What does Holy Scripture and the Church that gave us Holy Scripture teach?
Most non-Catholic denominations (especially since the so-called Reformation) claim to base their man-made teachings on their personal self-interpretation of Holy Scripture. While they would each (the various Protestant denominations) deny the infallibility and authority of the Catholic Church, they would on the other hand claim, for all practical purposes, a direct delegation from the "Holy Spirit" to interpret Holy Scripture as they would see fit. So it is that over the centuries many of these groups have splintered one from the other: every time a pastor, or group of laity dissent from whatever is the established teaching of a Methodist, or Lutheran, or Baptist church etc...they will form a "new" denomination that would claim to have the correct teaching of Holy Scripture.
The idea that the "Bible alone" is sufficient for salvation, or that the reading and prayerful self-interpretation of Scripture suffices, is directly against the teaching of the Bible in fact.
What is necessary to believe regarding Holy Scripture?
Everyone must believe of course that the Bible is the inspired word of God. If we were to ask any number of non-Catholics what the Bible means to them, most would reply that it is in fact the "inspired word of God." Yet, how do any of them know that the Bible is the inspired word of God? Who informed them of this? Not many can answer this question, at least honestly.
The Catholic answers the question correctly and honestly when they say they believe the Holy Bible is the inspired word of God because the Church gave us the Bible, and the Church has guaranteed the authentic nature of the Bible. The Bible did not give Christ to the world, nor His teaching; it was the Church that gave and continues to give and make Christ and His teaching known to the world.
We can look to Holy Scripture to verify this of course. In fact, Holy Scripture teaches us that those who take salvation seriously should not ever attempt to interpret the Scriptures for themselves! Self-interpretation of Holy Scripture in fact is a danger to our eternal welfare.
In St. Peter (2 Peter 3:16) we are informed that "there are some things hard to be understood, which theythat are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their own destruction."
The only safe course for those who are concerned about eternal salvation, is the course that directs us to understand the meaning of Holy Scripture from the hand which gave us the Bible itself: the Roman Catholic Church.
Are we permitted to interpret Scripture according to private judgment, without any regard to the teaching authority of the Church that Our Lord established?
"No prophesy of Scripture is of private interpretation." (2 Peter 1:20) Because as men's judgments are as different as their faces, the idea of taking the liberty to interpret Holy Scripture will produce as many religions as their are men. In fact, one only need to see the world scene since the Protestant era: many thousands and thousands of sects that split away from the Church. These are the work of a few men who claimed the "right" to interpret Scripture and in some cases, change Scripture on their own authority.
Our Lord left His Church (a teaching Church): "He gave some apostles, some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. That we henceforth be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried away with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait todeceive; but speaking the truth in love, many grow up in Him in all things which is the head, even Christ." (Ephesians 4: 11, etc.)
St. John advises that "He that knoweth God, heareth us (the pastors of the Church), he that is not of God, heareth not us; by this we know the spirit of truthand the spirit of error." (St. John 1:6)
DIRECT PROOFS FROM HOLY SCRIPTURE
THE RIGHT REVEREND
ARCHBISHOP GEORGE HAY
(1) The prophet Isaiah, foretelling the glory of the Church of Christ, says,
"No weapon that is formed against thee
shall prosper, and every tongue that resisteth thee in judgment,
thou shalt condemn,"
"For the nation
and the kingdom that will not serve thee, shall perish,"
Here we see declared in express terms, that all those who oppose the Church of Christ, and refuse to submit to her authority, shall be condemned by her, and shall perish. Our Savior declares the same in still stronger terms, when He says to the pastors of His Church, in the persons of the Apostles, when He sent them to preach the gospel:
"Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, going forth out of that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Amen, I say to you, it shall be
more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment,
than for that city."
(2) Our Savior, after ordering us to admonish our offending brother in private, or before a few witnesses, concludes thus:
"If he will not hear them, tell the Church. And if he will not hear the Church, let him be to the as a heathen or a publican."
The heathens are those who know not the True God, and who worship sticks and stones, and the very devils themselves, instead of God; the publicans [tax collectors] were a set of
people among the Jews, remarkable for their crimes [mainly, of extortion and irreligion], and looked upon by all as abandoned by God, and given up to a reprobate sense, with these, then, all those who obstinately resist the voice of the Church, are classed and condemned by the Mouth of Jesus Christ Himself.
(3) Our Savior speaking of His Church under the figure of a flock, of which He Himself is the Good Shepherd, says:
"Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, that they shall hear My Voice, and there shall be one flock and One Shepherd."
He is here speaking of those who were not then joined in communion with His Apostles and other disciples, and he calls them, at that time, "His sheep;" but to show that there was no salvation for them in the state they were in, unless they were united to the fold, He says, "them also I must bring;" which shows, that according to the disposition of the Divine decrees, it was absolutely necessary, and that all who belong to Jesus Christ, all of whom He acknowledges for His sheep, should be brought to, and united in communion with, that one fold, which is His Church.
(4) In consequence of this, we are assured, that, when the Apostles began to publish the gospel,
"the Lord daily added to the Church, such as should be saved."
which points out in the strongest manner, by what God actually did, that the being added to the Church is a condition absolutely required by Him, in order to be saved; and, if that were so then, it must be so now, and will be so to the end of the world; for the conditions of
salvation, ordained at the beginning, and revealed by Jesus Christ, could never be altered by any other, and He never made any new revelation by which He altered them Himself.
(5) The Church is the Body of Christ, and all who belong to the Church are members of His Body, and as such are united with Jesus Christ, as the Head; but those who are out of the Church, are not members of His Body, and of course are not united with Jesus Christ, as the Head. Now, speaking of His Church and all her members, under the figure of a vine,with all its branches united to it, He says,
"I am the Vine, ye the branches; he that abideth in
Me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing. If anyone abide not in Me, he shall be cast forth as a branch and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth."
What Christ here says, under the figure of a vine, is equally true as to the members of the Body; for no member who is separated from the body can do anything, it has neither life nor sense, nor motion, but corrupts and rots; which expressly shows, that if we be not united to the Church of Christ, whether we consider this Church as a Body consisting of Head and members, or as a vine with all its branches, we are not united with Church, and on that account are on the road to perdition.
THE BIBLE IS A CATHOLIC BOOK
The same truth that is taught above by the Fathers anddoctors of the Church is also attested to in Holy Scripture. All of the following verses teach us that Faith, Baptism (the entrance into the Church), and subjection to the authority of the Church are all necessary for salvation.
"And He said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every
creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned."
"Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
"But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
(1 Tim. 3:15)
"And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heather and the publican."
"And Jesus coming spoke to them saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even until the consummation of the world."
"And I say to thee: That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven."
"Without Faith, it is impossible to please God."
"Whosoever shall not recieve you, nor hear your words, going forth out of that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Amen, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgement, than for that city."
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE
GUARDIAN OF HOLY SCRIPTURE
How Luther Mutilated the Bible
by Fr. Walter Drum, S.J.
Luther found the Church in the quiet possession of a canon of Holy Scripture. There was some discussion about the books that were in the extant Hebrew text and those that had been preserved in the Hellenistic translation thereof, but the discussion was very limited and mostly a classroom affair. Luther was not concerned to prefer the Palestinian to the Alexandrian Canon of the Old Testament. He did not throw over certain of the books of the Alexandrian Canon because they were extant in Greek and not in Hebrew. No, with Luther the fight was not so scientific. The question was simply this to Luther: Is an infallible Pope to decide the make-up of the Bible, or an infallible Luther? That way of phrasing this phase of Lutheranism is not found in the writings of Luther, and yet it is not unfair to him.
If you wish to be fair and square to a leader of thought, you look up his writings, and, if possible, you go to the original of the man you are studying. It is not fair and square to assign ideas to a man unless those ideas have been found by you in the writings of public utterances of that man and not merely in second-hand translations or quotations from him. We shall go to Luther himself, and let him speak for himself. He shows clearly that we are not unfair in the statement that Luther merely wished to substitute an infallible Luther for an infallible Pope.
Look up his "Letter on Interpretation." It is in volume 30, part 2, page 65, page 107, of the Erlangen edition of his works. This is a polemic treatise in the form of a letter; it was first published by Wenceslas Link (A. D. 1530), at Luther's orders:
"When your Papist gives himself useless trouble about the word 'alone,' just tell him prudently, Dr. Martin Luther wills it so and says: 'Papist and jackass are one and the same. Sic volo, sic jubeo: sit pro ratione voluntas. Thus I will have it, thus I order it; let my will stand for the reason why.'"
The moot question was Luther's insertion of the word "alone" in St. Paul's words to the Romans (III: 28):
"For we account a man to be justified by faith without the works of the law." To make good his arbitrary interpretation of this passage, Luther mutilated it by reading into St. Paul the idea that man was justified by faith alone. When taken to task the arbitrary revolter from the Papacy became still more arbitrary and said:
"The word alone must remain in my New Testament: although all the Papists run mad, they shall not take it thence. It now grieves me sore that I did not add two other words and make Paul to have said: We account a man to be justified by faith alone without any of the works of any law."
"We would be not the pupils and disciples of the Papists but their masters and lords; we, too, would strut it a bit, and be arrogant with these donkies. And, as Paul makes boast against his crazy saints, so I make boast against these my jackasses. Are they doctors? So am I. Are they learned? So am I. Are they preachers? So am I. Are they theologians? So am I. Are they controversialists? So am I. Are they philosophers? So am I. Are they dialecticians? So am I. Are they teachers? So am I. Do they write books? So do I. And I will go farther in my boast * * * Why, if there be only one among them that can understand aright a foreword or a chapter of Aristotle, I am ready to be tossed in a blanket." That is the arrogant, arbitrary sort of stuff that Protestants accepted instead of the Canon of the Church.