Roman Catholics and the Bible

December 1, 2005

A few weeks ago it was brought to my attention, again, some of the inconsistencies between the Bible and the Roman Catholic church – purgatory, perfection in faith and morality of the pope, the teaching on marriage for priests etc. While each of these deserve their own section, I thought I would start with the Bible.

The following quote is from a Roman Catholic apologetics page:

The true “rule of faith”—as expressed in the Bible itself—is Scripture plus apostolic tradition, as manifested in the living teaching authority of the Catholic Church, to which were entrusted the oral teachings of Jesus and the apostles, along with the authority to interpret Scripture correctly. (Scripture and Tradition, catholic.com)

Protestants have a different view of “rule of faith” than is expressed in the article. There is a basic understanding in Protestantism that the church (other believers) by the Holy Spirit are able to give insight to help each other understand the Scriptures. Further, not everything except the Bible is “simply non-authoritative”. If a teaching agrees with the Bible entirely then it is also authoritative. Nothing needs to be added to the Bible.

Two things are sited as being given to the Roman church as a basis of their authority to determine that Scripture AND apostolic tradition are part of the “true ‘rule of faith'”:
1) oral teachings of Jesus and the apostles,
2) authority to interpret Scripture.

Oral Teachings of Jesus and the Apostles: The oral teachings were needed in the first century because not all of the Bible had been composed. Any argument for tradition after the Bible was composed and canonized by the Holy Spirit working though the church fathers would beg the question: why should we accept early traditions of the church fathers if God did not include those traditions in His cannon? If this was such a great point for God then it would have been included in the Bible. In fact, we find this quote further along in the article when it discusses what tradition is: “These teachings largely (perhaps entirely) overlap with those contained in Scripture, but the mode of their transmission is different.” The parentheses “(perhaps entirely)” are part of the original article! If most or all of these traditions are contained in the Bible then what are we arguing about?

Authority to interpret Scripture: The authority to interpret the Bible is a non-falsifiable argument and therefore it is an invalid argument. The Roman church is saying, “Only the Roman church can interpret the Bible”. If we agree, we prove their point. If we disagree, we prove their point.

The Bible not being “all we need for salvation” according to the article is refuted in 2 Timothy 3:15. Only the scripture is mentioned as able to give wisdom unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

My favorite quote from the article is “[until more recently] the Bible was inaccessible to most people, either because they could not read or because the printing press had not been invented. All these people learned from oral instruction, passed down, generation to generation, by the Church.” I wonder if Martin Luther would agree.

My last comment goes back to the top of this page. There are so many supposed oral teachings that contradict the clear reading of the Bible. The Roman church gives ifself authority over the Bible. Though the early church is the source of the writings of the Bible, the Author is the Holy Spirit and God does not contradict Himself.


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