Why should we believe in the Bible?

154 comments

apostle-writingIt’s an absolutely fundamental question for any Christian. And surprisingly, when I’ve asked most people this question they rarely have an answer. And when they do have an answer, it is rarely sufficiently reasonable.

I think this is largely because it is something most all Christians take for granted. It’s a part of the Christian tradition. And even though we disagree on a lot of things within the denominational spectrum of divided Christianity, we assume we can all agree on the Bible. But that isn’t entirely true either.

For many the Bible is the basis for their entire belief. They go by the “bible alone.” Their entire faith is based on the “bible alone” they say…well, except for the whole part that explains why they believe in the Bible in the first place!

Let’s be clear. Nowhere in the Bible does it define what the Bible is. Nowhere does it list the books that are supposed to be in this so called Bible. Nowhere in the Bible does it clearly tell us how to use the Bible. And it certainly doesn’t say anywhere in it that it is the sole rule of our faith (as some Christians believe).

Christians can argue all day long about what the Bible says about this or that. They point to it and say things like, “well you should do it because it’s in the Bible!” But when you ask them why that matters? Why should I believe what the Bible says? Why can I trust it? They rarely have a good answer – at least not a reasonable one. It’s usually something like “because it’s true!” Or “I’ve read it and the Holy Spirit told me so.” Or “I just get a good, warm feeling when I read it.” But these answers are inadequate.

When you ask them “How do you know the Bible is the Word of God?” – a question that their entire faith rests upon – they rarely have an answer.

1) As Christians, we’ve got to do better than that.
2) How can we possibly understand how to interpret the Bible if we don’t know where it comes from? How can we be sure we are understanding it properly if we are not using it in the manner it was created to be used? And how do we know what that manner is when it’s not explained in the Bible itself?

I posted this question on my Facebook and Twitter status today to see what people thought. I got some very thoughtful answers. I got some very confusing answers. And I got some very honest answers like…”I’m not sure! I just do! But good question!”

Before we further address this question, we need to be clear about what we mean by “believing in the Bible.” Many of the answers I got were great, logical reasons to believe that what the Bible teaches historically (where it is intending to teach historically) is true. In other words, “believing in the Bible” means believing it is true. That’s fair enough. And there are lots of logical reasons that tell us the Bible is accurately documenting a lot of historical fact. And we can use that as evidence in figuring out what we believe.

But Christians don’t just believe the Bible is “true.” We believe it is the “Inspired” Word of God Himself. Not that it is “inspiring” – but that it is actually written by God Himself using human authors as instruments – The Word of God. This is quite a different thing. And quite a jump.

Just because I write something that is true, just makes it true. It doesn’t mean God wrote it Himself through me. So historical and modern evidence that Biblical stories are true and haven’t been proven wrong is no basis for the Christian belief in an Inspired Bible.

Additionally, some make the case that it is prophetic. But again, just because something or somebody is prophetic and predicted the future does not mean it is The Word of God necessarily.

At this point many throw their hands in the air and say, “I just believe it on faith.” But this is a cop-out. So you base your faith on the Bible? But then the reason you base your faith on the Bible is…more faith?  Did you just come up with this idea of an Inspired Bible out of thin air then?  It just doesn’t hold up.

So how do we know? Is there any basis for the claim that the Bible is actually the Word of God? The answer is in its origin.

So how did we get this Bible? Where did it come from? Did Jesus just drop it out of the sky during His ascension? Of course not.  So where did it come from?

The Bible is a collection of a bunch of writings that were written over thousands of years in different contexts, for different purposes, to different people, in different languages, across different cultures. And some how they all ended up together in one book. Kind of daunting thinking that we can just pull quotes out of context and formulate a coherent unified faith, huh? Makes it easy to see why so many denominations who claim to go by the Bible can all disagree on so many different things.

It’s also easy to see that these writings were not written as an all inclusive “manual” to live by. In fact, nowhere does the Bible claim to be such. So let’s undo some of these previous assumptions many have made and back it up even further.

We’ve established that Jesus did not define and put together the Bible. In fact, the entirety of the New Testament was not even finished being written until at least 50-60 years after Jesus died (so the first Christians were certainly not “bible-only” Christians).  So what did they have? What did Jesus found?

He founded a Church. And it is the Church that is the “pillar and bulwark” of the Truth (1 Tim 3:15). And we can know this with certainty by studying the validity of these historical texts (biblical and otherwise) and from what we know of human nature through our natural reason. Through reason we can logically come to know that Jesus existed, that he must have rose from the dead, and is therefore what he himself claimed to be – God. Through historical evidence and reason we can also come to know that God Himself established a Church and gave Peter (the first Pope) the keys of the kingdom and the power to bind and loose (Matthew 16:19) and gave its leaders the power to forgive sins (John 20:22-23) and to teach in His name.

With further reading of historical texts (biblical and otherwise from the early Christians) we can verify that this Church Jesus started is indeed the Catholic Church – i.e they believed in a priesthood, sacraments, Eucharist, papacy, hierarchy, teaching authority, Apostolic succession, etc.  (I wrote more here on that)

It is also undisputed, historical fact that the Catholic Church set and confirmed the New Testament Canon throughout history and definitively at the end of the 4th century. They are the ones who decided which early Christian writings were “Inspired” and therefore included in the canon of the Bible and which writings were not (indeed there were many that were not).

Again, there were lots of writings out there that may have been “true.” But they didn’t make it into the Canon just for being true…they were instead left out because the Church determined them to not be “Inspired.” It was the leaders of the Catholic Church that decided all of this. They are the ones who discerned which writings truly were “The Word of God.”

So the authenticity of the Biblical canon – and therefore, indirectly, the Bible itself – rests on the authority of the Catholic Church. Either the Catholic Church had the authority and capacity to do this or they didn’t. We can see through history and reason that they did have this authority. Therefore, I believe the Bible is the Inspired Word of God.

So the only rational reason we can believe that the Bible is the Inspired Word of God is essentially because the Catholic Church has revealed that to us through their authority and charism given to it by Christ. And if we trust the Catholic Church to determine its canon, perhaps we should also trust it to interpret it for us. After all, that’s why God gave us a Church with the authority to do such things.

“I would not believe in the Gospels were it not for the authority of the Catholic Church” – St. Augustine

Here’s some further reading concerning this topic if you’d like.  It’s a good write up – still summarized but slightly more in depth.  Thanks for everyone’s feedback and thoughts today!

154 comments Add comment

Mairi McIntyre April 6, 2009 at 6:20 pm

I believe the bible because it is so beautifully written. It has so much waiting to be analysed and so many enigmas to be solved. I’m certainly willing to see more than one purpose beside ever extract. And see it is all to our good.

Judas Gutenberg October 9, 2012 at 9:49 pm

i believe Huckleberry Finn is true because of how beautifully it is written. I think it is a sound document upon which to found a church.

Carl April 6, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Because its beutifully written?? You must be joking! Shakespeare wrote beutifully, but “Twelfth Night” or “Romeo and Juliet” are not canon! Well put Matthew! If we accept the Bible as inspired, we must also accept the authority of the Catholic Church. If we reject the authority of the Church, we must also reject the Holy Scriptures.

lozen March 9, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Oh, for Pete’s sake! There are millions who are protestant who belive the bible is the inspired word of god. They accept that the bible is inspired and they do not accept the authority of the catholic church. Are you living under a rock or what?

Zach Ellerbrook April 7, 2009 at 6:16 am

Here’s something to chew on: It’s true that Jesus quoted scripture a lot, but that can easily be passed down in story telling (not to mention that he’s the Son of God and knew it anyway). This, and the fact that one of my priests always says, “Jesus didn’t write a book,” leads me to think…

I wonder if Jesus knew how to read?

Vinny November 25, 2010 at 6:46 am

I’m sure Jesus did know how to read, because he knew how to write. Remember that passage in one of the gospels when Jesus took a stick and drew in the ground?

jte February 4, 2011 at 9:13 am

Yeah, Jesus read from Isaiah in St. Luke’s gospel. It took place in a synagogue (in Nazareth I think) after the 40 days in the desert passage. Commonly referred to as the proclamation of the Kingdom of God, I use it to meditate on while praying the 3rd luminous mystery of the rosary.

DWPittelli January 19, 2012 at 7:20 pm

If He was illiterate, He might have been drawing a picture or diagram. (Perhaps a picture of a man and a woman, implicitly asking: where’s the man who is guilty along with this woman?) That said, there are other reasons to believe he was literate, as others have commented.

Dhunt April 7, 2009 at 10:21 am

“I wonder if Jesus knew how to read?”

Huh??

You mean God:The Creator of the entire Universe,Almighty One,First and Last,Eternal Wisdom,Chosen Cornerstone,Breath of the Almighty,One Who Lives Forever,Good Teacher,Savior of all people,I Am Who Am,Author of life,Master of the Apostles,

Didn’t know how to read?Gee-I never thought of that.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,and the Word was God.He was with God in the beginning.All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.”

God is omnipotent-that He is all-powerful; nothing is beyond His capability; no power stronger; superior in every way.
God is omniscient-that He is all-knowing; nothing is outside or beyond His knowledge; no mind smarter; perfect in knowledge.

Dave R April 1, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Jesus read from the scroll in the synagogue, when he said the prophecy about him being the son of God was being fulfilled in their hearing

lozen March 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Then why does it say in Genesis that god created light before he created the sun and the moon? Where does our light come from? Why is the bible full of stuff a 5th grade student now knows is impossible?
Virgin birth? The only people who believed in females being impregnated by gods before the bible were… oh yes, Greeks, Romans, Hindus. But they’re not claiming their folklore about Zeus, etc. is truth anymore.
If god is all knowing, all wise, all powerful then he knew when he created humans everything that humans would do. Do ya think Yahweh might be just a tad sadistic? How can a good god condemn all humans because his first two creations, who didn’t know good from evil until they ate the fruit, disobeyed him? He knew they would do it, he knew humans would be so sinful he would decide to destroy them (innocents too because children drowned) with a flood and then that wouldn’t work so he’d have to become flesh and die on the cross to save them if they just believe in his son? himself?. (Really, all he had to do was say, “I changed my mind. You’re hopeless, poof!” or “You are all saved,” instead of committing suicide/murdering his son, whichever, in Israel.) Now for the present: he knew all those people were going to die from the tsunami in Japan, babies, innocents. He could have stopped it and saved all those people. What about the holocaust? What about native americans? What about black people being lynched? And people could use the bible to claim slavery was fine because the bible never says slavery is wrong. And then there’s the problem of the devil; how could one of his angels be as powerful as god himself if Yahweh is so powerful? Hard to believe god is good if you really think about it. And hard to believe those Jewish folktales are literal truth or even near truth. There are many things like eating shell fish and wearing two different kinds of cloth listed as sins that we ignore totally. It does however say usuary is wrong in many places in the bible yet our society is built on usuary. And religious get all upset about gay marriage? Everyone picks exactly what they want to believe from the bible and ignores the rest. So what good is it?

Matthew Warner March 23, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Lozen, Genesis is not necessarily historical narrative. It appears to quite obviously be primarily communicating theological truth. Even 5th graders can grasp this principle…that not all literature is written as literal historic narrative or scientific procedure.

As for your other comments, I suggest learning a bit more about original sin and what the Church actually teaches about it. You might be surprised.

Jesse D. Bryant April 6, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Lozen,

I wanted to offer just a few brief thoughts in regards to some of your comments, though to respond in full would require significantly more time. Lozen, I hope you find some of what follows useful in some way…

1.) The problem of evil and suffering is one of the atheists most frequent objections to a belief in God. If you really think about it, what is ‘good’ without God? When we ask, ‘Is God good?’ are we not implying a standard of goodness? Who decides what is good? You, me, the Pope, Hitler, culture, etc.? The fact that we are born with a knowledge of good and evil, that we question the purpose of pain and suffering–is itself the question of God. The ever present ‘WHY?’ The question presents a problem for any worldview, but is perhaps most difficult for the atheist to ask, for the simple reason that he has no one to ask. For the Christian, I believe that Genesis provides us with clues as to the answers to some of these questions…

2.) I am sorry that Matt has undermined the authority of scripture by telling you that the OT is not literal history (ie. the creation account), but instead suggested that they are only ‘theologically’ true, whatever that means. What does that mean, Matt? And who decides which parts of the OT are literal history and which parts are just made-up stories to relay ‘theological’ truth? What part of ‘six days’ is theological truth? Is ‘original sin’ literal history or theological truth? How does one make such a distinction? I will suggest that God did create the cosmos in six literal days, just as scripture claims it does, and that we have no reason (certainly not a *literal* one) to believe otherwise.

3.) When reading the Old Testament, we need to be careful to make the necessary distinctions between a.) ceremonial law, b.) civil law, and c.) moral law. The moral law is immutable and applies to all people for all time. Various ceremonial laws and civil laws in the Bible are specifically for the Jews and do not apply to us today. The punishment for various offenses are not moral imperatives. Much of what is preserved in the Old Testament is historical and provides some instruction as to how the Israelite should conduct himself within that society. Also, the historical text should not to be confused with the endorsement of things like slavery.

4.) The fact that usury is a common practice, does not have anything to do with Biblical truth.

5.) Sadly, many do ‘pick-n-choose’ or are just not that familiar with the Bible as a whole, while others twist and pervert Biblical truth out of bias presuppositions, ignorance or intention. The only person anyone can truly account for is themselves. So regardless of what those around you do with God’s revealed Truth, the real questions are: a.) Does it matter? and b.) What will you do with it? The Bible will hold up under close scrutiny–so I would encourage you to investigate thoroughly.

6.) We must always judge a religion by its founder, not by its abuse. What Jesus taught and the various churches, teachings and people who claim to be Christian, can all too often be very different things. The only way that we can discern the difference, is to know the Bible. It is true, unfortunately, that the living-breathing-Christian, is the only gospel that many people will ever ‘read’.

7.) Why is the Bible full of stuff a 5th grade student now knows is impossible? The things to which you refer are called miracles, which by definition would be things that are physically impossible. Without God, such things would be impossible, but for the God who created the universe in six literal days–the virgin birth would not be too great of a challenge. If your starting point is that miracles are not possible, then you will never believe the Bible.

Finally, this comment is for Matt. You just couldn’t help insulting Lozen and anyone who may dare disagree with you could you? “It appears to quite obviously be primarily communicating theological truth. Even 5th graders can grasp this principle…” Quite obviously? No, it does not ‘quite obviously’ imply this. Please explain.

Matthew Warner April 6, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Jesse – First, I didn’t say they were ‘only’ theologically true. So don’t put words in my mouth. And as for what I mean by something being “theologically true”…i mean that it is true theologically. I’m not sure how else to explain that.

And yes, if you read what I said, I do think that 5th graders quite naturally grasp “that not all literature is written as literal historic narrative or scientific procedure”. In fact, I’ve never met a 5th grader that didn’t grasp that. From the time kids are young enough to listen to stories or read books, we read them all kinds of such stories that are not literal, historic narrative or historical procedure. Yet, these same stories we read them teach important truths about life. Moral truths. Theological truths. Practical truths.

To me, it’s obvious that the stories of genesis are more concerned with teaching us some critical and foundational theological truths of who we are, where we come from and what our purpose is than it is concerned with explaining the precise physical procedure by which time and space came into existence and life sprang up. You have to identify the type of literature you are reading if you want to interpret it correctly.

Additionally, I always appeal to the Church that Jesus founded to make sure my interpretations have not gone astray. That’s one reason he gave us a Church.

Peace be with you.

Jesse D. Bryant April 7, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Matt,

In your original post, you actually specified Genesis as not being historically true–but only being ‘theologically’ true. You went from being Bible specific, to general literature without making the distinction. “Not ALL literature” is not Genesis, the topic in question, and to which your comment is clearly connected. The question had to do with Genesis, not ALL literature, so let’s stay on topic, Matt.

True, you didn’t say that they were *only* theologically true, but you did say that they are not necessarily historical narrative, implying that they are not historical in nature. What is the argument for Genesis not being a historical narrative? Where is the *moral* truth in God lying to us about our origins?

I did not put words in your mouth, I used a direct quote that clearly identifies Genesis as the subject. That is, if you take them in context…

And I am glad that you check with the Church, because your statement that “To me, it’s obvious…” (clearly referring to Genesis) would imply your own fallible interpretation.

Finally, what parts of Genesis does the Church tell us are literal history and what parts are only theologically true? How do they make this distinction? My question was concerning how we know the difference between what is historical and what is merely theological. You didn’t answer that.

Jesse D. Bryant

Mathew November 18, 2012 at 10:25 pm

He said Jesus…NOT God

anton December 16, 2012 at 12:01 am

Yet Jesus doesn’t know the date of his own return? How omniscient.

Kimi April 7, 2009 at 11:39 pm

Many Protestants have faith that they took that authority with them when they broke away. Ultimately, we all take a leap of faith. If you can prove any of your beliefs, you’ve moved out of the realm of faith.

My faith starts at square one in the Catholic Church with the teaching that I am responsible for my moral choices. My faith starts with the teaching of Christ: loving God with everything I’ve got and loving my neighbor as myself are more important than anything else.

Around the world, in every religion, we believe in the same God, a God who is impossible for us to capture with words. We do our best with the symbols we are given.

Fran August 7, 2010 at 7:46 am

You need to look more closely at the history of the churches. Christianity existed long before the “Catholic” church was established and began their persecution of any believer who did not join their “church”. Even American history in high school teaches of establishment and, hence, the persecution by the Catholic church. This is not bias, “non-catholic” propaganda, history proves this in many, many venues. Martin Luther and others were not among the masses of christians who never joined the catholic church; they were catholics who wanted to be a little different. You really should study the history before declaring that the catholic church was the first and all others broke away. In its inception, it was a forced, persecuting political decision to mandate that everybody submit to its rule. It was much more political than christian. There is a book called “The Trail of Blood” that outlines the Christian movement from the time of Christ right up to their plight to America for religious freedem, free of persecution from the “Church of England”, which is/was the catholic church. The only foundation we have for a belief in God at all is in the Bible; there is no foundation for a church apart from it as the only information we have about God, Jesus, the Cross, eternity, is in it. So if you take the Bible out of any argument,you merely have man’s hodge-podge of opinions. And the most dynamic, winning personality gets your devotion, not the God of eternity.

Matthew Warner August 9, 2010 at 9:52 am

I’m sorry, Fran, but hardly anything you just said is true at all. You are the victim of some seriously wrong and biased historical revisionism.

lozen April 7, 2011 at 11:44 am

Matthew, have you been brainwashed by the catholic church or what? How can you respond to Fran in the way you did. I have studied religious history and It is fact that the church persecuted anyone who would not give up their pagan beliefs. It is fact the inquisition was the catholic church and thousands of people were burned, tortured as witches in Europe for 400 years. It is fact that the missionaries for the catholic church came to this country, cut off the feet of native americans to keep them from dancing, forbade them to practice their religion, used them as slaves to build churches. I’m really finding it hard to give much credence now to anything you have to say when you brush people off like this in spite of religious history.

Bill April 7, 2011 at 11:58 am

Lozen and Fran, you make a lot of claims, but you offer no sources. Where’s your _credible_ evidence that “the Catholic church” did any of the horrible things you claim it did? Anybody can make claims. Anybody can repeat calumny, misinformation, and outright lies. Where’s your proof? I mean credible proof? Actions by individuals are not the same thing as actions by “the Catholic church” — especially when the Church specifically condemned those actions. I don’t think it’s Matt and the faithful Catholics here who have been brainwashed …

Marc Cardaronella August 9, 2010 at 10:11 am

Fran, Matthew is right.

The deeper question for you is where did the Bible come from? Who compiled it and how did they know what to include from the multitude of competing ideas that “wanted to be a little different”? How did the truth of God emerge out of all this? Does order rise from chaos on its own? Or did someone have a hand in shaping this foundation of truth? What does the Bible itself say is the pillar and bulwark of the truth? It’s not the Scriptures but the Church.

Bill August 9, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Fran, I believe it is you who need to take a closer look. If you take the time and trouble to actually read the writings of the earliest Christians (including, but not limited to, the Book of Acts, and also the writings of Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, and others), you will discover that they were … Catholic, in name and in practice. Rather than take the word of an anti-Catholic screed written 140 years ago, it would pay you to find out what the first Christians have to say for themselves.

There are many former Protestants, including some who were pastors who preached against the Catholic church, who became convinced of the truth and converted to Catholicism because they read and studied the actual historical records.

KAY December 29, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Bill, there are also many devout Catholic Priests who preached against non-catholic christians, who became convinced of the truth in Jesus, and left the Catholic church to follow only Jesus Christ.

For example, there is a book available (take some time to google it), called: “Far from Rome Near to God”.

Bryan Hanson April 8, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Mairi McIntyre, I am very curious what it is that makes the bible so beautifully written?

Is it is the phrasing, the stories, the multi-colored texts?

Bia Oaken April 8, 2009 at 2:01 pm

i think we should believe in it not just because we were told to, but we have to give some credict to a book that’s been there for so long time inspiring so many people to do good!I was raised to be just catholic…but i like to explore other religions that helps a being to find the truth!it’s own truth.I think God is in all of us.I believe that we, and all living things were made by the essence of God.So He lives inside each human being!that’s not exactly what the bible says but…it’s my interpretation!

Dhunt April 8, 2009 at 4:49 pm

“The Bible is a great literary achievement!It is considered the greatest piece of literature ever written.It contains virtually ever type of literary style:drama,historical narritive,instruction,even poetry.The plots,characters and settings are timeless.The quality of writing is unparalled!”

Kaycee April 10, 2009 at 12:41 pm

As an outsider these are the types of questions I’m struggling with. This is a great post and has given me some food for thought. Thanks!

Tim Pugh April 22, 2009 at 11:51 am

Good question! It is very good for us to consider the “why’s” behind our faith. The bible compels us to “study to show ourself approved, correctly analyizing the Word of truth” 2 Tim 2:15 amplified bible

How can we accomplish this if we allow others to interpret it for us and never read it ourselves and ask the Holy Spirit (who is the One who teaches EVERY person the truth of the bible, John 14:26) to give us understanding.

Jesus has granted every person access to the Most Holy Place, once only reserved for the high priest, and that only once per year. Heb 10:19

The writers of the bible were “inspired” by God, meaning He told them what to write. The same is true for the compilers of the books to be included- God told them what to include.

To imply that one demomination or one minister holds the truth is the very thing that has caused us to lose the majesty of God- we are glorifying man and not God, who is the One who gives us everything we have. 1 Cor 4:7

It is sickening to God and destroys one of the main reasons Jesus died, which was so that every person could have direct access and a personal, intimate relationship with God.

Matthew Warner April 23, 2009 at 5:39 am

Tim – nobody is saying anyone should “never read” the Bible themselves. That misses the point. Of course we should read it ourselves! And the Catholic Church absolutely encourages this. The question is why believe that IT has any authority in the first place?

And then the next question that you hit on is why do YOU have authority to have a say on its interpretation?

I didn’t “imply” that one denomination holds the Truth. I am very clearly saying that The Catholic Church holds the fullness of Truth and has the authority to teach in Jesus’ name.

You are implying that each person has the authority to interpret the Bible for themselves because the “Holy Spirit teaches every person the truth of the Bible.”

Essentially you are saying that each person is their own Pope of their own individual Church.

I would challenge you though that your “interpretation” of all this is neither historical, scriptural, nor experiential.

Nowhere in scripture do we read Jesus telling us that when we can’t agree on something that we should each read scripture for ourselves and let the Holy Spirit tell us each individually what to believe.

Nowhere in history do we see your belief(until the protesting in the 1500s). Your thoughts would have been a very foreign idea to the apostles, the first Christians and every Christian up until the 1500s. You won’t find ANY Christians speaking in those terms until 1,500 years after Christ’s resurrection.

And it is quite obviously not experiential. [...contd]

Matthew Warner April 23, 2009 at 6:01 am

Look at the division within the Church SINCE your protestant idea of us each individually interpreting the Bible by our own authority outside of the Church took root in the 1500s. We have tens of thousands of “denominations” who ALL disagree on some matter of faith or moral. And almost ALL of them claim to be led by the Holy Spirit. How can that be? It can’t. The Holy Spirit does not contradict itself.

Do you truly think God would give us a Church and give us no practical way to figure out what it teaches?

ON THE OTHER HAND – what I’m claiming is indeed experiential, historical, and scriptural.

In scripture Jesus founded a Church, led by his apostles, and gave them the authority to “teach in his name.” He also gave them (MEN) the power to forgive AND retain sins(John 20:21–23). He gave Peter the “Keys to the kingdom” and the power to bind and to loose in Heaven(Matt. 16:18-19). When there were disputes they took matters “to the Church” (Mat 18:17). Which meant they took it to the Apostles(MEN) and their successors(Bishops).

An honest look at history shows that this was the Catholic Church of today. And a reading of history and the early Christians shows a continuation of this recognition of the authority of this Church. History shows that the apostles passed on their authority and responsibility in leading the Church. An authority given by Jesus.

Finally, it’s experiential. The Catholic Church is the largest, unified Church in the entire world by a mile.

Matthew Warner April 23, 2009 at 6:08 am

Further, as I already noted in the post…it is THIS Church that set the canon of the Bible. It is ONLY because they have this authority in the first place that we can logically believe the Bible to be inspired by God.

Why is it that you arbitrarily believe the Holy Spirit guided them in setting your canon of Scripture and defining the Bible but you DON’T believe the Holy Spirit guided them in their interpretation of it? Even their interpretation of it at that very moment?! (Which was explicitly the teachings of today’s Catholic Church by the way).

I wrote another post on a similar topic if you’re interested. Would love to know what you think if you read both parts of it: http://www.fallibleblogma.com/index.php/2008/08/16/not-just-another-denomination-part-1-of-2/

God bless ya and thank you for your comments!

Tim Pugh April 23, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Matthew, this was not meant to be a poke at anyone in particular or you personally, but this I see as a state of the church as a whole. I devoutly believe in the church gathering. I believe I should sit under teachers to glean the revelation given to them by God. And I am FAR from touting myself as having the full revelation of God. Things I believed 10 years ago have changed as God reveals.

The bible says “we see through a glass dimly” in 1 Cor 13. Paul there says “I (us as well) know in part” until perfection comes. This was not a reference to his day because he says that knowledge will be one of the things that will pass away when perfection comes. No one man knows the full revelation of the scriptures or of God, if that were the case then what reason is there for God?

You quoted in John 20 that man can forgive sins. All I can say about that scripture is every commentator I read attributes that to the gospel being preached bringing salvation. When there is doubt, confirm by other scriptures. There is no other scripture in the bible that confirms your interpretation, anywhere!! Furthermore you do not see any instance anywhere in the bible where Peter or any other apostle forgave a man his sins. If this were given to them would it not have been used?

We can disagree over many issues and not lose our salvation, but this is a deal breaker! If you attribute to man the qualities of God then you reject the God of the bible.

I will try to read your other post soon. God bless.

KAY December 29, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Tim, I am reading your response now 2+ years later & love it! Thanks!

Matthew Warner April 23, 2009 at 9:29 pm

Tim, you build no basis for why you even believe in the Bible in the first place…much less why I should believe your fallible interpretation of it.

Didn’t say one man knew everything about God. Attribute to man the qualities of God? Fully understanding God’s revelation means there is no need for God? You’re losing me.

Are you saying that if God decided to work through man in a mysterious way to forgive sins that He couldn’t do it? Certainly you are not limiting God?

I’m not trying to get sidetracked on other issues – would be happy to discuss another time. The point here is that God created a Church and gave it authority. I encourage you to read the early Christians and see what they believed and did.

The problem is that you are reading the wrong commentators. Whatever happened to reading it for yourself and letting the Holy Spirit tell you the truth? Why the need for a commentator when you have the holy spirit?

On the one hand if some random commentator that you probably never met tells you a scripture passage means one thing…then you believe it. But if the Church that Jesus founded, the same Church that you trust to define the Bible (the very thing you base your entire faith on), suggests an interpretation of it you reject it?

Sounds a little bit inconsistent don’t you think?

And in all of this explaining away you’re doing of things I never claimed, you still can’t give me a solid reason for why you believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God?

Tim Pugh May 1, 2009 at 11:09 am

Why I believe:
1) The Holy Spirit bears witness to me the bible is true.
2) Many of the prophecies within the bible have been proven to be true while not one has been proven false, although atheists have tried desperately.
3) The knowledge of the writers about things that could not have been known in their day without God’s leading , such as a round earth, microscopic bacteria, earth revolving around the sun, etc
4) With dozens of writers spread over a few thousand years, different cultures, different education- the entirety of the bible is in perfect harmony without one single contradiction.
This is strong evidence.

Of course man can interpret scripture as God reveals it, we are not in disagreement over this. The point is man cannot interpret scripture infallibly. You attribute this to man as well as the ability to forgive sins. This is the attributes of God I mentioned.
The commentaries were only one factor I mentioned. Pharisees said “only God can forgive sins” and Jesus did not correct them, but proved He was able as God. Peter never forgave sins. Peter waffled back and forth with eating with gentiles (which was after the gospels), which proves his infallibility to interpret scripture. In Acts 8:22 Peter says “pray to the Lord, perhaps He will forgive you”. Never does he accept the ability to forgive sins himself.

Speaking of God together should be a great joy. Let not our comments become personal and sarcastic or us become offended. And may we recognize that we are always learning and growing and that everything we know should be open for debate because things we held fast to in the past have given way to today as God has given us more wisdom. Should we not reason that this will continue to happen as we grow forward?

Matthew Warner May 2, 2009 at 9:17 am

Tim – thanks for your continued discussion. And I do enjoy the conversation. I pray that it brings us both closer to Christ as we do so and learn from each other.

But all of those reasons you give for believing in the bible only point to the Bible being TRUE. They do not give a reason to believe that the Bible is literally the Inspired, Word of God. And, as I noted in the post above, these are two VERY different things.

Second, you debate with the premise that everything we need to know as Christians is explicitly written in the Bible. Where does it say that in the Bible? The answer is no where.

Third, none of the teachings of the Church (while YOU may not be able to find every one of them explicitly written in there) contradict scripture.

Fourth, you are incorrect in your final statement. No dogma of the Catholic Church has EVER “given way to today”. We learn and we grow, yes. But it’s never been contradicted and changed. Truth can not contradict truth. If what Christ’s church taught at the beginning was true (which it was) then it is still true today. And if you look at early Christianity you will see the Catholic Church (i.e. you will see confession through men, Eucharist, etc.).

By your logic, u are saying u are open 2 the Bible itself changing? So we could add new books 2 the bible? Or take away old ones? Right? I mean, if “everything we know should be open to debate”? You have no way of determining that because you’ve rejected the authority God gave his church.

Tammy June 24, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Hey Mat, I have been a stripper for 17 years. I’ve never felt convicted that what I was doing was a sin. I’ve been reading the bible for a while, and came to the question ” why should I believe the bible is true”? After reading your comments I now think the bible may be a bunch of laws made up by people who wanted to control the world by using fear to keep everyone in line. I was going to quit dancing because I’ve been told it is morally wrong. Now I don’t think Dancing is wrong because of your over bearing attitude about what YOU think is right. It makes me think that insecure men wrote MOST of the bible to keep women under control. It’s not a secret a woman can control any man. It’s not much of a challenge. So men came up with a lust law so women would feel dammed if they supported themselves by being natural. (naked) I believe some of the bible was inspired by God in the sense that some people were personally interacting with God, and they wrote down their experiences. But I also think most of it was written by people who were power happy, believing they were right in trying to rule the world.

Matthew Warner May 2, 2009 at 9:26 am

Tim – let’s start with one issue that has come up here. Please approach this with an open mind and hopefully it will help you see where I’m coming from.

Forgiveness of Sins and Confession. It seems you’ve repeatedly shown a misunderstanding of what the Catholic Church actually teaches on it.

Here is a great link (down below) explaining it and I’d love to know what you think. Try approaching it this way: When God started his Church and the apostles all went out started spreading the good news, what did they do?

Yes, we have some of this recorded in the Bible. But many others recorded history as well. Even from scripture we see that the apostles appointed Bishops and told them to hold fast to the traditions taught by them (by word of mouth and by letter)[2 Thes 2:15].

We have historical record of what these people did. I would encourage you to read that record.

What you find is that they believed in what the Catholic Church teaches (that’s, afterall, why the Catholic Church has taught it for 2000 years). If you believe that the early Christians did not believe what the Catholic Church teaches…you would need to point to a spot in history where it changed? But no such point exists. History is very consistent on the matter.

Further, there is no evidence of protest from any Christian communities that would have surely occurred had the Church suddenly changed and said “now we’re going to allow God to forgive sins through bishops/priests.” Nothing.

Matthew Warner May 2, 2009 at 9:35 am

I invite you to read this link on The Forgiveness of Sins: http://catholic.com/library/Forgiveness_of_Sins.asp

And here are a lot of quotes from the earliest Christian leaders regarding confession: http://catholic.com/library/Confession.asp

Keep in mind confession was normally done “publicly” in front of the Bishop AND the congregation, rather than privately just to the Bishop/priest. But that’s simply a change in practice, not teaching.

I hope you find it interesting. If anything, it will give you some more things to incorporate into your current denomination, if you haven’t already, since you are aiming to model yourselves after the early Church. I commend you for doing so, by the way. It shows a great deal more thoughtfulness than most Christians these days. God bless you!

Kimi May 3, 2009 at 12:49 am

Tim,

You seem to have a clear understanding of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The Church teaches that each of us is ultimately responsible for moral discernment. The Church teaches authentically but only very rarely infallibly. (Matt disagrees on this, but I’m going with what priests and theologians say.)

And the Church does evolve, as it should since we are here to learn and grow spiritually. Creation is never stagnant but continues to enrich and be enriched. One of many examples of teachings changing in the Church: Priests routinely married and had children during the first thousand years of the church. But then the teaching changed.

What does God do all day?

“From all eternity God lies on a maternity bed giving birth. The essence of God is birthing. We are all meant to be mothers of God. ” ~ Meister Eckhart

Matthew Warner May 4, 2009 at 6:27 am

Tim, unfortunately, we have an entire generation of Catholics that have been VERY poorly catechized to the point that they confuse something as fundamental to Catholic understanding as the difference between a discipline or practice (like married vs. celibate priests) with actual dogma and doctrine of the Church.

And if one can’t get that straight, then I don’t see any way they can have a sound understanding of the universal magisterium of the Church, authentic teachings, infallible teachings, etc.

Tim, I’m sorry for so many Catholics that don’t know their faith. It’s hard to place any blame at all on non-Catholics for not knowing what the Church teaches when so many Catholics are out there misinforming you of what the Church teaches. And I have no doubt that Catholics like Kimi are most often very sincere. They are just really missing the boat.

So many Catholics lean on such statements like “ultimately it is each individual’s responsibility for moral discernment.” Well of course it is. But there is a premise to that teaching that has been left out for decades. Yes, we must follow our own conscience. But the prerequisite for that is that we have formed our conscience PROPERLY. And a properly formed conscience is not a relative, subjective thing. It means we’ve formed our conscience in accordance with the objective Truths revealed in our Catholic faith through the Church.

Matthew Warner May 4, 2009 at 6:37 am

Tim – one of the awesome things about the Catholic Church is that we can have that assurance of truth. That’s why Christ gave it to us. He didn’t just leave us with a bunch of riddles, worries, and uncertainties that “everything should always be open for debate.” That’s no way to live as a Christian. Christ gave us objective truths and left us a Church to guide, protect, and apply those for us so that we COULD know our faith (and therefore Him) with some kind of certainty.

In fact, we can know God to a degree with certainty from reason alone. God made us to reason and discover real, objective truths. But he also gave us divine revelation through the apostles, handed down and protected by His Church. He didn’t leave us here to endlessly debate questions without any way to come to a conclusion with certainty. He said to take it to the Church (Mat 18:17).

I invite you to explore with an open mind just even the possibility that the Catholic Church is that Church. If you want to learn what the Church TRULY teaches on something, read the Catholic catechism. I think you would be surprised at what it says.

Also, http://www.Catholic.com is a great resource for particular questions you may have. Just go to their “Library.”

Kirei May 9, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Someone asked me the other day why I believe the Bible is real. I think that the biggest proof of the Bible and of Jesus being true and real – is how He (Jesus) and it (the word of God) has completely changed my personal life.

Other than that, the Jewish people are a pretty big indication that the Bible is true. Look at all the prophecies that have come true already, and the ones that are still coming true!

As far as I know, EVERYTHING that the Bible has prophesied about Jesus and about the Jews and about the state of the world has already happened, is happening – or hasn’t happened yet (we’ll see if it does) but so far, the Bible has a pretty good track record =>

Matthew Warner May 10, 2009 at 12:34 am

Kirei, Thanks for the thoughts. I think those are good points. However, they don’t fully get us there.

First, as noted in the post, there is a big difference between something being “true and real” and something being the “Inspired, Word of God Himself.”

Second, just because parts of this compilation of books may seem to be “true and real” how can you be sure that the other books and writings that have been historically included in the canon of the Bible are also true? Just because one paragraph prophecies something that comes to pass does not mean that the next paragraph (much less some other book of the Bible) can be trusted when it says that God became a man and died for your sins.

I don’t see how that kind of reasoning suffices for accepting the totality of scripture (or any bit of it actually) as the Inspired, Word of God. The only way is if you have something with authority (either God or something with God-given authority) reveal this Truth to us. And that’s exactly what the Catholic Church does.

Tim Pugh May 27, 2009 at 12:02 pm

I should reword what I said to be more concise. I believe there are certain aspects of the faith that are established and will never be open for debate- virgin birth, sinless life of Christ, resurrection, etc. My understanding of how God chooses to operate in my life though and the revelation of scripture that the Holy Spirit suddenly reveals to me after having read it a number of times- this is what I mean by open to debate. I am continually learning more about Him and how He operates. Outside of the above mentioned items I recognize that my knowledge is a dim shadow of His greatness, which is what makes Jesus so fascinating.

As far as establishing the authority of the bible how do you know the Catholic church was the one who decided what books would be included in the bible? Why do you think Peter was the first pope? You accept these things because of something that was written in a book and passed down. This seems to me to be circular reasoning.

You are choosing to validate the authority of the bible by using another writing. What validates that historical account that it is true thereby validating the authority of the bible. This begins an endless cycle of rationalization.

I understand your point about proving one scripture does not prove the next and I think that is a very insightful thought, but I believe your initial argument cannot be used. This is why I say the best evidence is the witness of the Holy Spirit and the enduring truthfulness of the scriptures.

My Name August 28, 2009 at 1:21 am

I am confused. You mean there was a Catholic church and Pope in the 4th Century and College of Cardinals, etc

Matthew Warner August 31, 2009 at 7:37 am

My Name – yes, there was a Catholic Church and a Pope. I don’t think the “college of cardinals” came in until a later date – at least by that name. But that’s more of a difference in administrative process for electing a pope…which has varied throughout history. But the apostle Peter was the first pope. And the Catholic Church traces its founding to Jesus…who founded One Church. The Catholic Church is that one Church. If you want to read more on why I believe that, check out some of my other posts. This might be one of interest. Thanks for reading! God bless you!

mu April 19, 2010 at 11:19 pm

the reader of the bible must have certain religious convictions before having a meaningful encunter with the bible ?!!

Bill June 21, 2010 at 3:03 pm

1. History tells me that the Bible is credible. Events in the Bible are documented in other contemporary sources.
2. The biblical story, from Genesis to Revelation, is remarkably consistent for a set of documents written over the space of almost a thousand years.
3. I’ve never seen a believable refutation of the Bible as a historical document. I have seen some sorry attempts to refute it, but none that were persuasive.

People have no difficulty believing that the Iliad (for example) is a historically-based account of bronze-age warfare, in spite of the absence of historical corroboration. (We can deal with the gods and godesses separately — that’s actually pretty easy to do.) People have no difficulty believing the accounts of Thucydides, or Julius Caesar, or any of dozens of other ancient documents, however thin or nonexistent the contemporary corroboration.

The Bible — all of the books of it individually and all of them collectively — is a unique document. There is nothing like it in any of history, even taken apart from the God who is the central figure and who inspired it. That alone makes it something you can believe in. And if you believe the story, you will believe in God. If you read the story the right way, illuminated by tradition and authentic teaching, you will be Catholic. Period. We are hearing more and more conversion stories, of atheists, agnostics, pagans, and non-Catholic believers who read the book and did not harden their hearts.

The only reason skeptics question it is because the Bible deals with God and his people and the plan God has for our salvation. Some of them, perhaps, simply don’t believe that God could do what God does (which is a pretty shallow way of denying His existence). And if those skeptics were willing to use reason they would no longer be skeptics.

bethanne June 21, 2010 at 3:44 pm

“So the only rational reason we can believe that the Bible is the Inspired Word of God is essentially because the Catholic Church has revealed that to us by their authority and charism given to it by Christ.”

I work at an Episcopal church. I attend a bible study for the staff (consisting of some episcopalians, baptists, and two Catholics) every Wednesday. It is led by one member of the clergy at the church. He repeatedly states that they can all thank [my] the Catholic Church for giving us the Bible and preserving it for us. I always wonder how he can believe that, teach that AND still believe in the episcopal church because, just as you went on to say, “if we trust the Catholic Church to determine its canon, perhaps we should also trust it to interpret it for us.” Makes perfect sense to me.

BTW, I pray for his conversion every day. Perhaps you can add him to your prayer list, too?

Benny Zavala June 21, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Well, I’m kind of floored by all the responses. I grew up Catholic and was born-again by the age of 18. My family is all Catholic and I am the only Evangelical-Protestant Christian in my family. I’ve attended Bible college and am in awe by the difference I see the Catholics on these posts and the ones in Miami. I can only praise God for such a theological discussion.

I believe the answer to the question at hand does require faith as well as strong irrefutable facts. Any form of knowledge requires, as stated by Descartes; true justified belief, and of course Aristotle’s first principals. Meaning, to have a philosophical view, which this is, our first statements or principals have to be true.

The Old Testament(Covenant) was written and compiled by the Jews. Some were kings, some were farmers, cup bearers and so on. Yet, even though they were written hundred years apart by different men in different regions, all attributed to God the qualities we know of God now. All said the same thing about God.

Jesus was a fulfillment of over 333 prophecies an mathematically impossible anyone to accomplish. For those who had an ear, they heard, and those who eyes, they saw.

By the time the letters(epistles and gospels) were in circulation we had first hand witnesses and thier disciples. If any of these doctrines or gospels were incorrect, they were plenty of folks to say so.

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Romans 10:8-10 (NKJV)
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
Romans 10:14-15 (NKJV)
You guys are awesome. God bless.

Bill June 21, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Here are two great resources for dealing with the original question Matt posted over a year ago. These are good basic Bible references, useful to any Christian who is challenged to defend the truth of the Bible. However, be aware that discussions about the inerrancy of the Bible are not simple, there are few if any “one-liners”, and if you are discussing matters with a non-believer, you can’t start by assuming the inerrancy of the Bible. In other words, it can be a tough row to hoe, as my dad used to say. It is actually quicker and simpler (not easier) to demonstrate that God exists.

Anyway, the books:

Free From All Error: Authorship, inerrancy, historicity of scripture, church teaching, and modern scripture scholars. Fr. William G. Most. 2009. Marytown Press.

Handbook of Catholic Apologetics: Reasoned answers to questions of faith. Peter J. Kreeft and Fr. Ronald K. Tacelli. 2009. Ignatius Press. I recommend Chapter 9, “The Bible: Myth or History?” for the purposes of this kind of discussion.

Bill June 21, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Benny, stick around. You’ll learn a lot from Matt. He (and others here) can draw on 2000 years of experience in defending what we believe in. In my 64 years, I have never heard a question that somebody hadn’t already asked in 2000 years, and there are powerful answers to all of those questions, thanks to the Holy Spirit giving Catholics insights, wisdom, and words over the centuries to deal with objections, errors, hate, and ignorance.

Marc Cardaronella June 21, 2010 at 10:44 pm

I think bethanne is on to the heart of it. The revelation of Jesus comes to us through the apostles and is preserved by their successors. The New Testament is the clearest example of guarantee the Holy Spirit gives the Magisterium to preserve the truth of Jesus Christ so that future generations can know Him and love Him.

None of this comes to us outside of the authority and power given to the apostles by Jesus himself, which they in turn handed on. The authority of the Church guarantees the Bible is true, and that’s why the Church also has the authority to interpret it for current events. God did not leave us orphans and he did not leave us without a way of interpreting the signs of the times and knowing truth for our situation and time.

John Jackson August 19, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Greetings everyone. This series of posts is the best discussion I have read or heard to date on why should I believe in the authority of the Bible. I grew up in an Apostolic/Pentecostal church and I was baptised and received the Holy Ghost nearly 7 years ago. But my fundamental question is whether salvation is about God or about Jesus? Why is Christianity of eternal authority and all “other” religions are frauds? As an attorney, Matt, I must tell you that you have posed the most rational and influentil answer that I have heard to date, however, IMHO, it does not ultimately answer the question. Does the bible answer how South Americans, Chinese and Aztec Indians had a relationship with God during Old Testament times – NO. Should we assume that just because the Old Testament does not address them that God did not have a presence in their lives? Does God exist irregardless of whether we human beings correctly determine which book and religion we want to say is authoritative? I say YES – in large part because I profess not to know all of the Glory of God nor do I want to claim what is IN FACT the word of God. Rather I choose to simply say that this is the word that I choose to follow (which is a lesser standard than ultimate TRUTH). I don’t want to claim to know the TRUTH because only GOD knows the TRUTH and I am not GOD.
But Matt, I do agree with you that if someone is going to believe in the authority of the Bible and determination of what constitutes the Bible was determined by the leaders of the Catholic church, then why shouldn’t they be the authority to interpret it.

Just as a side bar, can you help me out to understand why we now have Church on Sunday (rather than keeping the Sabbath holy – on Saturday :)

Again thanks everyone for this great dialogue. This is the type of intellectually and spiritually stimulating discussion that I need to help take my understanding and relationship with God to another level. GOD BLESS!!!

Bill August 20, 2010 at 3:41 pm

John, I’m not Matt (obviously, and in fact, not nearly), but …

Cutting to the chase on all your questions:
1. Jesus is God. God is Jesus. Salvation through the suffering and death of Jesus was part of God’s plan from the beginning. It makes no sense to ask “whether salvation is about God or about Jesus.” They are one and the same. Salvation is “about” God’s love and mercy.

2. There can be only one truth. That Truth with a capital “T” is Jesus. The Catholic Church offers the fullness of Truth. Other religions contain glimmers of that truth, so it’s a little over the top to call them “frauds.” For the most part, the other religions are not deliberate deceptions (although there are and have been deliberate deceptions — frauds — that called themselves “religions.”) It’s better to say that they do not offer the fullness of Truth, and some of them actually offer very little of it.

3. God did reveal himself in various and partial ways to people other than Israel. It says so in the Bible itself. Any time in the Old Testament that God says He reveals Himself to the gentiles/other nations/the people of the coastland/etc., He is speaking of the pagans/nonbelievers in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas, and anywhere else human beings were and are. As I said above, those people got glimmers, they didn’t get the whole thing. As it says in the Psalms, to no other nation did God give what He gave to Israel.

4. We Christians worship on Sunday because that’s the day the Lord rose from the dead. Sunday is the Lord’s Day for Christians. As Jesus said, “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

Marc Cardaronella September 3, 2010 at 10:11 pm

John, I’m also not Matt but I also would like to address a part of your question. It’s not a matter of other religions being frauds but of having only partial truth. There is something of God written in the human heart that enables us to know something of him and know to seek him. And, we can figure out many things about him through rational thought and by observing creation. However, to know the fullness of truth about him can only be done by his revealing that truth to us. It’s not that God didn’t have a presence in the lives of those other peoples. But not a presence in which they would be able to know the full truth about who he was.

God revealed himself first through the Jewish people. He established a special relationship with them and let them understand who he was to a certain extent. And that wasn’t just for them. It was so that they could go out and tell all the other peoples about him. Israel was supposed to be a light to the nations to reveal the truth about God. Still, that was only partial knowledge. Then later, God himself assumed human nature as one of this special chosen people to fully reveal who he was and have us totally understand what it meant to be part of this chosen family. This revelation of truth in the Old Testament and, through Jesus, the New Testament gives us the true understanding of who God is and what he has done. In fact, these are the very Words of God written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit so we know they are the truth.

That’s why it’s important we human beings need to determine what book is authoritative and where that authoritative interpretation comes from. If we’re to act like God, we need to know the truth about God, and he’s given us a way to know this.

John Jackson September 5, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Marc, everything you say makes perfect sense if you START off believing as a Christian. It doesn’t help someone who is starting from scratch understand why the Bible and Christianity should have any authority over any other religiion or writing. Let’s deal with some FACTS:
1. No HUMAN BEING knows as a matter of absolute certainty exactly what God wants us to know. We can have opinions.We can have belief. We merely have faith in the authority of the Bible (or any other writing if you practice another faith), the authority of the Catholic church to determine what is the Canon, and the general interpretation of the Bible by those in religious authority.
2. The Old Testament generally constitutes writings by Jews about their relationship with their God and how they are the “chosen” people.
3. The Old Testament does not address with any detail about any cultural or factual matters of any other cultures around the world except those that they were either enslaved by or conquered.
4. Jesus (i.e. God in the flesh), spent numerous years studying in the Synagogues and knew what his purpose was, but NEVER wrote anything.
5. After “rising from the dead”, Jesus never appeared before any official member of the Jewish religious hierarchy nor any Roman governmental official or any other “independent” group of individuals that could confirm this “miracle”.
6. We merely have writings of human beings (who we have given relevance or priority regarding understanding what God has to say) to assess what God wants us to know.
7. The Romans were in governmental control of the Middle East at the time that the Catholic Church came to prominence.
8. The Apostles were, I believe, predominately or all of Jewish descent – not of European or Roman descent.

In trying to answer the ultimate question about the ultimate authority of the Bible (and therefore Jesus), we have to address all of the foregoing issues and be willing to acknowledge how all of these matters could easily cause someone to have “reasonable doubt”. So how do we overcome these basic issues?

Notwithstanding all of this good debate or oratory, we still have not sufficiently addressed why the Bible constitutes the Word of God? Why is it just not perceived as collective writings of Jewish religious and political authorities who were inspired to write about their belief in their perspective of who God is? Can we all agree that we are allowing other human beings to determine for us what God’s Word is (whether it is inspired or not), whether the “other human beings” are the Catholic Church, the writers of the Old Testament, the writers of the New Testament, or otherwise? If someone was born and raised in a culture that was not predominated by Christianity, I highly doubt that our discussion to date would effectively change their belief system.

Here are some fundamental questions that I have always had:
1. Why would God choose a “chosen people” if he loves us all equally? I understand why Jews would say this in Old Testament writings. Why should I believe this (without referencing the Bible)?
2. What was SO different about man-kind that Jesus had to come down and create a new regime for salvation? I highly doubt that the sinfulness of man has changed in any meaningful way over the past thousands of years. I am sure that the millions of people that died prior to the death of Jesus would have appreciated the opportunity to have his grace and mercy.
3. If eternal salvation is the ultimate question of life and Jesus is God in the Flesh, then why didn’t Jesus write the Bible and “settle” everything? Clearly God would write “perfection”. Unfortunately, we are just left with debating which human being is more authoritative than the other. Man v. Man.
4. How will God address the salvation of those persons who were NEVER made aware of Christianity but practiced their faith as they knew it to the fullest of their ability (whether before or after the coming of Jesus)?
5. How will God address the salvation of those persons who were introduced to Christianity but the persons who relayed it did so with a lack of influence and therefore was not believed?

Similarly to debates with my Father (who has been an Apostolic minister for over 40 years), my Mother (who has been a Sunday School teacher for over 40 years), my Uncle (who has been a pastor of church for the past 4 years) and discussions with my current pastor (who has been a pastor for over 40 years), we are doing little more than starting off with the assumption that (1) Jesus is the Truth; (2) the Catholic Church had the God-given authority to determine what constitute the Bible; (3) the Jews are God’s chosen people and (4) all of these writings are void of any “self-cultural importance”, political influence or “family control”. Fortunately or unfortunately, that will not convincingly convert unbelievers or persons who are truly trying to find God without any predeterminated religious influence.

Kirei August 20, 2010 at 9:43 am

Wow, I’ve been keeping up with these posts since the last time I said something on here. But I hadn’t read all of the posts before my comment until now.

This is so interesting and I really love it.

Matt, I love how passionate you are about the Catholic faith and its teachings – eventhough I am not a Catholic myself. I don’t even know that I am a “Christian,” I believe that Jesus is our savior but I am not sure how I feel about most of what mainstream Protestant or Catholic Churches teach. The only reason I believe that Jesus is our savior is because the Old Testament points to him as such. And, from the NT we have, he seems to fit the bill

As far as I know, I feel that the Old Testament is the only “sure thing” that has not been tampered with or “edited.” Even most of the apocrypha has accurate historical details. So I feel I can trust it.

The New Testament has been played with so much that it is hard for me to trust entirely. Although I do try to live by it. I don’t think I believe that God allows one group of people to have the power to cannonize and interpret scripture, because the “Church” is supposed to be everyone who believes in Christ. My (perhaps incorrect?) view of Catholicism is that a group of people in power (not every individual Catholic Church member) are the ones who decided what goes into the New Testament and what those books mean for everyone else, while everyone else has to just accept what those in power say.

Obviously this can lead to corruption.

Historically, Constantine and many of the 3rd and 4th century “Church Fathers” had converted from paganism and brought many of their pagan traditions into Christianity (Easter, Christmas, Sunday as Sabbath, etc). How could they have been guided by the Holy Spirit to mix idolatry with the worship of God – when we know (from the OT, especially) that God does not accept “infusions” of idolatry with true worship?

I know that Christmas and Easter are not “doctrines” but I think that God – if protecting them from error – would have instructed them not to do things like celebrate Jesus’ birthday or re-make the worship of Ishtar/Ashtoreth into a celebration of Jesus’ death and ressurection.

Kirei August 20, 2010 at 11:09 am

*When I said “…to do things like celebrate Jesus’ birthday….” I meant to say that we merged his “birthday” (which, no one really knows when his birthday is) with the worship/birthday/customs of roman and persian gods. I was not implying that the celebration of Jesus’ birthday (in itself) is something that God wouldn’t want us to do.

Although there is no evidence that Jesus ever celebrated his birthday – or that any of the other disciples/apostles in the Bible celebrated their birthdays

Joe September 3, 2010 at 3:27 am

Fran you said:

You need to look more closely at the history of the churches. Christianity existed long before the “Catholic” church was established.

Please give me the name of the Christian church founded by Jesus, that existed prior to the CC and continued to co-exist alongside the CC until the reformation?

Thanks…

Kirei03 September 3, 2010 at 8:21 am

Joe –

I read that the first Christians were actually Jews who continued to be Jews in practice and ethnicity, but believed in Christ as their forever sacrifice. Christianity was first considered a Jewish sect, and that it wasn’t until later (after 70AD and the destruction of the Temple) that Christianity started to become “gentilized” and that separation between the two (Jews and Christians) ensued. As time went on, from what I’ve read, Christians did all they could to separate themselves from Jewish customs, i.e – changing the sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, replacing passover with Easter, building “churches” instead of worshipping in Synagogues, etc.

Jesus was/is Jewish and in order for him to be sinless, it means that he must have followed Torah (first five books of the Bible) perfectly. His early followers, wanting to be like him, would have wanted to follow his example. Besides that, most of them were Jewish and those who were considered “righteous Gentiles” wanted to know if they too should be following Torah as Jesus did – resulting in Jerusalem Council (Acts 15).

What is the history that you’ve learned?

Joe September 3, 2010 at 10:14 pm

I agree with you…

Christianity was first considered a Jewish sect of Jesus Christ followers who were considered heretics from the Jewish Pharisaic/Sadducee perspective and a cannibalistic (unless you eat my flesh…you have no life in you cult/nuisance from the perspective of the Roman empire.

Not to over-simplify it but it really is quite simple: Jesus was the promised Jewish Davidic King and He ushered in His prophesied Kingdom (His Mystical Body, the church and government which rest upon His shoulders) – on Pentecost and His kingdom, the church was firstly comprised of Jews eg the apostles, and then both Jew and gentile, which also was prophesied by the prophets and there is to be no distinction in Jesus’ eternally established kingdom, for all are welcome (There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus) – and Jesus came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it, and He did just that when He said: “it is finished.” Everything from the old dispensation that pointed to the long awaited Christ (Messiah) – and His Kingdom was fulfilled on that fateful day when the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, suffering servant and Davidic King, said, ” into your hands I commend my spirit.”

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. 24 I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken.

Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot…And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him.

And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.

Does that Christianity was first considered a Jewish sect, explanation seem about right to you?

Joe September 3, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Oops Kirei03…Ignore that part at the end of my post: “Christianity was first considered a Jewish sect”

Don’t know how that got in there. Weird…

KH November 18, 2010 at 4:23 am

Question: “What was the first / original church? Is the original / first church the true church?”

Answer: The ability to trace one’s church back to the “first church” through apostolic succession is an argument used by a number of different churches to assert that their church is the “one true church.” The Roman Catholic Church makes this claim. The Greek Orthodox Church makes this claim. Some Protestant denominations make this claim. Some of the “Christian” cults make this claim. How do we know which church is correct? The biblical answer is – it does not matter!

The first church, its growth, doctrine, and practices, were recorded for us in the New Testament. Jesus, as well as His apostles, foretold that false teachers would arise, and indeed it is apparent from some of the New Testament epistles that these apostles had to fight against false teachers early on. Having a pedigree of apostolic succession or being able to trace a church’s roots back to the “first church” is nowhere in Scripture given as a test for being the true church. What is given is repeated comparisons between what false teachers teach and what the first church taught, as recorded in Scripture. Whether a church is the “true church” or not is determined by comparing its teachings and practices to that of the New Testament church, as recorded in Scripture.

For instance, in Acts 20:17-38, the Apostle Paul has an opportunity to talk to the church leaders in the large city of Ephesus one last time face to face. In that passage, he tells them that false teachers will not only come among them but will come FROM them (vv. 29-30). Paul does not set forth the teaching that they were to follow the “first” organized church as a safeguard for the truth. Rather, he commits them to the safekeeping of “God and to the word of His grace” (v. 32). Thus, truth could be determined by depending upon God and “the word of His grace” (i.e., Scripture, see John 10:35).

This dependence upon the Word of God, rather than following certain individual “founders” is seen again in Galatians 1:8-9, in which Paul states, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Thus, the basis for determining truth from error is not based upon even WHO it is that is teaching it, “we or an angel from heaven,” but whether it is the same gospel that they had already received – and this gospel is recorded in Scripture.

Another example of this dependence upon the Word of God is found in 2 Peter. In this epistle, the Apostle Peter is fighting against false teachers. In doing so, Peter begins by mentioning that we have a “more sure word” to depend upon than even hearing the voice of God from heaven as they did at Jesus’ transfiguration (2 Peter 1:16-21). This “more sure word” is the written Word of God. Peter later tells them again to be mindful of “the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets and the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior” (2 Peter 3:2). Both the words of the holy prophets and the commandments Jesus gave to the apostles are recorded in Scripture.

How do we determine whether a church is teaching correct doctrine or not? The only infallible standard that Scripture says that we have is the Bible (Isaiah 8:20; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Matthew 5:18; John 10:35; Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 2:25; Galatians 1:6-9). Tradition is a part of every church, and that tradition must be compared to God’s Word, lest it go against what is true (Mark 7:1-13). It is true that the cults and sometimes orthodox churches twist the interpretation of Scripture to support their practices; nonetheless, Scripture, when taken in context and faithfully studied, is able to guide one to the truth.

The “first church” is the church that is recorded in the New Testament, especially in the Book of Acts and the Epistles of Paul. The New Testament church is the “original church” and the “one true church.” We can know this because it is described, in great detail, in Scripture. The church, as recorded in the New Testament, is God’s pattern and foundation for His church. On this basis, let’s examine the Roman Catholic claim that it is the “first church.” Nowhere in the New Testament will you find the “one true church” doing any of the following: praying to Mary, praying to the saints, venerating Mary, submitting to a pope, having a select priesthood, baptizing an infant, observing the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as sacraments, or passing on apostolic authority to successors of the apostles. All of these are core elements of the Roman Catholic faith. If most of the core elements of the Roman Catholic Church were not practiced by the New Testament Church (the first church and one true church), how then can the Roman Catholic Church be the first church? A study of the New Testament will clearly reveal that the Roman Catholic Church is not the same church as the church that is described in the New Testament.

The New Testament records the history of the church from approximately A.D. 30 to approximately A.D. 90. In the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries, history records several Roman Catholic doctrines and practices among early Christians. Is it not logical that the earliest Christians would be more likely to understand what the Apostles truly meant? Yes, it is logical, but there is one problem. Christians in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries were not the earliest Christians. Again, the New Testament records the doctrine and practice of the earliest Christians…and, the New Testament does not teach Roman Catholicism. What is the explanation for why the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th century church began to exhibit signs of Roman Catholicism?

The answer is simple – the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th century (and following) church did not have the complete New Testament. Churches had portions of the New Testament, but the New Testament (and the full Bible) were not commonly available until after the invention of the printing press in A.D. 1440. The early church did its best in passing on the teachings of the apostles through oral tradition, and through extremely limited availability to the Word in written form. At the same time, it is easy to see how false doctrine could creep into a church that only had access to the Book of Galatians, for example. It is very interesting to note that the Protestant Reformation followed very closely after the invention of the printing press and the translation of the Bible into the common languages of the people. Once people began to study the Bible for themselves, it became very clear how far the Roman Catholic Church had departed from the church that is described in the New Testament.

Scripture never mentions using “which church came first” as the basis for determining which is the “true” church. What it does teach is that one is to use Scripture as the determining factor as to which church is preaching the truth and thus is true to the first church. It is especially important to compare Scripture with a church’s teaching on such core issues as the full deity and humanity of Christ, the atonement for sin through His blood on Calvary, salvation from sin by grace through faith, and the infallibility of the Scriptures. The “first church” and “one true church” is recorded in the New Testament. That is the church that all churches are to follow, emulate, and model themselves after.

Matthew Warner November 20, 2010 at 2:33 am

KH – Thanks for your comments and thoughts! I find a ton of problems with just about everything you said…some historical inaccuracies, some misunderstandings of Church teaching, but mostly unsound logic. I don’t have time to get into every point, but here are a few thoughts…

First, you continually appeal to scripture. I think that’s great. But scripture didn’t fall out of the air and Jesus didn’t give it to us either. Jesus gave us a Church. That Church gave us scripture.

Second, you insist that the 1st century early Church was so spot-on because they were guided by scripture and continually appealed to it. Then you say that the 2nd, 3rd and 4th century Church was so far wrong because they didn’t have all of scripture yet. Yet they had all of the scripture the 1st century Christians had (Old Test.) and then some (parts of the NT). How could the first century Christians of done so perfectly with less scripture available to them than the 2nd, 3rd and 4th century Christians?

3rd, nowhere does the Bible say that everything Jesus did/taught or that the early Church did is written and contained within it. In fact, the Bible says the exact opposite (Jn 21:25) – that there were MANY things Jesus did that were not written in it.

4th, if you claim that the only thing required for the new testament Church to be guided correctly was the “scriptures” it used, then you are defeating your own argument. They didn’t use the new testament to do so at all. Almost always when they are referring to “scripture” in the New Testament they are referring to the Old Testament scriptures (the New Testament hadn’t either been written yet or compiled and recognized as scripture yet. The New Testament is written ABOUT the NT Christians, so they couldn’t have been using it yet. They had something else…oral tradition (as you admitted) and their official leaders appointed with authority by Jesus and the Apostles themselves to “bind and loose on heaven and earth”, to hold the “keys to the Kingdom” and were uniquely given the Holy Spirit to lead them unto all Truth. It is these leaders who kept the Church unified and guided down the right path. And it is their successors who guaranteed it by continually appealing to that authoritative succession and the continual teaching and tradition of the Church and it is THESE SUCCESSORS who wrote and/or preserved the New Testament and who determined which books would ultimately be called the “infallible and inspired Word of God” that you now individually and fallibly interpret for yourself and base your entire belief on. (Check out this article here on this authority)

5th, we do in fact see bishops and a Pope in the 1st century (before the final bits of the New Testament had even been written) appealing to Apostolic Succession: Read about that here.

6th, you are incorrect in many of your claims about Catholic teaching not being found in the New Testament. All of them can be found there in some form or another when you understand scripture properly and in the proper context. Some are not explicitly written in the terms and way you understand them (or misunderstand them as it seems the case is partially here) today. And even still, everything wasn’t written down in scripture (as scripture itself – and common sense – tells us). And when we look at the context, the times, tradition and other historical records mixed with a little reason…it is clear as day that the early Church was distinctly “Catholic” in belief. Anybody who doesn’t see that just doesn’t want to or is reading all of the wrong stuff.

7th, You say that “Scripture, when taken in context and faithfully studied, is able to guide one to the truth.” Yet, in practice, this leads to an impractical application. What is the proper “context”? and how do you know if you are “faithfully” studying? In fact, the opposite has happened by those who believe just what you are claiming. Christians have NEVER been more divided than they are today – and most of that is attributed to the “reformation”, the chain reactions that resulted because of it and the underlying principle of “individual interpretation.” To remain unified you need an arbiter, not just a book. That’s exactly why Jesus gave us a Church with AUTHORITATIVE leaders and promised to guide them unto all truth. He gave us a Church – not a book. The Church gave us the Book. The Bible is one part of Tradition…albeit an extremely important and distinctly special one. And I don’t know of one organization that reveres and respects the Bible more than the Catholic Church. And there is no celebration that does so more than the Catholic Mass. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn’t understand the Church or the Mass. And, for the record, Catholic teaching has NEVER contradicted scripture, nor will it ever.

8th, I urge you to learn a bit more about the history of the bible, its availability, translations, the printing press, etc. (Try a book called “Where we got the Bible”) You have obviously gotten your information there from a really bad source. Which is understandable because there is a lot of that out there and you are repeating many of the common bits of misinformation.

Finally, you make no case for why we should, in the first place, believe that the Bible is the infallible and inspired Word of God (which is the topic of this blog post). And you also don’t explain how this 4th century Church (the one you claim to have been in so much error) was magically able to infallibly determine what the canon is of an infallible book (the Bible) that hadn’t been invented yet?

Anyway, sorry to write so much..you had a lot to respond to and I didn’t even touch a lot of it. Thanks for your thoughts and God bless you!

Justin December 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm

["6th, you are incorrect in many of your claims about Catholic teaching not being found in the New Testament. All of them can be found there in some form or another when you understand scripture properly and in the proper context. "]

I’ll be honest, I don’t understand how the church of God is indeed the Catholic church. If it is, then what happened to it!? Praying to Mary? Praying to saints? Kneeling before statutes? Where is all that in the new testament? Please provide scriptures. And if it is mixed up with traditions of men, don’t you think there could be a problem there?

You also wrote:
["And when we look at the context, the times, tradition and other historical records mixed with a little reason…it is clear as day that the early Church was distinctly “Catholic” in belief. Anybody who doesn’t see that just doesn’t want to or is reading all of the wrong stuff."]
I’m pretty sure I understand what im reading, can you show me where the early church is “Catholic” in belief?

Thanks!

Matthew Warner December 3, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Hey Justin – thanks for the honest comments and for reading the blog!

There are lots of great resources answering your questions in great depth. I won’t try to do it in the combox. But here are a few resources that can get you started if you’re open to learning a bit more.

But also understand, that while you CAN find all Catholic Teaching in scripture in one way or another, that ultimately, the idea of the “Bible Alone” (Sola Scriptura) as the basis for all Christian teaching is not actually a Christian idea itself (it’s a relatively recent and new “tradition of men”). That said, here ya go…

Here is a good site for seeing the scriptural basis for Catholic teaching: ScriptureCatholic.com

As for the early Church looking just like the Catholic Church in belief, you can pretty much read any of the early Christian writings and very quickly find/see this. But if you’d like specific citations, here’s a good place to start: Early Church

Peace be with you!

Cristina December 31, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Matthew,

I give you a ton of credit for posting this article! How many people are afraid to discuss this, or give totally mindless answers like “it says so,” or “if you don’t you going to burn for all eternity.”

May main concern with your basis is this: The church is and always has been full of human beings. And as I’m sure you are well aware human make terrible decisions: The crusades, perversions of doctrine like the selling of indulgeces, recent scandals involving child abuse, etc

I’m not implying that the church is inherently currupt, but I wonder why it make trust a bunch of people who lived over a thousand years ago to assemble the book oon which we are to base our lives.

julie January 6, 2011 at 2:52 pm

The Bible i not one book but a series of books of multiple genres.Each genre has to be read according to it’s own rules(i.e.to read poetry as you would prose would be silly to say the least.)so each book of the Bible has it’s own texture, voice,attitude & viewpoint. the holy Spirit “insipred” the Scripture.What does that really mean? Well ,it doesn’t imply divine “automatic writing”.Why would God, who created humankind with free will, then make His creation into a brainless robot?Inspired means to “breathe in” not dominate a mind that has been created with such loving care.God has much to much respect for his ultimate creation.You have God’s thoughts breathed into a human mind.How does the Infinite fit into the finite? Does God use the gifts that He has already given to a human or does He negate the free will that He gifted to humanity? God’s thoughts through human abilities.As Catholics we believe anything having to do with salvation is flawless, sound, protected.And since the Bible is Salvation History, our main concerns should not be historical, scientific .To sit and worry about how many critters were on the Ark and calculate how much feed or dung would be produced I find beyond silly. Our eyes should be on the prize. Salvation in and through Christ, to know God’s will to be enpowered and inspired by the Holy Spirit are our prizes- that is were our true victory lies.
As far as the “right” to canonize scripture.The hebrew scriptures and rabbis did it or a very sound reason.If you have a multitude of writings coming out , all claiming some sort of inspiration how do you separate wheat from chaff? During the intertestamental writings their were myriads of writings that were honored , well read and quoted nearly as much as scripture(enoch, Book of Jubilees )-very influential in their time much of angelology comes from them-but they were not considered canon.if we had no canonization of Scripture amyriad of beliefs of very different points of view would have brought confusion dissension and very likelthe destruction and/or disintegration of Judaism and Christianity.Standards doctrines had to be defined. Dogmas exist in every belief or sect- though they may not own to it or believe the exist.A Christian believing that sabbath is fri-sat is a dogma of a particular sect.if it did not have that particular belief the would not be a separate sect. New Testament Canon was defined by several criteria.1. books had to be written by one of the apostles or by an associate of an apostle(john mark-Peter’s aide is said to have written the Gospel of mark).2. It had to be used universally by the churches(as the four gospels were) 3. They had to be used as part of liturgy. 4. they could not contradict one another.Such documents that did not fit the criteria were discarded.

Martha Wiggins January 17, 2011 at 5:42 pm

WOW. I am not sholarly enough to jump into this discussion on the level here, but I do know the Bible is the Inspired Word of God. I believe through historical, spiritual and, God-given authority the Bible is the Word of God. The Catholic Church is The Church founded by Jesus and handed over to Peter. Peter, as the first Pope, was given by Jesus the authority to lead and continue The Church, the same Catholic Church of today. Men are fallible; the Triune God is not. The Pope, through the authority given by Christ, is infallible in matters of The Church. In other matters He is a human being, albeit a very blessed one. I do not worship Mary, or statues. Mary is the Mother of Jesus. As His Mother, I honor Him when I honor her. I do not worship saints, but instead, try to imitate their faith and courage. I believe they live in the grace of everlasting life and salvation, granted to us through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. I believe my sins, and they are many, are to be brought to the foot of the cross, where the priest, acting on the authority given by Jesus, utters those precious words that heal and allow me to begin again, “Your sins are forgiven you; go in peace.” I believe all of this through historical, spiritual, and God-given authority.
Matt, I know you don’t engage in these debates to recevie accolades, but I appreciate and respect your ability to put yourself out there and defend the faith. I respect the others posting here for the same reasons, and I pray that God inspires all to learn and know The Truth.

Martha Wiggins January 17, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Just an aside. I am not so unscholarly as to spell it sholarly. Forgive the typo!

jack January 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm

I found this discussion while searching as to why I should base my beliefs on the Bible, as does my entire family. I’m probably too simple minded to participate in this discussion/debate thus I’m still confused with what seems like circular logic to me. I’m a former Catholic now, and have a hard time with the logic of the Church’s and Pope’s singular authority and infallability. Just too many tragic examples of both failing miserably. Recent reading of Pope Pius’s dealings with Nazi Germany just add to that disgust. To sell out the German Catholics in order to reestablish Rome’s authority, when that group was the best chance for Germany to oppose Hitler’s rise. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Matthew Warner January 19, 2011 at 12:03 am

Jack – I appreciate the comment. Actually, it is the Catholic Church’s position on believing in the bible that is NOT circular. Whereas most protestants believe the bible is the inspired Word of God because the Bible says so (even though I don’t believe it actually does). Now that is circular reasoning.

Additionally, I’m sorry to hear that you left the Church without actually knowing what the Church teaches. If you properly understood Church teaching authority and infallibilty, you wouldn’t be able to find any examples of it failing. Most people have a very broad (and ENTIRELY incorrect) understanding of the Catholic Church on these issues and what she is claiming.

Finally, I’m not sure what you were reading to learn about Pope Pius and Nazi Germany. But it sounds like it was extremely inaccurate. I hope you’ll consider some other sources that may give you a more honest account of what happened.

Jessica Brown March 22, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Matt: I just wanted to comment on what you said about the Bible not actually saying it is the inspired word of God. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” In addition, as one who has studied hermeneutics and apologetics, the Protestant believes the Bible is true and the inspired word of God for more reasons than “because it says so”.

Matthew Warner March 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Jessica,

Thanks for the thought. However, first, being “inspired by God” and being the “inspired Word of God” can be two different things. Lots of people, books, songs, blog posts and much more have been inspired by God. God is inspiring. Something having been inspired by God does not therefore mean it is literally “the word of God.” Second, 2 Timothy still does not define what scripture is made up of. It doesn’t give us the canon…therefore it doesn’t give us the Bible. It’s one thing to speak of “scripture” in general. It’s another to speak of why we should believe in specifically a particular set of old writings (the biblical canon) and call them scripture and the inspired Word of God himself.

And I didn’t mean to generalize all protestants with having that reason (“bc it says so”) for belief in the bible. But it’s very true that many DO have that reasoning. And the ones who don’t, I don’t find their reasoning compelling…unless it leads back to the authority of the Church.

Jessica Brown March 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Matt,
I appreciate you responding to me. Sorry it has taken me so long to get back with you. First, I’d like to respond to your comment concerning what “inspired” means. In that verse “inspired by God” translates to a single Greek word, theopneustos, which literally means, “breathed out by God.” Obviously, when you breathe something out (like we do carbon dioxide), it is coming directly from us. I don’t think you can get more clear than that as to what it means by “inspired”.

I was curious, where does the Catholic Church get the authority to decide what is inspired by God? Also, whose reasoning do you not find compelling in the Protestant faith, concerning why they believe in the Bible? Please provide specific names, as I would like to look it up for myself.

Matthew Warner March 29, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Jessica – no worries!

As I said in my original response to you, regardless of how you define inspired here, it still doesn’t give any clarity as to what makes up “scripture.” Or why we should believe in a particular set of writings (the canon of the bible) as “scripture.”

The short answer as to where the Catholic Church gets its authority is from Jesus directly. Here is an article you might like that explains much more: Authority to Teach

You may also like this article here: Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth

As for your last question – the answer is any protestant who does not recognize the need for a teaching authority – the authority of the Church.

Thanks for your thoughts and reply! Peace be with you!

Bill March 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm

“Where does the Catholic Church get the authority to decide what is inspired by God?”

From Jesus, through the Apostles. “Who hears you, hears me. Who hears me, hears the Father.” The Catholic Church traces a clear line of succession back to the Apostles — we are the original church founded by Jesus Christ, and have been referred to as “Catholic” since the first century.

Matt can give a more complete answer, but that’s a good start, or so it seems to me.

Jesse D. Bryant April 8, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Matt,

1.) Concerning your comment on the *interpretation* of the word *interpretation*–then why did you muddy the waters with your comment that called into question what *interpretation* meant in the passage in question? Did you not know, or was this misdirection intentional?

2.) “The Catholic Church gets its authority directly from Jesus.”
How do we know this? Well, we are told so in Scripture. And how do we know that this is what the Scriptures say? The Church tells us! And where does the Church get this authority? From the Scriptures. And who tells us, not only what the scriptures say, but what they mean? The Church! And where does the Church get its authority?…

And none of this is circular?

The link you provided was more misdirection and Catholic interpretations that one will most likely only arrive at if one is willing to accept the presuppositions of the *Church* (with a capital-C, that my research to this point shows the Church has no authority to add to the Scriptures, unless of course one is willing to accept the presuppositions of the Church).

You have also made it clear that you will not accept any evidence for inspiration outside of the Churches view. Historical, archeological, prophetic, scientific, acceptance by early (1st century) Christians, evidence of extant copies or otherwise. By definition, the only authority that you will accept is the Churches (that you accept without question)–otherwise these other evidences would warrant addressing. Canonicity was discovered–not decided.

I personally think that your claims are rather arbitrary. If we really need the Church to interpret the Bible and keep us straight, then why do the scriptures place their emphasis on themselves and not on the Church? Why does it repeatedly refer to the Word and not to the Church? Why are we admonished to *study* 2 Tim. 2:15, *speak* of them Duet. 11:16, 19-20, *memorize* them Ps. 119:11, and *search* them “for they [the Scriptures] are they which testify of me” John 5:39–if we cannot, with an open heart and prayerful spirit, interpret what is *written* properly? (Please note that INTENT is prior to CONTENT.) What are we to do with passages like Acts 17, where we are told that they “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so”? Who are *they*? People who wanted to know if what they were being taught from the Apostle Paul was the truth–and they looked to the Old Testament to prove it! Do words mean what words mean, or do we need the Church to tell us that *church* actually means *Church*, with nothing in the actual text (words) that make such a distinction? I would be interested in the argument for the *capital C*. Any links for me?

3.) “As for your last question…”
Jessica merely asked you for some references in regard to the protestant argument for inspiration. You gave her your reason for rejecting them (revealing your dogmatic position), not an argument for why they were wrong. She requested a few sources and you gave her a gross-generalization that encompassed all of Protestantism. You are the apologist and claim to have read many opposing views–a couple of references that deal with the topic of inspiration should not be too difficult to produce. I myself would be interested in some of these arguments that you found completely uncompelling.

Have you read ‘A General Introduction To the Bible’, by Normal L. Geisler and William E. Nix?

Bill–The Church may have been referred to as ‘Catholic’ since the first century (though not Roman Catholic), but the followers of Christ have been referred to as ‘Christians’ since–well, since Bible times. The Christians in the Bible believed the teachings of Christ and of the Apostles, and those teachings are recorded for us in the New Testament. Now, if we cannot rely upon the preserved Word of God, then the testament is not a very good one. I must insist upon placing my faith in the Word of God, and not in the mere men who claim some divine authority to tell me, not only what is says, but also what it means, who then in turn introduce various extra-biblical practices and requirements, all the while claiming divine authority, all of which seems to be based on what I must contend is the misinterpretation of a couple (maybe 2-3) verses of scripture. Extra-biblical is un-biblical, and I have yet to hear a compelling argument to believe otherwise.

Finally, If I understand you correctly, the argument is that we know that the greater authority, the Church, has this authority because it has received this authority from a lesser authority, that being the Bible. Correct? We know that the Church has the authority because the Church tells us that the Bible tells us so. Sounds very much like the oversimplified argument that Matt claims so many Protestants give for why they believe the Bible.

By the way, these claims are made by the same Church that claims to have written the Bible, and so reserves the sole right to interpret it. This all seems rather convenient…

Long thread on this topic. Obviously a hot topic.

Sincerely,
Jesse D. Bryant

Bill April 9, 2011 at 11:49 am

Jesse, you do misunderstand me. I wonder whether you even read the post to which you are responding, let alone my other contributions to this thread.
So let me break it down for you, and then I’m moving on. It seems to me that the problem you may be having with understanding what I am trying to tell you is that you make the presupposition, without any support, that the Church founded by Jesus Christ (that would be the Catholic Christian church, as it is known today, but was known simply as the Christians at the beginning) has no authority regarding the Bible. Step by step:
1. Jesus receives his authority from the Father.
2. Jesus passes that authority on to the Apostles.
3. The Apostles pass the authority, and the teachings of Jesus, on to the next generations of Christians, in a clear and documented succession.
4. In order to distinguish themselves from groups that claimed to be followers of Jesus (and that were teaching things that most certainly did not come from him — for example, the Judaizers and others whom Paul repeatedly refers to in his letters), the Christians began to call themselves “Catholic” (meaning “universal”). We have this documented in a letter from a bishop who had been a follower of St. John. This is the Catholic Church, which continues to this day.
5. Eventually, all of the books in what we now call the New Testament came into being, written after being transmitted orally from the Apostles and from others who had known Jesus directly. This process was not completed until some time after Jesus, and when it was finished, what was written became what we now refer to as “scripture.” (When Paul, for example, refers to “scripture” he is talking about the Old Testament, since the New Testament had not yet been written.) Interestingly, this means that the New Testament itself is the product of Apostolic Tradition. During the same period and after, a number of other books along the same lines came to be written, but not all were what would later be considered as the inspired word of God.
6. By the fourth century, it had become painfully obvious to the bishops (those shepherds who received the line of Apostolic succession *and authority*) that an officially recognized canon of scripture was needed. In a series of meetings, the bishops agreed on what was in the canon and what was not. The process and their criteria are well-known to scripture scholars, including Protestants, so I’m not going to enumerate them. Suffice it to say that for 1200 years, nobody had a problem with their canon until Luther, who had his own agenda (which he makes clear in his writings, which have also been preserved). At one point in one of his books, Luther flat-out says that his followers should tell anyone who questions his version of the Bible that it is that way “because Master Luther will have it so.” Now, whose authority is that?

So there it is. You can disagree with it, but you’d better have some documentation to back up your view.

I would also like to point out that sola scriptura, which you seem to advocate, is itself un-biblical. Nowhere in the Bible does it say which books belong in the Bible (somebody had to make that decision, and it was a bunch of Catholic bishops). Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Bible alone is the sole basis for belief. I’d ask you to show me where it says either thing, but I won’t, because it doesn’t (I’ve looked for it, and so have a lot of Protestants, including highly trained ministers, who couldn’t find it and eventually became Catholic).

I’m happy that we both love the Bible, and I hope you keep reading it. I’ve said about all I have to say in the current thread on this topic. Peace and all good to you.

Matthew Warner April 12, 2011 at 10:09 am

Bill – you are not alone in these feelings on Jesse’s comments when you say “I wonder whether you even read the post to which you are responding, let alone my other contributions to this thread.” He has a history of this kind of comment section (and email) engagement here. But I appreciate you responding to his points.

Sean B April 14, 2011 at 11:04 am

I follow your logic but how do i KNOW that Jesus dies and was resurrected and founded the first (Catholic) church?

Matthew Warner June 27, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Sean – that’s a good question. I believe that if we look at history all the evidence we need is there.

Certainly there is overwhelming historic evidence that Jesus lived and died as he did. No credible historians dispute this. And if we look at what happened afterwards and the way numerous apostles and other Christians went out and died for their beliefs (a belief in the resurrection), it seems to me that it only makes sense if the resurrection actually happened. Sane people (which history shows us the apostles and co. were) in large numbers do not go out and endure a life time dedicated to traveling and preaching the gospel only to die for it. They got no money or fame for their trouble. They gave up their stuff, their families and, ultimately, their lives to the cause of Christ. Many of them killed gruesomely – fed to lions, crucified upside down, etc. Not the kinds of things one does for some kind of practical joke or even a cause one is anything but 100% convicted of. These men KNEW Jesus was God. They KNEW it enough to give up everything and be violently killed for it.

As for the Church, we can see also in history that Christ founded a Church. That is what came out of Pentacost and its activity and spread is historically documented. It’s line of succession to the current day Catholic Church is documented, too.

If you search around there are some good books out there that have done similar kinds of studies on this topic that you might find useful.

All of this is more historically documented than virtually any events in ancient history. And, to me, it is more reasonable that they are true than the result of the greatest prank ever pulled on mankind in the history of the world. Additionally, we have the witness, miracles and fruits of the Church throughout history since then and still today that continue to testify to the truth of this cosmic story. All of these things together make an extremely compelling case.

One final point – for me the ultimate truth is in the experience. When I’ve believed in these things, life makes the most sense. I feel the most fulfilled. I have the most peace. I feel the most purpose. That…and it’s all very beautiful and actually quite genius the way all of these teachings come together. But it’s hard to see them or fully appreciate them from the outside looking in. Some things you have to fully try to really see the full beauty.

So I think it’s something we can attack from both sides. Understanding in order to believe…but also believing in order that we may understand.

Peace.

Jessica Brown June 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Sean,
Many people have wrestled with the same question as to how we KNOW who Jesus was and that He died and was resurrected. What’s amazing is that these people who set out on a journey to answer this question find that Jesus was exactly who He said He was and end up dedicating their lives to living for Him. I would highly recommend checking out More Than A Carpenter by Josh and Sean McDowell, ISBN#978-1-4143-3380-9. It’s a pretty quick read and they too had set out on answering what you have asked.

What I don’t agree with is that Jesus found what is known today as the Catholic Church. He did found a Church, but that was simply the body of believers who chose to follow Him. Nothing more. I encourage you to research that on your own and not simply follow the links Catholics provide. As I hope you would understand how they might be a bit bias.

Matthew Warner June 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Jessica – I would suggest (as does history, scripture and early Christian writings) that the Church Jesus founded was absolutely NOT “simply the body of believers who chose to follow him. Nothing more.” I’m not sure how somebody can read scripture, see the leadership Jesus appointed and ordained to lead his Church, see the power and authority Jesus gave them, see what happened on Pentacost, and then conclude that this Church was “simply a body of believers who chose to follow him. Nothing more.” That makes no sense to me.

Additionally, if we look at what the Apostles did in scripture, they clearly acknowledged their authority and hierarchy, replaced that hierarchy when necessary and carried on as a Church that was most certainly “more” than “simply a body of believers who follow Christ.”

Finally, if we look at what the early Christians did and believed, it is overwhelmingly clear that they believed just as the Catholic Church does today and most certainly in the authority of the Church, bishops (apostolic leaders) and their authority. Please read ALL of the early Church Fathers (not just the parts protestants like to pick and choose from). You’ll find the Mass. You’ll find bishops. You’ll find apostolic succession. You’ll find the Catholic Church. And at the very, very least, you will find a Church that is far, far more than “simply a body of believers who follow Christ. Nothing more.”

I wrote a related post here: Not Just Another Denomination

I wrote a post on the Early Church Fathers here: The Early Church Fathers

And another one here on: How the First Christians Worshipped

…if anyone is interested in those. Peace!

Bill June 30, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Jessica, you make a strong claim, but you offer no evidence, no citations, no scholarship to back it up. Matt and others here (myself included)have offered multiple references, including scripture, historical and authenticated documents, and scholarly research to support the position that the Catholic Church IS the church that Jesus founded.

So — where’s your evidence?

Jessica Brown July 6, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Bill,

Looking through all of your comment on here, I notice you sound like a broken record. You are constantly trying to put the burden of proof on others, while offering no real evidence yourself. Saying that reading the early church fathers (those writers who came after the *inspired* text) is itself an unsubstantiated claim. Please, give me one example that proves a Biblical writer was Catholic. Just one.

The evidence, citations and scholarship are in the book I suggested. These are actual references. If you really want to know, you should read the book for yourself. You focus so much on tradition, which is not in any way factual. It’s arbitrary. The book I have suggested should be enough to show you the truth. I have neither the time nor the patience to deal with your double standards.

Matthew Warner July 6, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Jessica, the Bible is packed full of Catholic doctrine and practice. But you don’t see it because you approach it with a bias bent on seeing it differently. That’s why looking at what the first Christians (the “early Church Fathers”) believed and how THEY interpreted and how THEY read scripture, is really helpful.

It’s ironic that you seem to be suggesting that writings that “came after the *inspired* text” are somehow not historically credible while at the same time recommending we learn from an entirely other text which was written thousands of years AFTER that.

Just because other early historical Christian texts aren’t “inspired” in the scriptural sense doesn’t mean they aren’t true. It’s history. And much of it is very reliable and well-documented…better documented and more reliably preserved than most of the history we all study and accept as fact throughout our entire education. Read it. It’s all there. And it puts scripture and Christianity and Christ’s Church into a light that makes it all even more beautiful and that makes it ring even more true. It’s awesome.

Here’s a good story you might find interesting (this site has a bunch of other good stories on it, too).

Bill July 6, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Jessica,

Fair enough. I challenge individuals who make claims to offer some proof that those claims are true. The burden of proof is on the claimant, is it not? For my part, I believe I have offered support for claims made by the Catholic church. You are free to accept the evidence I offer or not. Tradition, however, is not at all arbitrary. We are directed by Paul and other New Testament writers to keep the traditions. The traditions are actually older than the text of scripture. In fact, scripture itself is tradition – passed on from those who knew Jesus until it was written down. Doubt that? Read Luke 1:1-4.

As to my repetition, that happens because the same questions and objections come up over and over. The answers never change. It’s boring for me, too. Consider that some of these objections have been coming up since the time recorded in Acts, while others have been coming up over and over since the first heretics and the Reformers. The answers the Universal Church has been giving in all that time have been the same. None of your objections are anything new and I doubt thatbthe book you cite will have anything in it that has not been raised and answered many times. The basic problem is that those who object to the answers do so because they reject the authority of the Universal Church, which means rejecting the authority of Peter and his successors, which means rejecting the authority of Jesus Christ.

I’ll give you the example you asked for, but you won’t accept it. Actually, I’ll give you two: Peter and Paul.

By the way, you claim I’m applying a double standard. Actually, I hold myself to the same standard I ask you to conform to: facts — documented, historical facts. I have nothing to apologize for, except that I do not always articulate the Church’s teachings in the way they deserve.

Bill

Bill July 8, 2011 at 10:55 pm

I looked that book up on Amazon, read the reviews, and checked what I could find about it via Google and Wikipedia. I haven’t bought it because from what I can tell, it’ basic Christian apologeticsand deals with the life and existence of Jesus. It seems to rely a lot on C S Lewis’ “Lord, liar, or lunatic” approach. All of which I am fine with, and a number of Catholics who have commented on the book don’t seem to have a particular problem with it. Nobody mentions anything about the book dealing with the nature of the early church and whether it was Catholic.

So before I go plunk down my hard-earned $5, can you tell me which chapter or what pages in that book you think deal with the nature and Catholicity of the church in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD?

Jesse D. Bryant April 15, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Mr. Bill,

Well, I appreciate the condescending remarks and the equally predictable bail-out, as well as the double-standard that you present (demanding documentation)–but we will get to that.

So, let me break this down for you…

First, regarding the *presupposition* statement. You seem to misunderstand. It is not my responsibility to provide evidence AGAINST the claims of the Catholic Church, it is YOUR responsibility to provide evidence FOR their claims. Any evidence you can provide would be greatly appreciated. My position is that the Scriptures, being the final and highest authority, are self-authenticating, as any highest authority must be. My presuppositions are not smuggled in. If the Bible must be authenticated by the Roman Catholic Church, then the Church and not the Bible becomes the highest authority.

Now, lets address your points, 1-6.

1.) “Jesus receives his authority from the Father.” No one is refuting your first point. The question is, how do we know this? Let me reiterate the Catholic answer to that: The Bible tells us so. And how do we know what the Bible says? The Church tells us. And where does the Church get this authority, to tell us not only what the Scriptures say, but also what they mean? The Bible! And how do we know this? The Church tells us so. And where does the Church get this authority?…

2.) The Apostles did learn from Jesus, and in turn they taught others (I Cor. 14:19; 2 Tim 2:2). But there is no Apostolic succession as defined by the Catholic Church. No indication of a supernatural succession–you would have to prove this from scripture. You are big on evidence, so please provide some. A few scriptures to support your argument would have been very helpful here.

3.) Clear and documented succession? Really? Where is this documentation? Is it just a list of names or what? Who were the individuals who taught at the church in Corinth, or Ephesus, etc.? Do you have a list of those names? If you have the whole list–that is a heck of a list! So, where is this documentation that you demand that others provide? Just a source, not the list.

4.) I granted you the Catholic title–so the assertion that there was a split in which those who broke away started what you claim has become known as the Roman Catholic Church of today (complete with all of its un-biblical and extra-biblical teachings) is fine by me (although Roman Catholicism as we know it today did not emerge until around 1200 AD). I did not say anything about there not being a Catholic denomination. Even so, your claim is not an argument for claiming the authority to tell the world, not only what the Bible says, but also what it means. I will argue that the true church consists of all the believers who place their faith in the God of the Bible and faithfully teach what it says. My comment was merely to show that, as a Bible believing Christian, I believe what the early Christians believed–that being, the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostle’s, as recorded in the Scriptures.

5.) First two sentences of point #5–Hey, tell us something we don’t know.

Comment in parenthesis–Actually, the Apostle Paul quoted the gospel of Luke as ‘Scripture’ (I Timothy 5:18 – “The labourer is worthy of his reward”) and Peter likewise equated Paul’s epistles with “the rest of Scripture” (2 Peter 3:16-17).

Third sentence–Yep. The Apostles did write it. No one is refuting that. What is being questioned is the idea that the Roman Catholic priests of today have some special anointing that makes them better or more enlightened than the rest of us, or that this Apostolic Succession via the laying on of the hands is unbroken. It is a nice claim, but I would like to see some proof. You invoke the Catholic term of *Apostolic Tradition* so as to claim authority of some kind, but as with any teaching, one must know a thing before they can teach it–or at least should. The writers of the New Testament wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit (same as the Old Testament writers), and the scriptures attest to the truth of this in that they have withstood centuries of scrutiny. What has not stood the test of time is the Apocrypha which contains known errors, historical inaccuracies, moral incongruities, scientific falsities, contradicts other scriptural teachings, were never part of the Jewish Old Testament, never used by Josephus, and never quoted by Christ or the Disciples.

6.) They AGREED on what was Scripture, they did not DECIDE what was Scripture. The canon was discovered, not decided. How? By recognizing the ‘earmarks of inspiration’, and by using the many known tests that are applied to any text of antiquity. It was not an arbitrary decision made by the Church. One of the evidences for inspiration was general acceptance by the early church. The earliest, nearly complete collection of books dates back to 150 AD (missing only I & II Peter, Hebrews and James). All of the New Testament books were accepted as early as 180 AD, except for seven, those being, James, Jude, II & III John, II Peter, Hebrews and Revelation, and only a few churches hesitated over these seven books. Other evidence, as you know, are things like being historically, prophetically, scientifically and archeologically correct 100% of the time (with the exception of the Apocrypha). The argument presented on this thread of ‘because the Church says so’ proves nothing.

Also, nice citing of sources for point number 6. “Luther’s writings”? Nice, I’ll check those out… What Luther says is actually irrelevant. With the extant copies in existence, you really should attack the translations, not the man. Luther has no say in what God did or did not speak. No more say, in fact, than the Catholic Church has. The Scriptures are either self-authenticating or useless. An appeal to any other authority than the Scriptures themselves is to place that authority above the Word of God. Think about it…

And I would be interested in some of these resources in regards to Luther’s writings. Please, present them, as I am curious.

Bill says, “So there it is. You can disagree with it, but you’d better have some documentation to back up your view.”

My appeal will always be to the Scriptures themselves, for I have no higher authority, with external evidences to bolster the argument. Bill, you cited no specific scriptures in ANY of your posts on this thread. Zero. As for your other contributions to the thread–they were all equally bereft of the documentation you demand of others (some references as to your historical sources would have proven helpful to the reader). Overall, I think you failed to meet your own standards.

How is the principle of ‘sola-scriptura’ not Biblical? Do you think that by saying this principle is not Biblical that you have proven anything? Is the Word of God not self-referencing? When do the Scriptures ever point us to an authority outside of themselves or provide for us another rule-of-faith? But, even if the Bible were not the final rule-of-faith, I would argue that it is sufficient, just as it claims (See II Timothy 3:16-17 – *thoroughly* furnished, II Timothy 4:2, Hebrews 4:12, I Cor. 2:2, Psalms 119:105, Psalms 1:2, Deut. 6:6-9, Psalms 73:25, Proverbs 3:5-6, Eph. 6:13-18). Col. 2:3 tells us that “…all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ are hid in Him; John 12:48 says that God is our ultimate judge; and John 17:17 informs us that “God’s Word is Truth”; and finally, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom/knowledge,” see Ps 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, 9:10. Where do these truths come from? The scriptures and no place else, for they are the only and final rule-of-faith and the primary source that bears witness to the God of the Bible (John 5:39). The real question that you have to answer is, do the scriptures ever direct us anywhere else?

Your statement that the Bible does not give us a list of which books should be in the Bible is not an argument against the principle of ‘sola-scriptura’. What the Bible is, the claims it makes, its credibility, accuracy, and reliability are in fact several evidences for this principle.

If you really believe that ‘sola-scriptura’ is not biblical, refute it, don’t just scoff. Make your case. I am listening.

I would also ask you to defend your faith in the Roman Catholic churches extra-biblical and un-biblical practices as well as the Church’s extracurricular requirements for salvation, but I won’t, because the Bible does not give any. I’ve looked. What can I say? Turn about is fair play isn’t it?

Given the redundant and clarifying nature of some of the above, one is left to wonder who has failed to read the previous ‘contributions’ to the thread…

So, how did we get the Bible, and how can we know that it is true? Some resources I would recommend are:
‘A General Introduction To the Bible’, by Normal L. Geisler and William E. Nix
‘Messiah In Both Testaments’, by Fred J. Meldau – deals with prophecies concerning Christ
‘How Do We Know the Bible Is True’, DVD series available through AnswersInGenesis.org, with Brian Edwards
or even the latest issue of ‘Answers’ magazine.

Just some documentation that I hope at least Bill will find helpful. :)

Sincerely,
Jesse D. Bryant

Bill April 16, 2011 at 12:06 pm

As I believe brevity is the soul of wit, here is everything you want to know. You can look up the answers to your questions:
1. The Catechism of the Catholic Church: contains exactly what the Church teaches about these matters, so that you don’t have to rely on incorrect information spread by others. I recommend (for this thread) starting with Part 1, Article 3 (Sacred Scripture) and Article 2 (The Transmission of Divine Revelation). You might want to take a look at paragraph 861. Download it (catechism.zip) here: http://www.catholicplanet.com/ or read it online here: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc.htm

2. The Companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Contains all of the scriptural and historic citations that back up the Catechism. Buy it or download it here: http://www.ignatius.com/Products/CCCC-P/the-companion-to-the-catechism-of-the-catholic-church.aspx

3. The Fathers Know Best: A new book by Jimmy Akin, gives lengthy citations from early Christian writers, including those who knew and were taught by the Apostles. For the discussion in this thread, you should read Chapter VI, Section 22 (The Canon of Scripture) and Section 23 (Apostolic Tradition); Chapter VII, Section 24 (The Catholic Church), Section 25 (Apostolic Succession), Section 26 (Peter the Rock), and Section 29 (Peter’s Successors).

4. Episcopal genealogies: http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/

Jesse D. Bryant April 17, 2011 at 9:59 am

Bill,

Thanks, I will check out some of those sources! We often want to be brief, but even you realize that we can’t. I am guessing that there is MUCH reading in the links you provided. As I believe you have even stated yourself, this is not a simple topic. None the less, I will listen to the arguments. My question is, are you familiar with any of the material I suggested, and if not, will you investigate any of it?

It does seem to me that the Bible alone is much simplier than the Catholic Church and the afformentioned extra-biblical and un-biblical teachings it contains, the Catechism and now, the Companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well! Where does the Bible come into the Catholic picture? There is enough study in the above to keep most people busy for about three-years without even opening the Bible!

I own a Catechism so I will review your point #1 within the next few days…

The one question I would like to have had addressed was regarding where it is that we are given another rule-of-faith, other than the scriptures?

Sincerely,
Jesse D. Bryant

Matthew Warner April 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Bill, brevity is indeed the soul of wit! Brevity is also necessary for productive blog-comment-section conversations. If more people were better at it, we’d probably get a lot further with each other in these conversations. It’s something I need to work on too, myself. So I feel your pain! I also understand from your POV, too, Jesse, when there’s a lot of info involved.

Jesse – as for your final question…the sole-rule of our faith is Truth itself. The question is how do we come to know that truth? Where in scripture does it claim that scripture is the sole-rule of faith? It doesn’t. In fact, when scripture mentions “scripture” it is almost always referring to the Old Testament. So that begs the question, where in scripture does it tell us that we should create a New Testament and call it the inspired Word of God and “scripture”? It doesn’t. So why is it that you believe such a thing if the only rule of your faith is the Bible?…yet the Bible itself does not include this very fundamental component of your faith?

As for your claim that the argument for Church authority is “circular” (one that you and I have discussed before I believe), it is simply untrue and you continue to mischaracterize it. The scriptures (early historical documents) have historical weight and authenticity all on their own as some of the best preserved historical documents in the world. They reasonably show us and tell the story of Jesus Christ, that he lived, died, rose again and founded a Church whom he gave authority (directly to its first leaders) that has been passed down (not because they are the inspired Word of God, but because they are historically accurate documents). From the Church we then get the additional assurance and verification of the “inspiration” of the scriptures, the canon of the New Testament and ultimately the assurance of their authority (which is not to say that the authority of the New Testament depends on or is received from that of the Church…as you also continue to mis-state).

This quote sums up this point well:
“It is not true to say that the New Testament depends upon the Church for its authority. The Church teaches that Scripture, whether of the Old or the New Testaments, was written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and is consequently free from error; no other title is needed to claim for it the assent of Christians. Its authority springs from its own origin. But it is true to say that we should not be conscious of this authority if the Church did not assure us of its existence. In the order of our knowledge, belief in the Church is antecedent to belief in Scripture, and is the condition of it. Historical criticism assures us, indeed, that the books of the New Testament are veracious in their main outline, but only revelation could make us confident in the belief that they have God as their author. It is the Church that assures us, for example, that the epistle of St. Jude has a higher authority than that of the epistle attributed to St. Barnabas; it is the Church, further, that assures us that St. Jude wrote under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit.” More on this point here.

Also, you ask “why do the scriptures place their emphasis on themselves and not on the Church? Why does it repeatedly refer to the Word and not to the Church?”

First, “The Word” is the Trinitarian God Himself. At least that’s what scripture tells us in John, “The Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by him. . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The Word reveals Himself to us in a special way in scripture as He inspired it (which, again, it is the Church who reveals and gives us assurance that God is the author of scripture). But He also speaks to us through the Church which he founded and the leaders he gave authority to forgive sins and preach/teach on his behalf (all explicitly scriptural).

Second, scripture – and Jesus in it – speak VERY frequently and highly of the Church. See here please. And scripture quite clearly says that it is The Church that is the pillar and bulwark of the truth…not scripture. See 1Timothy 3:15 and give this a good read too.

Finally, you said “It does seem to me that the Bible alone is much simpler than the Catholic Church.” First, so what if this is true? Are you seeking the simplest, easiest answer? Or are you seeking the right answer? I’m interested in the right answer – even if it’s more difficult.

Second, I think that while the “bible alone” approach seems simpler on the surface, in reality it is much, much more complex. Just look at the division it has caused in the Church as a perfect example. There are more than 40,000 denominations who all believe in the “bible alone” approach…yet they almost all disagree on some fundamental teaching and are not united as the church. That’s not simple…at all.

“It is no good asking for a simple religion. After all, real things are not simple. They look simple, but they are not. The table I am sitting at looks simple: but ask a scientist to tell you what it is really made of – all about the atoms and how the light waves rebound from them and hit my eye and what they do to the optic nerve and what it does to my brain – and, of course, you find that what we call “seeing a table” lands you in mysteries and complications which you can hardly get to the end of. A child saying a child’s prayer looks simple. And if you are content to stop there, well and good. But if you are not – and the modern world usually is not – if you want to go on and ask what is really happening – then you must be prepared for something difficult. If we ask for something more than simplicity, it is silly then to complain that the something more is not simple.” – C.S. Lewis

Jesse D. Bryant April 20, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Matt,

For the sake of brevity, I will address just 3 of your points…

1.) The Final Question: You continue to miss the point Matt. You are the apologist and yet you consistently try to shift the burden of proof. I will suggest that the reason for this is because you cannot sustain your own argument. The fact that the Scriptures are our final authority and sole-rule of faith is self-evident, and much of the evidence for this argument was presented in my previous post. It is YOU who must present evidence against the Bible as the sole-rule of faith. Do you have any?

So, the sole-rule of our faith is Truth itself? Really? And who is the Truth? Jesus Christ. And this is revealed to us where? In the Scriptures. And how do we learn about this Truth and His teachings? By reading and studying the *Bible*.

2.) The Merry-Go-Round: First of all, you and I have not discussed the circular argument before. You denied it, but never refuted it–there was no discussion. Second, the Scriptures do not ‘reasonably’ tell us a story — they reveal the Truth about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Third, you have not yet provided an argument for the capital C. Fourth, you seem to suggest that the reason the Scriptures were preserved is ONLY because they are historical documents. What? Fifth, I disagree with your ‘from the Church’ argument, but that doesn’t even matter, because yet again, you have failed to address the real problem. YOU have told me that the Church gets its authority from the Scriptures. If what you have told me is true, then the question becomes, who tells us, not only what the Scriptures say, but also what they mean? The Church! And where does the Church get this authority? The Scriptures. And who has the authority to interpret the Scriptures? The Church! And where does the Church get this authority? The Scriptures… That is the argument that YOU have presented to me. If something has the authority over the thing from which it receives this authority, it is circular!

Matt, you ask for brevity, then present such redundancy that I am inclined to question whether you have actually read my previous posts…

In your last reply, in a single paragraph, you managed to both deny [start of 4th paragraph] and affirm [re-establish - end of 4th paragraph] the circular argument. You suggest that the NT doesn’t need the Church in order to be true, but it does need the Church in order for us to know that it is true. Is that what you are trying to say? In other words, without the Church we wouldn’t have a clue. So the Church tells us this based on the authority that is revealed to us through the same book she tells us is hers, written by her, and that she reserves the right to tell us, not only what it says, but also what it means? Correct? This is dizzying…

There are perfectly rational and testable methods for establishing the authenticity of the Scriptures. With or without the Church.

“And scripture quite clearly says that it is The Church that is the pillar and bulwark of the truth…not scripture.” And that is what the SCRIPTURES tell us, right? Is that TRUE? Do the Scriptures contain TRUTH? Do you see what I’m talking about? Round and round… and again with the capital C.

3.) Unidentified Quote: I completely disagree with the quote you provided, and indeed the premise seems to be the authority the Church presumably received from the Scriptures–and the circle continues… The quote perpetuates only a lie. “…belief in the Church is antecedent to belief in Scripture…” Actually, no it’s not. I believe in the Scriptures for reasons that have nothing to do with the Catholic Church. We do not need the Catholic Church for these things (St. Barnabas? Seriously?), and indeed history bears this out–the method in the past is the same today (see sources cited in previous post). The Church also includes the Apocrypha in its canon with its many problems. If the Church is perfect and our final-rule of faith, these problems cannot be ignored, nor can they be explained away by suggesting that they were merely embellished and used the titles of various historical figures to heighten the drama, or as you have suggested, merely fables to relay ‘theological truth’. By the way, you never did answer the ‘theological truth vs. historical truth’ question.

Finally, answer your own question Matt. “So what if this is true?” [that the Bible alone is the truth and stands alone] Just think about that. What if that is TRUE? Well, that would certainly make a difference now wouldn’t it? And no, I am not looking for the simplest answer, only the one that is most consistent with the clear teachings of Scripture–while Church history, as well as her extra-biblical and un-biblical teachings cannot be harmonized with the teachings of Christ, nor with the Churches own claims of being indefectible. I want the TRUTH and am willing to investigate other sources, claims of other religions, as well as go-to-the-Matt (Cute isn’t it?) to sustain the argument and defend what I believe to be true. I visit your blog because I am under the impression that you are a Catholic apologist, that you are someone who has a firm grasp on the teachings or Rome, and that you have in fact investigated opposing views (even though you refuse to provide any sources).

And besides, if I were not prepared for something difficult, would I still be talking to you?

“But He also speaks to us through the Church which he founded and the leaders he gave authority to **forgive sins** [interesting, as this is not what the Church currently teaches] and preach/teach on his behalf (all explicitly scriptural).”

Really? Where? To sustain your argument here you must first present a compelling argument for the capital C. Something the links you provided do not do, but seem to merely assume it, and as always, go on-and-on-and-on, through pages and pages, while never establishing their starting assumption–the capital C. Please establish the rationale for the capital C.

Sincerely,
Jesse D. Bryant

Matthew Warner April 20, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Jesse – For the record, I do my best, but I’m not any kind of official apologist at all. But I do find it difficult to dialogue with you every time I’ve tried it. I’m willing to assume it’s just a break down in the communication somewhere. But I don’t think it’s fruitful for either of us anymore. I think we’ve both stated our case and readers can make up their mind on their own. God bless you my friend.

Lauren April 20, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Matt,

If I understand:

1) “Scripture” is defined by the Church, who [guided by the Holy Spirit] decided on a canon.
2) The reason we should believe that the Church would have the authority to do so (and to interpret Scripture as well) is based on [God's words in] Scripture. The authority of the Church then is established by Scripture.
–> The authority of Scripture is established by the Church, and the authority of the Church is established by Scripture.

This is sort of circular, right? You have sought to prove the authority of Scripture from the authority of the Church, yet the authority of the Church is established by Scripture. The Church determined the canon, but Scripture gives us the ecclesiology we need to believe that it could have. Scripture and Tradition function together, and neither one has complete authority over the other, neither can be said to completely derive from the other (I think you’d agree with me…right?). It’s sort of a dynamic thing, like a two-voice fugue maybe.

I’m right with you 100% in believing in the authority of both Scripture and Tradition, and I think the Holy Spirit is right there guiding them both. But it seems to me that the only entry point here is still faith. (And I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, although it would be really nice to have something more to offer to all those people out there with stiff necks.)

Unless you can find another way?

Matthew Warner April 20, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Lauren, actually I’m not saying that at all. But I understand how it may seem that way. There are important nuances to the argument that demonstrate it is not circular logic at all.

First, both the authority of the bible and the authority of the Church both come from the same place – God. Jesus founded a Church made up of leaders whom he gave authority (to forgive sins, bind and loose, etc.). God inspired the writers of scripture. Both scripture and the Church have authority all on their own apart from each other. And they both support each other…the Church submits to scripture. And scripture clearly reveals the authority given to and the importance of the Church. But neither “receive” their authority from the other.

The question for us today, 2000 years later, is how do we reasonably come to know that Jesus gave authority to both His Church and inspired scripture? And that is a different thing all together. And it may seem like a circular argument, but it certainly isn’t.

A clip from a good article on this describes it fairly clearly…here it is: “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 insofar as it is history. From that we conclude that an infallible Church was founded. And then we take the word of that infallible Church that the Bible is inspired. This is not a circular argument because the final conclusion (the Bible is inspired) is not simply a restatement of its initial finding (the Bible is historically reliable), and its initial finding (the Bible is historically reliable) is in no way based on the final conclusion (the Bible is inspired). What we have demonstrated is that without the existence of the Church, we could never know whether the Bible is inspired.”

A skeptic might mistake this on a quick read to be a sort of circular argument. But upon careful reading, it definitely is not at all. It’s an important one and a powerful one!

You can read the full article here.

Peace be with you!

Lauren April 20, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Thank you!

Jesse D. Bryant April 22, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Matt, we can’t dialogue because you don’t answer the questions. Now the argument becomes a ‘spiral’? Nice. You know that quote you pulled from Mere Christianity? You should reread that whole chapter, Lewis goes on to discuss the idea of an ultimate authority there.

Even Lauren reasserts the circular argument, then suggests that we should ‘just believe’. I contend that it is the historical, archeological, prophetic, scientific (sorry Sage, the scriptures suggest that the earth is round, Is. 40:22, Job 26:10), even geographical evidence, as well as the consistency of extent copies of ancient manuscripts that together make a very compelling case for the veracity of the Scriptures without a single word from the Church. This I believe is self-evident for the inquiring mind.

From ‘Proving Inspiration’: “A skeptic might mistake this on a quick read to be a sort of circular argument. But upon careful reading, it definitely is not at all. It’s an important one and a powerful one!”

Gee, thanks for explaining that and putting all this confusion to rest! That made it all so clear…

The Traditions of men, developed by the Church, that you place so much faith in are both extra-biblical and un-biblical, adding to the Word of God (something that Scriptures say we aught not do) and even presents another Gospel, something else we are warned against (Gal. 1:6-9). Just read the story of St. Christopher and tell me where the gospel of Jesus Christ is in that story. Or does it just contain ‘theological truth’? Because I can’t find any theological truth in that story–at all.

Your argument seems to be that both the Church and the Bible are entirely dependent on the other–thus it is circular. While you yourself have made it very clear that the Church, and not the Bible, is your final authority. I will remind you of the name *Norman Geisler*–check him out.

And you still have failed to make the argument for the capital C. That is my question, but you will not answer it. It is what everything you say rests upon. Even a link would suffice (a concordance certainly did not help me see your argument). You must have something that makes your argument. Right now, it is just like our personal dialogue (Sorry, but you brought it up). You bailed out there as well, and never even attempted to answer the questions that I asked at the very beginning, but instead offered rabbit-trail after rabbit-trail, admitted to not reading some of the emails in their entirety, as well as never investigating any links that I provided (few that there were in comparison). Such is your zeal for the truth…

I agree, and believe that a discerning reading can decide for themselves.

As for the link you provided (PROVING INSPIRATION) it builds its case upon fallacious arguments and creates straw-men in order to prop themselves up and make those who oppose them look silly. The Church should attack the official position of those who oppose them and not the words of the unlearned. Just think of the kind of accusations I could level at the average ‘cradle Catholic’ and the level of ignorance I would expose there. Surely, you would find such an article to be as equally demeaning and misleading as I found this one to be. The RCC should be ashamed at this article. There is no truth (regarding the official position of the Bible believing Christian) until the final paragraph under the subtitle, ‘No Rational Basis’. As for ‘An Accurate Text’ we completely agree, as well as the first three paragraphs under ‘The Bible As Historical Truth’, but that is where the similarities end. After this, they assert, without any proof, the claims of the RCC and proceed with their circular (or spiral) argument. They begin their argument by denying the circle, then reassert the circle at the end. If one is entirely dependent on the other, it is circular. The article goes on to say that, ” The Catholic believes in inspiration because, to put it bluntly, the Church tells him so and that same Church has the authority to interpret the inspired text.” That reasoning is even weaker than the fallacious reasoning the RCC presents (erroneously) as the Protestant position. Oddly enough, this statement comes under the heading of ‘Inadequate Reasons’. It is blind faith in its purest form.

Finally, Cardinal Newman lists the many elements of the Scriptures that will test ones reading comprehension and thirst for the knowledge of God, but fails to point out that some man (who possesses special powers not available to other men) has to figure it out, and that the faithful Catholic, in turn, must take their word for it–there is no way for them to test it on their own. The Bereans in Acts where not so gullible.

The article ends with the only Scripture used in the entire article, while ignoring the many numerous Scriptures that encourage us to read, study, memorize, meditate on, etc. There is no mention of the mandate to “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me,” John 5:39, neither does it mention the Bereans of Acts 11:17, who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so,” or even the question that Christ asked the young lawyer, “How readest thou?” (Luke 10:26). What a silly question for Christ to ask a man who could not understand it even if he did read it! Or how about 2 Peter 3:16 “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” I ask two questions: 1.) Whose epistles? 2.) What is meant by ‘other scriptures’?

No one ever said that the Bible was not a difficult book, or that it does not contain things that are hard to understand (ex. John 6:60), but if we want the truth, I don’t believe we should simply place our faith in other men, and entrust our souls to various practices that are not even mentioned or illuded to in the Scriptures themselves, or worship an object because we are told that it is God. Indeed, we should be intimately familiar with the Scriptures, for it is the Scriptures “which are able to make us wise unto salvation”, and all Scripture (OT or NT), “ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” Why study these Scriptures? So “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” The Scriptures are sufficient! Why should we know the Word ourselves? Because “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). With studying comes spiritual growth (I Peter 2:2), growth leads to maturity and maturity to teaching. 2 Timothy 2:2 says, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” Faithful men are those who study the Word and are faithful to it. This is not some kind of *supernatural* Apostolic succession (a teaching that I believe the RCC has *wrest* from the Scriptures). The faithful teacher teaches what the Scriptures contain. No more. No less. They are not those who add various practices and extra-biblical, as well as, un-biblical teachings and requirements to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I believe that the Roman Catholic Church has thoroughly laundered (spin-cycle) the gospel of Jesus Christ, so much so, that it has gotten completely lost in a milieu of religiosity, where the religion is more important than the Christ who supposedly founded it.

Sincerely,
Jesse D. Bryant

Matthew Warner April 22, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Jesse – with all due respect, I can’t dialogue with you because you don’t listen. You just respond with comments that are inappropriately too long for a comment section (read a post I wrote today on just that topic here), too cumbersome to deal with in any practical way, and show zero evidence of progression or at least absorbing anything I’ve said – just more accusations. I’m sorry, but I can no longer take you seriously when you say stuff like the following:

“Your argument seems to be that both the Church and the Bible are entirely dependent on the other–thus it is circular. While you yourself have made it very clear that the Church, and not the Bible, is your final authority.”

I quite clearly in the very comment above that stated the contrary. It’s not serious conversation, sir. And it’s certainly not dialogue. It’s a waste of time. Thank you for reading. I wish you the best on your journey.

Matthew Warner April 20, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Also, Jesse had questioned where there was any other evidence of anything else being a “rule of faith” for us.

First, the historical record reveals this. The Apostles didn’t have a “bible” as we know it today. They followed the Traditions that they were taught. And the way they identified what was “true” Christianity vs false was by who had Apostolic authority to teach and interpret the teachings that had been passed down and to administer the sacraments. Numerous records of early Christians confirm this.

Second, scripture itself also refers to the Church’s authority to teach, that it is the “pillar and ground” of truth, the bride of Christ, etc. It also instructs us to hold to both the written AND the oral teachings that have been passed down. Among many other things.

Here’s a good post that goes into this question in more depth for anyone who is interested: Scripture and Tradition

I hope that helps!

Sage April 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm

The Bible is a collection of books written thousands of years ago by many different people who still thought the earth was flat and bats were birds! Wouldn’t you think if Yahweh were channeling this soul saving information, he would want to get it right and would have corrected the writers?

Rex Thompson May 9, 2011 at 2:53 pm

The Bible is the Bible it has been around for centuries it has been studied revised but it is still the Bible.I believe God has protected this book of writings through the ages.The Bible is a great moral guide to live by whoever put it together Cathlics,Jews or Gentiles.Live by this book and watch your life change.Amen

Doug Walters May 24, 2011 at 5:27 am

No man can forgive sins, only Jesus .
Stop twisting the truth! Read the scripture you referred to carefully.

Matthew Warner May 25, 2011 at 9:23 am

Doug – The Catholic Church agrees that ultimately, all forgiveness comes from Christ and his work on Calvary. However, He chose to use men – his bishops and priests – to convey and confer that forgiveness. This isn’t something Catholics just invented. It is what Christ told them to do. And scripture confirms it in John 20:19-23.

Are you saying that if God wanted to allow his forgiveness to be aided in a ministry by his people, that he couldn’t do it? Of course he could. And he clearly did. You have to really twist scripture to come up with how he didn’t. And it is clear that the early Christians had the same understanding that the Catholic Church of today does in regard to the forgiveness of sins.

Here and here are some additional reading for anyone who is interested.

God bless!

Austin September 11, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Who gave the Catholic Church authority? The conclusion of your argument rests on the fact that the Catholic Church has authority which is VERY VERY VERY subjective.

Matthew Warner September 11, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Well, it’s fairly well documented, actually. Jesus is the one who gave the Catholic Church authority when he gave such authority to the apostles and founded His Church. This is well documented in scripture. And it’s confirmed when we look at history as we look at what the apostles did in passing on their authority and exercising that authority in the earliest historical records of Christianity. Those early Christians believed and acted Catholic and recognized the authority of the apostles (the first pope and bishops) of the Church. And we trace the current Catholic Church back to that exact historically real and objective Church. They are one and the same.

To be honest, I don’t see how you get to anywhere else in Christianity without first getting there. The canon of the bible is a product of the Church (the Holy Spirit working through it, of course, but none-the-less ultimately a product of the Church). Jesus gave us a Church, not just a book. And he taught and did things that were not ALL written down in scripture, but have been passed down through His own Body – the Church.

Kevin M September 9, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Or maybe it was the Orthodox Church who gave us the Bible?

Matthew Warner September 11, 2011 at 3:22 pm

The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church were the same unified church when the bible was being written and canonized.

David M September 16, 2011 at 8:58 pm

I just have one comment for Matthew. I’m not sure if this has already been wirtten, because I didn’t read all of the comments.

Your belief in the Bible is 100% based upon faith, just like anyone else’s.

You were not there when, as you state, the Catholic Church turned the scriptures into the Bible. You did not see it with your eyes. You read it in a book or heard it from another person. You do not know whether the “historical record” is actually true. You take that on faith.

It’s actually funny because you are saying that your belief in a book is based upon your belief that other books that you have read are true.

The Bible is believed upon by faith alone.

Matthew Warner September 20, 2011 at 9:39 pm

David – with that strict and broad definition of the word “faith” then EVERYTHING we believe is believed upon by some sort of faith. But I still think your adding the word “alone” on the end is both unhelpful and in most cases confusing. As even our faith is first informed by our reason (i.e. NOT faith “alone”.). And this post is an example of that…using reason to come to a conclusion that informs our faith.

Shoot, even seeing something with our eyes we have to have some kind of “faith” that our eyes are telling us the truth. Reason informs it. Faith and reason are not mutually exclusive. They are intimately connected. So to try to separate one out as “alone” just succumbs to a kind of fundamentalism that misses so much.

Faith, in many ways, is reason’s last step. Reason leads us to belief and trust – which are really just others words for faith.

David M September 21, 2011 at 5:30 am

Even by using reason, it takes just as much faith (using the limited definition that I beliveve you are giving it)) to believe the Bible was put together by the Catholic Church, as it does to believe that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the rest of the Bible is true.
The only evidence you have that the Bible was put together by the Catholic Church is that they wrote books that said they did.
Just because it is easier to believe that the Catholic Church put a bunch of old writings together that is now called the Bible, then it is that the Son of God was raised from the dead, doesn’t mean that you used any more reason to come to the conclusion that the Catholic Church compiled the Bible.

Please give me the reason that you use to come to the conclusion that the Bible was compiled by the Catholic Church?

I have been to Rome and Vatican City, the Catholic Church is very protective of all things antique, and I doubt that they would have allowed you to see any evidence that would show that they complied the Bible.

David M September 21, 2011 at 6:44 am

Let me try to make my point a little more clear.

There is a by far greater amount of people that will tell you:

I know the Bible is true because … (God has changed my life via the Bible, he has performed miracles in my life like the miracles described in the Bible, etc.)

Than:

I know the Catholic Church compiled the Bible because … (I have seen proof that this occurred)

The same reasoning that you use in coming to the conclusion that the Catholic Church compiled the Bible is used in finding the writings of the Bible to actually be true. It also takes the same amount of faith.

Let me re-phrase the questions from my last post:

On what basis do you believe that the Catholic Church compiled the Bible?

Matthew Warner September 21, 2011 at 9:45 am

David – you said “it takes just as much faith…to believe the Bible was put together by the Catholic Church, as it does to believe that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the rest of the Bible is true.”

I don’t agree with that at all. And I think most people would disagree with you on that, including a lot of atheist historians.

To be sure, the biblical canon was an organic process in a lot of ways, but there is no question in history that it was the early Church councils (i.e. the Catholic Church) that set and confirmed the new testament canon for all of Christianity and preserved/handed down the new testament canon we ALL use today.

This is documented in many historical writings and confirmed with historical evidence (it’s also confirmed by negative evidence, too, in that there is no evidence to the contrary and any other explanations tend to be extremely improbable or downright conspiracy theorist wacky). Yes, of course we have to largely use second-hand evidence to conclude this, but that’s how virtually EVERYTHING we believe in history is since it was a long time ago. But it’s a logical and reasonable process that gets us there. In the same way we can be sure Julius Caesar was an emperor in Rome, we can also know that the Catholic Church held councils (all documented) and confirmed the canon of scripture. That doesn’t really take anywhere near the same kind of “faith” it does to believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and will come again (i.e. to believe the content of the Gospels). To compare the two just seems bizarre.

Further, that the Catholic Church gave us the NT canon is virtually un-refuted by any serious historian – whether Catholic, protestant, atheist or otherwise. So it’s not really even a question, and certainly not one on the level of the kind of faith we have in the truths of the Gospel.

All that said, it doesn’t matter if somebody decides to believe the bible is true based on their experience or miracles or whatever, as you suggested. That’s wonderful if they do! But that doesn’t mean they can reasonably conclude that the Bible is therefore the inspired Word of God. That is still something different. Believing it is just a book that contains truth (lots of books are “true”) is very different than saying a book is actually the inspired Word of God. And that belief, comes from the Catholic Church. Nowhere else. The validity of the canon rests on the authority of the Catholic Church. Nowhere else.

OF COURSE people are going to read the Bible and find it to be true. IT IS true. So we would expect that the experience of it would confirm that.

But your comparison saying that people will tell you “I know the bible is true because” vs. “I know the Catholic Church compiled the bible because” are two TOTALLY unrelated issues. So I’m not sure what your point is in making them.

Knowing the bible is true is a compilation of experience, history, reason, prayer, faith, grace, etc.

Knowing that the Catholic Church canonized it is a simple matter of historical fact and just one piece of the evidence. But it’s an important piece of evidence, as I’ve pointed out in this post, as anyone’s belief in the canon of scripture therefore rests on the dependability and authority of the Catholic Church.

This post is not about the “reason” we believe the Catholic Church canonized the bible. That’s a given (in this post). And it’s a widely accepted fact (among pretty much all scholars, including non-catholics). That’s why I believe it. To not believe that would require the burden of proof because you would need to refute tons of historical writing and the weight of most all serious scholars on the issue. Again, this post accepts the widely held premise and instead focuses on the reasons for why we should believe in the bible, and particularly why we should believe it is the inspired Word of God, based in part on that evidence.

By your language, I still think you’re trying to stick reason and faith into different boxes entirely. It’s impossible. It’s one thing to say “I believe”. That’s faith. But as soon as we start to talk about WHY we believe…that’s reason. Reasons to believe. That’s what we’re talking about here. That there are reasons why we believe.

Your reason may be that you just feel it. Or that you experienced a miracle. Those are reasons. I just don’t think they are very compelling to others who don’t experience that same feeling or miracle. And it’s comforting to know that there is so much more than just feelings and miracles as reasons to believe and have faith. The Catholic Church is one of those compelling reasons if people give it a chance and can work past their own misconceptions and biases.

Christ gave us a Church, not a book (another well-documented historical fact).

God bless ya.

David M September 21, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Thank you for your thoughtful response.

God bless you as well.

KAY December 29, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Quite a jump u make in stating we can believe in the Bible because Jesus founded a Church. Like that was what He came to earth to do and now the rest of history owes their allegiance to a church that holds the keys to salvation. Jesus came to us, humbled Himself greatly, suffered for mankind & by His blood saved us. By recognizing we are sinners and believing we are saved & fofgiven by His blood, we become part of the church.of believers. You give your allegiance to a Church. I give mine to Jesus Christ, “WORD MADE FLESH”. The Catholic church did not give us the Old Testament. The NT writers were not members of a Catholic Church. They werebelievers in Jesus. And not once in NT, r there specific examples among early believers of adoration of Eucharist, Marian devotion, & papal infallibility. So historically CC States that put the books in canon (etc.). Well historically Clinton said he ‘did not have sex’.

Matthew Warner December 30, 2011 at 12:47 am

KAY – it’s not “quite a jump” really. That’s kind of the point. After all, it is through His Church that Jesus gave us the Bible. So, actually, it’s a much, much greater “jump” to get to belief in the Bible without the Church.

The rest of your comments are either straw men, a misunderstanding of what the Catholic Church is and teaches, or a product of misusing the bible. Catholic teaching recognizes Jesus Christ as the source and summit of our faith. He is the one we follow and give “allegiance” to infinitely above all things. However, scripture (and Christ himself) speaks at length about the Church. In 1 Timothy 3:15, we are told that the “pillar and bulwark” of the truth is The Church. Jesus says in Matthew 5 that the Church is the light of the world. So obviously Jesus meant for his Church to play a pretty important role too. In fact, it is so wrapped up with Him that scripture calls the Church “His Body.” It’s also called His bride.

Bottom line: If you want to get to know Christ…if you want to be one with Christ, get to know and get in communion with His Church.

Additionally, if we look at the early Christians, they are explicitly and clearly practicing Catholics. They believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the sacrifice of the Mass, Apostolic succession, etc. The same Catholic Church today holds the same beliefs that they did.

A few links you may find helpful:
Some early church stuff
Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth
Why do Catholics Believe things not in the Bible?

Peace be with you.

John January 2, 2012 at 8:53 am

I am not a Bible time historian but I think it is wonderful for the people who feel a need to investigate things like this. I was brought up to believe in the Bible that has 66 books in it. I couldn’t tell much about it really until I accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. This comment is for those who are a little perplexed about this question. God knows we were formed from the dust and that we are human. People are dying lost everyday while we are trying to come up with a convincing explanation of how we know the Bible is the true and inspired Word of God. We can’t save people and we are not smart enough answer this question without being faced with another question about our answer. If we will seek Him with all our hearts and start living our lives each day for Him then He will help us get by this.
If you can’t decide if you should be a protestant or a catholic then just work on these two commandments. They will keep you busy for at least a life time.
Matthew 22:35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 22:38 This is the first and great commandment. 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
John

Matthew Warner January 2, 2012 at 9:11 am

John – I can understand your point of view. But I also think it’s important to spend time, as we are here, asking what those two commandments mean. How should we live them out? What does it mean to love God with all your heart? What does it mean to love your neighbor? Who is my neighbor? Could it mean spending time trying to figure out the hard parts about God that we don’t fully understand? Could it mean spending time trying to answer hard questions about Him even when those things lead to more questions? God gave us His Church and through His Church, the Bible as ways to know him and to help answer these questions.

Further, God gave us our rational minds in order that we could come to know him better, by seeking out truth in all its forms. So I wouldn’t so easily cast aside such attempts here.

But I also agree that the experiential side of our faith is just as, if not more, convincing. And it’s important that these ideas don’t remain simply ideas or hypothesis, but that they are things we test and try in order to fully experience them and therefore be even more convicted of them. But I’m also weary of a kind of over-simplified religion that has no use for these kinds of important discussions.

God bless you.

John January 9, 2012 at 3:00 am

We can reason something out that seems to make sense to us but it still may be incorrect. We all tend to put things in neat little bins in our mind and think because it fits so comfortably that it must be a fact.
The Apostle Paul said in Romans 9:1, “I am speaking the truth in Christ. I am not lying; my conscience by the Holy Spirit bearing witness with me. He knew he was right because it bore witness with his spirit and not because his reasoning said it was right. I know the mind and the spirit work together but the spirit should always be honored above the mind. John

Geoffrey Cornish January 16, 2012 at 11:10 pm

With regard to the MEANING AND MESSAGE the singer of the song intended far above…
From the top, I have read this long listing of thoughts, arguments and counter arguments. Yet none have addressed what role the leadership of the church should have been (but has failed at) playing in global affairs for the last two centuries, nor why it now plays so small a role. Yet we all know why .Perhaps it is simply because it is incapable of creating and emitting an appealing enough vision that any and every nation of people can follow true credible substance with confidence. Sadly, the current truth is largely, and most especially because of the disgraceful behavior of the priesthood of the Catholic Church and it’s failing Hierarchy around the globe, that few Christians are even calling for a Faith Leader from this structure to play any part at all. For it’s own sins, and all but completely eroded credibility… The Catholic Church as an institution, is far from holding any seriously agreed legitimacy in the mind of the public at large relating to the Word of Jesus Christ. It knows not where to go, nor what to say to lead anyone, even in it’s own congregations. Few if any secular people and few true Christians are calling for the leaders of the Great Christian Faiths to be a part of any new global vision and leadership. Therein lies the truthful and sad weakness of the religious hierarchies of the modern time. This is what the song was all about, its an anthem for the new generations aimed against the concept of institutionally sinful and self-perpetuating large corporate-like hierarchies who “manage” faiths in and of themselves. No amount of self-serving justifications, and complex biblical apologetics or theologically semantic diversions built from the bible, can hide this sad situation. Yet the entire globe needs both a re-invention of the true faith, relief from oppression and the power hungry and everlasting change from political dogma that is also failing. Even in the USA, where the faith is theoretically strong, there are so many petty denominations full of complex liturgy about what each does and does not micro-morally believe or not believe, that faith itself has become a laughing stock in the eyes of many True Christians. We go shopping for churches to suit our purpose. Heck, most churches hierarchies are much like the Taliban in their attitudes to women. Female surgeons and soldiers can protect, and save the lives of priests and the free but are not fit or accepted to read stories from the Good Book and interpret them. Would Jesus approve of this kind of power and dogma ? I think not. Most church bishops and leaders are pre-possessed with maintaining long out-dated doctrinal positions and proving the infallibility of their own decisions and policies, which the bible itself says they do not have any hope of being right about. “Where to ?” is the question most every Christian would like to ask. Yet they do not even think of going to look for wisdom and a new vision from their church pastors or politicians. NO one thinks the answer they would get would be anything other than predictably, “Go out and dedicate your life to Christ and convert 3 billion muslims and 2 billion non- believers to Christ. Would a really wise God who made this universe as it is firstly call on anyone to do this and them really appoint priests in churches who job it is to respond with such inanity ? I pray daily for better guidance and a vision for the future …

Lissette Molina September 26, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Proverbs 3:5 ESV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

I guess you haven’t read the entire bible. Almost all of proverbs, it says to obey, isn’t that something somebody demands you to do. When you praise God, the bible says you reserve the holy spirit (if you’re doing it right), if you can believe that, isn’t it okay just to believe the whole thing. What do we have to lose, just to believe on someone who created us.

Judas Gutenberg October 9, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Do any of you ever stop to consider the real reason you believe the Bible is the Word of God: you were born into a Christian family and/or society. Imagine, and I know this is hard, that you were born in Ancient Greece. You would not have been a Christian, but would have believed in a bunch of gods about whom everyone on Earth is now atheist. If you were born in Iraq, you would be Muslim and think the Koran a beautiful work inspired by Allah. Is it really so difficult to see where your faith is coming from? The argument in this article that the Bible is somehow logical makes no sense; people do not rise from the dead— that is a miracle that can only be believed with faith and the suspension of logic.

Matthew Warner October 10, 2012 at 10:31 am

What’s illogical is the idea that just because you can recognize that being born in a different time and place would have influenced what you believe that therefore none of the many beliefs are true. That’s a suspension of logic. You are making a moot point. The question at hand is what is the Truth? And I believe there is a lot of philosophy, history and logic that supports Christianity being true over those other beliefs.

Bill October 10, 2012 at 10:08 am

Well, “Judas Gutenberg”, you could also say that anything you personally don’t understand — be it accounting, philosophy, or quantum mechanics — can only be believed with faith and the suspension of logic. Somehow those Greeks, Romans, and sundry pagans came to believe in Jesus Christ, the Trinity, and the resurrection without the benefit of a Bible (didn’t exist as such for quite a while) or of instruction by their parents. It didn’t happen because of coercion, either. So how did it happen? Moslems convert to Christianity, as do Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists — without coercion. What is it they see that you don’t? Could it be … truth? Has it ever occurred to you that you are missing something? Like the truth?

The thing that I can’t quite get myself to suspend disbelief about is the name you are posting under. 8-)

Judas Gutenberg October 10, 2012 at 10:22 am

Doesn’t it seem like a terrible waste of humanity that all of the people who lived and died during the thousands (is it thousands for you, or do you believe humans in their modern form have existed for 100 thousand years — in which case it is an even bigger waste) without accepting Christ Jesus are all now mouldering either in Hell or Limbo or some other non-Heavenly place? Why would a good and decent God do such a thing? I would never want to believe in a God who pulled that stunt. I’d rather believe things happen to us based on chance mixed with intention and that when we die it’s all over. Also, I’ve never been sold on why I would want an eternal life after death if it was completely unchanging and free of real pleasure — that sounds a lot like the kind of afterlife I actually believe in, that is death.

Matthew Warner October 10, 2012 at 10:53 am

Judas – sounds like you don’t really understand what Christianity teaches about both the eternal destiny of people who have lived in the past and what heaven/afterlife is actually like. if you opened up a bit you might find it not so bad after all.

Tammy E. December 17, 2012 at 12:14 am

I clicked on this blog post originally because, for the past 6 months, I have been struggling with my belief in the Bible. I’ve gone to church since I was a little kid, and was really getting involved with Church and Christianity just last year; joining the Christian Club at school, regularly attending youth group, and doing devotionals on a daily basis. It wasn’t until I decided to read the Bible from start to finish over Summer break that I began to feel myself divide from Christianity. I read Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus, and began to feel like something was very wrong with what I was reading – the deaths God called to be committed, the misogyny (which I understand was partially cultural…but for it to be God’s word really hit home), the specified price for slavery, the hatred of homosexuality, etc. Suddenly what I was hearing about in church wasn’t what I was reading in the Bible and it became frightening, I say this meaning that it seems as though church leaves out quite a few things that the congregation, if not already knowledgeable, would probably find startling and upsetting. Also, my devotionals were only giving me the happy-Jesus-loves-you and empowering verses (which are great) but I found to not encompass the entirety of what the Bible says in any way. Stopping there, I began researching on my own because I’ve heard many people say that the New Testament is the New Covenant and those laws bypass those of the Old Covenant’s in the Old Testament. Now, I still read of misogyny (along with the requirement of women to be submissive to men) in the New Testament, the hatred of homosexuality, the genocide, etc. – which I can provide verses for if need be- and it shocked me. I prayed (and cried because I felt like a failure as a Christian) and I asked God to help me understand why I felt like all of this was so wrong, because it is, and I know that as of yet I am no longer a Christian because I don’t see how the entire Bible can be God’s word, therefore making it impossible for me to be a true Christian. That being said, I’m trying to research the Bible and find out what makes it true and why I should believe in it, without the “Because you need faith” and “It’s what the Bible says”, like this blog post mentions that a lot of people use as answers. Now, the post also mentions “historical evidence” that backs up the Bible, but I want to know what it is/where I can look it up and research it myself to give me more insight and hopefully help me come to conclusions of my own. Thank you to anyone who replies with this information, I greatly appreciate it.

Matthew Warner December 18, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Tammy,

I certainly understand your struggles. Without having too much time right now, I’d say that fundamentally, you have to understand that Jesus founded a Church – not a book. So if you are going to read this ancient collection of writings (the bible) with your own modern day context and attempt to fully understand it, you will undoubtedly experience some of the conflicts you are experiencing.

Go to His Church. Christ left us His Church and the Holy Spirit to guide her to help us with confusion just like the confusion you are experiencing. I wrote another post on where to find this Church here.

If you find His Church and ask God with a truly open heart to show you the way, your reason and faith can get you to the answers you are looking for. I’ve never had a question that the Catholic Church hasn’t given me centuries (or millenium) of wisdom that not only satisfied my confusion, but fueled my passion even more. But you have to seek, be open, and not settle for over-simplified, inadequate, seemingly easy answers.

As for historical evidence for the Bible, there are a couple of good books: “Where we got the Bible” by Rev. Graham and another book called “Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger” covers a lot of good stuff, too. But again, Jesus (an historical/factual figure) started a Church, not just a book. So you really have to get down to the first parts if you want to understand it all comprehensively.

God bless you,

Matt

Bill December 18, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Tammy -

Archaeological evidence:

Excavating the Bible: New Archaeological Evidence for the Historical Reliability of Scripture, by Yitzhak Meitlis

Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts, by John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed

Historical evidence:

First, those parts of the Bible that are intended as historical accounts were written by people who were there. If scholars don’t question Thucydides’ description of the Peloponnesian War (contemporary with some of the Bible), why would you question the accuracy of the Biblical accounts of events? Or if scholars don’t question the accuracy of Caesar’s account of his activity in Gaul, the same question applies. The people who wrote those accounts would gain nothing by lying or making things up.

Second, there are parallel accounts of some events in the Old Testament in the records of the kingdoms and empires that defeated Israel. Corroboration, in other words, from independent sources.

There’s a whole lot more historical evidence than we’d ever be able to cover in these comments. People get their doctorates on this stuff, and it takes them years of study. Unless you just want to default to denying the historicity because “it’s too hard and too much work” then you need to get busy. And don’t rely on the Web or on Wikipedia.

Good luck.

Bill December 18, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Tammy, I should add — in the case of the New Testament, not only would the authors not stand to gain by making things up, they were risking death by writing these things down. In fact, all of the writers except John did die as martyrs, and not a one of them ever denied or recanted what they had written. People don’t die painful deaths by crucifixion (Paul, for example) or being skinned alive (Bartholomew) in order to support a story that was made up.

Bill December 18, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Oops. I meant Peter, not Paul. Peter was crucified (upside down), Paul was beheaded.

lozen December 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm

To Tammy: You are on the right track. Read “Godless” by Dan Barker who was an evangelical minister and then became an atheist in the same way that you are going.

To Bill: The bible says these men died as martyrs because they had so much faith, therefore you believe those stories and that makes you believe the bible? You believe God inspired the bible because the bible says it was inspired by god? Did you ever think about taking a logic class?
Biblical scholars now know Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not written by people who knew Jesus; they were written from 70AD to the 300s. The men who chose the books to be included in the bible were not only protecting their own power as church leaders, they were serving Constantine and his power. They wanted people to obey them without question and that’s why there is nothing against slavery in the bible. They wanted women to remain second class, breeding cattle and that’s why there is nothing to help women wanting to become more than that. The bible has been used to keep women from advancing and being free people: no birth control, no abortion, no speaking in church, no women priests, etc. They wanted people to remain ignorant about science because they knew if we learned about the world and how it works we wouldn’t need an invisible god to explain the world. Think about this: “I would rather have a mind opened by WONDER, than one closed by BELIEF.”

Bill December 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Lozen, you don’t know me or whether I know anything about biblical scholarship or about logic. Here are a couple of things I do know.

First, ad hominem attacks don’t cut it in logic. Second, credible biblical scholars do not hold the view you claim concerning the dates and authorship of the Gospels.

If you don’t have anything better than that, I don’t have any reason to debate with you. It would be an utter waste of your time and mine.

Tammy E. December 30, 2012 at 10:24 pm

I appreciate all of the responses and the sources provided, thank you.

DANIEL CAMPBELL January 9, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Bible is the mirror which shows our errors……..
The only Bible speaks about Past, Present and Feature….
IF we read bible every day means we can win the sin….
No Love is compared to God’s Love which was written in Bible…
Bible speaks about not believe humans.. Bcoz its truth……

Robbie Willis March 19, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Why should we believe in the Bible? Tell me, what other religiously written book that is worshiped by any type of religion speaks the truth? The answer is none. The Bible is the only book that can be historically proven to be true. Not everything in the Bible is to be taken literally. In fact, most of the Parables are stories that are supposed to resemble a life lesson. When Jesus told Peter to build the Catholic Church upon that rock, Peter did. You know how I know this is a fact? A recent discovery was made in the Vatican. Peter’s bones were found underneath the very Church Jesus told him to build. The Bible is truthful in this matter. Another thing, in the 1940′s one of the most historical religious discovery was made. Tablets, engraved with historical information about Jesus’ life. The Bible only tells about Jesus 60 and 70 years after he was dead. The four Gospels weren’t written until he was dead. These tablets were written by people who lived before and during Jesus’ life. They told about his life, while he was alive. And do you want to know what is the most interesting part of this discovery? Well, these tablets correspond with the Bible perfectly. Both pieces of information tell the same thing. This is proof that the Bible speaks the truth. Being Catholic isn’t about Scripture alone, or just the Sunday Mass. Being Catholic is all of these Holy Sacraments together. For all of the people out there who say the Bible is not the truth, and shouldn’t be believed in, well, I hope you read this and realize that God IS the truth. He IS goodness. And the Bible is very important to a Catholic’s life.

Brittany March 25, 2013 at 6:27 pm

I really feel so sorry for those who are wondering about the bible and God, these comments portray such a worldly way of giving and seeking truth :(

“For since there is Jealosy and quarreling amoung you, are you not worldy? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says “I follow Paul” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?”-I corinth 3:3-4

I love how paul says “hey dont worry about following us!” In the next paragraph (please read-sooo good!) he says him and Apollos are just servants who plant and water the seeds (seeds of faith?) and only God can make it grow. We need the church/spiritual leaders to nurture our faith, but only God can make it grow and keep it alive.

I think these discussions about our faith can be so great, and a way for us to pursue truth, but when it leads to bickering? I can just picture jesus say “wait guys!! this isn’t important enough! I freed you from your sins, i have loved you, i have served you! now go do the same and tell others, and dont waste time with this bickering, LOVEEE one another as i have loved YOU …..and the person you are bickering with!!”

And about God-inspired bible…..in 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul says “All Scripture(when he wrote this, the church was refering to the old testament) is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every GOOD WORK”

Barefootbritt April 8, 2013 at 10:25 pm

I appreciate those who believe in catholicism… And also those that are christians of other types. I grew up a christian but it seems that you are saying i have been misdirected because i am not catholic. If i believe the bible, i am a christian, so why does it matter if i am cAtholic not? It was eventually passed on to non catholic christians, as well. I dont think that jesus wanted us to care whether we all identify as a certAin group or not, he calls us “brothers and sisters.” You can say thT everything in the bible teaches catholicism, but the same thing applies to any other denomination of christianity. I think this whole thread has missed the point of “why should we believe in god?”

Bill April 9, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Hello, Barefootbritt -

You ask, “why does it matter if I am catholic (or) not?” You are right that most Protestants agree with 60 to 95+% of what we Catholics believe, depending on the faith tradition of the Protestants we are talking about. But that missing 5 to 40% is important.

To take a poor example, take math. Math is a huge field. Someone who has mastered arithmetic has some of it. Someone who has mastered algebra has more of it. But there is still more – calculus, differential equations, number theory, matrix algebra, sets, and and and. These are the fullness of mathematics. Catholicism offers the fullness of Truth, which is Christ.

Other faith communities leave things out that Jesus taught. Some leave out the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Some leave out whole sacraments that Christ set up. Only the Catholic church maintains the continuous succession of apostleship from Peter and the other apostles down to the present day pope and bishops. And so on — there are tens of thousands of Protestant faith communities, and they all disagree with each other and with the Catholic church. Jesus didn’t care about names but he did pray “that they may all be one.” Jesus says he wants us to do what he commands — other faith communities selectively choose which of those commands they will follow, only the Catholic church takes everything He said literally and seriously. The Catholic church is that “one” that He founded.

Yes, there are Catholics (including priests, bishops, and popes) who are sinners (that’s what the church is — a bunch of sinners, not a bunch of people who get it all correct all of the time), but the Church in its teachings, sacraments, beliefs, and works is a literal, living embodiment of what Christ intended to found. And *that* is why it matters. Simply “believing the Bible” does not make someone a Christian. Satan believes the Bible, Satan believes in Christ, Satan believes in God. It doesn’t make Satan a Christian, in fact it doesn’t do him any good whatsoever.

Finally, you ask, “why should we believe in God?” That question is addressed in many places on this blog, but the short answer is that, in order NOT to believe in God, you have to totally ignore the evidence of your senses and totally abandon reason. In order not to believe in God, you have to believe that everything in the universe is the result of random accidents. That’s just really, literally, beyond belief. Literally.

Peace and all good,
Bill

J. July 10, 2013 at 9:01 am

Not good enough. You can’t quote or reference the Bible to prove the Bible. To believe in the bible you must believe in man first. That’s the problem. You can know God without the bible. That’s true faith. According to your bible Adam and Eve knew God but had no Bible.

Matthew Warner July 10, 2013 at 11:39 am

J – not sure exactly which part you’re referring to (the post, a comment, etc.). However, you are incorrect…if you understand the nuance of the argument. It is not as simple as “referencing the bible to *prove* the bible.” WHAT you are proving about the bible matters here.

For example, you can first come to the conclusion that the Bible is a very reliable document from a historical perspective, from that you can conclude certain things that then may lead (as I believe they do) to conclude that the Bible is not ONLY a reliable historical document, but also the inspired Word of God. So it’s not circular reasoning at all. You are “proving” additional things.

To say that the Bible is the inspired word of God because it says so would be circular reasoning and illogical. But that’s not what we’re saying. The first step, that it is a reliable historical document, is a fact supported by the science and other historical evidence.

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