Sola Scriptura Impossible for 400 Years

Charles: The Holy spirit gave us the Bible and the NT gospels and letters which
had been used for 300 years by christians before the official canon
was adopted. Christians already knew the accepted NT scriptures.

BFHU: What you say is correct. But there is more….The Christians were also familiar and accepted other writings for use in liturgy that were not later canonized. But no one is trying to convince anyone that no one knew or read any of the writings that were canonized 400 years later. The point is that people who believe in sola scriptura and Luther himself, possessed the whole Bible. It seems to make a lot of sense to believe that one should use ONLY the Bible to derive doctrine for Christian belief.

But most people never realize that there are many problems with this idea. For instance:

1. This cannot have been a divine principle because the Bible as we now know it was not known for 400 years after the birth of Christ.

2. Most Churches for years did not possess a complete set of the writings that centuries later became what we know today at the Bible.

3. For the first 400 years of Christianity or so churches read excellent writings in their liturgies that were later NOT canonized.

4. Scripture must be interpreted. To decide which of several differing interpretations is authentic one MUST go outside of the Bible and determine what has always and everywhere been believed. But b/c Protestants do not understand that they do not have infallible interpretation, they split and split and split into various sects based on differing interpretations.

5. Sola Scriptura is not found in scripture and is therefore self-refuting.

6. Jesus never told the disciples to write the New Testament.

7. The Bible is not a book of systematic theology therefore it is VERY difficult to derive doctrine from it alone.

8. Protestants, without realizing it, automatically adopted a lot of Catholic doctrine and Tradition (and rejected others) . They did not really sit down with the Bible Alone and make up their religions. That is why most Protestants believe in the Trinity and yet this doctrine is not clearly explicated in scripture alone and the word never appears in Scripture. This doctrine was clarified at Catholic Church councils. Primarily the Nicean council.

30 Responses

  1. bfhu Sola scripture is better than no scripture – a trickle of scripture every week at church is almost equivalent to no scripture.
    The OT was known by all the disciples and apostles from the start and was complete. All the writings which were later put into the NT bible were known by the early Christians – at the time they were written -helpful teachings would also be known – heretic teachings were known – this would be all the way through to Constantine. So it would be sola scripture as the final arbiter of correct doctrine as Paul et al commanded.

    2. I would dispute that most churches did not have copies of all the canonised scriptures and also useful teachings – such as the didache.
    You can find this out from early historical scriptural evidence such as that on the Alpha course – more than any other historical writings by a vast amount.

    4 Scripture can be interpreted by anyone unless they are handicapped. The salvation issues are understandable to a child.
    Difficult areas such as some prophecies will take scholarship.
    To go outside what is written to determine the meaning of what is written would be dangerous waters – since what everywhere or always has been believed may actually be wrong – but we know that the Bible can be trusted.

    Although protestants are perceived to rely on scripture alone there are thousands of protestant commentaries on the scriptures – sola scripture does not preclude relying on commentaries or oral teaching – this was never the case – plus they have much longer teaching sermons than catholics.

    The 30.000 splits of prots has been exaggerated – they are mainly different churches with no more differences than catholic churches have from area to area. The mormons and witnesses who have followed a man’s teachings instead of the bible (they had no bereans to check them out) are an example of ignoring scripture and following two men’s satanic delusions.
    Jesus’s report cards on the 7 churches of revelation are addressed to each church proving that the churches were under different bishops and not one leader – they had different practices.

    5. It is called the WORD and we are commanded to read the word throughout the OT and NT even as little children. – just google up the sheer number of scriptures on this.

    6. The NT was written before the beginning of the universe – Jesus did not say – whoops- they have written the NT. The NT was written by the Holy Spirit and He would be at one with Jesus. The NT was not an accident.

    7. I would say that the bible is a book of systematic theology and as Jesus says someone with a childlike faith can understand the gospels.

    8 Since it was supposed to be a reformation then I am not surprised that the protestant churches adopted nearly all the beliefs of the CC since the baby should not be thrown out of the bathwater.
    The Trinity is plain in scripture – Father Son and Holy Spirit and also the Holy Spirit can be grieved and is called – He.

    I think if the priest Savonarola had been listened to just before Luther there might have been a different story but the papal authorities burned him alive. He had preached against immorality corruption and idolatry.

    • ” Scripture can be interpreted by anyone unless they are handicapped. ”

      Really? What must I do to be saved? Which of the following are required?

      * All are saved, since God is loving and if hell exists, it’s only temporary.
      * Making a confession of faith, and then you’re assured salvation.
      * Making a confession of faith, and then working out your salvation in fear and trembling.
      * Be baptised in the name of Jesus?
      * Be baptised in the name of The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
      * Be baptised in the name of The Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier?
      * Be baptised any time in ones life, including infanthood.
      * Be baptised as an adult, but only after making a confession of faith.
      * Working out your salvation in fear and trembling.
      * Obey the 10 commandments
      * Obey the Jewish Sabbath (Sunday worship is from Papist Pagans)
      * Be a part of a particular Church.
      * Believe a certain set of doctrines (Which ones?)
      * Read the Bible
      * Love God
      * Love others
      * Eat the Eucharist
      * Repent
      * ….

      The list goes on. Different Bible-only Christians today have different answers to this most basic question. With so many opinions, how can one possibly know which are correct? Your own judgement? Why that’s just one more opinion unless you claim to be infallible.

      If you can’t even be certain how to be saved from the Bible, how can you say the Bible can be interpreted by anyone?

      • Anil
        Just because readers of the bible can deliberately mislead themselves does not mean that no one should read the bible – this would be a straw man argument. Some people even after good biblical teaching oral or otherwise can twist scripture.
        The bible is quite clear that not all are saved.
        A confession of faith is a start but the bible teaches a host of other commandments.
        Yes we are told in the bible to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
        We are told in the bible to be baptised in the name of the Father , Son and Holy Spirit.
        Baptism comes after believing and repenting we are told in the Bible.
        So only a person who is mature enough to do this should be baptised – this is my personal viewpoint and I understand the arguments . Many are baptised as babies but still fall away. However I got all my babies baptised and confirmed. In the bible it always seems to be full immersion.
        We have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling and obey the commandments – all of them – from the bible.
        Sunday worship is allowed by Paul.
        Paul commands the believers to meet as a church.
        Follow the doctrines in the Bible – all of them.
        Read the bible is not an option but a commandment
        Love God and others is a Bible commandment.
        Participate in the Lord’s supper.

        You have used things not commanded in the bible mixed with the things commanded to try and make a case for not going by the Bible – not a safe road.

    • Anil makes an excellent point. Charles, I am afraid that you are making the straw man argument b/c you set up the premise that we are saying:

      No one should read the Bible.

      And then proceed to argue against this premise. This is a straw man b/c we are not saying that at all, at any time, or anywhere. Can you find one Catholic that ever said no one should read the Bible?

      We are saying that the Protestant theory that anyone can read and INTERPRET Scripture ACCURATELY b/c the Holy Spirit will lead them into all Truth has been proven to be FALSE by the last 500 years of historical application of this theory.

      Could the Holy Spirit lead each and every individual into true and accurate interpretation of Scripture?

      Yes. He could. But does He?

      The Protestant theory of Sola Scriptura is not irrational. It could have been true. But this has not been the case. He has chosen to lead the Church He founded into ALL TRUTH. Protestant churches have a lot of truth because they got it from the Catholic Church. But they also have a lot of confusion and contradiction, as Anil pointed out, which they got from private interpretation of Scripture.

      A person who believes in God but does not want to join or be associated with any religion or church also has this theory.

      God can save me without religion or any church.

      Again, this is a rational theory. God could do this if He wanted to. But, did He?

      NO, He has chosen to bring salvation through Christ and His Church.

      Just because we can think of something that God could do, does not mean that that is the way He does do it.

      • bfhu – if you do some research you will find that most catholics never read the bible for themselves – there are many posts from catholics and the priesthood confirming this . If you look at your own catholic history people were burned for possessing a bible. The general culture of anti bible is hard to change in the CC .

        “in 860, Pope Nicholas I, sitting high on a throne built specially for the occasion in the town square, pronounced against all people who expressed interest in reading the Bible, and reaffirmed its banned public use (Papal Decree). In 1073, Pope Gregory supported and confirmed the ban, and in 1198, Pope Innocent III declared that anybody caught reading the Bible would be stoned to death by ‘soldiers of the Church military’ (Diderot’s Encyclopedia, 1759). In 1229, the Council of Toulouse, ‘to be spoken of with detestation’, passed another Decree ‘that strictly prohibits laics from having in their possession either the Old or New Testaments; or from translating them into the vulgar tongue’. By the 14th Century, possession of a Bible by the laity was a criminal offence and punishable by whipping, confiscation of real and personal property, and burning at the stake.

        With the fabricated Christian texts safely hidden from public scrutiny by a series of Decrees, popes endorsed the public suppression of the Bible for twelve hundred and thirty years, right up until after the Reformation and the printing of the King James Bible in 1611. ”

        There are thousands of protestant churches with bible believing spirit filled christians so how can you say the promise has not come true.
        As for people who misread plain scripture or just make things up these
        exist in any catholic or protestant churches who have not tested the spirits by the bible. Look at chicken sacrifice in mexico, Haiti and south america mixed with the catholic faith – or the worship of demonic apparitions in medjugorge that even the catholic priests cannot suppress.

        That most Christians would not find the way is prophesied sadly – there are wheat and tares and five foolish virgins etc (christians).

        My people are destroyed or lack of knowledge – proverbs – lack of the Word of God .

  2. Sola Scriptura is not even Scriptural, and that comes from someone who is not Roman Catholic. Jesus Christ speaks out vehemently against the Traditions “OF MEN” What St Paul exhorts people to keep steadfast are the Traditions “OF CHRIST”. The difference is the source from which the tradition stems from. The Jews and Pharisees invented their own traditions like washing vessels and certain dietary laws but neglected the heart of God “Love, mercy forgiveness. St Paul learned from the apostles who walked and talked and were thus taught by Christ Himself. In Greek Tradition or “Paradosis” which means “that which is passed down” and refers to scripture as well as written tradition.

    Interesting point that in the NIV bible when Jesus talks negatively about the traditions “of men” the word traditions is retained but when St Paul talks about the Oral tradition “Of God” the word is translated into “teachings”. But in Greek the same word Paradosis is used. So let us be honest and say there is some other factor at work here “Romophoboia”…But that doesn’t give you the right to ALTER the meaning of scripture

    The bible is our most important source of tradition that’s for sure, but for those protestant churches ( and I don’t mean disrespect here because there are many beautiful and God fearing Christians within protestant churches) I ask you one truthful question. If the bible is sufficient of itself, so that a believer filled with The HOly Spirit can understand the meaning of scripture then:

    1. Why 25,000 different protestant denominations who can’t agree on theological points
    2. Why the need to have thousands upon thousands of books on commentary
    3. How can you reconcile the fact that Scripture itself is for tradition, but the tradition “NOT OF MEN, BUT OF GOD”
    4. How can you neglect the fact that each Protestant Church has its own tradition

    1 Corinthians 11:2
    Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you.

    Galatians 1:14
    And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

    2 Thessalonians 2:15
    Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.

    The sad fact is that the early reformers used the tradition of the Church not to cast away tradition altogether but to weed out those elements in the Roman Catholic Church ( please understand that although I’m not Roman Catholic, I do love the Catholic and Protestant Churches) that didn’t square with scripture. And I have to say regarding purgatory and Indulgences they were correct. No offence meant to Roman Catholics.

    However the later reformers were very radical and attacked anything that reminded them of Roman Catholicism which was an overreaction to say the least, to the extent that they even rejected most of the sacraments.

    • May I ask why you think that the early reformers were right about purgatory and indulgences?

      • That’s a very good question. Now the early church always said prayers for the departed which was taken from the Jewish rites still in use today, and I believe is still practiced by the Catholic, Orthodox and ? High Anglican churches. In actual fact in the Septuagint version of the bible, which is the one that was used by the Apostles and quoted by Christ (since the Masoretic text came much later), you see the Jews praying for the sins of their departed brethren who had erred. This is in Macabees, and I must say this is incorrectly called the Apocrypha when in actual fact it’s called “The DeuteroCanonical scriptures” in Greek . Surprisingly these were used in all churches up just after the Reformation and I believe in America during the colonial period. The decision was made to use the Masoretic text, much much later AFTER the reformation.

        Now coming to your valid question. I do believe that the church is comprised up of the departed and the living. There are many, many scriptural passages that confirm this:

        Matthew 22:32
        ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

        Christ Himself tells us that those of faith are alive in Christ. There is no such thing as a dead saint. The Church comprises those who have departed and the living, with Christ uniting us in faith through Grace.

        John 8:56
        Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”

        How is it possible that Abraham who has been dead for centuries rejoiced to see Christ’s day. This is only possible if he is ALIVE in Christ and aware of what’s happening, as opposed to someone in a dormant sleep.

        Hebrews 12:1
        Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

        This invisible cloud of witnesses can only refer to the saints that have departed this world but notice that the word “WITNESSES” is used, so they are very much aware of what is going on

        Matthew 17:1-4

        Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us[a] make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

        Here you have Christ conversing with Moses and Elijah who have been dead for a very long long time

        Luke 16:24-26

        “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

        Here is yet another example of a conversation between Abraham and the rich man who has just passed away but notice that Abraham says there is a greta gulf between us and that passage is barred either way.

        Now I firmly do believe in prayers for the departed as a sign of our love for those dear to us and especially those of the faith. I believe that love in the form of prayer is beneficial, but as an outward expression of love. God being God is capable of doing anything, even pardoning someone at the point of death who has truly repented and giving them by grace the Crown of eternal life. But this is different to stating that everyone is given a chance to repent after they have died, and I’m sorry to say but this goes against scripture. I’m all for tradition that complements scripture, and in this case it doesn’t. If God chooses to in HIs power I’m sure that He is quite capable of granting to someone after death, but this is NOT up to us to decide and is not scriptural.

        Now regarding indulgences many protestants are for faith, and some catholics in the past for works, but the thing is it’s not one or the other but BOTH go together

        James 2:18
        But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

        James 2:22
        Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?

        James 2:24
        You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

        Now let me say from the outset that there is NOTHING we can do that EARNS us salvation. Salvation is a free gift from God given to those of faith by GRACE. However, those of faith manifest their faith through WORKS.

        A christian with humility and a love for God can not help but love those around him and he yearns to act out his faith, through words and actions. Words on their own are simply not adequate.

        However this is DIFFERENT to indulgences, which required that MONEY be payed for the forgiveness of SINS. This was unheard of in the Church.

        Luther was right to be indignant at this and wanted to stay within and reform the church. Unfortunately after he was excommunicated he went to far and fell to pride. He actually toyed with the idea of taking out James and Hebrews altogether. Interestingly though he kept the Deuterocanonical books in the bible. Sad to say, subsequent generations of reformers acted radically and rejected all Church tradition while inadvertently making up their own, based on an unfair and unjust hatred of the Roman Catholic Church. By doing so they have opened up their ecclesiastical circles to secular forces such as Humanism and modern theology which have manifested in rampant secularism.

        In all fairness to the reformers they did have some valid and just concerns that they reacted against, that is abuses within the Catholic Church, but there was sadly an OVERREACTION by the subsequent reformers. The result, over 25,000 different denominations who don’t altogether agree with one another.

        • There were certainly abuses of indulgences in certain part of the Catholic world by believers incl. ranking officials in their private practices. However, the failure of sinners is not to be confused with the Church which never taught that indulgences were for sale. The danger is to throw out the baby with the bath water. As revealed truth, purgatory and indulgences are doctrines of the Christian faith from antiquity.

        • I think that you misunderstood purgatory. It is NOT a place of second chance or repentance. It’s simply a place or state where we need to be purified before seeing God. People in purgatory are already destined for heaven. It’s a reality, not just simply prayers being offered for the departed. A good scriptural reference for the reality of purgatory is 1 Cor 3:15 and Matt 12:32 (“in the age to come”).

  3. Correction in the first paragraph it should read

    In Greek Tradition or “Paradosis” which means “that which is passed down” and refers to scripture as well as oral tradition.

    • Before the NT books, they were all simply the oral preaching of the apostles (called “Apostolic Preaching”). Most but not everything were written down as scripture as indicated in 1 Thess 2:15 and Jn 21:25. Only the Church established by Christ has kept “alive” the “Oral Traditions” in her bosom. These have nothing to do with the Protestants’ small “t” traditions which cannot be traced back to the original revealed Sacred Traditions. The “Sola Scriptura” is an example of a Protestant tradition which has its authority on a man, Martin Luther, from the 16th Century only.

      • Greetings again Surkiko, I’m in total agreement with you here. In fact if protestants are honest with themselves they have invented their own traditions.

        • Very interesting point Surkiko and thank you for pointing out my misunderstanding, but my initial interpretation was only based on my experiences with some Roman Catholics who do believe in the possibility of Forgiveness of all sins in Purgatory for those not of faith during their mortal life. So please forgive me for my misunderstanding and thank you for the presenting the correct definition as defined by the Roman Catholic Church.

          Having read the scriptural passages I would politely say that I am not convinced. Please allow me to outline several reasons why. Having said this I must say that there are seeds although not based on a firm foundation where the concept of Purgatory can be manifested, although I have more problems with the interpretation. One must understand that the Early Greek fathers had a better grasp of the Greek language than their Latin brethren in Christ and especially when concerning the allegorical meaning of biblical words. And in this case the biblical words are meant to be allegorical from the scriptural passages

          Matthew 12:32

          Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

          This passage and the passages before and after in no way make suggestion of a place after death. To me it’s quite clear that the passage is referring to our mortal life.

          1 Corinthians 3:9-16

          9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

          16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

          Now regarding this passage, especially concerning the passage 3:13 where fire is mentioned you may have a point nevertheless regarding purgatory however I’d disagree on several reasons.

          1. The Eastern Greek Fathers, who were by far the most numerous in Christendom, comprising the bishoprics of Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria and Antioch were almost unanimously against the introduction of this otherwise unknown doctrine. In all humility I think that they had a better understanding and interpretation of Greek then their Latin brethren.

          2.In explanation of the Apostle’s words, St. John Chrysostom, who, using the word fire, gives it the meaning of an eternal, and not temporary, purgatorial fire; explains the words wood, hay, stubble, in the sense of bad deeds, as food for the eternal fire; the word day, as meaning the day of the last judgment; and the words saved yet so as by fire, as meaning the preservation and continuance of the sinner’s existence while suffering punishment.

          3I think the early Greek Fathers of the Church Greeks were in a better position to understand Greek words and their allegorical meaning than the blessed St. Augustine, who came from a more juridical latin school of thinking.The expressions sothenai, sozesthai, and soteria, used by writers, to mean in Greek language continuance, existence (diamenein, einai.)
          4. Besides, what has forgiveness of sins to do with punishment by fire and tortures? Only one of these two things can happen: either punishment or forgiveness, and not both at once.
          5.I think that since the Reformation in an attempt to win back the protestants later Roman Catholicism was heavily influenced by rational thought, which although has its place can not and should not be used to explain all biblical instances.

          So although I don’t think that the concept of Purgatory was plucked out of nothing; I do see how the manifestation came about, I would in all humility disagree with the concept. Having said this I mean no offence and appreciate conversing with a fellow brother in Christ.

          God bless

  4. @ photographymemoirs:

    I think what you meant to say is that Eastern Orthodoxy does not use the Latinized term “purgatory” because the Eastern (and Oriental) Churches certainly do believe in an after-death transitional state or condition of purification for the righteous ones who died in God’s grace and friendship. The difference is merely nuance and the historical theological expression and spirituality of the East.

    I believe they call it “the Final Theosis” in the East with a tradition of saying 40 Liturgies (another nuance for “Masses”) for the souls of the departed (the “Philipovka” – from St. Philip). Many of us will die still burdened with impurities, specifically venial sins and the temporary punishment due to sins already forgiven. We all agree that some form purification is necessary because we are asked to strive “for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14) and since “nothing unclean” will enter the presence of God in heaven (Rev 21:27). The pre-Christian Jews (2 Macc 12:46) and current Orthodox Jews still believe in the final purification by praying the Mourner’s Kaddish for eleven months. So the reality of “purgatory” exists to Jews, Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox whether the bible use that specific theological term or not. Only the johnny-come-lately Protestants are denying this truth by teaching imputed grace (“snow-covered dunghill” justification) and salvation as a one-time past event (OSAS).

    For an interesting Q&A on purgatory, give a listen to Dr. Scott Hahn here:

  5. Greetings again Surkiko,

    Firstly, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Please forgive me for the late reply; I have been extremely preoccupied with many challenges of late. Thank you kindly for the reference. I will definitely have a look at them when I have some spare time. My background is Eastern Orthodox Christian, which is different to “Oriental Orthodox”. Allow me to say from the outset that there is much “common ground” in our sacramental and apostolic Churches. Despite there being some differences between our churches, I think looking at the current secularisation and indeed radicalisation of the world ” we need to build bridges” between one another, based on a common heritage. I think that a spirit of mutual respect and indeed love is essential for discussion and debate, not simply between Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians, but also our fellow Protestant brethren.

    God bless you and thank you kindly for the references

    1 Corinthians 13 The Greatest Gift

    13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.

    4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

    8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

    11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

    13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

  6. @ photographymemoirs: This is still Christmas season (before we advance into Epiphany) so Merry Christ-mas and also a blessed and prosperous New Year to you too. Where are you in Europe? Which orthodox affiliation?

    I can’t agree with you more on Christian charity (love) because all the intellectual knowledge, doctrinal correctness and theological exactness is nothing without the interior conversion of the heart and of the human spirit. As Christians, we should indeed always seek the commonality which we shared so we can move forward together in accomplishing the will of the our Father on this earth as well as in heaven.

    If I may, you’ve alluded to the Sacred Traditions in your first post here. A purgation for those who died destined for heaven was also of this apostolic origin. Unfortunately, the East never get around to define it [as well as for the “archrantos” (“the immaculate, spotless one”, Immaculate Conception) or “Feast of the Dormition” (Assumption of Mary) and others] because the conglomerate of “autocephalous” Eastern churches are unable to call for an Ecumenical Council after 1054.

    What do you think?

  7. Pam,

    If, as the vast preponderance (at least) of the manuscript evidence and uniform catholic tradition has always held, the word “Gospel” was attached to the four Gospels by the Holy Spirit through their inspired authors, then they identify themselves by their titles as the Word of God. How, then, do I need the church as an institution to authenticate them to me by a formal process of canonization?

    Keith Fredrickson

  8. Dear Keith,
    During the first centuries, before the Bible was canonized by the Catholic Church after 400 years since Jesus was born, there were many writings and “gospels” (Gospel of Thomas). Some were written by impostors such as the Gnostic Gospels, others were written by Holy Men and were acclaimed at times to be worthy of canonization and used in early Church liturgies; however they were not later canonized. The writings of the Apostles were prominent and gained early universal approval, but pretty much only among the educated. The laymen had nothing like what we call the Bible today.

    But then around the beginning of the fifth century AD several popes and councils all approved the same canon of scripture and finally closed the canon. Without the Catholic Church you would not have a Bible as we know it today.
    Please take a look at these posts:
    Canon of Scripture

    Who Decided Which Books Should be in the Bible?

    • Pam,

      Thank you for your response and the interesting links.

      Here is an additional question I wish to pose:

      Is your statement that “the Bible was canonized by the Catholic Church” consistent with these words from the *Catechism of the Catholic Church*:

      “For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.”
      (105) ?

      I think that “relying,” “accepts,” and “on the grounds that” are key words in this statement.


      • The answer to your question is an unequivocal YES!

        May the Lord Bless You, Pam Forrester

        • Is there any statement in the *Catechism of the Catholic Church*, or, more importantly, Denzinger’s *Sources of Catholic Dogma* that supports the proposition that the authority of the Bible depends upon the authority of the Roman Catholic magisterium?

          I have not looked into this specific matter so I am seeking input.

          Also, doesn’t the magisterium merely claim to be “infallible” while
          affirming that the Bible is also “inspired”? If so, I wonder what the meaning of such a distinction would be?


  9. Dear Keith,.

    “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” – St. Jerome (4th century A.D.)

    I don’t know how to research your question. I would like to recommend

    Where We Got The Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church

    Henry Graham set out to write this book as a Protestant to disprove Catholic claims about the Bible but ended up converting after his research.

    The magesterium is not infallible unless it is in union with the Pope and teaching to the whole Church on Faith on Morals.
    Yes Scripture is inspired and inerrant. The Magesterium in union with the Pope can interpret scripture infallibly.

    If this does not answer your question please explain what you mean more fully. Just ask it and don’t worry about offending Catholic sensibilities.

  10. Pam,

    Thank you for your thoughtful response and recommendation—and openness.

    Upon further reflection, my main question is this: Has the Roman Catholic magisterium contradicted the common Lutheran and Reformed conviction that the Bible is self-authenticating? I am beginning to think that the answer is “No”.

    In seeking to answer this question, I have one reservation about any book that is said to set forth Roman Catholic doctrine and it is this: Even if the book possesses a *NIHIL OBSTAT* and *IMPRIMATUR*, the certifying authority is essentially only one of the over 5,000 Roman Catholic bishops in the world (with all his own peculiar cultural and personal idiosyncrasies) and the fact certified is merely that nothing in the book *clearly* contradicts the magisterium. Am I mistaken about this?

    In contrast, here are the two sources for the teachings of the magisterium that I consider most reliable (in order of reliability):

    1. *Sources of Catholic Dogma* (*Enchiridion Symbolorum*) by Heinrich Denzinger: While unofficial, it represents the highest quality of Roman Catholic scholarship and it is, I believe, the closest thing in existence to an infallible list of infallible statements.
    2. *Catechism of the Catholic Church* (1994)

    The next three on my list (and I am not sure how they should be ranked) are:

    3. *Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma* by Ludwig Ott
    4. *Catholic Encylopedia*, 1913 edition
    5. *Catholic Encylopedia*, 1967 edition

    Please give me any criticisms that you know of concerning this list and rankings of sources.

    As I indicated, I am beginning to wonder whether any of these sources say that the concept of the Bible as self-authenticating is contrary to the teachings of the magisterium.


  11. I should add for clarity that, by “self-authenticating,” I mean that the Bible proves itself to be the Word of God–by its contents as being spoken to us by God whenever we read or hear it. At this point, I am not speaking about whether it is self-interpreting, or clear in itself.

  12. What do you mean by “self-authenicating” ?

    A Nihil Obstat does not mean that the book is infallible or inerrant. It only means that the book does not teach outright heresy. However, a heterodox bishop might give his nihil obstat to a book of very questionable authenticity. One must know the publisher and the bishop and the author from outside sources. Not always easy to do. I have been guided by the Holy Spirit and would get a sick feeling when reading something I later found out was written by a heretic or heterodox person.

    I think I would put the Catechism first b/c it was published by the Pope and Magesterium. All of those books are excellent as far as I know. However I am not familiar with Denzinger but I think I have heard good things about it. The 1967 Catholic Encyclopedia may be less reliable than the 1913 b/c after Vatican II socialists, heretics and the heterodox began to exert an inordinate and unfortunate influence on many things Catholic.

    We are only now coming out of that period as the “biological solution” prunes and purifies the Church. (ie. the hippies are aging out of influence.)

  13. Pam,

    According to my understanding, the text of the *Catechism of the Catholic Church* was approved by Pope John Paul II and promulgated with his apostolic constitution, Fidei depositum. However, I gather that, even though an apostolic constitution is the highest category of decree issued by a Pope, significantly less than half of apostolic constitutions are regarded as infallible and, in any event, the Catechism itself has not been declared infallible.

    However, the Denzinger list, as I understand it, is a set of source documents par excellence, consisting of nothing but statements considered infallible. As I recall, it starts with the Apostles’ Creed and includes all of the authoritative statements of the early councils, the affirmation of transubstantiation, the condemnation of Luther, all of the pronouncements of Trent (the most sizable section, I think), many papal pronouncements, and more. Just notice how many references to it are found in the footnotes of the *Catechism*!

    I have considered it essential to an accurate understanding of the teachings of Rome.

    Downloadable copies are available on the web–even a Latin one, the last time I checked!


  14. That is interesting. I will look into it. Is there a searchable version online?

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