Friday, October 3, 2008

Bible Myth #60: The Bible contradicts Catholicism

Many non-Catholics try to disprove Church teaching by citing passages in the Bible. They’ll say that 2 Tim 3:16 indicates that we only need Scripture so tradition is bunk. Therefore the Catholic Church is wrong. They’ll cite passages that “prove” we’re saved by faith alone. Or they’ll show you a verse that says “Call no man Father”, so Catholics are going against the Bible by calling priests “father” (more on that another day).

How is a Catholic to defend his or her faith against such clear contradictions to the Bible?

Simple; just understand that it’s objectively impossible for the Bible to contradict Catholic Tradition and work from there. It’s not that the majority of bible passages support Catholicism. It’s not that the important ones support Catholicism. They all do. It is impossible to contradict a Catholic Tradition from the Bible.

Sound a bit overconfident? Let’s see why I would have the nerve to say that.

The Bible was written over the course of about sixty years. From Jesus’ death in 33 A.D. until the Gospel of John in the 90’s. During this time, well over 250 documents, letters, books, etc were written that claimed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. Yet only 27 are now in the Bible.

The Holy Spirit guided the canonists as they selected which books belonged and which did not. We can all agree on this. The problem for the non-Catholic is that the canonists were Catholic bishops headed by the pope in the late fourth century.

To make matters even worse for the non-Catholic, the core test that a book had to pass to get into the Bible was for it to conform to all oral tradition of the Catholic Church.

Therefore, it is a factual impossibility for a book in the caon of the New Testament to disprove any tradition of the Catholic Church. Each book was hand picked by a team of bishops specifically because it upheld those traditions.

Any time you hear a verse that “disproves” Catholicism, do this. First, check the context, read the passages before and after. Things are often have different meanings when you understand what the author was actually saying. Next make sure no words were added by the person reciting the verse to you (like “alone” in faith alone or scripture alone, 2 Tim 3:16 never has the word “alone”, but Protestants generally ignore that little tidbit). Finally, understand that Catholic Traditions don’t need to be explicitly stated in the Bible. For example, don’t let someone tell you that the Assumption of Mary isn’t in the Bible and is therefore impossible. Four people, not counting Jesus, were assumed in the Bible (Enoch, Elisha, & 2 witnesses in Revelation), so why can’t Mary be too? There's a precident set that bodily assumption is possible, Tradition tells us Mary was assumed. What's the problem? The Bible doesn't say she wasn't?

The bottom line is that the Bible is a Catholic book that is a core part of our faith. Yes, our bishops and popes have read it. Yes, they have considered it when they formed this Church. There’s nothing in there that Catholics didn’t put there, so if you get stumped, do some homework. You won't be disappointed.


dave ruiz said...

Oral tradition was written down. What was oral was that churches said, "This is "inspired"". A book had to have concensus of it being inspired and written by an apostle.There are no oral traditions that were not written down by inspired authors.The first mention of oral tradition is centuries later ,and that about when to celebrate Easter.To say Catholicism and scripture are in perfect harmony is to deny basic historical fundamentals of the reformation itself. It is an opinion that a tradition is contradictory to scripture , but it is not an opinion that some Catholic traditions do not need biblical affirmation, that tradition is as much authority as scripture itself. This is Catholic dogma.

Kieran Waldron said...

Where does it say in the Bible that man has an immortal soul ? No passage in the OT or NT substantiales the teaching of immotrtality while serveral verses state man is Mortal !

Dan said...

Hi, Kieran, thanks for the comment. Turns out there are some passages that support the idea of eternal life.

Check out Titus 1:2, Romans 6:23, and John 5:24.

Man is mortal in the sense that we won't live on this earth forever and so we need to be prepared for the end of our time on earth but Scripture is clear the next part of our life is eternal.

Thanks again!


Anonymous said...

What about 1 Timothy 2:5?
Every version I have read all mentions that their is one mediator between God and man and that is Jesus. Therefore whats the point in praying to Mary or the Saints if there is, according to Scripture, one Mediator?

Dan said...

Hi Anon,

Thanks for the comment. Please back up a few verses to 1 Timothy 2:1. Every version I read instructs us to offer prayers and intercessions for others. This doesn’t contradict Jesus being our one mediator; Jesus is the one gate through which all of God’s grace flows. The source of the request for grace (prayer) and the way God chooses to dispense His grace may vary but Jesus is always the mediator of the process.

For example, St. Paul tells Timothy to pray for him and others. In the same way I ask Mary to pray for me and others. In both cases Jesus is the mediator. If asking Mary for intercession is a waste of time then so are St. Paul's instructions in 1 Tim 2:1.

You didn't ask about asking saints for help but I'll address it anyway. When God responds to prayer he often uses other people to dispense His grace. For example, God opted to use Moses to part the Red Sea. As another example, God opts to allow humans to teach each other instead of infusing knowledge into our minds. Medicine works the same way; God opts to use doctors to provide healing in most cases (but miracles do happen). In the same way when I pray to St. Michael for protection from evil I’m asking him to dispense the grace entrusted to him by God through Jesus. Again, this isn’t a contradiction of 1 Tim 2:5 or the mighty works of Moses or the apostles would as well.

In the end, we are one body in Christ and while all actions originate in the head (Christ) the rest of the body is needed, too. Ignoring the saints is a blatant case of saying to a body part "I don't need you" which directly contradicts 1 Cor 12:21.

Hope that helps.