The Church & Divine Revelation

Before printing was invented about 1450, books could be reproduced only by making manuscript copies on parchment or sheepskin. A complete Bible cost a fortune, because of the time and expense necessary for copying. Copyists made mistakes, or abbreviations which others misunderstood. The illustration shows manuscripts in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, the languages oftenest used in early Bible copies. They give an idea of the difficulties before the invention of printing.

 

Did Christ intend the Gospel to be proclaimed by the circulation of the Bible? — No; it was mainly by preaching that He intended to convert the nations.

Our Lord said: “Go, make disciples of all nations.” “Preach the Gospel to every creature.” “He that heareth you heareth me.” Christ did not say: “Go and make all nations read the Bible.”

 

  1. The Apostles never circulated a single volume of the Bible, but “they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them” (Mark 16:20). The New Testament was not written till Christianity was already established.

    Christ bade His Apostles teach all men “to observe all commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). He commanded them to preach, not necessarily to write.

     

  2. God did not intend Holy Scripture to be our rule of faith independently of a Living Voice. Even under the Old Law, the Jews, in spite of their great veneration for Holy Scripture, never dreamed of a private appeal to the Word of God.

    When a religious dispute arose, it was decided by the high-priest and the Council. Their decision was to be obeyed under penalty of death. Thus the Jews did not appeal to the dead letter of the law, but to the living voice of the tribunal that God had established.

     

  3. When Christ came on earth, He did not change this order of things. On the contrary He commanded the Jews to obey their constituted teachers, however disedifying their private lives might be.

    Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The Scribes and the Pharisees have sat on the chair of Moses. All things, therefore, that they command you, observe and do” (Matt. 23:2-3).

     

  4. Until the Protestant outbreak in the sixteenth century (1517), no attempt had ever been made to have any people governed by the dead letter of the law in either civil or religious affairs.

    No one certainly pretends to live in society according to his own private interpretation of the civil laws. When cases come up, they are always decided by a competent tribunal.

     

Why cannot the Bible be the sole guide to salvation? — It cannot, because:

 

  1. It is not within the reach of every one. If it were the only guide, it should be within the reach of every inquirer, for God wishes all men to be saved.

    If the Bible were the only guide to eternal salvation the primitive Christians would have been at a disadvantage, for the books that make up the Bible were gathered together only after the Church was established. Even when the parts were put together, for centuries there were very few manuscript copies. Copies remained few till the invention of printing in the fifteenth century.

    If the Bible were the only guide to salvation it would be of little help to those unable to read, as well as to the great mass of mankind today, who have neither the knowledge nor the capacity to penetrate the meaning of the written word.

     

  2. The Bible is difficult to understand, frequently full of obscurities and difficulties, even for the learned.

    St. Peter himself said of the Epistles of St. Paul, that they have “certain things difficult to understand, which the unlearned and unstable distort, just as they do the rest of the Scriptures also, to their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:16). The Fathers of the Church, who spent their whole lives in the study of the Bible, all pronounce it full of difficulties, needing careful interpretation.

     

  3. The Bible does not contain all the truths necessary for eternal salvation.

    For example, every Christian is obliged to sanctify Sunday. But nowhere in the whole Bible, from Genesis to the Apocalypse, is there one word authorizing the sanctification of Sunday.

     

On whose authority do we accept the Bible as the Word of God? — We accept the Bible as the Word of God on the authority of the Catholic Church.

 

  1. By God’s command, the Catholic Church proclaimed the truths of Divine Revelation, as contained in both Holy Scripture and Tradition.

    Before His Ascension, Our Lord said to the Apostles: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you … and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world” (Matt. 28:18-20).

     

  2. It was the Catholic Church that in the fourth century declared which books were inspired by God and which were not. For fifteen hundred years the Catholic Church was the sole guardian of the Bible.

    The Bible was not always as it is now, a compact book, bound neatly. For several centuries the Bible was in separated fragments, scattered over Christendom. At the same time other books under the name of Scripture were circulated among the faithful.

     

  3. It is the Church that assures us that the translation from the original languages is faithful. The Bible needs an interpreter because it is frequently very difficult to understand. The Catholic Church alone was empowered by God to interpret the Bible. No one is allowed to interpret it contrary to the teaching of the Church.

    The Protestant denominations who favor private interpretation have divided and subdivided for the same reason. No two of them interpret the Bible in the same manner. If we are really to interpret the Bible privately, we must know the original languages in which the books were written. How many can have that knowledge?

     

Did God intend Holy Scripture to be our rule of faith? — No, God intended our rule of faith to be the Living Voice of the teaching Church.

The Apostles and their successors have always taught mankind, especially by preaching. Thus the Church fulfills the command of Jesus Christ, and will fulfill it to the end of the world, as He promised. If Our Lord wanted the Bible to be our rule of faith, why did He not write a book, instead of founding a Church?

We can know the true meaning of the doctrines contained in Divine Revelation from the Catholic Church, which has been authorized by Jesus Christ to explain His doctrines, and which is preserved from error in its teachings by the special assistance of the Holy Ghost.

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel to you other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema” (Gal. 1:8).

To those who claim they can interpret and understand the Scriptures themselves:

The Protestant reformers claim that we simply need to refer to Scripture for our salvation. We agree, but when two people disagree on the interpretation of Scripture, who shall be the judge as to the correct interpretation? Disagreements arise in nearly every verse of Scripture of which could easily lead one of the parties to damnation. It is illogical to think that Our Lord would expect us all to interpret Scripture on our own with no judge to turn to since this will always lead to endless disagreements. There can be countless wrong answers to a question, but only one right answer. All of those interpreting Scripture incorrectly will be lead down the wrong road. It is illogical for us to think God left us in anarchy with respect to interpretation of Scripture, at the mercy of the winds and the tide, with no pilot to help steer the way, as this would mean he wishes our destruction. As with a ship at sea, if everyone attempts to steer in the direction they think is right, we will inevitably wind up lost.

Consider the Constitution of the United States if there were no U.S. Government to rule over it and make decisions over conflicts and offenses that arise with it. The result would be anarchy. Where have you ever seen any great province or organization which has governed itself? Consider any governed country, state, or any organized group throughout the history of the world. All were governed by an earthly leader of some sort or else they would wind up in chaos and confusion. If there were not a king in a kingdom, a foreman in a shop, or a captain of a ship, there would be no order. Why then do the Protestant reformers claim that all of their members do not need an earthly ruler to help guide them? What has this gotten them but thousands of opposing denominations (and growing) which is nothing better than anarchy? Never can a province be well governed by itself, especially when it is large.

If it is true that the Scriptures are so easy to understand, what is the use of the commentaries made by countless Protestant ministers, and what good are so many schools of Theology?
Also consider the verse, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16). How else can we interpret this than to say Scripture is difficult to understand, and to interpret it incorrectly can lead to our destruction?

And to those who say they must read and understand Scripture themselves, consider the large number of poor ignorant people who cannot read the Scriptures. What is to happen of them? Obviously they can find and seek their salvation through the mouth of a pastor. “How shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14)
Consider the verse, “And Philip running thither, heard him reading the prophet Isaias. And he said: Thinkest thou that thou understandest what thou readest? Who said: And how can I, unless some man shew me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.” (Acts 8:30-31Obviously interpretation of Scripture is needed!

This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.

God Bless BJS!!

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