In today’s world, filled with thousands of sects claiming to be Christian, we hear these non-Christians say that the Bible is the ONLY source of Faith for Christians. Their usual refrain is ‘Is it in the Bible?’ or ‘The Bible says’, ‘where is it in the bible’ etc. Although the Bible is the Inspired Word of God, placing the Bible above the Church is the Devil’s secret weapon for destroying people’s souls in hell, for all eternity!
The Bible itself told us that the Church is the ‘Bulwark and Pillar of the truth’(1 Timothy 3:15). What is the meaning of the word ‘Church’ in this passage? It means the Catholic Church! While these letters were written, there was only ONE Church in existence which everyone acknowledge to be the Church of Christ, called the Catholic Church. This is a historical fact!
But those deceived by the Devil does not think that history is anything to go by. They will ask, ‘Show me where that is in the bible’ and because the bible is not just a book of history, you will not see the word ‘Catholic Church’ there and so these deceived dismiss this truth.
They will then secretly, assess the situation in the world and suggest that everyone calling the name ‘Christ’ is a Church! In other words, because they cannot find a single Church that can represent the words ‘bulwark and pillar of truth’, they reason that it is all persons calling ‘ Christ’ that is the church and so the Church means those who read the bible as the ONLY source of faith and so the bible is the ONLY truth of faith. Once a piece of belief is NOT literally in the bible, they dismiss it!
That is the Devil working in people’s lives preparing them for the fires of hell!
The Church has the authority from God to teach regarding faith and morals and in her teaching she is preserved from error by the special guidance of the Holy Ghost. This means that since the Holy Ghost is infallible, then the Church MUST be infallible in as much as it is ruled by the Holy Ghost!
This infallibility of the Church is FULLY acknowledged by the Apostles (See Gal 4:14), 1Thess 2: 13). The apostles were the ONLY authority in preaching and interpreting the word of God in the early Church. The New Testament was not completed till around 100 years after Christ and when it was completed, the Christians did not know about anything called ‘The New testament’.
Only a few lay people knew about the New Testament documents when they were completed in a scattered manner in many territories. So it is impossible to say that the bible is the only authority in the Church. The Apostles transmitted to their successors their power to preach, to baptize, to ordain (as they ordained Matthias), to confirm, etc. They also handed down the essential gift of infallibility.
It will not do when the ‘Protestants’ (‘pentecostals’) say ‘we have an infallible scripture as a substitute for the infallible apostolate of the first century’ since an infallible book is of no use to us without an infallible interpreter.
There must be just ONE meaning of the Bible. Each passage must have just ONE meaning since truth is ONE and eternal. There cannot be different equally true perspectives about the Bible! There MUST just ONE authentically true interpretation of the bible!
But in Protestantism, there are thousands of meanings given by each preacher as he or she starts his or her own religion and justifies the new religion with the bible!
But no matter what anyone believes, we have positive evidence from the Bible itself that the Catholic Church being the ONE TRUE CHURCH established by Christ cannot err in her teachings. Our Lord Jesus in constituting St Peter, Prince of the Apostles said to him ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ (Mat 16: 18). Christ makes here a solemn prediction that no error shall ever invade His Church and if She fell into error the gates of hell have certainly prevailed against her!
The Protestant revolutionaries of the 16 century who are erroneously called ‘reformers’ believed that the Church has fallen in errors! So sought to start new ‘Churches’ free from errors! This was impossible as what they started was riddled with errors dangerous to the soul! Ask yourself: how can fallible human being start fallible Churches? Impossible!
If the prediction of our savior about the preservation of His Church from error be false, then Jesus Christ is not God!
But Christ predicted the truth when he declared that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church.
This is one reason why the evil religion at the Vatican is not that Church of Christ since it is riddled with errors and heresies!
Jesus Himself never said we should read the bible! He sent out His Apostles with powers to preach the Gospel! ‘As the Father sent me, I also send you’ (John 20:21). He did not send them to read the bible but to preach! ‘Go therefore, teach all nations, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28: 19-20). ‘Preach the Gospel to every creature’ (Mark 16:15) ‘Ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the uttermost part of the earth’ (Acts 1:8).
This commission evidently applies to the Apostles only, but also to their successors, to the end of time, since it was utterly impossible for the apostles to personally preach to the whole world. Christ referring to preaching to the whole world presupposes the coming of the apostolic successors. Read more about Apostolic Succession here
Not only does Our Lord empowers His Apostles to preach the Gospel, but he commands and under the most severe penalties those whom they preach to listen and obey. ‘whosoever will not receive you, nor hear your words, going fourth from that house or city, shake the dust from your feet. Amen I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city’ (Mat 10: 14-15).
‘If he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican’ (Mat 28: 17). ‘He that believeth shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be condemned’ (Mark 16: 16). ‘He that heareth you heareth me, he that despiseth you despiseth me and he that dispiseth me dispiseth He that sent me’ (Luke 10: 16).
From these passages we see, on the one hand, that the Apostles and their successors have received full power to announce the Gospel and on the other hand that their hearers are obliged to listen with docility and to obey not merely by an external compliance but also by an internal assent of the intellect.
Nowhere did the passages say anything about the bible or reading of the bible! It was focused on preaching what Christ has commanded which the Apostles knew and which they handed down to their successors!
What Use is the Bible?
The Church as we have seen is the ONLY Divinely constituted teacher of revelation and NOT the Bible! The Bible is ONE of the tools used by the Church today for preaching and the Church is NOT limited to the bible or by the bible!
The Bible is a great depository of the Word of God. The Church is the Divinely appointed Custodian and interpreter of the Bible!
God NEVER intended the Bible to be the ONLY Christian rule of faith, independently of the living authority of the Church! Those who say that the bible is the ONLY source of the faith are ruled by the Devil!
No nation ever had a greater veneration for the Scriptures (Old Testament) than the Jews. The Holy Scripture was their pride and their glory. It was their national song in time of peace; it was their meditation and solace in time of tribulation and exile. Yet, the Jews NEVER dreamed of settling their religious controversies by a private appeal of the Scriptures.
Whenever any religious dispute arose among the people it was decided by the high priest and the Sanhedrim, which was a council consisting of 72 civil and Temple judges. The sentence of the High priest and of his associate judges was to be obeyed under penalty of death.
The book of Deuteronomy, one of the principal Jewish books in the bible stated that:
‘there be among you a hard and doubtful matter in judgment……thou shall come to the priests of the levitical race and to the judge…..and they shall show thee the truth of the judgment…. And thou shall follow their sentence, neither shalt thou decline to the right hand not to the left… but he that will….refuse to obey the commandments of the priest….that man shall die and thou shall take away the evil from Israel’! (Deut 17:8-)
From this passage, we perceive that God does not refer the Jews for the settlement of their controversies to the letter of the law (the scriptures), but to the living authority of the ecclesiastical tribunal which He had expressly established for that purpose! In other words, no Jew rushes to read the law on his own and say ‘oh I have found the answers in the scriptures’ without referring to those who legitimately interpret and teach the right sense of the scriptures.
Hence the priests were required to be intimately acquainted with the Scriptures because they were the depositories of God’s law and were expounders to the people. ‘The lips of the priest shall keep knowledge and they (the people) shall seek the law at his mouth because he is the angel (the messenger) of the Lord of Host’. (Malachi 2:7).
Infact very few of the Sons of Israel were in possession of the Scriptures! The scriptures were very rare among the people!
Did Christ reverse this when he came to the world? Does he tell the Jews to be their own guides in the study of the scriptures? Never! He commanded them to obey the constituted authorities, no matter how messy the private lives of the authorities are! ‘Then Jesus said to the multitude, and to His disciples: the Scribes and Pharisees sit upon the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever that shall say to you, observe and do’ (Matthew 23:2-3)
It is true that Our Lord Jesus Christ said in one occasion ‘ Search the Scriptures for you think in them to have life everlasting and the same are they that give testimony of me’ (John 5:39). This passage is triumphantly quoted by Protestants as favoring their private and misguided reading and interpretation of the Bible. But this passage proves nothing like that! This passage is NOT asking each individual to read and interpret the bible on his own!
Many learned commentators of the Bible, including some Protestants, express the verb in this passage in indicative mood. They render is as: ‘Ye search the scriptures’. The passage was not commanding a search of the scriptures.
Remember that our Savior speaks here of ONLY of the Old Testament because the New Testament was not yet written while Our Lord was here. He addresses NOT the multitude, but the Pharisees who were the teachers of the law, condemning them for not seeing His Divinity from the Scriptures! That passages therefore can be rendered as follows: ‘ you have the scriptures in your hands, why then do you not recognize Me as the Messiah, since they give testimony that I am the Son of God?’
Besides He did not rest the proof of His Diviity ONLY on the scriptures! He showed first:
By the testimony of John the Baptist (John 5:33) who had said ‘behold Him who taketh away the sins of the world. (see also John 1: 34).
Second, by the miracles which He wrought (John 5:36)
Third, by the testimony of the Father (John 5: 37) when He said ‘This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him’ (Mat 3: 16, Luke 9:35)
So when the Lord Jesus abolished the Old law and established His Church, The Catholic Church, did He intend that the Gospel should be disseminated by the circulation of the Bible or by the Living voice of his disciples? The answer is NO!
Did He intend that the Bible be circulated as the ONLY source of what ought to be preached? The answer is again No!
Why then are the Protestants, claim to read the bible and insist that the Bible is the ONLY source of the faith? We ask like them: where is it in the Bible?
Where is it in the bible that the bible is the ONLY source of the faith?
The Protestant will go and dishonestly quote 2 Timothy 3: 16, which says that ‘every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness’.
Is there a way this passage means that the bible ALONE is good to be used? No! But the Protestants are manipulated by the Devil who fills them with dishonesty making them quote this passage as if it confirms their Bible alone belief.
By the way, the the word ‘scripture’ in this passage refers to the Old Testament because when Paul wrote to Timothy, there was no New Testament. So the scripture they knew was the Old Testament!
While Paul was writing these words to Timothy, other people were at that time writing various things about the faith. Infact, there were 69 Gospels and other writings calling themselves ‘scripture’ all claiming to bear testimony to Christ!
The Catholic Church in the plenitude of her authority as the Church established by Jesus Christ, separated the chaff from the wheat! She, at the council of Carthage in the year 397AD, separated which books were canonical and which is apocryphal. In other words the Catholic Church at Carthage decided which book will become part of the Bible and which will not. She selected for instance, just 4 Gospels among the available 69 of them!
So when the Protestants peddle the bible claiming to know EVERYTHING about it, remind them that they are misreading a Catholic book. They should indeed go back to learn from the owner of the book! That is the honest thing to do!
Even after the Catholic Church selected the books of the Bible, the books did not reach everybody. It was a very rare collection! Only a few elite and the Monasteries had a complete copy and Monks had to copy, with hand ALL the available copy making the Bible a very expensive collection in the ancient Church!
If ONLY the Bible is what we MUST consult to know the truth, it means that many millions of people will not know the truth because they had no bibles! Those who cannot read will perish!
The art of printing was invented by Gutenberg in the year 1440. It was then that the circulation of the bible improved. But no one started to say that the bible alone is what is necessary to know the truth of faith!
Each authoritative book must have their ONE authentic interpretation. In the USA, they have their constitution. No person will read the constitution and claim to know for a fact what it means in each given circumstance! No! The interpretation of the constitution falls to the Supreme Court!
The same is true about the Nigerian constitution. The Lawyers are specifically trained to interpret the law and when a dispute arises, which requires final interpretation, that prerogative falls in the laps of the Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court makes pronouncements, all other interpretations, personal or otherwise, fall under that of the Supreme court!
So in Christendom, it is the Pope ( not the criminal now called Pope Francis, read more here) that has the sole authority to determine the meaning of a particular passage in the bible! He does this though the power of the Holy Spirit!
The Protestants have no such single interpretation since they are ruled by the devil who furnishes them with various and conflicting interpretations which lead to the increment of thousands of sects all claiming to know what the bible is saying.
The Protestants also dishonestly claim that the Catholic Church commands her faithful not to read the bible! This is calumny for how can the owner of the Bible command people not to read it?
There are signs everywhere that shows that the Catholic Church commands the reading of the bible by the faithful!
When the Church collected the original bible, with the Old Testament in Hebrew (Aramaic) and the New Testament in Greek, the reigning Pope, Damascane commanded a translation of the bible into Latin so that the educated class will have access to it since Latin was the language of the learned people!
This gigantic task fell on St. Jerome and he set out doing this translation which was called the Vulgate or popular edition! Because of this Latin translation, it became easy to put the bible into other languages of Europe!
Ask yourself, why these translations, all done by the Catholic Church?
If the Catholic Church wished to suppress the Bible or prevent people from reading it, it could have so easily done that. But no, She set out to have the bible in as many languages as possible so that more people, not just Monks and priests, will have access!
It was the Catholic saint St. Bede that translated the Bible into the Saxan languages, paving the way for the English bible!
When the Catholic Bishops of the United States of America translated the Bible into their own kind of English called the Haydock Bible, the Pope then, Pope Pius VI, personally wrote the preface commanding that all Catholics in America should read the Holy Scriptures here translated, to be refreshed by the word of God. You know that in the Catholic Church the command of the Pope is VERY weighty.
So the Protestant being deceived by the Devil uses the bible in such a way that ensures that they are damned in hell by the devil.
The Catholic Church admonishes that the Bible be read as a spiritual reading but cannot never be used as the only source of the truth of the faith. No one can claim that the bible tells him or her what to do unless through the mediation of the Catholic Church who has been mandated by Christ to preach to all nations and which makes use of the bible as one of the sources of faith!
When a dispute arises, the bible CANNOT be referred to, to make the final pronouncement on the matter, that authority falls on the Church, in particular the pope!
The Pope calls people, who have studied the bible, examining it side by side with the deposit of the faith as was preached by the Apostles and their successors to determine the answer to any bugging question.
Everyday, the Catholic Church reads the bible officially at Mass and in the Divine office (the official prayers of the Church). Each Catholic is called to read the bible with the Church not on personal grounds! If anyone where to claim the full knowledge of the bible without recourse to the Church, the person is truly ruled by the devil as the Devil rules the Protestants!
Presented by Malachy Mary Igwilo, 30th of April 2017. Second Sunday of Easter, Feast of St. Catherine of Sienna