Skip to comments.Did Martin Luther Act Infallibly in Defining What Books Belong in the Bible?
Posted on 01/23/2011 5:12:54 AM PST by St_Thomas_Aquinas
Did Martin Luther Act Infallibly in Defining What Books Belong in the Bible?
If Luther did not act infallibly:
- How can Protestants be certain that they have an infallible collection of Books in Holy Scripture?
- How can the Bible be the sole rule of faith, if no one knows with certainty which books belong in the Bible?
If Luther acted infallibly:
- How do you know?
For the Bible to be inerrant, the source(s) that wrote, and preserved it must have been inerrant, and the authority that compiled it must have acted infallibly.
We're left with a dilemma: Either Luther acted infallibly in determining the canon of Scripture, or The Catholic Church acted infallibly in determining the Canon of Scripture.
Protestants often object that the Bible supports "Sola Scriptura." Even if that were true, this is a circular argument. One is assuming the inerrancy of the Bible to support the inerrancy of the Bible.
But Christians who love the Bible should not despair. There is a logically consistent argument in support of the inerrancy of Scripture. See the bold sections below.
The Reformers said the Bible is the sole source of religious truth, and its understanding must be found by looking only at the words of the text. No outside authority may impose an interpretation, and no outside authority, such as the Church, has been established by Christ as an arbiter.
As heirs of the Reformers, fundamentalists work on the basis of sola scriptura, and they advance this notion at every opportunity. One might think it would be easy for them to explain why they believe this principle.
But there is perhaps no greater frustration, in dealing with fundamentalists, than in trying to pin them down on why the Bible should be taken as a rule of faith at all, let alone the sole rule of faith. It all reduces to the question of why fundamentalists accept the Bible as inspired, because the Bible can be taken as a rule of faith only if it is first held to be inspired and, thus, inerrant.
Now this is a problem that doesn't keep most Christians awake at night. Most have never given it any serious thought. To the extent they believe in the Bible, they believe in it because they operate in a milieu that is, if post-Christian in many ways, still steeped in Christian ways of thought and presuppositions.
A lukewarm Christian who wouldn't give the slightest credence to the Koran would think twice about casting aspersions on the Bible. It has a certain official status for him, even if he can't explain it. You might say he accepts the Bible as inspired (whatever that may mean for him) for some "cultural" reason, but that, of course, is hardly a sufficient reason, since on such a basis the Koran rightly would be considered inspired in a Moslem country.
Similarly, it is hardly enough to say that one's family has always believed in the Bible, "and that's good enough for me." It may indeed be good enough for the person disinclined to think, and one should not disparage a simple faith, even if held for an ultimately weak reason, but mere custom cannot establish the inspiration of the Bible.
Some fundamentalists say they believe the Bible is inspired because it is "inspirational," but that is a word with a double meaning. On the one hand, if used in the strict theological sense, it clearly begs the question, which is: How do we know the Bible is inspired, that is, "written" by God, but through human authors? And if "inspirational" means nothing more than "inspiring" or "moving," then someone with a deficient poetic sense might think the works of a poetaster are inspired.
Indeed, parts of the Bible, including several whole books of the Old Testament, cannot be called "inspirational" in this sense in the least, unless one works on the principle, reported by Ronald Knox, of the elderly woman who was soothed every time she heard "the blessed word Mesopotamia." One betrays no disrespect in admitting that some parts of the Bible are as dry as military statistics--indeed, some parts are nothing but military statistics--and there is little there that can move the emotions.
So, it is not enough to believe in the inspiration of the Bible merely out of culture or habit, nor is it enough to believe in its inspiration because it is a beautifully-written or emotion-stirring book. There are other religious books, and even some plainly secular ones, that outscore most of the Bible when it comes to fine prose or poetry.
What about the Bible's own claim to inspiration? There are not many places where such a claim is made even tangentially, and most books in the Old and New Testaments make no such claim at all. In fact, no New Testament writer seemed to be aware that he was writing under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, with the exception of the author of the Apocalypse.
Besides, even if every biblical book began with the phrase, "The following is an inspired book," such phrases would prove nothing. The Koran claims to be inspired, as does the Book of Mormon, as do the holy books of various Eastern religions. Even the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, claim inspiration. The mere claim of inspiration is insufficient to establish a book's bona fides.
These tests failing, most fundamentalists fall back on the notion that "the Holy Spirit tells me the Bible is inspired," an exercise in subjectivism that is akin to their claim that the Holy Spirit guides them in interpreting the text. For example, the anonymous author of How Can I Understand the Bible?, a booklet distributed by the Radio Bible Class, lists twelve rules for Bible study. The first is, "Seek the help of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit has been given to illumine the Scriptures and make them alive to you as you study them. Yield to his enlightenment."
If one takes this as meaning that anyone asking for a proper interpretation will be given one by God--and that is exactly how most fundamentalists understand the assistance of the Holy Spirit to work--then the multiplicity of interpretations, even among fundamentalists, should give people a gnawing sense that the Holy Spirit hasn't been doing his job very effectively.
Most fundamentalists don't say, in so many words, that the Holy Spirit has spoken to them directly, assuring them of the inspiration of the Bible. They don't phrase it like that. Rather, in reading the Bible they are "convicted" that it is the word of God, they get a positive "feeling" that it is inspired, and that's that--which often reduces their acceptance of the Bible to culture or habit. No matter how it's looked at, the fundamentalist's position is not one that is rigorously reasoned to.
It must be the rare fundamentalist who, even for sake of argument, first approaches the Bible as though it is not inspired and then, upon reading it, syllogistically concludes it is. In fact, fundamentalists begin with the fact of inspiration--just as they take the other doctrines of fundamentalism as givens, not as deductions--and then they find things in the Bible that seem to support inspiration, claiming, with circular reasoning, that the Bible confirms its inspiration, which they knew all along.
The man who wrestles with the fundamentalist approach to inspiration (or any of these other approaches, for that matter) at length is unsatisfied because he knows he has no good grounds for his belief. The Catholic position is the only one that, ultimately, can satisfy intellectually.
The Catholic method of finding the Bible to be inspired is this. The Bible is first approached as any other ancient work. It is not, at first, presumed to be inspired. From textual criticism we are able to conclude that we have a text the accuracy of which is more certain than the accuracy of any other ancient work.
Sir Frederic Kenyon, in The Story of the Bible, notes that "For all the works of classical antiquity we have to depend on manuscripts written long after their original composition. The author who is the best case in this respect is Virgil, yet the earliest manuscript of Virgil that we now possess was written some 350 years after his death. For all other classical writers, the interval between the date of the author and the earliest extant manuscript of his works is much greater. For Livy it is about 500 years, for Horace 900, for most of Plato 1,300, for Euripides 1,600." Yet no one seriously disputes that we have accurate copies of the works of these writers.
Not only are the biblical manuscripts we have older than those for classical authors, we have in absolute numbers far more manuscripts to work from. Some are whole books of the Bible, others fragments of just a few words, but there are thousands of manuscripts in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Coptic, Syriac, and other languages. What this means is that we can be sure we have an accurate text, and we can work from it in confidence.
Next we take a look at what the Bible, considered merely as a history, tells us, particularly the New Testament, and particularly the Gospels. We examine the account of Jesus's life and death and his reported resurrection.
Using what is in the Gospels themselves, what we find in extra-biblical writings from the early centuries, and what we know of human nature (and what we can otherwise, from natural theology, know of divine nature), we conclude that Jesus either was just what he claimed to be, God, or was a madman. (The one thing we know he could not have been was merely a good man who was not God, because no merely good man would make the claims he made.)
We are able to eliminate his being a madman not just from what he said--no madman ever spoke as he did; for that matter, no sane man ever did either--but from what his followers did after his death. A hoax (the supposedly empty tomb) is one thing, but you do not find people dying for a hoax, at least not one from which they have no prospect of advantage. The result of this line of reasoning is that we must conclude that Jesus indeed rose from the dead and that he was therefore God and, being God, meant what he said and did what he said he would do.
One thing he said he would do was found a Church, and from both the Bible (still taken as merely a historical book, not at this point in the argument as an inspired one) and other ancient works, we see that Christ established a Church with the rudiments of all we see in the Catholic Church today--papacy, hierarchy, priesthood, sacraments, teaching authority, and, as a consequence of the last, infallibility. Christ's Church, to do what he said it would do, had to have the note of infallibility.
We have thus taken purely historical material and concluded that there exists a Church, which is the Catholic Church, divinely protected against teaching error. Now we're at the last part of the argument.
That Church now tells us the Bible is inspired, and we can take the Church's word for it precisely because it is infallible. Only after having been told by a properly constituted authority (that is, one set up by God to assure us of the truth of matters of faith, such as the status of the Bible) that the Bible is inspired do we begin to use it as an inspired book.
Note that this is not a circular argument. We are not basing the inspiration of the Bible on the Church's infallibility and the Church's infallibility on the word of an inspired Bible. That indeed would be a circular argument. What we have is really a spiral argument. On the first level we argue to the reliability of the Bible as history. From that we conclude an infallible Church was founded. And then we take the word of that infallible Church that the Bible is inspired. It all reduces to the proposition that, without the existence of the Church, we could not tell if the Bible were inspired.
Now what has just been discussed is not, obviously, the kind of mental exercise people go through before putting trust in the Bible, but it is the only truly reasonable way to do so. Every other way is inferior--psychologically adequate, perhaps, but actually inferior. In mathematics we accept on "faith" that one and one makes two and that one, when added to any integer, will produce the next highest integer. These truths seem elementary to us and we are satisfied to take such things at face value, but apprentice mathematicians must go through a semester's course the whole of which is taken up demonstrating such "obvious" truths.
The point is that fundamentalists are quite right in believing the Bible is inspired, but their reasons for so believing are inadequate because knowledge of the inspiration of the Bible can be based only on an authority established by God to tell us the Bible is inspired, and that authority is the Church.
And this is where a more serious problem comes in. It seems to some that it makes little difference why one believes in the Bible's inspiration, just so one believes in it. But the basis for one's belief in its inspiration directly affects how one goes about interpreting the Bible. The Catholic believes in inspiration because the Church tells him so--that's putting it bluntly--and that same Church has the authority to interpret the inspired text. Fundamentalists believe in inspiration, though on weak grounds, but they have no interpreting authority other than themselves.
Cardinal Newman put it this way in an essay on inspiration first published in 1884: "Surely then, if the revelations and lessons in Scripture are addressed to us personally and practically, the presence among us of a formal judge and standing expositor of its words is imperative. It is antecedently unreasonable to suppose that a book so complex, so unsystematic, in parts so obscure, the outcome of so many minds, times, and places, should be given us from above without the safeguard of some authority; as if it could possibly, from the nature of the case, interpret itself. Its inspiration does but guarantee its truth, not its interpretation. How are private readers satisfactorily to distinguish what is didactic and what is historical, what is fact and what is vision, what is allegorical and what is literal, what is idiomatic and what is grammatical, what is enunciated formally and what occurs obiter, what is only of temporary and what is of lasting obligation? Such is our natural anticipation, and it is only too exactly justified in the events of the last three centuries, in the many countries where private judgment on the text of Scripture has prevailed. The gift of inspiration requires as its complement the gift of infallibility."
The advantages of the Catholic approach are two. First, the inspiration is really proved, not just "felt." Second, the main fact behind the proof--the fact of an infallible, teaching Church--leads one naturally to an answer to the problem that troubled the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:31): How is one to know what interpretations are right? The same Church that authenticates the Bible, that establishes its inspiration, is the authority set up by Christ to interpret his Word.
So the books of the Bible were solely selected by Luther? A false premise so the rest of the argument is not worth reading.
But of course if you want to attack Protestants its a good start.
There's a clear, obvious third choice.
Seems to me that we’ve been infected by a few folks who seek divisions among Christians.
This is the great consolation of Catholicism: we have an historical Church tracing itself back to Christ who in turn promises His guidance to the same. Our reason after finding the historical Church serves as a buttress to the the divine gift of Faith. In a nutshell we are blessed with the whole deposit of Scripture and have no doubts about it....Come home folks!
Apparently, the Armenian Church, The Orthodox and Calvin were absent that day...
Does this include the “Jesus” sayings on the rolling paper?
Never heard of ‘em.
Of course he did. And Islam is a religionofpeace.
How do they draw a logical conclusion as regards which books are inspired?
Didn’t Jesus say “read ye such reminisciences as might be written about me, determine ye thy faith as thy chooseth in concordance with whichever interpretation thy chooseth and be self-righteous in this endeavor?”
Oh yeah. He didn’t.
I’m a hook-nose but If I were a Christian I would be Catholic.
Attacking the Bible, the foundation of Christianity, is a common tactic amongst atheists and apparently some Catholics.
Saint Thomas, thanks for the invitation “home,” but we Christians will stay with Christ.
We don’t worship or “venerate” Martin Luther, so many of us will listen to arguments that he might have left out some books that should be in the Bible.
We Christians assembled the Bible (there were no “Protestants” back then, remember?) and then much later there was a split.
Who left Christ? Not the Christians. Maybe for a time it was those who started to worship a human organization rather than Christ.
I am so tired of these Catholics are the only true religion threads. They do a lot of things that I do not agree with but I am not going to start a hate thread about them. It is just taking up space which can be used for other things. No one is going to change another person’s beliefs. I have seen some threads where there are pages after pages of quotes when a link should be used.
I am so tired of people whining “Catholics are the only true religion threads” threads rather than just moving on.
If the thread bothers you do much, why not just skip it?
“Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”(Romans 5:1-2)
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
I’ll chose to stand with the blind man that said:
“I know not whether this man be a sinner or no, but I know wherein I was blind, and now I see.” (John 9:25)
And:”Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105)
“Entrance to thy words giveth light; it giveth understand unto the simple.” (Psalm 119:130)
JESUS SAID:”YE SHALL KNOW THEM BY THEIR FRUITS.”
WE SHOULD NOT SO MUCH AS DEBATE GOD’S WORD, BUT WE SHOULD LIVE IT, THAT IS THE PROOF!
The Church is not an organization rather it is the Body of Christ. Those who depart from His body do indeed form a mere human organization sad to say.
Having gotten my undergraduate degree from Notre Dame and taken a theology course taught by a priest who was a proponent of textual criticism I can assure you that proving the inspiration of Scripture is the furthest thing from the mind of the textual critic.
While the Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches may be the oldest Christian organizations on earth, it is the Baptists who most closely capture the faith and mindset of the early church fathers in the first few hundred years AD in this modern world.
We’re left with a dilemma: Either Luther acted infallibly in determining the canon of Scripture, or The Catholic Church acted infallibly in determining the Canon of Scripture.
If you will read 1 cor ch 11 with a common sense approach you will see that Paul was telling the Corinthians that the men who were making a custom of wearing long hair and the women hacking their hair off was wrong, and he told them that the church of God did not have that custom.
The Christians at Corinth had been subjected to the customs of the religion of the Goddess Diana in which women shaved their heads and many of them became the whore of their temple, and the men let their hair grow long as to be in subjection to the woman or some such thing.
The spirit of God is the only reason some people believes Gods word and others do not.
The reason we have so many differences is because there are so many people thinks they have the revelation from God concerning a certain scripture that may be hard to understand, others may not want to understand some scripture the way it is written and will twist it around to make it appear to be the way they want it.
I believe it would be better to admit we do not know if we can not prove it with simple scripture, even if we really believe our understanding is the correct one.
I don,t know, but i believe religion is the culprit because religion is power and wealth, all churches that i have been to have points that i agree with and all of them have points i do not agree with.
I can set down with some one who has not been indoctrinated by a religious sect or raised in a church and have few things which we disagree , providing they are not college educated.
But trying to make a conservation with a person educated in religion or someone who has been indoctrinated by some one who has been educated in religion is impossible.
Well any way i don,t know anything ,just some thoughts concerning my way of thinking about it.
It is kind of hard to ignore when a group thinks they are the only true church. I have come across a whole page full of nothing but quotes on the thread page. If I wanted to read them, I would rather click on a link to save space. This site is slow enough as it is. This is true of different kinds of threads. We all know how to click on a link so it is not necessary to post pages of quotes.
“But of course if you want to attack Protestants its a good start.”
And that indeed may be a good thing. Why do liberals, Islamists, and other fascists abuse Christians the way they do? Lack of fear of consequences. A few Anti-Catholic riots here, a few Anti-Protestant riots there, some burnings at the stake — and guess what? The media will consider treating Christians with as much respect as they do Muslims.
“The Church is not an organization rather it is the Body of Christ.”
Er...no. The ‘Body of Christ’ are believers; those saved by Christ’s shed blood for the remission of sin. The Roman Catholic Church is a man-made denomination—nothing more.
Now the catholic church(note the little ‘c’) IS the universal church because it is composed of all the saved. Little ‘c’ only; never big ‘C’.
“It is kind of hard to ignore when a group thinks they are the only true church.”
No, it’s easy. Look at the Mormons. They believe they are the only valid church. That’s easy to ignore. If you’re having a hard time ignoring Catholic claims, it might mean you know they are true.
“I have come across a whole page full of nothing but quotes on the thread page. If I wanted to read them, I would rather click on a link to save space. This site is slow enough as it is. This is true of different kinds of threads. We all know how to click on a link so it is not necessary to post pages of quotes.”
I think people are going to continue to post threads as they see fit. It will be up to you to see how maturely you can deal with that.
So can you say why? Can you give this reasoned, informed, intelligent debate? “Just because” and “Everybody knows”, don’t qualify.
“All Christian denominations, with the exception of the usual fringe, understand and recognize which books and included and, more importantly, why.”
Really? So, since the Calvinists and Orthodox disagree on the canon, which one of those two is the “usual fringe”?
I have attended many Baptist churches and hypocrisy abounds. Alleged Baptist proximity to Christianity be it early or current is a figment of imagination. They are the group most associated with and known for involvement the Know Nothing , Nativist and KKK movements in this nation. How do you associate early Christianity with that historical record?
What’s up with all the negative religious stuff lately?
Bashing Mormons, Catholics and Protestants is becoming common here. It looks like an orchestrated effort to divide and conquer. I trust the good Lord to make himself known to each man and woman as he sees fit. His will be done.
I have enough of a hard time keeping myself “on the path” to worry about someone else.
And how do you, April Lexington, think scripture came to be? We’re talking about Christian scripture of course right from the Septuagint to the 4 gospels to the Shepherd of Hermas and the Didache.
When Was The Catholic Church founded?
BY Charles The Hammer
When researching the history of the Catholic Church using public sources we find that many times thay are reluctant to give the full truth as to when and by whom the Catholic Church was found. Some are only willing to admit the church existed in the first century but most just avoid the issue altogether. Below, I have listed a series of citations from non-Catholic sources which are believed to be helpful in apologetics. When you read them you'll notice that each one admits certain details but does not discuss other details, of course it would not do well with Protestants if any encyclopedia came forward and stated " The Catholic Church was founded in the first century by Jesus Christ " but occasionally they're forced to admit part of this truth such as the church existing from the first century or its connection to the apostles of Jesus Christ, is for this reason they become useful.
Protestants many times would like us to believe there was no early church structure or for that matter a specific early church and that Constantine "created" the Roman Catholic Church. they would also like us to believe there was no standardized early church leadership and no universal church leadership, all of these were creations of the third and fourth century. Although as a stated above not everyone the citations is as explicit as we may want them to be their very useful against the pseudo-history.
ROMAN CATHOLICISM. The largest of the Christian denominations is the Roman Catholic church. As an institution it has existed since the 1st century AD...The name of the church is derived from its base in Rome and from a Greek term meaning "universal." The word Catholic refers to the wholeness of the church, and for many centuries the Roman church claimed to be the only true Christian denomination.(Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1996)
ROMAN CATHOLICISM: Christian church characterized by its uniform, highly developed doctoral and organizational structure that traces its history to the apostles of Jesus Christ in the 1st century C.E. (Marriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions © 1999, page 938 )
The history of the Roman Church, therefore, in relation to the ancient oriental churches, is in fact, the history of this claim to supremacy. The claim of supremacy on the part of the bishop of Rome rests on the belief that Christ conferred on the apostle Peter a 'primacy of jurisdiction;' that Peter fixed his see and died at Rome and thus, that the bishops of Rome, as successors of the apostle Peter, have succeeded to his preorgatives of supremacy. In this light, historians read the facts of the early history of the church---and they trace to this acknoledgment of the superiority of that see, the numerous references to Rome on matters of doctrine or discipline; the appeals from other churhces, even those of Alexandria, Antioch, and Constantinople; the depositions or nominations of bishops, examination and condemnation of heresies---of which the first five centuries, especially the 4th and 5th, present examples. . . In all the controversies on the Incarnation---the Arian, the Nestorian, the Eutychian, the Monothelite---not only was the orthodoxy of Rome never impeached, but she even supplied at every crisis a rallying point for the orthodox of every church. ( Imperial Encyclopedia and Dictionary, Volume 32 © 1903)
The Church of Rome is the earliest of Christian organization; after three centuries of persecution, it was given freedom by the edict of Constantine and Licinius and acquired increased influence. Bishoprics were established in various parts of the empire, but the one at Rome remained supreme, and in time the title of Pope, or father originally borne by all the bishops indiscriminately, began to be restricted to the bishop of Rome.(The World Book Encyclopedia © 1940, Page 6166, Volume 14,)
The office of Pope was founded on the words of Christ: "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter [which means a rock], and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" ( Matthew xvi, 18). The attention of every historian has been attracted by the endurance of the Papacy through centuries that have seen the downfall of every other European institution that existed when the Papacy arose, and of a number of others that have originated and fallen, while it continued t flourish. The Roman Catholic offers these facts as evidence that the Church is not merely a human institution, but that it is built "upon a rock," (The World Book Encyclopedia © 1940, Page 5730 Volume13)
Historical Notes. The Holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church recognizes the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, as the Vicar of Christ on this earth, and as the Head of the Church. It traces its origin from the naming of the Apostles Peter by Jesus as the chief of the Apostles . The authority of Peter as head of the Church is exercised by his successors as the Bishops of Rome. The doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church come from the faith given by Christ to his Apostles.( World Religions, By Benson Y. Landis, © 1957 Page 110)
At first the Christians were terribly persecuted, but gradually they spread the Christs radian spirit and teachings until they united many races, classes, and religious beliefs into a brotherhood which extended from Persia to the Atlantic Ocean. Later, this brotherhood spread to American, and Christianity became the prevailing religion of the Western Hemisphere. It has now ben taught in all countries.For nearly a thousand years the Christians remained practically one great community. Then the Greek Catholics broke away from the Roman Catholics. "The World Book Encyclopedia ©1940, Page 1413 Volume 3)
(The Catholic) Church... traces an unbroken line of popes from St. Peter in the 1st century AD to the present occupant of the papal throne. During this nearly 2,000-year period there were more than 30 false popes, most notably during the late 14th and early 15th centuries. These men were merely claimants to the position. There have rarely been periods when a genuine pope was not ruling the church. In 1978 John Paul II became the 264th true pope.(Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1996)
By A. D. 100,...Christianity had become an institution headed by a three-rank hierarchy of bishops, priests, and deacons, who understood themselves to be the guardians of the only "true faith." The majority of churches, among which the church of Rome took a leading role, rejected all other viewpoints as heresy. Deploring the diversity of the earlier movement, Bishop Irenaeus and his followers insisted that there could be only one church, and outside of that church, he declared, "there is no salvation." Members of this church alone are orthodox (literally, "straight-thinking") Christians. And, he claimed, this church must be catholic-- that is, universal.(The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels. Published by Vintage Books. 1994)
The Empire within the Empire.Long before the fall of Rome there had begun to grow up within the Roman Empire an ecclesiastical state, which in its constitution and its administrative system was shaping itself upon the imperial model. This spiritual empire, like the secular empire, possessed a hierarchy of officers, of which deacons, priests or prebyters, and bishops were the most important. The bishops collectively formed what is know as the episcopate. There were four grades of bishops, namely, country bishops, city bishops, metropolitans or archbishops, and patriarchs. At the end of the third century there were five patriarchates, that is, regions ruled by patriarchs. These centered in the great cities of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Among the patriarchs, the patriarchs of Rome were accorded almost universally a precedence in honor and dignity. They claimed further a precedence in authority and jurisdiction, and this was already very widely recognized ...Besides the influence of great men, such as Leo the Great, Gregory the Great, and Nicholas I, who held the seat of St. Peter, there were various historical circumstances that contributed to the realization by the Roman bishops of their claim to supremacy and aided them vastly in establishing the almost universal authority of the see of Rome. In the following paragraphs we shall enumerate several of these favoring circumstances. These matters constitute the great landmarks in the rise and early growth of the Papacy.
The belief in the Primacy of St. Peter and in the Founding by him of the Church at Rome.The Catholic Church teaches that the apostle Peter was given by the Master primacy among his fellow apostles and, furthermore, that Christ intrusted that disciple with the keys of the kingdom of heaven and invested him with superlative authority as teacher and interpreter of the Word by the commission "Feed my sheep"; . . ."feed my lambs," thus giving into his charge the entire flock of the Church. It also teaches that the apostle Peter himself founded the church at Rome. Without doubt he preached at Rome and suffered martyrdom there under the Emperor Nero...The Pastor as Protector of Rome.With the advent of the barbarians there came another occasion for the Roman bishops to widen their influence and enhance their authority. Romes extremity was their opportunity. Thus it will be recalled how mainly through the intercession of the pious Pope Leo the Great the fierce Attila was persuaded to turn back and spare the imperial city; and how the same bishop, in the year A.D. 455, also appeased in a measure the wrath of the Vandal Geiseric and shielded the inhabitants from the worst passions of a barbarian soldiery...Thus when the emperors, the natural defenders of the capital, were unable to protect it, the unarmed Pastor was able, through the awe and reverence inspired by his holy office, to render services that could not but result in bringing increased honor and dignity to the Roman see. (Mediaeval and Modern History, By Myers, Pg 26-27 Ginn and Company New York, 1905 )
Peter: d AD 64? Apostle, pope, and saint. According to the Bible Peter, a fisherman of Galilee was originally known as Simon. He was chosen by Jesus to be the first leader (pope) of his disciples. During Jesus' crucifixion, Peter denied knowing him, an act that Jesus had predicted and that Peter bitterly repented of. After word of Jesus' ascension to heaven, Peter actively sought converts, and is believed to have been crucified, head downward, in Rome by Nero. In the Roman Catholic Church, he is considered to be the first Pope. (Excerpted from the Macmillan Concise Dictionary of World History, compiled by Bruce Watterau. © 1986 Macmillan Publishing Company, a division of Macmillan, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
"If you are a Roman Catholic, Jesus Christ began your religion in the year 33. "(Ann Landers (Jewish), syndicated columnist in the Daily Record of Morris County, N.J. (from which we take this piece) for Monday, November 11,1996 reads)
"The Roman Catholic church ... the only legitimate inheritor, by an unbroken episcopal succession descending from Saint Peter to the present time, of the commission and powers conferred by Jesus Christ...Until the break with the Eastern church in 1054 and the break with the Protestant churches in the 1500s, it is impossible to separate the history of the Roman Catholic church from the history of Christianity" (The Encarta Encyclopedia © 1997 says)
"33-40 A.D.The Roman Catholic Church is founded by Jesus Christ"(The Timetables of History © 1975)
"The Catholic Church...Saint Peter and the Popes who have descended in unbroken succession from him have never ceased to feed, with the life-giving Sacraments and doctrines of the Catholic Church, the sheep whom Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd" (History Of The Popes © 1965)
"Jesus Christ has founded one only Church, the Catholic hierarchical Church, whose chief pastors are the Pope and the Bishops in union with the Pope," (The Early Church © 1945)
"St. Peter, of Bethsaida in Galilee, From Christ he received the name of Cepha, an Aramaic name which means rock .Prince of the Apostles, was the first pope of the Roman Catholic Church. He lived first in Antioch and then in Rome for 25 years. In C.E. 64 or 67, he was martyred. St. Linus became the second pope." (National Almanac © 1996)
"ROMAN CATHOLICISM The largest of the Christian denominations is the Roman Catholic church. As an institution it has existed since the 1st century AD, ...the Roman church owes its existence to the life of Jesus Christ in the 1st century AD" (Comptons Encyclopedia ©1995)
"Roman Catholic authority rests upon a mandate that is traced to the action of Jesus Christ himself, when he invested Peter and, through Peter, his successors with the power of the keys in the church. Christ is the invisible head of his church, and by his authority the pope is the visible head." (Encyclopedia Britannica ©1999)
"Roman Catholicism Christian church characterized by its uniform, highly developed doctrinal and organizational structure that traces its history to the Apostles of Jesus Christ in the 1st century AD." (Encyclopedia Britannica ©1999)
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, the largest single Christian body, composed of those Christians who acknowledge the supreme authority of the bishop of Rome, the pope, in matters of faith. The word catholic (Gr. katholikos) means "universal" and has been used to designate the church since its earliest period, when it was the only Christian church. The Roman Catholic church regards itself as the only legitimate inheritor, by an unbroken episcopal succession descending from St. Peter to the present time, of the commission and powers conferred by Jesus Christ on the 12 apostles (see APOSTLE). The church has had a profound influence on the development of European culture and on the introduction of European values into other civilizations. Its total membership as the 1990s began was about 995.8 million (about 18.8 percent of the world population). (Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia ©1998-2000)
The doctrine of apostolic succession, that is, the continuous transmission of ministry from the time of Jesus until today. The doctrine is found as early as the Epistle to the Corinthians (c. 96), traditionally attributed to Pope Clement I...It is expressly affirmed in Roman Catholicism. It is identified with the succession of bishops in office and interpreted as the source of the bishops authority and leadership role. The most specific instance of these claims is that the pope is the successor of St. Peter, who was chosen by Jesus as head of his church (see Matt. 16:1618). (Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia ©1998-2000)
IN THE WRITINGS OF THE EARLY CHRISTIANS
Saint Cyprian (died A.D. 258): "He who has turned his back on the Church of Christ shall not come to the rewards of Christ; he is an alien, a worldling, an enemy. You cannot have God for your Father if you have not the Church for your mother. Our Lord warns us when He says: `he that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth.' Whosoever breaks the peace and harmony of Christ acts against Christ; whoever gathers elsewhere than in the Church scatters the Church of Christ." (Unity of the Catholic Church)
"He who does not hold this unity, does not hold the law of God, does not hold the faith of the Father and the Son, does not hold life and salvation." (Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Latina)
"Nay, though they should suffer death for the confession of the Name, the guilt of such men is not removed even by their blood...No martyr can he be who is not in the Church." (Ancient Christian Writers)
"Christ has declared the unity of the Church. Whoever parts and divides the Church cannot possess Christ ... The House of God is but one, and no one can have salvation except in the Church" (The Unity of the Church)
"There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church ... and it is they who in His Church have labored in doing good works whom the Lord says shall be received into the Kingdom of Heaven on the Day of Judgment." (Epistle 73:21)
Bishop Firmilean (died A.D. 269): "What is the greatness of his error, and what the depth of his blindness, who says that remission of sins can be granted in the synagogues of heretics, and does not abide on the foundation of the one Church." (Anti-Nicene Fathers)
Saints Cosmas and Damian (died A.D. 303): "There is absolutely no salvation outside the Catholic Church" (Saints to Remember)
St. Catherine of Alexandria (died A.D. 307) "It is necessary for you to believe the Catholic Faith and to be baptized, as must every man in order to save his soul." (Saints to Know and Love)
Lactantius (died A.D. 310): "It is the Catholic Church alone which retains true worship. This is the fountain of truth, this is the abode of the Faith, this is the temple of God; into which if anyone shall not enter, or from which if anyone shall go out, he is a stranger to the hope of life and eternal salvation." (The Divine Institutes)
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (died A.D. 386): "Abhor all heretics...heed not their fair speaking or their mock humility; for they are serpents, a `brood of vipers.' Remember that, when Judas said `Hail Rabbi,' the salutation was an act of betrayal. Do not be deceived by the kiss but beware of the venom. Abhor such men, therefore, and shun the blasphemers of the Holy Spirit, for whom there is no pardon. For what fellowship have you with men without hope. Let us confidently say to God regarding all heretics, `Did I not hate, O Lord, those who hated Thee, and did I not pine away because of Your enemies?' For there is an enmity that is laudable, as it is written, `I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed.' Friendship with the serpent produces enmity with God, and death. Let us shun those from whom God turns away." (The Fathers of the Church)
Saint Ambrose (died A.D. 397): "Where Peter is therefore, there is the Church. Where the Church is there is not death but life eternal. ...Although many call themselves Christians, they usurp the name and do not have the reward." (The Fathers of the Church)
St. John Chrysostom (died A.D. 407): "We know that salvation belongs to the Church alone, and that no one can partake of Christ nor be saved outside the Catholic Church and Catholic Faith." (De Capto Eutropio)
"We should mourn for those who are dying without the Faith ... And well should the pagan weep and lament who, not knowing God, goes straight to punishment when he dies!" (On the Consolation of Death)
St. Gaudentius of Brescia (died A.D. 410): "It is certain that all men of Noah's time perished, except those who merited to be in the Ark, which was a figure of the Church. Likewise, they cannot in any way now be saved who are aliens from the Apostolic Faith and the Catholic Church" (De Lect. Evangel)
Bishop Niceta of Remesiana (died A.D. 415): "He is the Way along which we journey to our salvation; the Truth, because He rejects what is false; the Life, because He destroys death. ...All who from the beginning of the world were, or are, or will be justified - whether Patriarchs, like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or Prophets, whether Apostles or martyrs, or any others - make up one Church, because they are made holy by one faith and way of life, stamped with one Spirit, made into one Body whose Head, as we are told, is Christ. I go further. The angels and virtues and powers in heaven are co-members in this one Church, for, as the Apostle teaches us, in Christ `all things whether on the earth or in the heavens have been reconciled.' You must believe, therefore, that in this one Church you are gathered into the Communion of Saints. You must know that this is the one Catholic Church established throughout the world, and with it you must remain in unshaken communion. There are, indeed, other so called `churches' with which you can have no communion. ...These `churches' cease to be holy, because they were deceived by the doctrines of the devil to believe and behave differently from what Christ commanded and from the tradition of the Apostles." (The Fathers of the Church)
Saint Jerome (died A.D. 420): "As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is, with the Chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built. ...This is the Ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. ...And as for heretics, I have never spared them; on the contrary, I have seen to it in every possible way that the Church's enemies are also my enemies." (Manual of Patrology and History of Theology)
"Therefore, I believe it is good for me to praise the Chair and Faith of peter: with you alone remains uncorrupted the inhereitance of the Fathers. As I follow no one but Christ, so do I therefore unite myself with Your Holiness, that is, with the Chair of Peter. Whoever eats the Lamb outside this House is profane; whoever is not in this Ark of Noah will perish in the Flood; whoever does not gather with thee scatters; that is: he who is not Christ's is Antichrist's." (To Pope Damasus, Epistle 15)
Saint Augustine (died A.D. 430): "No man can find salvation except in the Catholic Church. Outside the Catholic Church one can have everything except salvation. One can have honor, one can have the sacraments, one can sing alleluia, one can answer amen, one can have faith in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and preach it too, but never can one find salvation except in the Catholic Church." (Sermo ad Caesariensis Ecclesia plebem)
"So certain and so clear is the Catholic Faith as expressed in the words of the Apostolic See, so ancient and so well-extablished, that it would be a sacrilege for any Christian to doubt!" (Faith of the Early Fathers)
"There is nothing a Christian should dread more than to be separated from the Body of Christ, for if he is separated from the Body, he is not one of His Members. If he is not a member of Christ, then he does not live by His Spirit. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ," says the Apostle, "he is none of His" (Romans 8:9) ... Do you also wish to live by the Spirit of Christ? Then belong to the Body of Christ. No one ascends into Heaven except him who remains glued to Christ, for "no man hath ascended into Heaven except Him Who alone descended from Heaven: the Son of man Who is in Heaven" (John 3:13). Do you want to ascend, too? Then become a member of Him Who alone ascends! For He, the Head, is one man with the other members ... If, then, the Body of Christ and its members belong to "one man," do not make two of them ... He is the Bridegroom Who is the Head, the Bride is he who is in the Body. For "they two," He said, "shall be in one flesh" (Mt. 19:5-6) ... And since no one can ascend into Heaven but him who has become His member in His Body, the saying is fulfilled that "no man ascends to Heaven except Him Who descended" ... What do these words mean if not that no man ascends into heaven who has not been made one with Him and, as a member, become hidden within the Body of Him who has descended from Heaven? And what is that Body if not the Church?" (Treatise on John)
"Everyone God teaches, He teaches out of pity; but whomever He does not teach, He does not teach them out of justice ... The saving grace of this religion, the only true one, through which alone true salvation is truly promised, has never been refused anyone who was worthy of it; and whoever did lack it was unworthy of it. Consequently, those who have not heard the Gospel, and those who, having heard it, have refused to come to Christ, that is, to believe in Him ... all of these have perished in death; they all go in one lump into condemnation." (Predestination of the Saints; Admonition and Grace)
St. Patrick (died A.D. 493): "Not without just cause does the Apostle say: 'Where the righteous shall scarcely be saved, where shall the sinner and the ungodly transgressor of the law find himself?' (1Peter 4:18). The Words are not mine, but God's and the Apostle's and Prophet's who have never lied: "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be damned' (Mk 16:16). God hath spoken!" (The Writings of St. Patrick)
Saint Fulgentius (died A.D. 533): "Hold most firmly and never doubt at all that not only pagans, but also all Jews, all heretics, and all schismatics who finish this life outside of the Catholic Church, will go into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." (Enchiridion Patristicum)
"No one can be saved by any means outside the Church; all pagans and heretics are infallibly damned ... Anyone who is outside the Church is walking a path not to Heaven but to Hell. He is not approaching the home of eternal life; rather, he is hastening to the torment of eternal death." ("On the Faith of Peter" and "The Forgiveness of Sins")
"Anyone who is out of this Church is walking a path not to heaven, but to hell. He is not getting closer to the home of eternal life; on the contrary, he is hurrying to the torments of eternal death. And this is the case not only if he remains a pagan without Baptism, but even if, after having been Baptized, he continue as a heretic" (To Euthymius, on the Remission of Sins)
Saint Bede the Venerable (died A.D. 735): "Just as all within the ark were saved and all outside of it were carried away when the flood came, so when all who are pre-ordained to eternal life have entered the Church, the end of the world will come and all will perish who are found outside." (Hexaemeron)
"He who will not willingly and humbly enter the gate of the Church will certainly be damned and enter the gate of hell whether he wants to or not!" (cf. Sermon 16; PL94:129)
- CATHOLIC APOLOGETICS -
Actually, this is not attacking the Bible, rather it is pointing out that the reformers did debate about removing some books from the bible like Jude and Apocalypse, and removed Maccabees etc., and yet to accept canon is to accept the Councils that were the tool that approved canon
Hypocrisy abounds in all religions, and it has throughout history. The reasons for this are in the first few chapters of Genesis and what they say about human nature.
I’m speaking of doctrine and philosophical lineage, not the actions of men.
(To be fair, they do get the pretribulation rapture wrong...but eschatology is a roll of the dice anyway.)
Freep-mail me to get on or off my Catholic Apologetics and the Defense of the Faith ping list:
Please ping me to Catholic threads where I can help defend our common faith!
This is an incredibly ignorant rebuttal. On what grounds were the books of the Bible canonized when there were literally hundreds of contemporaneous works authored my many eye witnesses, some intimates of Christ himself, rejected. How did Luther decide that the preexisting Canon was flawed and determine that some books should be eliminated?
Protestants believe the books of the Bible we accept are infallible. We do not believe our choices were infallible. The only one Who is infallible is God.
So, it was the 2nd Council of Nicea which authorized the use of icons such as the Virgin Mary? Thanks but no thanks. I have no need of a Virgin Mary statue to be able to pray to Jesus. In the first Council, it was written so to exclude everyone but Catholics. Is that right? Of course, there is Father, Son and Holy Spirit but the Bible teaches that. We do not need a church higher up to tell us that. We read it for ourselves. I have been up all night so hope this makes sense.
Yes, this thread is not meant to attack Scripture. The point is to provide a logically coherent account for trust in the Holy Scriptures.
Luther contradicted his own theory of "the Bible alone," since he rejected the Bible that was used by all Christians in his day. What authority did he have to change the canon of Scripture? None. And did he act infallibly when he did so? No.
Now, this is NOT an attack on Scripture itself. Rather, it is a different and logically coherent explanation for trust in the authority of Scripture.
This is not meant as an insult to Protestants. Catholics accept all that is true, so of course we share much in common with Protestants. But where differences exist, they must be acknowledged.
Centrality of communion
"Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life. . . . On the Lords Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure" (Didache 4:14, 14:1 [A.D. 70]).
"Concerning baptism, baptize in this manner: Having said all these things beforehand, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living water [that is, in running water, as in a river]. If there is no living water, baptize in other water; and, if you are not able to use cold water, use warm. If you have neither, pour water three times upon the head in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Chapter 9
Discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal.
No need, just read any open thread on the RF; no matter what it starts with, it will have thousands of anti-Catholic posts by the time it ends.
Yes, we all do believe the books of the Bible are infallible. However, the reformers did wish to toss out books such as James and Apocalypse, so the question is not, are the books of the Bible infallible, but how do you know the collection of books (i.e. the canon) is infallible?
Which Bible? The Catholic canon? The Orthodox canon? The Protestant canon?
Why is the Protestant canon to be judged superior to the Catholic or Orthodox canons? And how do we know that it is inerrant?
Since Luther rejected the canon of Scripture that existed in his day, he violated his own principle of "the Bible alone."
We do not believe our choices were infallible.
This would mean that Luther acted fallibly when rejecting books from the Bible that existed in his time.
(In fact, R.C. Sproul has called the Bible a fallible collection of infallible books.)
The "Come Home" slogan that constantly crops up is a big clue. There's a concerted media campaign ongoing, right down to television commercials with that slogan as a closing line. The long and short of it is that FR is being used as an ad platform just as are NBC, CBS, ABC et al.
The wishful thinking exhibited in these sorts of replies is nothing short of astonishing, leaving the impression that the Roman Catholic Church in the United States is just the most traditional, conservative body of Christian believers that there could possibly be. This couldn't be further from the truth, given the various scandals, controversies, the voting habits of their laity in general ... my perception has been that they're straining to bring their own flock back into some semblance of orthodoxy after decades of liberalism and moral decay, more or less.
What's sad is I've supported this effort in the past. Who wouldn't support fellow brothers and sisters in Christ trying to set things right in their church? I maintained that support right up to the point that my own beliefs and in fact any Christian belief outside their church became a punching bag used to maintain some strange Kabuki theatre being publicly played out on an electronic stage, projecting themselves as they want to be perceived, not as they are.
Again, it is an ad campaign. The attempt is directed at changing perceptions, not behaviors. I've watched it develop here and elsewhere over the past several years.
I think a certain Shakespeare quote might be oddly in order here, regarding this Roman Catholic media blitz that has now run completely off the rails:
The lady doth protest too much.
Perhaps it began with the best of intentions, but at this point all the flailing and scapegoating has become very off-putting. I can't help but think it's even becoming counterproductive in the attempt to sway those who have strayed from their own church.
We believe (I believe) in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages. (God of God) light of light, true God of true God. Begotten not made, consubstantial to the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And was incarnate of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary and was made man; was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried; and the third day rose again according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, and shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, of whose Kingdom there shall be no end. And (I believe) in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son), who together with the Father and the Son is to be adored and glorified, who spoke by the Prophets. And one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We confess (I confess) one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for (I look for) the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen."you DO accept this, right?
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