Question for Catholics (Catholic Church Crisis) (1 Viewer)

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I have a question for Catholics. When an Archbishop says he is burning an altar does he really burn the altar or is it just replacing the altar with a new one? What if the altar is made of stone? Going to be pretty hard to burn? Guess where I’m getting at is the altar really burned or is it like some sort of exorcism the archbishop does to cleanse the altar? Does the Church really have backup altars? Someone educate me.
 

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There are multiple definitions when you look faith up in the dictionary, there are multiple words used in scripture that translate in English versions of the bible to "faith", and there are multiple examples of when language used isn't definitely all inclusive. All doesn't always mean ALL, for example. I don't count the bible as the sole authority, nor do i trust my translation and personal interpretation as correct. I do trust the teaching of the Church who made the bible.

When you die and the "veil is lifted", you can no longer gain (or lose) merit, because as you say, then you'd know for sure. But what if, as an atheist, the face you rejected your entire life was not the true face of God, but a very broken and contradictory representation? And the face of the true God looks a lot closer to the internal code you live and believe by? The bible also says "If I have all faith, but have not love, I am nothing". What we do for others matters.

Love is NECESSARY for salvation. And not just as a byproduct of a "genuine faith" one may or may not have, rather as an integral part of the process of being saved. Where does the Bible say, "If you have a genuine faith, you will automatically love and do good works?" Where?! All those people who shout, "Lord, Lord," in Matthew 7, you don't think they had a "genuine" faith? They prophesied in Jesus' name; they cast out demons in Jesus' name; they did might works in Jesus' name." You don't think they believed that Jesus was the Son of God and had died on the Cross for their sins? Of course they did. They believed. They had faith. As it says in James, "Even the demons believe." So, the demons believe...they have faith in Christ...do they automatically do good works? Hell no!

And nowhere does the Bible say, "Faith, if it has no works, isn't really faith." Or, "If I have all faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I don't really have faith." Look at the analogy in James 2:26: "As the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead." In this analogy, faith is the body, works are the spirit. For physical life, you need both body and spirit. The spirit is not just some byproduct of the body - it is integral to life. So, for spiritual life - if the analogy is to hold - you need both faith and works. The works - love - are not just some byproduct of faith - they are integral to life, spiritual life. A body without a spirit, is a real body. It's just a dead body. No one says, "Oh, if your body doesn't have a spirit, then it's not a real body." Just so, faith without works, is still faith. It's just a dead faith. You can't say faith without works isn't really faith. It is, it's just dead faith.

In the Bible, faith alone...faith by itself...faith without works...faith without love...is dead! Dead faith. Which means, there is no such thing as salvation by faith alone - Sola Fide - there is only damnation by faith alone. "Faith working through love is of avail," (Gal 5:6). Love is NECESSARY for salvation. You cannot be saved if you do not love. It is not just a sign that your faith is a "saving faith," it is an integral part of the process of salvation. The works that flow from love are an integral part of the process of salvation. "To those who by patience in well-doing [good works] seek for glory and honor and immortality, [God] will give ETERNAL LIFE." Which means, salvation...by faith alone...is not possible.

The fact that sin has consequences is a problem with Protestantism because, in Sola Fide Protestantism - Protestant faith traditions that believe we are saved by Faith Alone - when you actually examine what they are teaching, you realize that the logical consequence of the dogma of salvation by faith alone, and its corollary - Once Saved Always Saved - is that sin has no consequences.

Think about it. We are saved by faith alone. As long as I have faith, as long as I have accepted Jesus Christ into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior...I'm saved. The only determinate of whether we go to Heaven or to Hell is whether we have faith or not. Sin plays absolutely no role in the fate of our souls. Non-believers go to Hell. Why? Because they sinned? No! Because they didn't have faith. Believers don't go to Hell. Why? Because they were holy? No! Because they have faith. Regardless of the sins they commit, they still go to Heaven because they have faith.

The problem for Protestantism with all of this, is that it goes against almost every grain of the Bible. For example, in Matthew 25 when Jesus is talking about the Last Judgment (verses 31-46), what is it that separates the sheep (who inherit the Kingdom of Heaven) and the goats (who inherit Hell)? Do the sheep have faith and the goats don't? Nope. The sheep do things for others - feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc. - and the goats don't. In other words, the goats commit sins of omission. They sin by not helping their fellow man. And their sins have consequences. They end up in Hell.

But, according to Sola Fide, this ought not be so! Jesus should have said to the sheep on His right hand, "You accepted Me into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior, come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you." And, He should have said to the goats, "You never accepted Me into your hearts as your personal Lord and Savior, so depart from Me into the eternal fire." But He didn't. He said one group had done right, and the other group had sinned. And there was a consequence - an eternal consequence - for those that sinned (and, of course, never repented of their sin). Sin has consequences.

In Revelation 21:8 we are told the following: "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." What do we see here? Well, we see people that the Word of God is telling us are headed to Hell - the "lake that burns with fire and brimstone...the second death" - because of their sins. Sin has consequences here. Furthermore, there is no distinction made here between believers and unbelievers. In fact, unbelief - being faithless - is cited as just one type of sin along with murder, fornication, sorcery, et al. The fact that unbelievers are specifically mentioned as just one type of sinner, shows that this list is talking about believers and unbelievers alike. Nowhere does it say that this list is just referring to unbelievers.

In fact, in Sola Fide theology, it wouldn't make sense for this list to be referring to just unbelievers. If it was referring to unbelievers, then it should have just said, "But as for the faithless, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone..." Because it isn't murder or fornication or sorcery or idolatry or lying that gets one sent to Hell, it is unbelief...period! In Sola Fide theology, believers can commit all of those sins, and not repent of them, and still go to Heaven - because it is by faith alone that you are saved.

What does God render, in Romans 2:8, to those who are contentious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness? The Book says God will render to them wrath and fury. That's not talking about Heaven. Sin has consequences.

And there is literally passage after passage after passage in the New Testament that tells us sin has consequences. But let me wrap this up with one final passage. This passage in Matthew, chapter 5, shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that sin can, and does, have consequences - eternal consequences - for believers, contrary to what Sola Fide theology teaches. In verses 27-30, Jesus tells His listeners that if their right eye causes them to sin, pluck it out. Or, if their right hand causes them to sin, cut it off. Why did He say that? He said it to stress in a very strong way the point that you need to avoid sin at all costs because sin will get you sent to Hell. And we know he was not talking about unbelievers here, because if His listeners are able to avoid sin, then they will not go to Hell. Which means, they will be going to Heaven. And, for that to happen, Protestant theology says they have to be believers.

If Sola Fide is true, then there would be no reason for Jesus to tell these folks to pluck out their eye or cut off their hand to avoid sinning. There would be no reason, because if He is talking to believers, then they are going to Heaven whether they sin or not...so why pluck out an eye or cut off a hand? So not necessary, Jesus. There would be no reason, because if He is talking to unbelievers, then even if they pluck out their eye or cut off their hand, they are still going to Hell because of their unbelief. If Sola Fide is true, then this passage of Scripture, along with many, many others, is completely bogus.

So Jesus is telling believers here in Matt 5:27-30, that if they sin, they could end up in Hell. Again, that is not possible in Sola Fide theology. In Sola Fide theology, believers go to Heaven. Their sins have no consequence in regard to their salvation. However, in the Bible...in the Word of God...sin does indeed have consequences in regard to the salvation of believers. In the theology of the vast majority of Protestantism, sin does not have consequences when it comes to your salvation. You either believe or you don't believe. If you believe, you go to Heaven. If you don't believe, you go to Hell. So, which do you believe - the Bible...or Protestant theology?

Does the Iroquois indian living in what is now upstate New York in the year 1350 have any chance of going to Heaven? No Christian has ever set foot anywhere within a couple thousand miles of him, so he has never heard - and never even had the possibility of hearing - of the Triune God, of Jesus Christ, of the Catholic Church, of Baptism and the other Sacraments. Is he then automatically condemned to Hell? The Church says, "No." The Church teaches that God is a just God, Who, according to Scripture, wants "all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth," (1 Tim 2:4). So, if God is just, and He wants all men to be saved, then it is reasonable to believe that there is some means provided by God by which all men at least have the opportunity to be saved. So, we say that the "ordinary" means of salvation comes through the Church, by way of the Sacraments. However, if one never knows the Church or the Sacraments, then the Church reasons that there could be some extraordinary means of salvation, known only unto God, by which that person maybe saved. That does not mean, though, that they are automatically saved because of their ignorance...far from it. Paul tells us in Romans 2:14-16 that when Gentiles (which would include our Iroquois) "who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse, or perhaps excuse them on that day when...God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus."

The Church teaches that the Sacraments are necessary for salvation. However, we are bound by the Sacraments, God is not. God has given us the ordinary means of salvation - through the Sacraments. We hold out the belief, though, that God, being a just and loving God, and being a God Who desires all men to be saved (1 Tim 2:4), gives all men at least the opportunity to be saved, even if they have never heard of Him or His Church or the Sacraments. This would be through some extraordinary means of salvation known only unto God Himself. So, God has given us the requirements by which we are to be saved - faith, Baptism, holiness, forgiveness of sins, the Eucharist, etc. - but He is able to make exceptions to what He has bound us by. Does He make those exceptions? We don't know. And, are they really "exceptions," or is He just able to convey those to someone - possibly at the point of death - in some extraordinary way? We won't ever know in this lifetime.

My point is that your definition of faith is very rigid and limited. Furthermore, what the Church does say, is that "Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation." (CCC #847). In other words, as I stated above, the Church holds out the possibility that God can save those outside of the Church through some extraordinary means known only to Him. We don't know that He does, but that He can. It is, as Romans 2:14-16 says, "When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse, or perhaps excuse, them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus." Their conflicting thoughts "perhaps" excuse them...perhaps.

So, when the Bible tells us Baptism "saves us," and that we need to eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood to have "eternal life," and that we must confess our sins in order to be forgiven, and so on...these are requirements that hold for all men. Which is why the Church tells us we have the right and the duty to evangelize, so that all men can be saved and "come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:4), because it is the truth that "makes us free" (John 8:32).
this dude st pj actually believes in all this “god judges the secrets of men” stuff but doesn’t believe masks work :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
 

saintmdterps

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this dude st pj actually believes in all this “god judges the secrets of men” stuff but doesn’t believe masks work :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
"Trust in God, but tie up your camel"
-Muhammad

"Do what ye will, but harm None"
Wiccan rede

Those are actually quite simple and will work well :)
 

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There are multiple definitions when you look faith up in the dictionary, there are multiple words used in scripture that translate in English versions of the bible to "faith", and there are multiple examples of when language used isn't definitely all inclusive. All doesn't always mean ALL, for example. I don't count the bible as the sole authority, nor do i trust my translation and personal interpretation as correct. I do trust the teaching of the Church who made the bible.

When you die and the "veil is lifted", you can no longer gain (or lose) merit, because as you say, then you'd know for sure. But what if, as an atheist, the face you rejected your entire life was not the true face of God, but a very broken and contradictory representation? And the face of the true God looks a lot closer to the internal code you live and believe by? The bible also says "If I have all faith, but have not love, I am nothing". What we do for others matters.

Love is NECESSARY for salvation. And not just as a byproduct of a "genuine faith" one may or may not have, rather as an integral part of the process of being saved. Where does the Bible say, "If you have a genuine faith, you will automatically love and do good works?" Where?! All those people who shout, "Lord, Lord," in Matthew 7, you don't think they had a "genuine" faith? They prophesied in Jesus' name; they cast out demons in Jesus' name; they did might works in Jesus' name." You don't think they believed that Jesus was the Son of God and had died on the Cross for their sins? Of course they did. They believed. They had faith. As it says in James, "Even the demons believe." So, the demons believe...they have faith in Christ...do they automatically do good works? Hell no!

And nowhere does the Bible say, "Faith, if it has no works, isn't really faith." Or, "If I have all faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I don't really have faith." Look at the analogy in James 2:26: "As the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead." In this analogy, faith is the body, works are the spirit. For physical life, you need both body and spirit. The spirit is not just some byproduct of the body - it is integral to life. So, for spiritual life - if the analogy is to hold - you need both faith and works. The works - love - are not just some byproduct of faith - they are integral to life, spiritual life. A body without a spirit, is a real body. It's just a dead body. No one says, "Oh, if your body doesn't have a spirit, then it's not a real body." Just so, faith without works, is still faith. It's just a dead faith. You can't say faith without works isn't really faith. It is, it's just dead faith.

In the Bible, faith alone...faith by itself...faith without works...faith without love...is dead! Dead faith. Which means, there is no such thing as salvation by faith alone - Sola Fide - there is only damnation by faith alone. "Faith working through love is of avail," (Gal 5:6). Love is NECESSARY for salvation. You cannot be saved if you do not love. It is not just a sign that your faith is a "saving faith," it is an integral part of the process of salvation. The works that flow from love are an integral part of the process of salvation. "To those who by patience in well-doing [good works] seek for glory and honor and immortality, [God] will give ETERNAL LIFE." Which means, salvation...by faith alone...is not possible.

The fact that sin has consequences is a problem with Protestantism because, in Sola Fide Protestantism - Protestant faith traditions that believe we are saved by Faith Alone - when you actually examine what they are teaching, you realize that the logical consequence of the dogma of salvation by faith alone, and its corollary - Once Saved Always Saved - is that sin has no consequences.

Think about it. We are saved by faith alone. As long as I have faith, as long as I have accepted Jesus Christ into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior...I'm saved. The only determinate of whether we go to Heaven or to Hell is whether we have faith or not. Sin plays absolutely no role in the fate of our souls. Non-believers go to Hell. Why? Because they sinned? No! Because they didn't have faith. Believers don't go to Hell. Why? Because they were holy? No! Because they have faith. Regardless of the sins they commit, they still go to Heaven because they have faith.

The problem for Protestantism with all of this, is that it goes against almost every grain of the Bible. For example, in Matthew 25 when Jesus is talking about the Last Judgment (verses 31-46), what is it that separates the sheep (who inherit the Kingdom of Heaven) and the goats (who inherit Hell)? Do the sheep have faith and the goats don't? Nope. The sheep do things for others - feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc. - and the goats don't. In other words, the goats commit sins of omission. They sin by not helping their fellow man. And their sins have consequences. They end up in Hell.

But, according to Sola Fide, this ought not be so! Jesus should have said to the sheep on His right hand, "You accepted Me into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior, come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you." And, He should have said to the goats, "You never accepted Me into your hearts as your personal Lord and Savior, so depart from Me into the eternal fire." But He didn't. He said one group had done right, and the other group had sinned. And there was a consequence - an eternal consequence - for those that sinned (and, of course, never repented of their sin). Sin has consequences.

In Revelation 21:8 we are told the following: "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." What do we see here? Well, we see people that the Word of God is telling us are headed to Hell - the "lake that burns with fire and brimstone...the second death" - because of their sins. Sin has consequences here. Furthermore, there is no distinction made here between believers and unbelievers. In fact, unbelief - being faithless - is cited as just one type of sin along with murder, fornication, sorcery, et al. The fact that unbelievers are specifically mentioned as just one type of sinner, shows that this list is talking about believers and unbelievers alike. Nowhere does it say that this list is just referring to unbelievers.

In fact, in Sola Fide theology, it wouldn't make sense for this list to be referring to just unbelievers. If it was referring to unbelievers, then it should have just said, "But as for the faithless, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone..." Because it isn't murder or fornication or sorcery or idolatry or lying that gets one sent to Hell, it is unbelief...period! In Sola Fide theology, believers can commit all of those sins, and not repent of them, and still go to Heaven - because it is by faith alone that you are saved.

What does God render, in Romans 2:8, to those who are contentious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness? The Book says God will render to them wrath and fury. That's not talking about Heaven. Sin has consequences.

And there is literally passage after passage after passage in the New Testament that tells us sin has consequences. But let me wrap this up with one final passage. This passage in Matthew, chapter 5, shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that sin can, and does, have consequences - eternal consequences - for believers, contrary to what Sola Fide theology teaches. In verses 27-30, Jesus tells His listeners that if their right eye causes them to sin, pluck it out. Or, if their right hand causes them to sin, cut it off. Why did He say that? He said it to stress in a very strong way the point that you need to avoid sin at all costs because sin will get you sent to Hell. And we know he was not talking about unbelievers here, because if His listeners are able to avoid sin, then they will not go to Hell. Which means, they will be going to Heaven. And, for that to happen, Protestant theology says they have to be believers.

If Sola Fide is true, then there would be no reason for Jesus to tell these folks to pluck out their eye or cut off their hand to avoid sinning. There would be no reason, because if He is talking to believers, then they are going to Heaven whether they sin or not...so why pluck out an eye or cut off a hand? So not necessary, Jesus. There would be no reason, because if He is talking to unbelievers, then even if they pluck out their eye or cut off their hand, they are still going to Hell because of their unbelief. If Sola Fide is true, then this passage of Scripture, along with many, many others, is completely bogus.

So Jesus is telling believers here in Matt 5:27-30, that if they sin, they could end up in Hell. Again, that is not possible in Sola Fide theology. In Sola Fide theology, believers go to Heaven. Their sins have no consequence in regard to their salvation. However, in the Bible...in the Word of God...sin does indeed have consequences in regard to the salvation of believers. In the theology of the vast majority of Protestantism, sin does not have consequences when it comes to your salvation. You either believe or you don't believe. If you believe, you go to Heaven. If you don't believe, you go to Hell. So, which do you believe - the Bible...or Protestant theology?

Does the Iroquois indian living in what is now upstate New York in the year 1350 have any chance of going to Heaven? No Christian has ever set foot anywhere within a couple thousand miles of him, so he has never heard - and never even had the possibility of hearing - of the Triune God, of Jesus Christ, of the Catholic Church, of Baptism and the other Sacraments. Is he then automatically condemned to Hell? The Church says, "No." The Church teaches that God is a just God, Who, according to Scripture, wants "all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth," (1 Tim 2:4). So, if God is just, and He wants all men to be saved, then it is reasonable to believe that there is some means provided by God by which all men at least have the opportunity to be saved. So, we say that the "ordinary" means of salvation comes through the Church, by way of the Sacraments. However, if one never knows the Church or the Sacraments, then the Church reasons that there could be some extraordinary means of salvation, known only unto God, by which that person maybe saved. That does not mean, though, that they are automatically saved because of their ignorance...far from it. Paul tells us in Romans 2:14-16 that when Gentiles (which would include our Iroquois) "who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse, or perhaps excuse them on that day when...God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus."

The Church teaches that the Sacraments are necessary for salvation. However, we are bound by the Sacraments, God is not. God has given us the ordinary means of salvation - through the Sacraments. We hold out the belief, though, that God, being a just and loving God, and being a God Who desires all men to be saved (1 Tim 2:4), gives all men at least the opportunity to be saved, even if they have never heard of Him or His Church or the Sacraments. This would be through some extraordinary means of salvation known only unto God Himself. So, God has given us the requirements by which we are to be saved - faith, Baptism, holiness, forgiveness of sins, the Eucharist, etc. - but He is able to make exceptions to what He has bound us by. Does He make those exceptions? We don't know. And, are they really "exceptions," or is He just able to convey those to someone - possibly at the point of death - in some extraordinary way? We won't ever know in this lifetime.

My point is that your definition of faith is very rigid and limited. Furthermore, what the Church does say, is that "Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation." (CCC #847). In other words, as I stated above, the Church holds out the possibility that God can save those outside of the Church through some extraordinary means known only to Him. We don't know that He does, but that He can. It is, as Romans 2:14-16 says, "When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse, or perhaps excuse, them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus." Their conflicting thoughts "perhaps" excuse them...perhaps.

So, when the Bible tells us Baptism "saves us," and that we need to eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood to have "eternal life," and that we must confess our sins in order to be forgiven, and so on...these are requirements that hold for all men. Which is why the Church tells us we have the right and the duty to evangelize, so that all men can be saved and "come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:4), because it is the truth that "makes us free" (John 8:32).
While are multiple definitions of the world "faith" in the English dictionary, the faith described in the Bible seems well defined:

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Speaking of contradictions, you don't count the Bible as the sole authority, but trust the teachings in the church who made the Bible? Are you referring to the Catholic church? The Catholic church didn't write the Bible. The Catholic church definitely didn't write the Old Testament. And the last book of the New Testament was written some 3 centuries before the Holy Roman Catholic Church was founded by Romans.

Without the Bible, there is no Christianity. How can the Bible not be the sole authority of Christianity?

And again, the point I am making is not that by faith alone you are saved, but that faith is THE prerequisite for salvation. Without faith, without the conviction of things not seen, there is no salvation, so says the Bible, in many places.
 

St. PJ

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While are multiple definitions of the world "faith" in the English dictionary, the faith described in the Bible seems well defined:

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Speaking of contradictions, you don't count the Bible as the sole authority, but trust the teachings in the church who made the Bible? Are you referring to the Catholic church? The Catholic church didn't write the Bible. The Catholic church definitely didn't write the Old Testament. And the last book of the New Testament was written some 3 centuries before the Holy Roman Catholic Church was founded by Romans.

Without the Bible, there is no Christianity. How can the Bible not be the sole authority of Christianity?

And again, the point I am making is not that by faith alone you are saved, but that faith is THE prerequisite for salvation. Without faith, without the conviction of things not seen, there is no salvation, so says the Bible, in many places.
I apologize for the length, but I wish to give you a complete answer.

Do you know when the compilation of books, that today we call the Bible, was actually compiled into one book? And by who? Or what criteria was used to determine which books should or should not be included? Or the purpose of making that compilation? What authority did they have to make these determinations? Where did that authority come from? How was that authority transferred?

Better question - what did they do for 300+ years before they made the Bible? How did they decide what was correct teaching and what was not? How did they determine who had authority to resolve a disagreement on these matters? Have you read any of the Church writings from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th centuries? Those letters from Paul instructing churches he founded - letters from a bishop to the priests he left in charge and to the congregation - those letters did not stop, nor were they limited to just Paul, Peter, James, and John. Who did Paul make bishop of Ephesus when he left? Who did Peter make bishop of Antioch when he left? Did they write anything? Did they have to defend the faith that was handed down to them? How did their worship, their liturgy look? How did their daily practice and defense of the faith look? I know the answers to these questions. I have a wall of books containing many of these writings of the early Church prior to the bible.

How can the Bible not be the sole authority of Christianity? This will be long, but necessary if you truly want a complete answer. I'll divide it up into 4 parts. Let's see what logic, history, tradition, and scripture we call Bible says!

LOGIC
All Christians, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, consider the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant, Word of God. Why? Why do we believe the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant, Word of God? What authority do we rely upon for our belief that the Bible is what we believe it to be? Where did the Bible come from? Most people never consider these questions. They merely take it for granted that the Bible is what they believe it to be. But the fact is, everyone who believes the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant, Word of God, relies on some authority, whether they realize it or not, for their beliefs about the Bible. But, what authority do they rely on? The Bible? Well, for those who believe that the Bible is the sole binding authority for the Christian, it must be the authority of the Bible that Christians rely on for their belief that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, Word of God. But this presents a little bit of a problem. There is a logical inconsistency here. We cannot believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, Word of God, based solely on the authority of the Bible. Why not? Three reasons:

1) The Bible cannot bear witness to itself. There are a number of writings that claim inspiration from God, but we don’t accept them as the inspired, inerrant, Word of God, just because they claim to be. The Koran being one very obvious example of this. If we should believe something is what it says it is, simply because it says it, then we should accept the Koran as the word of God. But, we don’t, do we? Just so, we cannot accept the Bible as the Word of God based solely upon the witness of the Bible. As Jesus Himself said, “If I bear witness to Myself, My testimony is not true,” (John 5:31).

2) The Bible never claims that it is the sole, infallible, authoritative source for all matters pertaining to Christian belief and practice.

3) We can’t even be sure of what the Bible is, if we rely on the authority of “Scripture alone” in matters of Christian belief and practice.

The Bible wasn’t put together as we have it today for more than 300 years after the death of Christ. One of the problems in putting the Bible together was that there was a lot of disagreement, among Christians, over what should and should not be considered inspired Scripture. There were a lot of books back then that people were saying were inspired; yet, these books did not end up in the Bible as we have it today. Books such as the Letter of Clement to the Corinthians, the Letter of Barnabas, the Acts of Paul, the Acts of Peter, the Apocalypse of Peter, and several more.

There were also several books that did end up in our Bible that a lot of people were saying were not inspired and should not be considered as part of Scripture…books such as Revelation, 2 and 3 John, 2 Peter, Hebrews, and others.

In other words, there was a lot of dispute over just what was and what wasn’t inspired Scripture. So, how did they settle the disputes? Well, according to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, you just look in the Bible to find the authoritative answer to any question regarding the Christian faith. So, did they consult the Bible to find out what books should be in the Bible? Obviously not…they couldn’t! There was no Bible to consult because Scripture was what the disputes were over.

So, the question is, how does someone who believes in Sola Scriptura go about deciding a dispute as to which books should and should not be considered Scripture? You cannot consult the Bible for an answer, because the Bible is what the dispute is over. And, even if you consulted the non-disputed books of the Bible, that still wouldn’t help you because there is no list in any book of the Bible that tells us which books should be in the Bible.

So, in order to decide one of the most fundamental issues of Christianity…which books should and should not be in the Bible…which books are and are not inspired Scripture… some authority outside of the Bible had to be relied upon.

So, again, a big problem for those who believe that the Bible is the sole binding authority in matters of faith and morals, is that the Bible doesn’t tell us which books should be in the Bible! There is no list, in the Bible, of which books should be in the Bible. Some person, or group of persons, had to decide which books were, and which books were not, inspired Scripture. Think about it! In order to know which books should and should not be inside the Bible, we have to rely on some authority outside of the Bible to tell us. But, the belief in Sola Scriptura states that the Bible is the sole authority in matters of Christian belief and practice.

Which presents a logical dilemma. The question of where the Bible came from presents the same kind of problem to those who believe in Sola Scriptura, as the question of where matter came from presents to those who believe in evolution, yet do not believe in God. If you believe in evolution, you have to believe the matter used in evolution came from somewhere. But, if there is no God, then where did matter come from? If you believe in Sola Scriptura, you have to believe the Bible came from somewhere. But, if there is no binding authority outside of the Bible, then where did the Bible come from?

In other words, if you believe in Sola Scriptura, you believe in something that is logically inconsistent. You believe the Bible is the sole authority in deciding Christian belief and practice; yet, you believe in a binding authority outside of the Bible which gave us the Bible in the first place. Therefore, the Bible cannot be the sole authority in matters of faith and morals. There is some authority outside of the Bible that we have to have in order to have the Bible in the first place!

And, I would like to add that I believe, based on historical documentation, that it was the Catholic Church that put the Bible together as we have it today. Now, there are many who disagree with me on that, but whether you agree that it was the Catholic Church that put the Bible together or not, you have to agree that someone did. Someone with binding authority on Christians decided the disputes about which books should and should not be in what we now call the Bible. In other words, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, fails the test of logic.

HISTORY
Now, how about history? What does the perspective of history tell us in regards to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura…the belief in the Bible as the sole rule of faith for Christians?

Well, the main thing the perspective of history tells us is that the early Christians did not believe in this doctrine. We know that because there was no Bible, as we have it now, for them to consult as their authoritative guide in questions of Christian teaching and practice. As previously mentioned, the Bible did not come together as the document that we now call “the Bible” for more than 300 years after the death of Christ. Plus, the first book of the New Testament was not written for at least 10 years or more after the death of Christ. So, for at least 10 years, Christians were having to decide questions of doctrine and practice without a single book of the New Testament to consult.

Furthermore, the last book of the New Testament wasn’t written for at least 40, and probably more likely 60 years or more, after the death of Christ. And, because of the state of transportation and communication in the world of the 1st century, it could often be years before a particular Christian community received a copy of this or that book of the New Testament. In other words, the early Christians went many decades without even the possibility of being able to use the Bible as the sole source of authority in matters of Christian teaching and practice. Which means they could not, and did not, believe in the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

The question is, though, without a Bible as their sole authoritative source for their beliefs, to what, or whom, did the early Christians turn for authoritative decisions on matters of faith…on matters of doctrine? Who decided doctrinal disputes when they arose between Christians if there was no Bible to consult? Who? Well, as I’ll show in a moment, from the Bible, it was the leaders of the Church who made binding decisions in matters of doctrinal disputes. So, again, we see a binding authority, outside of Scripture, that was relied upon by the early Christians.

Another part of the historical perspective is this: When Martin Luther broke from the Catholic Church, and started teaching the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, it was around the year 1520. By the year 1600, it is said there were more than two hundred non-Catholic denominations. By the year 1900, it is estimated the number of denominations numbered almost a thousand. And, now, in the year 2020, there are estimated to be some fifty thousand or more non-Catholic denominations! Each denomination claims to be based on the Bible alone, and each claims to be guided by the Holy Spirit; yet, none of them have the exact same body of doctrine, and many, many of them have doctrines that absolutely contradict one another.

How can that be? Can the Holy Spirit – which is supposed to lead us unto all truth – can this same Holy Spirit lead different people into different doctrines – doctrines that contradict each other? No. In other words, the historical perspective shows that the doctrine of Sola Scriptura tends towards division within the Body of Christ. The lesson of history teaches us that the doctrine of Sola Scriptura has done nothing but divide the Body of Christ. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura fails the test of history.
 

St. PJ

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SCRIPTURE
What does the Bible actually say -- what does Scripture say about Sola Scriptura? Does the Bible teach that it is the sole infallible authority for deciding matters related to Christian teaching and practice? In other words, does the Bible teach that it is the sole rule of faith for the Christian?

Well, let’s look and see. First of all, it has to be admitted by all that there is no passage in the Bible which explicitly states that the Bible is the “sole authority” for Christians, or the “sole rule of faith” for Christians. But, are there passages that implicitly state this? Those who defend the doctrine of Sola Scriptura say there are they usually turn to is 2 Tim 3:16-17 - “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” First, as a Catholic, let me say that I agree 100% with this passage. Amen, I say! However, it nowhere says anything about the Bible being the sole rule of faith for the Christian.

There are two main things to note about this passage: 1) It says scripture is “profitable”, it does not say scripture is “all sufficient”; in other words, it does not say that the Bible is the sole rule of faith for Christians…the sole authority in matters of faith and morals for Christians; and, 2) Nowhere do we see the word “alone” in this passage, as in “scripture alone”. What this passage is saying, and all this passage is saying, is that all of Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching and correction and so forth. As a Catholic, I agree…I agree with that 100%. With every passage of Scripture, I, as a Catholic, agree. Scripture is indeed inspired and it is indeed profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. We need to read Scripture. We need to know it. We need to ponder it, soak in it, meditate on it, pray it, and be able to share it. But…this passage still doesn’t say Scripture is the sole rule of faith for Christians. People try to force this scripture verse to say something that it doesn’t actually say.

The other problem with this interpretation, is Scripture itself. In James 1:3-4 it says this: “…for you know that testing of your faith produces steadfastness [patience]. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” So, we see here in James that steadfastness, or patience, makes the Christian, the man of God, “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

So, what do we see here? Well, if we interpret this verse the same way Sola Scriptura defenders interpret 2 Tim 3:16-17, then we have a good case for arguing that patience “alone” is all that is needed for the man of God to be made perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Apparently he doesn’t even need Scripture, as long as he has patience. The Bible says that with patience a Christian is “lacking in nothing.” Again, using the method of interpretation used in 2 Tim 3:16-17, we have a pretty good argument that patience alone is all the man of God needs to be complete, perfect, lacking in nothing. It’s not Sola Scriptura, it’s Sola Patientia – patience alone.

Another big problem with 2 Tim 3:16-17, for those who try to use this passage as scriptural support for the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, is that it apparently proves too much when interpreted as they try to interpret it. When you put this passage from 2 Timothy in context, it seems to prove more than any Sola Scriptura believer would admit. If you go back just one verse and read 2 Tim 3:15, you’ll see what I mean. In verse 15 Paul says to Timothy, “…and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” The sacred writings that Timothy has known from childhood?! Now, even though Timothy was a relatively young man, few, if any, of the books of the New Testament had been written when Timothy was a child. In other words, the “scripture” being referred to here is the Old Testament.

Paul is talking here about the Old Testament! So, if one wants to interpret this passage as “proving” Sola Scriptura, then what they are actually “proving” is that it is the Old Testament scripture “alone” that is able to make the man of God perfect. Sola Old Testament Scriptura. Paul is talking about the O.T. here, not the N.T.!!! So, again, it would seem to be saying more than any proponent of Sola Scriptura would want to admit to – instead of Sola Scriptura…instead of the Bible Alone…it seems to be saying the Old Testament Alone!

Now, some have argued that even though when Paul wrote 2 Timothy he was indeed referring to the Old Testament, that his words came to include the New Testament scriptures as well, once the various New Testament books were written down. Well, I would agree with that. I agree that Paul’s words to Timothy are applicable to both Old and New Testament scriptures.

However, that does not solve the problem for those who try to find Sola Scriptura in these verses. Paul saying that all scripture is inspired of God and profitable for teaching and so forth is indeed true of all Scripture – Old and New Testament – even if Paul was referring specifically to the Old Testament scriptures at the time he wrote those words. But, if you interpret this verse as teaching Sola Scriptura, you still have an insurmountable problem. The problem is that a Sola Scriptura interpretation gives the verse one meaning when Paul wrote it, but a completely different and contradictory meaning now. It also makes the New Testament scriptures unnecessary for the early Christians.

Think about it. According to a Sola Scriptura interpretation of these verses, where Paul is referring to the Old Testament scriptures, Paul had to have been telling Timothy that the Old Testament alone was the sole rule of faith…the sole authority in matters of faith and morals…for the Christian. That has to be the interpretation because Paul is clearly referring to the Old Testament in these verses. But in our day, the Sola Scriptura Christian rejects the notion that the Old Testament alone is the sole rule of faith for the Christian. Which means, a Sola Scriptura interpretation of 2 Tim 3:16-17 necessitates a change in doctrine. What was supposedly true for Timothy and other early Christians…Sola Old Testament Scriptura…is no longer true for Christians of our age. So, for a sola scriptura interpretation of these verses to be true, doctrine needs to have changed…truth, in essence, needs to have changed. But, does truth change? Ever? Do you know of any other place where Scripture gives us a doctrinal teaching that was supposedly true for the early Christians, but is now false for Christians of our time?

Also, when Paul wrote to Timothy, around 67 A.D., several books of the New Testament had indeed been written. But, these were not books that Timothy would have known “since childhood.” So, again, Paul’s words to Timothy were not referring to these books of the New Testament that had already been written. But, if you interpret these words as teaching Sola Scriptura, then you in essence have Paul saying that, even though many books of the New Testament were in existence at the time of his letter to Timothy, they were basically unnecessary for the man of God to be made complete…to be equipped for all good works.

In other words, to interpret these verses from 2 Timothy as teaching the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is to basically have Paul telling Timothy that the books of the New Testament, which were in existence at that time, were unnecessary for the man of God to be complete…unnecessary for the man of God to be equipped for every good work. Does that make any sense at all? All the “man of God” of the time needed was the Old Testament?

Also, a Sola Scriptura interpretation of these verses would necessarily mean that we have to believe that Christian doctrine changes…that truth, in essence, changes. Would anyone who believes in Sola Scriptura agree to that? Yet, that is indeed the position they are inevitably left with if they try to force a Sola Scriptura interpretation onto 2 Tim 3:16-17. So, for all of these reasons just mentioned, I think it is indeed a very reasonable position to reject the notion that 2 Tim 3:16-17 teaches the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

Another verse they use concerns the Bereans; Acts 17:11 says, “Now these Jews [the Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they received the Word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” The King James Version of the Bible says that they “searched” the Scriptures daily. They say that the example of the Bereans proves Sola Scriptura, because the Bereans were searching Scripture to see if what Paul was saying was true. But, again, the problem is that nowhere does this verse say the Bereans went by the Bible alone.

What was going on here with the Bereans in Acts 17 was this: Paul was preaching to them about Jesus being the Messiah. And Paul, in his preaching, would quote Scripture verses – from the Old Testament – that he would say pointed to Jesus. Paul would say something along the lines of, “It has been testified somewhere…” and the Bereans would then simply open up their Scriptures to verify what Paul was saying. They were not searching the Scriptures to settle doctrinal disputes, they were searching the Scriptures to see if what Paul told them was actually in the Scriptures! Plus, the fact that the Bereans: a) Didn’t already know the Scripture verses were there, and b) had to “search” the Scriptures to find the verses Paul was quoting, actually might indicate that they weren’t all that familiar with the Scriptures; which, if they were believers in Sola Scriptura, seems to be a pretty odd thing.

The fact that the Bereans obviously did not understand the true meaning of the Scriptures until Paul explained it to them, actually works against the Sola Scriptura position. One of the necessary corollaries to a belief in Sola Scriptura is the belief in individual interpretation of Scripture. That each individual, guided by the Holy Spirit, has the ability to read the Bible for themselves – without answering to any outside authority – in order to come to a correct understanding of the truths necessary for salvation.

Yet, the Bereans needed Paul to explain the Scriptures to them. The Bereans, left alone with the Scriptures, obviously had not come to a correct understanding of the truths necessary for salvation. They needed a guide, Paul, to correctly interpret Scripture for them. Which means the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, with its corollary of individual interpretation of Scripture, obviously isn’t supported by this passage from Acts 17 about the Bereans.

In other words, two of the predominant Scripture passages used by folks to “prove” Sola Scriptura, upon close and thoughtful examination, actually inflict serious, if not fatal, blows upon that doctrine. These passages clearly do not mean what the Sola Scriptura advocates try to make them mean. Furthermore, there are numerous passages that point to the fact that individual interpretation of Scripture…each person reading and interpreting the Bible on their own to determine for themselves what is and is not correct Christian doctrine and practice…is quite contrary to the Word of God.

In fact, the Bible states that fairly directly. If we look at 2 Ptr 1:20, we find the following: “First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation. I don’t know if it can be said any more plainly or directly that the principal of private interpretation, one of the foundations of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, is contrary to the Bible.

And, look at Acts chapter 8. Acts 8:27-31, “And he [Philip] rose and went. And behold, an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a minister of Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of all her treasure, had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah…So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ And [the Ethiopian] said, ‘How can I, unless some one guides me?’”

How can I, unless some one guides me? This was obviously an Ethiopian Jew. He was a very educated man, we know that from that fact that he was one of the Queen’s ministers, and not just any minister, but he was, in essence, the Secretary of the Treasury for the entire kingdom of Ethiopia. He was a man of worship, having come all the way from Ethiopia to worship in Jerusalem – no easy task in those days. Yet, what does the Bible say, “do you understand what you are reading?” And the response, from this educated man who had come from so far away to worship in Jerusalem? “How can I unless someone guides me?” And what did Philip say in response? Did he say, “Just pray to the Holy Spirit and He will guide you?” No! Philip got up in the chariot with this man and explained the meaning of Scripture to him. Philip was this man’s guide in reading, interpreting, and understanding Scripture.

Scripture is very clear, as we see in Peter’s letter, and the Book of Acts – both with the Ethiopian eunuch and the Bereans – and other places as well, that we must have a guide, an authority, other than the Bible, in order to properly understand the Bible. Having a guide to help us properly interpret Scripture is scriptural. Individual interpretation of Scripture, everybody reading the Bible on their own to decide what is and is not correct doctrine…what is and is not sound moral teaching…is not scriptural. In other words, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, is not scriptural.

And, please don’t take me to say that you cannot, as an individual reading Scripture, come to some knowledge of the truth. You can. As I said earlier, we must read the Bible, study the Bible, meditate on it, soak in it, pray it, live it, and breathe it…as St. Jerome once said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” But, there are very many things in the Bible that are difficult to understand. The Bible itself tells us this. 2 Peter 3:16: “There are some things in them [Paul’s letters] hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.” Scripture tells us that there are some things in Scripture that are difficult to understand, and that these things that are hard to understand are important to our salvation. They are not non-essential matters because, as it says, it is possible to twist these things to our own destruction.

What Peter was saying here in 2 Peter 3:16, is that there were a number of folks out there reading the Scriptures on their own, not paying attention to what Peter or Paul or the other Church leaders were telling them, and these people were misinterpreting things in Paul’s letters, and other parts of the Scriptures as well, in such a way that it was leading to their damnation. That should be a very scary and sobering passage for anyone who believes they can simply pick up the Bible and read it on their own to make a decision in any and all matters pertaining to the Christian faith.

Listen to what St. John says in one of his letters, 1 John 4:6: “We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” This is a verse that wreaks absolute havoc with the notion of Sola Scriptura.

If you asked someone who believes in the doctrine of Sola Scriptura this question: “How do we know the Spirit of truth from the spirit of error?” What do you think they would say? Would they not say something along the lines of, “You get yourself a good Bible and by reading Scripture, and prayer to the Holy Spirit for guidance, you can discern the Spirit of truth from the spirit of error.” But, that is not a biblical answer. The Bible says that we discern the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error by listening to someone…to “us”…to John and apparently to his fellow leaders in the Church. It further says that if you know God you will indeed listen to these Church leaders. And, if you are not of God, you won’t listen to them. Does that sound like the early Christians believed in Sola Scriptura?

Another passage which tells us the early Christians did not believe in Sola Scriptura is from Acts 15. At the Council of Jerusalem, which is described in verses 6-29, what do we see? We see that a dispute arose in the early Church over whether or not the Gentile converts should be circumcised. Well, what did they do? How did they decide the matter? Did they consult Scripture, as they should do if they believed in Sola Scriptura? No. They called a council. The leaders of the Church, in a council, decided the first doctrinal dispute in the early Church.
The teaching of Sola Scriptura obviously did not exist in the early Church, because if it had, and they had indeed gone solely by Scripture to decide this dispute, what would have happened? Well, they would have seen in Genesis how God required circumcision and they would have come to a completely different conclusion than the one they came to.

We have seen, from Scripture, that the early Christians apparently did not believe in Sola Scriptura. We have seen, from Scripture, that relying upon individual interpretation of Scripture to decide on all matters of the Christian faith, is not scriptural. We have seen, from Scripture, that there are some important things in Scripture that are difficult to understand and that having a guide to help us properly interpret Scripture is indeed scriptural. And, we have seen that the passages often relied upon to prove the case for Sola Scriptura do not actually say what some people try to force them to say.
 

St. PJ

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TRADITION
Now, lets finish with the matter of tradition. The Jews believed in authoritative Scripture and authoritative tradition. For many non-Catholic Christians, though, the word “tradition” is almost like a curse word. They cringe when they hear that word because they have been mistakenly taught that Catholics believe in the “traditions of men.” And, as they rightly say, Jesus condemns the traditions of men in the Gospels. But, Jesus doesn’t condemn all tradition. Nowhere does Scripture say such a thing. Jesus condemns the traditions of men…and, not even all traditions of men, but, specifically, those traditions of men which negate the Word of God. Traditions, in and of themselves, are not bad things. It’s when they negate the Word of God that Jesus has a problem with them.

So, tradition, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. If it were, then how could the Word of God tell us this: “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” That’s from 2 Thessalonians 2:15. Traditions! Traditions taught by word of mouth, in other words, oral tradition, and traditions taught by letter – written tradition, also known as “Scripture.” Traditions which they are being told to “stand firm and hold to”. In other words, authoritative traditions.

What else does the Bible say about holding on to traditions? 2 Tim 2:2, "…and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Did Paul say, “What you have read in my writing pass on to others so that they may read it, too?” NO! Did he say, “What you have heard from me, entrust to faithful men who will write it down?” No! He said to entrust it to faithful men who will “teach” others. What we have here is an instance, in Scripture, of Paul commanding the passing on of authoritative oral tradition.

1 Cor 11:2, “I [Paul] commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.” The Corinthians are being commended by Paul because they maintain the traditions that he passed on to them. Authoritative Scripture and authoritative tradition.

Back to Thessalonians. 1 Thes 2:13, “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers.” So, they received as the Word of God that which they heard, not simply that which they read in Scripture. And, in Acts 2:42, we read that the first Christians were “continuing steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine,” or the “Apostles’ teaching”.

And that’s what authoritative tradition is…the Apostles’ doctrine, or the Apostles’ teaching, as given to them by our Lord Jesus Christ. And, as we clearly just saw in several places in the New Testament, traditions that come from the Apostles – because the Apostles were taught by Jesus and guided by the Holy Spirit – Apostolic traditions are not condemned in Scripture. These traditions, these teachings, are considered, as we saw in 1 Thes 2:13, not the word of men…not the traditions of men…but the Word of God.

CONCLUSION
To close, I believe I have made a very strong and rational argument – from logic, from history, and from Scripture & Tradition – for why Catholics believe as we do in regards to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. You may not agree with everything I have said here, but I hope you will at least think about, and pray about what I’ve said here. These arguments cannot simply be dismissed without consideration. In all good conscience, they demand an answer – even if the answer is only within your own mind and heart.

Nowhere in Scripture do we see Sola Scriptura used as an operational principle. Nowhere is anyone instructed to consult the Scriptures to solve a doctrinal dispute between Christians. The one place I’ve mentioned where it is said someone went to the Scriptures, the case of the Bereans, was a case of verification…they were simply verifying that the verses Paul quoted were indeed in the Scriptures…it was not a case of using the Scriptures, and individual interpretation of the Scriptures, in order to solve a doctrinal dispute. And nowhere…nowhere…does the Bible say that, as individuals, reading the Bible on our own, the Holy Spirit will guide us to an infallible interpretation of any and every passage of Scripture. That verse simply does not exist. In fact, as I’ve shown, a number of verses do exist that directly contradict that belief.

Ultimately, under a Sola Scriptura system, any dispute between Christians – on matters of doctrine, on matters of morals, on matters of worship, on matters of anything Christian – comes down to this: My fallible, non-authoritative, non-binding interpretation of a particular verse or verses of Scripture vs. your fallible, non-authoritative, non-binding interpretation of a particular verse or verses of Scripture. And, in reality, the problem is even worse than that, because under a Sola Scriptura system, as I mentioned earlier, we can’t even be sure of what the Scriptures are in the first place. So, it actually comes down to my fallible, non-authoritative, non-binding interpretation of a particular verse or verses of something that I think is Scripture, but can’t really be sure vs. your fallible, non-authoritative, non-binding interpretation of a particular verse or verses of something that you think Scripture is, but can’t really be sure.

I don't think if you are intellectually honest you can have the same belief in Sola Scriptura as before. Truly, the questions I asked at the very beginning - the writings I referenced, letters from the bishops that never stopped - if you truly wish to answer this and many other questions, start there - start with what the church leaders appointed by the apostles themselves wrote to their churches. Read their corrections of when someone came along and taught something Jesus did not teach, something the apostles did not teach. There are examples of it in multiple books of the New Testament when they are condemning Gnosticism. You will see a faulty teaching shot down in the first century, resurface a hundred years later, and the bishop who shoots it down in the next century uses the words of Christ, the apostles, and the original bishop who shot it down. You will also see beliefs in Jesus bodily presence in the Eucharist and pretty much every other central doctrine of Catholicism lived, taught, preached, and defended, and you will see it ALL before the Bible was compiled, and you'll see it from bishops who were ordained by the apostles, or by those the apostles ordained. You will see the actual lineage... just as there is a list from Peter to Francis, in the early church you can see the history from Peter to Ignatius (3rd bishop of Antioch), or the lineage of Irenaeus... pretty much any of the bishops in the early church whose letters survived - you can trace their authority, their ordination back to one of the apostles.
 

SystemShock

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I apologize for the length, but I wish to give you a complete answer.

Do you know when the compilation of books, that today we call the Bible, was actually compiled into one book? And by who? Or what criteria was used to determine which books should or should not be included? Or the purpose of making that compilation? What authority did they have to make these determinations? Where did that authority come from? How was that authority transferred?

Better question - what did they do for 300+ years before they made the Bible? How did they decide what was correct teaching and what was not? How did they determine who had authority to resolve a disagreement on these matters? Have you read any of the Church writings from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th centuries? Those letters from Paul instructing churches he founded - letters from a bishop to the priests he left in charge and to the congregation - those letters did not stop, nor were they limited to just Paul, Peter, James, and John. Who did Paul make bishop of Ephesus when he left? Who did Peter make bishop of Antioch when he left? Did they write anything? Did they have to defend the faith that was handed down to them? How did their worship, their liturgy look? How did their daily practice and defense of the faith look? I know the answers to these questions. I have a wall of books containing many of these writings of the early Church prior to the bible.

How can the Bible not be the sole authority of Christianity? This will be long, but necessary if you truly want a complete answer. I'll divide it up into 4 parts. Let's see what logic, history, tradition, and scripture we call Bible says!

LOGIC
All Christians, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, consider the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant, Word of God. Why? Why do we believe the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant, Word of God? What authority do we rely upon for our belief that the Bible is what we believe it to be? Where did the Bible come from? Most people never consider these questions. They merely take it for granted that the Bible is what they believe it to be. But the fact is, everyone who believes the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant, Word of God, relies on some authority, whether they realize it or not, for their beliefs about the Bible. But, what authority do they rely on? The Bible? Well, for those who believe that the Bible is the sole binding authority for the Christian, it must be the authority of the Bible that Christians rely on for their belief that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, Word of God. But this presents a little bit of a problem. There is a logical inconsistency here. We cannot believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, Word of God, based solely on the authority of the Bible. Why not? Three reasons:

1) The Bible cannot bear witness to itself. There are a number of writings that claim inspiration from God, but we don’t accept them as the inspired, inerrant, Word of God, just because they claim to be. The Koran being one very obvious example of this. If we should believe something is what it says it is, simply because it says it, then we should accept the Koran as the word of God. But, we don’t, do we? Just so, we cannot accept the Bible as the Word of God based solely upon the witness of the Bible. As Jesus Himself said, “If I bear witness to Myself, My testimony is not true,” (John 5:31).

2) The Bible never claims that it is the sole, infallible, authoritative source for all matters pertaining to Christian belief and practice.

3) We can’t even be sure of what the Bible is, if we rely on the authority of “Scripture alone” in matters of Christian belief and practice.

The Bible wasn’t put together as we have it today for more than 300 years after the death of Christ. One of the problems in putting the Bible together was that there was a lot of disagreement, among Christians, over what should and should not be considered inspired Scripture. There were a lot of books back then that people were saying were inspired; yet, these books did not end up in the Bible as we have it today. Books such as the Letter of Clement to the Corinthians, the Letter of Barnabas, the Acts of Paul, the Acts of Peter, the Apocalypse of Peter, and several more.

There were also several books that did end up in our Bible that a lot of people were saying were not inspired and should not be considered as part of Scripture…books such as Revelation, 2 and 3 John, 2 Peter, Hebrews, and others.

In other words, there was a lot of dispute over just what was and what wasn’t inspired Scripture. So, how did they settle the disputes? Well, according to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, you just look in the Bible to find the authoritative answer to any question regarding the Christian faith. So, did they consult the Bible to find out what books should be in the Bible? Obviously not…they couldn’t! There was no Bible to consult because Scripture was what the disputes were over.

So, the question is, how does someone who believes in Sola Scriptura go about deciding a dispute as to which books should and should not be considered Scripture? You cannot consult the Bible for an answer, because the Bible is what the dispute is over. And, even if you consulted the non-disputed books of the Bible, that still wouldn’t help you because there is no list in any book of the Bible that tells us which books should be in the Bible.

So, in order to decide one of the most fundamental issues of Christianity…which books should and should not be in the Bible…which books are and are not inspired Scripture… some authority outside of the Bible had to be relied upon.

So, again, a big problem for those who believe that the Bible is the sole binding authority in matters of faith and morals, is that the Bible doesn’t tell us which books should be in the Bible! There is no list, in the Bible, of which books should be in the Bible. Some person, or group of persons, had to decide which books were, and which books were not, inspired Scripture. Think about it! In order to know which books should and should not be inside the Bible, we have to rely on some authority outside of the Bible to tell us. But, the belief in Sola Scriptura states that the Bible is the sole authority in matters of Christian belief and practice.

Which presents a logical dilemma. The question of where the Bible came from presents the same kind of problem to those who believe in Sola Scriptura, as the question of where matter came from presents to those who believe in evolution, yet do not believe in God. If you believe in evolution, you have to believe the matter used in evolution came from somewhere. But, if there is no God, then where did matter come from? If you believe in Sola Scriptura, you have to believe the Bible came from somewhere. But, if there is no binding authority outside of the Bible, then where did the Bible come from?

In other words, if you believe in Sola Scriptura, you believe in something that is logically inconsistent. You believe the Bible is the sole authority in deciding Christian belief and practice; yet, you believe in a binding authority outside of the Bible which gave us the Bible in the first place. Therefore, the Bible cannot be the sole authority in matters of faith and morals. There is some authority outside of the Bible that we have to have in order to have the Bible in the first place!

And, I would like to add that I believe, based on historical documentation, that it was the Catholic Church that put the Bible together as we have it today. Now, there are many who disagree with me on that, but whether you agree that it was the Catholic Church that put the Bible together or not, you have to agree that someone did. Someone with binding authority on Christians decided the disputes about which books should and should not be in what we now call the Bible. In other words, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, fails the test of logic.

HISTORY
Now, how about history? What does the perspective of history tell us in regards to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura…the belief in the Bible as the sole rule of faith for Christians?

Well, the main thing the perspective of history tells us is that the early Christians did not believe in this doctrine. We know that because there was no Bible, as we have it now, for them to consult as their authoritative guide in questions of Christian teaching and practice. As previously mentioned, the Bible did not come together as the document that we now call “the Bible” for more than 300 years after the death of Christ. Plus, the first book of the New Testament was not written for at least 10 years or more after the death of Christ. So, for at least 10 years, Christians were having to decide questions of doctrine and practice without a single book of the New Testament to consult.

Furthermore, the last book of the New Testament wasn’t written for at least 40, and probably more likely 60 years or more, after the death of Christ. And, because of the state of transportation and communication in the world of the 1st century, it could often be years before a particular Christian community received a copy of this or that book of the New Testament. In other words, the early Christians went many decades without even the possibility of being able to use the Bible as the sole source of authority in matters of Christian teaching and practice. Which means they could not, and did not, believe in the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

The question is, though, without a Bible as their sole authoritative source for their beliefs, to what, or whom, did the early Christians turn for authoritative decisions on matters of faith…on matters of doctrine? Who decided doctrinal disputes when they arose between Christians if there was no Bible to consult? Who? Well, as I’ll show in a moment, from the Bible, it was the leaders of the Church who made binding decisions in matters of doctrinal disputes. So, again, we see a binding authority, outside of Scripture, that was relied upon by the early Christians.

Another part of the historical perspective is this: When Martin Luther broke from the Catholic Church, and started teaching the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, it was around the year 1520. By the year 1600, it is said there were more than two hundred non-Catholic denominations. By the year 1900, it is estimated the number of denominations numbered almost a thousand. And, now, in the year 2020, there are estimated to be some fifty thousand or more non-Catholic denominations! Each denomination claims to be based on the Bible alone, and each claims to be guided by the Holy Spirit; yet, none of them have the exact same body of doctrine, and many, many of them have doctrines that absolutely contradict one another.

How can that be? Can the Holy Spirit – which is supposed to lead us unto all truth – can this same Holy Spirit lead different people into different doctrines – doctrines that contradict each other? No. In other words, the historical perspective shows that the doctrine of Sola Scriptura tends towards division within the Body of Christ. The lesson of history teaches us that the doctrine of Sola Scriptura has done nothing but divide the Body of Christ. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura fails the test of history.
Again, a lot to digest.

So, first,the institution that is the Catholic church may have put the first Bible together 300+ years after the alleged death of Jesus, but the institution that is the Catholic church did not write the books/letters that comprise the Bible. Without those writings, the message is not carried, and educated Romans in Rome of the time do not learn the message centuries later, and more likely than not Christianity fades away like many other religions faded away. And, there are no other writings written at the time that Jesus was allegedly alive and performing miracles all over what is now the Middle East.

So, in that, the writings of the Bible are the basis for Christianity.

Generally speaking, we (the collective we) don't accept the Koran because we were not born in a Muslim country. Just like we don't accept Hinduism, or Buddhism: we weren't born in the places where those are the principal, dominant religions. Had we been born there, most likely we would have been indoctrinated in those religions.

As for authority, there are 3 religions vying for authority over the word of the Abrahamic god: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And among them, there are different sects vying for the ultimate authority over the word of god. So who decides who the ultimate authority is?

And logically, we can take this argument even further back. Take the 1st commandment, for example, "you shall have no other gods before me". How can you be sure that there are not other gods? Who is the ultimate authority that determines there is only one god, and that this god is the Abrahamic god? Why can't the gods described in the Vedas exist as well? Hindus too have their scriptures, prophets, their god born human of virgin birth (and that story occurs earlier than the Christian story), their miracles, their prophesies, their authorities...

As for the Bible not being witness to itself, in that we agree 100%. But again, the writings in the Bible are the basis for Christianity, and the claims made in those writings have no corroboration outside of Christianity itself. For example, there is no corroboration that Jesus cured lepers, or that he fed thousands with a few fish and a loaf of bread. The Catholic church can tell you "we are the authority and we say it is true", but, based on what? Just the say so of the self-proclaimed authority?
 

St. PJ

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Again, a lot to digest.

So, first,the institution that is the Catholic church may have put the first Bible together 300+ years after the alleged death of Jesus, but the institution that is the Catholic church did not write the books/letters that comprise the Bible. Without those writings, the message is not carried, and educated Romans in Rome of the time do not learn the message centuries later, and more likely than not Christianity fades away like many other religions faded away. And, there are no other writings written at the time that Jesus was allegedly alive and performing miracles all over what is now the Middle East.

So, in that, the writings of the Bible are the basis for Christianity.

Generally speaking, we (the collective we) don't accept the Koran because we were not born in a Muslim country. Just like we don't accept Hinduism, or Buddhism: we weren't born in the places where those are the principal, dominant religions. Had we been born there, most likely we would have been indoctrinated in those religions.

As for authority, there are 3 religions vying for authority over the word of the Abrahamic god: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And among them, there are different sects vying for the ultimate authority over the word of god. So who decides who the ultimate authority is?

And logically, we can take this argument even further back. Take the 1st commandment, for example, "you shall have no other gods before me". How can you be sure that there are not other gods? Who is the ultimate authority that determines there is only one god, and that this god is the Abrahamic god? Why can't the gods described in the Vedas exist as well? Hindus too have their scriptures, prophets, their god born human of virgin birth (and that story occurs earlier than the Christian story), their miracles, their prophesies, their authorities...

As for the Bible not being witness to itself, in that we agree 100%. But again, the writings in the Bible are the basis for Christianity, and the claims made in those writings have no corroboration outside of Christianity itself. For example, there is no corroboration that Jesus cured lepers, or that he fed thousands with a few fish and a loaf of bread. The Catholic church can tell you "we are the authority and we say it is true", but, based on what? Just the say so of the self-proclaimed authority?
Wrong. The basis for Christianity were the teaching of Christ, handed down orally from Christ to the apostles, who became the first bishops. Who in turn appointed bishops. How things were taught and decided, how things were resolved, how matters of faith and doctrine were decided - this had nothing to do with the books we know of as the New Testament. Even the New Testament attests to this. It had everything to do with what was taught and handed down by the apostles - the apostolic tradition. Once the letters and gospels were written down and began to be copied and make their rounds, these writings were read during mass when the Eucharist was distributed. But note what came first - mass, eucharist distribution, hierarchy of Apostles who ordained bishops and priests, followed by successors. What they taught and handed down orally - which came from Christ - THAT was the foundation. And not everything Christ said or taught was recorded. He never said "write this in memory of Me"; rather, "DO this in memory of Me". So Christ left the authority and power to bind and loose with a visible church He founded.

And that visible church was authoritatively deciding on critical important matters of doctrine and faith before the New Testament was written, they were the authors of the New Testament (with the possible exception of Hebrews which may have been a talk Paul gave or a letter of one of his apostles - it was anonymous and there was no clear answer and much debate as to whether to include it in the NT). This is illustrated in Acts with the first council in Jerusalem.

Now you say that there exists no corroboration outside of Christianity itself for much of what is in the bible, and how can Christianity claim to have the one true living God? Christianity happens to be the ONLY religion to prophecy the life and death of their God more than a thousand years before it occurred; and as the centuries mover closer to year 0, those prophecies become more and more exact, so that 490 years prior, the exact year of His birth is prophesied. That is why many "false" messiahs were popping up just before and just after Jesus. But unless you understand scripture like a first century jew, you are likely unaware what the devout remnant was expecting, ignorant of what exactly Jesus fulfilled, ignorant of what exactly He transformed and established.

On the road to Emmaus, when Jesus gives the first bible study to a few disciples on Easter Sunday, starting with the books of Moses and going through the OT showing how He fulfilled everything - this was the exact method and argument Paul used to convert so many pharisees - Paul, whom was Gamaliel's best student (Gamaliel his who most Rabbi's througout history consider the greatest Rabbi) - Paul knew the scriptures very well and every bit of rhetoric and argument around. Once his veil is lifted he becomes arguably the greatest apostle because he is able to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to almost all the pharisees (and a great many gentiles) that Jesus is, Messiah, God Incarnate, and Living because everything that preceded Jesus was a shadow, prefigurement, or type of what Jesus would do. Every tradition the Jews had, their entire liturgy and worship, the feast days they celebrated- their entire history - all of it had very specific significance that Jesus made very clear when He fulfilled the old covenant and established the new.

The point is the Bible came much later, and was never compiled nor intended to be an end all authority. Never. That authority rested with those whom Jesus appointed. Offices He created that mirrored the same offices in the Davidic kingdom. Offices, or seats, that must be filled in a very particular way when vacated. Authority transferred in a very specific way, only by those with authority to do so. And what you wind up with is a chain were the last link can be traced to the first. When any teaching, doctrine, or book contradicted the authoritative teaching passed from Jesus to Apostle, Apostle to Bishop, Bishop to Bishop - it was rejected on the grounds that it was not part of the Apostolic Tradition nor Church Teaching. This was the major criteria for not only determining which books were inspired Scripture, but also how every disagreement was resolved.

A very small portion of the letters the Bishops would write to resolve conflicts, instruct, correct would be considered inspired scripture and included in the canon, but there were so much more that were taught from and read from and judged as good and right and in concert with what Jesus taught the apostles, and what the apostles taught their apostles.

I will end with this - everything you say in the quote I am responding to in this post - everything shows you are not at all familiar with neither what a first century jew believed and understood and practiced, nor what a first, second, third, or fourth century christian understood, taught, defended, and lived. If you start at year zero, and work your way forward, you will come to some very different conclusions than starting now and going back 2,000 years. I say this not as a barb or insult, but as something that is very obvious. It's much easier to play poker with a full deck of cards, and until you read anything from the first 4 centuries AD, from the early church as to what they considered the authority, your position will be completely wrong and the furthest from the truth. It's a very common error that didn't exists until the 16th century. Let that sink in. For the first 1600 years of Christianity, Sola Scriptura was more than laughable, it was heretical and certainly was never held by anyone until long long well after the Bible was compiled.

PM me if you'd like the titles of books you can read that have writings of the bishops from the 1st thru 5th centuries. They're part of public domain, I have them digitally, and can email them to you if you'd like without violating any copyrights. I'll warn you ahead of time. There have been many prominent theologians hell bent on destroying the Catholic Church and exposing her errors in doctrine who have gone the route of starting at year zero and one by one, every perceived issue and contradiction they had, every time they thought they would be able to prove a teaching false, the opposite happened and to the surprise of everyone in their professional and personal life, they begrudgingly and reluctantly were intellectually honest, convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt, and converted to Catholicism. Today they are some of our best theologians and apologists.
 

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Wrong. The basis for Christianity were the teaching of Christ, handed down orally from Christ to the apostles, who became the first bishops. Who in turn appointed bishops. How things were taught and decided, how things were resolved, how matters of faith and doctrine were decided - this had nothing to do with the books we know of as the New Testament. Even the New Testament attests to this. It had everything to do with what was taught and handed down by the apostles - the apostolic tradition. Once the letters and gospels were written down and began to be copied and make their rounds, these writings were read during mass when the Eucharist was distributed. But note what came first - mass, eucharist distribution, hierarchy of Apostles who ordained bishops and priests, followed by successors. What they taught and handed down orally - which came from Christ - THAT was the foundation. And not everything Christ said or taught was recorded. He never said "write this in memory of Me"; rather, "DO this in memory of Me". So Christ left the authority and power to bind and loose with a visible church He founded.

And that visible church was authoritatively deciding on critical important matters of doctrine and faith before the New Testament was written, they were the authors of the New Testament (with the possible exception of Hebrews which may have been a talk Paul gave or a letter of one of his apostles - it was anonymous and there was no clear answer and much debate as to whether to include it in the NT). This is illustrated in Acts with the first council in Jerusalem.

Now you say that there exists no corroboration outside of Christianity itself for much of what is in the bible, and how can Christianity claim to have the one true living God? Christianity happens to be the ONLY religion to prophecy the life and death of their God more than a thousand years before it occurred; and as the centuries mover closer to year 0, those prophecies become more and more exact, so that 490 years prior, the exact year of His birth is prophesied. That is why many "false" messiahs were popping up just before and just after Jesus. But unless you understand scripture like a first century jew, you are likely unaware what the devout remnant was expecting, ignorant of what exactly Jesus fulfilled, ignorant of what exactly He transformed and established.

On the road to Emmaus, when Jesus gives the first bible study to a few disciples on Easter Sunday, starting with the books of Moses and going through the OT showing how He fulfilled everything - this was the exact method and argument Paul used to convert so many pharisees - Paul, whom was Gamaliel's best student (Gamaliel his who most Rabbi's througout history consider the greatest Rabbi) - Paul knew the scriptures very well and every bit of rhetoric and argument around. Once his veil is lifted he becomes arguably the greatest apostle because he is able to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to almost all the pharisees (and a great many gentiles) that Jesus is, Messiah, God Incarnate, and Living because everything that preceded Jesus was a shadow, prefigurement, or type of what Jesus would do. Every tradition the Jews had, their entire liturgy and worship, the feast days they celebrated- their entire history - all of it had very specific significance that Jesus made very clear when He fulfilled the old covenant and established the new.

The point is the Bible came much later, and was never compiled nor intended to be an end all authority. Never. That authority rested with those whom Jesus appointed. Offices He created that mirrored the same offices in the Davidic kingdom. Offices, or seats, that must be filled in a very particular way when vacated. Authority transferred in a very specific way, only by those with authority to do so. And what you wind up with is a chain were the last link can be traced to the first. When any teaching, doctrine, or book contradicted the authoritative teaching passed from Jesus to Apostle, Apostle to Bishop, Bishop to Bishop - it was rejected on the grounds that it was not part of the Apostolic Tradition nor Church Teaching. This was the major criteria for not only determining which books were inspired Scripture, but also how every disagreement was resolved.

A very small portion of the letters the Bishops would write to resolve conflicts, instruct, correct would be considered inspired scripture and included in the canon, but there were so much more that were taught from and read from and judged as good and right and in concert with what Jesus taught the apostles, and what the apostles taught their apostles.

I will end with this - everything you say in the quote I am responding to in this post - everything shows you are not at all familiar with neither what a first century jew believed and understood and practiced, nor what a first, second, third, or fourth century christian understood, taught, defended, and lived. If you start at year zero, and work your way forward, you will come to some very different conclusions than starting now and going back 2,000 years. I say this not as a barb or insult, but as something that is very obvious. It's much easier to play poker with a full deck of cards, and until you read anything from the first 4 centuries AD, from the early church as to what they considered the authority, your position will be completely wrong and the furthest from the truth. It's a very common error that didn't exists until the 16th century. Let that sink in. For the first 1600 years of Christianity, Sola Scriptura was more than laughable, it was heretical and certainly was never held by anyone until long long well after the Bible was compiled.

PM me if you'd like the titles of books you can read that have writings of the bishops from the 1st thru 5th centuries. They're part of public domain, I have them digitally, and can email them to you if you'd like without violating any copyrights. I'll warn you ahead of time. There have been many prominent theologians hell bent on destroying the Catholic Church and exposing her errors in doctrine who have gone the route of starting at year zero and one by one, every perceived issue and contradiction they had, every time they thought they would be able to prove a teaching false, the opposite happened and to the surprise of everyone in their professional and personal life, they begrudgingly and reluctantly were intellectually honest, convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt, and converted to Catholicism. Today they are some of our best theologians and apologists.
Without the writings ex post facto, any knowledge of Jesus would've been transferred by world of mouth, and probably never gets all the way to Rome in any coherent form, if ever. And since there are no writings by Jesus or about Jesus at the time he was allegedly alive, the ex post facto writings, which eventually are used to compile the Bible, become the basis for the religion.

Prophesies, which really is just a fancy word for predictions, again, many religions texts make predictions that allegedly came to pass.

But what is the criteria for accepting that a prediction came to pass? One of of the most fundamental is that a prediction has to be self evident when it occurs. And Jesus, there are no records of the existence of Jesus, let alone all of the miracles he allegedly performed, during the time in which Jesus was supposed to be alive, not even by the followers themselves. What we have is ex post facto accounts telling us "this happened", which you accept on the basis of faith, just like you have accepted the Catholic church telling you they are the sole authority on Christianity.

As for where I started, I started with Genesis 1:1. And what people in general thought 17-20 centuries ago? When it comes to things like mathematics, astronomy, i.e. science that is repeatable and demonstrable, I accept it. When it comes to superstition and supernatural events, not so much.

As for intellectual honesty, I seriously doubt anyone who truly is intellectually honest would believe in any god, as religious faith is not intellectually honest. I don't know who are these prominent theologians trying to expose the errors in Catholic doctrine you speak of are... if they were from the 1st to 5th century, I am not really interested in what they had to say, as a 6th grader today knows more about the world they live in than they ever could imagine. Today, though, we have the Clergy Project, which is a community of self-described "current and former religious professionals without supernatural beliefs".
 

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