Saturday, February 18, 2017

Did The Catholic Church Give Us The Bible?

  • Defining The Issues:
          -The Church of Rome argues that if we did not have its allegedly apostolic oral traditions, we would not have the canon of Scripture. This claim is obviously one of the Roman Catholic Church's attempts to exalt itself as an infallible authority in addition to the Bible.
          -It is claimed that the canon issue was settled at the Council of Hippo (393 AD) and the Council of Carthage (397 AD). Then, it was supposedly reaffirmed at the Council of Trent (1546 AD). As a result of this major accomplishment, we are indebted to Rome and obligated to submit to its claims to infallible teaching authority.
          -Roman Catholic apologists commonly argue that we must embrace the traditions of their church in order to know with certainty which writings comprise the Bible. These people assert that we can have no certainty as to which books belong in the canon of Scripture, apart from Rome's authoritative pronouncements.
  • A Circular Appeal:
          -This point can be illustrated in the following manner: "The Bible and Tradition are true because the infallible Church defined them to be such. The Roman Catholic Church is true because the Bible and Tradition told us so." The ultimate argument offered by Rome to us on this issue is that we must accept the canon of Scripture on the basis that it says so, which is circular reasoning. How can we know that the Roman Catholic Church's claims to infallibility are true or not? The Roman Catholic Church's claims to authority are ultimately self-defeating, since its "infallible" dogmas must be fallibly interpreted by the individual.
  • How Can We Know Which Person Wrote Which Books Of The Bible, Since The Bible Does Not Contain Its Own Table Of Contents?:
          -How do Roman Catholics know which oral traditions are inspired? Do they have an inspired table of contents identifying which specific oral traditions that we are supposed to heed to?
          -Canonical writings such as Job and Hebrews have unknown authors, yet the Church of Rome has never identified who wrote those books. If "not knowing the author" automatically means a denial of the divine inspiration of a text, then would Roman Catholics be willing to throw away those books of the Bible, since their authors are unknown?
          -We must be dependent on outside sources of information in order to gather information regarding the canon of Scripture. No figure from the early church can directly tell us which books of the New Testament are canonical because they are now deceased. So we must resort to the extant extra-biblical writings of the early church. We must draw some of our conclusions from the early church fathers.
  • The Problem Of The Old Testament Canon:
          -How did the Jewish people, who lived prior to the birth of Jesus Christ, know how to identify Old Testament books such as Isaiah and Jeremiah to be inspired by God? How did the Jews know that such books were inspired without the assistance of an infallible teaching authority? How come God did not simply give the Jews an inspired table of contents specifically identifying which Old Testament books were inspired?
           *The Roman Catholic Magisterium could not have identified the inspired books of the Old Testament for the Jews because it did not exist before the birth of Christ.
           *There is no historical evidence pointing to any sort of belief in the infallibility of the Jewish religious leaders. In fact, Jesus Christ rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for doctrinal errors (Matthew 15; Mark 7).
  • The Irony Of Affirming The Need Of Infallible Certainty Over The Canon:
          -If infallible certainty over the canon is as important as Roman Catholic apologists make it sound, then why did it take Rome over 1,500 years to officially settle the issue at the Council of Trent? Why would a supposedly infallible institution need to wait so long to give its members infallible certainty on the canon of Scripture?
           *“According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the Biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church (at the Council of Trent). Before that time there was some doubt about the canonicity of certain Biblical books, i.e., about their belonging to the canon.” (The New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 3, page 29, Copyright 1967; Under “Canon, Biblical”)
           *“The Tridentine decrees from which the above list is extracted was the first infallible and effectually promulgated pronouncement on the Canon, addressed to the Church Universal.” (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, under the category titled "Canon of The Old Testament")
  • The Councils Of Hippo And Carthage Were Local Synods, Not Ecumenical:
          -The Councils of Hippo and Carthage were only provincial. The decisions of these groups were limited to their respective regions, despite there being debates with broader implications than their associated localities like clerical discipline, baptism, and heretical practices. Their rulings were not binding on the Christian church as a whole. These were African councils. In fact, neither the Councils of Hippo nor Carthage were able to definitively finally settle any issues occurring in the church during that specific time.
  • The Canon Of Scripture And Church Councils:
          -While church councils helped to make more pronounced the New Testament canon, they did not give the New Testament books their authority (which is not official Roman Catholic teaching but, a popular assertion parroted by its apologists). Scripture is inherently authoritative because it is God-breathed. The degree of certainty that one posses regarding the canon is sufficient certainty. The early Christians identified the inspired writings and affirmed them as such.
          -"It is a remarkable fact no early Church Council selected the books that should constitute the New Testament Canon. The books that we now have crushed out all rivals, not by any adventitious authority, but by their own weight and worth. This is in itself a strong proof of the genuineness and authenticity of the books that have survived. It is not until the close of fourth that any Council even discussed the subject." (Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 25)

1 comment:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

The Roman Catholic Church as such did not even exist in the 4th Century, although it was soon coming to be.