Skip to comments.Is the Church Over the Bible, or the Bible Over the Church?
Posted on 04/20/2014 12:50:38 PM PDT by Gamecock
The perennial question in the debate over sola Scriptura is whether the church is over the Bible or the Bible is over the church. If you take the latter position, then you are (generally speaking) a Protestant who believes the Scriptures, and the Scriptures alone, are the only infallible rule and therefore the supreme authority over the church. But, here is the irony: Roman Catholics also claim to be under the authority of the Bible.
The Roman Catholic church insists that the Scripture is always superior to the Magisterium. Dei Verbum declares, This teaching office is not above the Word of God, but serves it (2.10), and the Catholic Catechism declares: Yet, this Magisterium is not superior to the word of God, but its servant (86). However, despite these qualifications, one still wonders how Scripture can be deemed the ultimate authority if the Magisterium is able to define, determine, and interpret the Scripture in the first place. Moreover, the Magisterium seems to discover doctrines that are not consistent with the original meaning of Scripture itselfe.g,, the immaculate conception, purgatory, papal infallibility and the like. Thus, despite these declarations from Rome, residual concerns remain about whether the Magisterium functionally has authority over the Scriptures.
My friend and colleague James Anderson has written a helpful blog post that brings even further clarity to this issue. He begins by observing the judicial activism that happens all too often in the American political system. Judges go well beyond the original intent of the constitution and actually create new laws from the bench. He then argues:
What has happened in the US system of government almost exactly parallels what happened in the government of the Christian church over the course of many centuries, a development that finds its fullest expression in the Roman Catholic Church.
The Bible serves as the constitution of the Christian faith. It is the covenant documentation. It defines the Christian church: what constitutes the church, what is its mission, who runs the church and how it should be run, what are the responsibilities of the church, what is the scope of its authority, what laws govern the church and its members, and so forth. Once the constitution has been written, the task of the judges (the elders/overseers of the church) is to interpret and apply it according to its original intent. Their task is not to create new laws or to come up with interpretations that cannot be found in the text of the constitution itself (interpreted according to original intent) and would never have crossed the minds of the founding fathers (Eph. 2:20).
Yet thats just what happened over the course of time with the development of episcopacy, the rise of the papacy, and the increasing weight given to church tradition. To borrow Grudems phrasing: If the Bible didnt say something something that the bishops wanted it to say, or thought it should say, they could claim to discover new doctrines in the Bible purgatory, indulgences, apostolic succession, papal infallibility, etc. and no one would have power to overrule them.
Adapting the candid statement of Chief Justice Hughes, todays Roman Catholic might well put it thus: We are under the Bible, but the Bible is what the Pope says it is. In fact, thats exactly how things stand in practice. Functionally the Pope has become the highest governing authority in his church: higher even than the Bible. The church has been derailed by ecclesial activism.
Thus, even though Rome claims that the Bible is its ultimate authority, practically speaking it is the church that is the ultimate authority. Rome is committed to sola ecclesia. And this clarifies the real difference between Protestants and Catholics. Something has to be the ultimate authority. It is either Scripture or the church.
“over” is NOT the proper question.
There was no Christian canon until the 4th century, so what was the authority prior to that point?
Not exactly correct.
Everyone had a pretty good idea of what the proper canon was. Only heresies inside the Roman Catholic faith group resulted in the confirmation of what was already accepted.
God has much to say about shepherd-less churches whose traditions make His WORD null and void.
It's similar, but the greatest difference may be that the US Constitution explicitly tells how to amend it, which makes backdoor changes to it even more egregious.
The Church was here before the Bible.
That’s right. Paul started the church and there was no Bible. His letters to the different early churches was part of the Bible.
I could not sleep several nights ago so I turned the tv on. I was changing channels when I came across EWTN. A couple was on explaining the Stations of the Cross. I was amazed when the lady said Mary was our Co-Redeemer. I have no idea why people actually believe that but I had never heard it before.
In the beginng was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The Bible, being the written Word of God, existed before the Church. Christ himself quoted Holy Scripture - the written Word of God at the time.
But not before the Torah.
Luke 8:11 and parable of the sower addresses this.
The seed is the Word of God.
No church without the crop that comes from the seed.
And some heresies, such as Arius, were proclaimed as such during early church disputes in the 300s. Where one camp won over the other with the Roman Emperor’s backing.
Thus this interesting piece of research and analysis I found in my studies:
State Church Of The Roman Empire, A Summary Chronology
PREFACE (only printed here)
For many years, I wondered what happened to Christianity between the Sermon on the Mount and the Spanish Inquisition. How did the teachings of Jesus become so completely reversed in Christian practice? For the first 300 years, Christianity spread without violence, permeating the world like yeast in bread, by preaching a better God and a Master worth following, and by demonstrating a better way to live both here and hereafter. Then, sometime between AD 300 and 400, everything changed. Suddenly, Christians were the persecutors, instead of the persecuted, and remained so until modern times.
I read everything I could find on this period, but my question was not answered. By searching the Internet, I found and bought a book entitled “The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: The Seven Ecumenical Councils” — and wrestled with ancient theological doctrines until I could hardly see.
Then I remembered that theological doctrines serve political purposes, and went looking to see what the Roman Emperors did. Little by little, the picture of what happened to Christianity became clearer to me, but something was still missing, so I started building my own chronology and inserting into it everything I could find. This paper is the result of that process.
What the author fails to realize is that by saying This teaching office is not above the Word of God, but serves it, Rome is not saying Scripture is always superior to the Magisterium, as "the Word of God" for RCs is not restricted to Scripture, but includes whatever Rome says it is with her nebulous tradition.
And as Rome presumes to alone to assuredly define what true Scripture, tradition and history consists of and means, thus she alone is the supreme authority on it.
The Roman reasoning is that are you saying that being the historical instruments and stewards of Scripture means they are the infallible interpreters of it (the we gave you the Bible" polemic), so that dissent from them is rebellion against God.
The problem with that line of reasoning is that it effectively nukes the church, since it began in dissent from those who had historical descent, and sat in the seat of Moses over Israel, the instruments and stewards of Scripture, and inheritors of divine promises of God's presence and preservation. (Lv. 10:11; Dt. 4:31; 17:8-13; Num. 23:19,23; Is. 41:10, Ps. 89:33,34; Mal. 3:6; Rm. 3:2; 9:4).
Unto whom were committed the oracles of God. Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 9:4-5)
But whom, like Rome, they likewise presumed of themselves a veracity above Scripture,* and thus rejected Christ and His apostles, asking, like Rome, "By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?" (Mark 11:28)
But the church began in dissent, following a holy man in the desert who ate insects and an itinerant Preacher who reproved the magisterium by Scripture, and who established His truth claims upon scriptural substantiation in word and in power. As did the apostles and early church (Mt. 22:23-45; Lk. 24:27,44; Jn. 5:36,39; Acts 2:14-35; 4:33; 5:12; 15:6-21;17:2,11; 18:28; 28:23; Rm. 15:19; 2Cor. 12:12, etc.) - not the premise of a perpetual assuredly infallible magisterium, regardless of Rome defining herself as having such.
For Scripture is the assured Word of God and transcendent standard for obedience and testing and establishing truth claims, as is abundantly evidenced.
Ex. 17:14; 24:4,7,12; 31:18; 32:15; 34:1,27; 35:29; Lv. 8:36; 10:10,11; 26:46; Num. 4:5,37,45,49; 9:23; 10:13; 15:23; 16:40; 27:23; 33:2; 36:13; Dt. 4:13; 5:22; 9:10; 10:2,4; 17:18,19; 27:3,8; 28:58,61; 29:20,21,27; 30:10; 31:9,11,19,22,26; 33:4; Josh. 1:7,8; 8:31,32,34,35; 10:13; 14:2; 20:2; 21:2; 22:5,9; 23:6; 24:26; Jdg. 3:4; 1Sam. 10:25; 2Sam. 1:8; 1Ki. 2:3; 8:53,56; 12:22; 2Ki. 1:8; 14:6; 17:37; 22:8,10,13,16; 23:2,21; 1Ch. 16:40; 17:3,9; 2Ch. 23:18; 25:4; 31:3; 33:8; 34:13-16,18,19,21,24; 34:30; 35:6,12; Ezra 3:2,4; 6:18; Neh. 6:6; 8:1,3,8,15,18; 9:3,14; 10:34,36; 13:1; Psa. 40:7; Is. 8:20; 30:8; 34:16; 65:6; Jer. 17:1; 25:13; 30:2; 36:2,6,10,18,27,28; 51:60; Dan. 9:11,13; Hab. 2:2;
Mat. 1:22; 2:5,15,17,18; 3:3; 4:4,6,7,10,14,15; 5:17,18,33,38,43; 8:4,17; 9:13; 11:10; 12:3,5,17-21,40,41; 13:14,15,35; 14:3,4,7-9;19:4,5,17-19; 21:4,5,13,16,42; 22:24,29,31,32,37,39,43,44; 23:35;24:15; 26:24,31,54,56; 27:9,10,35; Mark 1:2,44; 7:3,10; 9:12,13; 10:4,5; 11:17; 12:10,19,24,26 13:14; 14:21,47,49; 15:28; Lk. 2:22,23.24; 3:4,5,6; 4:4,6-8,10,12,16,17,18,20,25-27; 5:14; 7:27; 8:10; 10:26,27; 16:29,31; 18:20,31; 19:46; 20:17,18, 28,37,42,43; 22:37; 23:30; 24:25.27,32,44,45,46; Jn. 1:45; 2:17,22; 3:14; 5:39,45-47; 6:31,45; 7:19,22,23,38,42,51,52; 8:5,17; 9:26; 10:34,35; 12:14,15,38-41; 15:25; 17:12; 19:24,28,36,37; 20:9,31; 21:24; Acts 1:20; 2:16-21,25-28,34,35; 3:22,23,25; 4:11,25,26; 7:3,7,27,28,32,33,37,40,42,43,49,50,53; 8:28,30,32,33; 10:43;13:15,27,29,33,39; 15:5,15-17,21; 17:2,11; 18:13.24,28; 21:20,24; 22:12; 23:3,5; 24:14; 26:22; 28:23,26,27; Rom 1:2,17; 2:10-21,31; 4:3,7,17,18,23,24; 5:13; 7:1-3,7,12,14,16; 8:4,36; 9:4,9,12,13,15,17,25-29,33; 10:11,15,19; 11:2-4,8,9,26,27; 12:19,20; 13:8-10; 14:11; 15:3,4,9-12,21; 16:16,26,27; 1Cor. 1:19,31; 2:9; 3:19,20; 4:6; 6:16; 7:39; 9:9,10; 10:7,11,26,28; 14:21,34; 15:3,4,32,45,54,55; 2Cor. 1:13; 2:3,4; 3:7,15; 4:13; 6:2;16; 7:12; 8:15; 9:9; 10:17; 13:1; Gal. 3:6,8,10-13; 4:22,27,30; 5:14; Eph. 3:3,4; (cf. 2Pt. 3:16); Eph. 4:8; 5:31; 6:2,3; (cf. Dt. 5:16); Col. 4:16; 1Thes. 5:27; 1Tim. 5:18; 2Tim. 3:14,16,17; Heb. 1:5,7-13; 2:5-8,12,13; 3:7-11,15; 4:3,4,7; 5:5,6; 6:14; 7:17,21,28; 8:5,8-13; 9:20; 10:5-916,17,28,30,37; 11:18; 12:5,6,12,26,29; 13:5,6,22; James 2:8,23; 4:5; 1Pet. 1:16,24,25; 2:6,7,22; 3:10-12; 5:5,12; 2Pet. 1:20,21; 2:22; 3:1,15,16; 1Jn. 1:4; 2:1,7,8,12,13,21; 5:13; Rev. 1:3,11,19; 2:1,8,12,18; 3:1,7,12,14; 14:13; 19:9; 21:5; 22:6,7;10,18,19
“Thus, even though Rome claims that the Bible is its ultimate authority, practically speaking it is the church that is the ultimate authority.”
Are Protestant anti-Catholic just plain stupid? That is the only way I can see so many of them having such poor reading comprehension. “Rome” does not claim the Bible is “its ultimate authority”. The Catholic Church claims that the “Magisterium is not superior to the word of God, but its servant” and that the “word” is not restricted to what is scripture. Thus, not only is the premise of the above article wrong, but clearly the author of the article - who may be stupid don’t forget - doesn’t even understand the doctrines he is attacking.
Which means what? Why do you continually post this assertion but refuse to answer questions as to its polemic?
Are you saying that the Divine promises of His presence and preservation, (Jn. 14:16; 16:13) necessitate an infallible church, and that being the historical instruments and stewards of Scripture means they are the infallible interpreters of it, so that dissent from them is rebellion against God?
So i will also ask you the same question as to the polemic behind this assertion:
Are you saying that the Divine promises of His presence and preservation, (Jn. 14:16; 16:13) necessitate an infallible church, and that being the historical instruments and stewards of Scripture means they are the infallible interpreters of it ["we gave you the Bible so.."], so that dissent from them is rebellion against God?
That is rather well know but explained in such a way as to make Eve Co-Redeemer by extension. There is much much more said of the Mary of Catholicism that is beyond what it written, or its careful use of language.
Even Ratzinger said that
"the formula Co-redemptrix departs to too great an extent from the language of Scripture and of the Fathers and therefore gives rise to misunderstandings Everything comes from Him [Christ], as their Latter to the Ephesians and the Letter to the Colossians, in particular, tell us; Mary, too, is everything she is through Him. The word Co-redemptrix would obscure this origin. A correct intention being expressed in the wrong way. For matters of faith, continuity of terminology with the language of Scripture and that of the Fathers is itself an essential element; it is improper simply to manipulate language Source
When the Bible is not your supreme authority, do not be surprised at the scope of imaginary fables taught as doctrine. The Mormons are not alone.
That is not true that the Church had no apostolic writings, no books of the New Testament prior to the 4th century.
Thats right. Paul started the church and there was no Bible.
There was the Church before the bible.
PS: stop misrepresenting what the Catholic Church teaches.