworthy and that of the Watchtower or the Mormon prophet isn’t. The Catholic just blindly assumes the authority of Rome without demonstrating its validity. The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine brazenly declares:
When he has once mastered this principle of divine authority [residing in the Church], the inquirer is prepared to accept whatever the divine Church teaches on faith, morals and the means of grace” (p 27).

Let me rephrase the second line: “the inquirer is prepared to accept whatever the Church of Scientology teaches…”

“the inquirer is prepared to accept whatever the Moonies church teaches…”

“the inquirer is prepared to accept whatever the Hare Krishna Society teaches…”

Enter in the name of any cult in the above quote and the argument remains valid. In fact, this is the first principle of every cult: surrender your mind and accept whatever you are told. One can’t embrace the false teachings of Rome unless one takes a blind logical leap to believe that Rome is an infallible authority. To Catholics, Rome is right because she says she’s right! Wrong. Catholic apologist, Karl Keating wrote:
The Catholic believes in inspiration [of the Bible] because the Church tells him so…and that same Church has the authority to interpret the inspired text” (Catholicism and Fundamentalism, 125).

This implies that people can’t believe the truth of the Bible unless the Catholic church attests to its authenticity. So God needs the authority of Rome to endorse His Book! Of course that is nonsense. He went on to quote “St.” Augustine who said “I would not believe the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so.” This is also false because the gospel has its own power to convince those who hear it, as does the Word of God which is “quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb 4:12). While the church has a role in the dissemination of Scripture, she does not have a role in its production.

This destructive belief that the Bible must have Rome’s endorsement is refuted by Scripture itself. Early in His ministry, before any church was established, Jesus sent His disciples forth “and went through the towns preaching the gospel” (Luke 9:6). Peter preached to 3,000 Jews who became Christians on the day of Pentecost without any mention of a true Church. Rather He preached only Christ who is “the true light that lighteth every man” (John 1:9).

In the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Samaria where thousands became Christians, Philip simply “preached Christ unto them” (Acts 8:5). When he met the Ethiopian eunuch, he preached Jesus unto him and he believed by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:35), not because ‘an infallible Church’ moved him to do so.

The apostles and 1st century Christians “went everywhere preaching the word” to those who never heard of a church or an ecclesiastical authority in Rome (Acts 8:4). Apostle Paul and his colleagues didn’t preach a church but “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1Cor. 2:2). If the endorsement of the Catholic Church wasn’t needed then, neither is it needed now.

An argument that is frequently thrown about is the statement of Paul in 1 Timothy 3:15 that the church is “pillar and foundation of truth”, but this doesn’t make the church infallible or even the truth itself. Patrologist J. N. D Kelly comments on this verse, pointing out that:

“As in 3:5, there is no definite article before ‘church’, and this suggests that Paul is thinking primarily of the particular local community… What Paul is saying is that it is the function and responsibility of each congregation to support, bolster up, and thus safeguard the true teaching by its continuous witness. We should note that (a) that ‘buttress’ is probably a more accurate rendering of the Greek endrawma (nowhere else found) than ‘foundation’ or ‘ground’ and that the local church is described as ‘a pillar’ not ‘the pillar’ because there are many local churches throughout the world performing this role.” (A Commentary on Pastoral Epistles, 1986, 87-88)

It is therefore wrong to equate Paul’s reference to a local church situation with a centralized and pyramidal agency where truth is vested in a top-down teaching office. Catholics have their authority in the wrong place. True authority is in the Head, NOT the body (Eph. 1:22-23). The ruling is in the King NOT the kingdom (Heb7:1-2). Therefore, the authority is in Christ NOT the church (Matt. 28:18).

True Christianity is a relationship with Jesus, not just being in a popular religion. Almost every Catholic convert boasts of the discovery of “an ancient church”- a human institution – and not the receiving forgiveness of sin through faith in Jesus. A “church” that replaces Christ, the Living Word with itself and denigrates the written Word, the Bible, is a false church.