ANSWERS TO 25 QUESTIONS ON THE
HISTORY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
WHICH COMPLETELY REFUTE THE " BIBLE ONLY " THEORY
Did Our Lord write any part of the New Testament or command His Apostles to do so? Our Lord Himself never wrote a line, nor is there any record that He ordered his Apostles to write; He did command them to teach and to preach. Also He to Whom all power was given in Heaven and on earth (Matt. 28-18) promised to give them the Holy Spirit (John 14-26) and to be with them Himself till the end of the world (Mat. 28-20).
COMMENT: If reading the Bible were a necessary means of salvation, Our Lord would have made that statement and also provided the necessary means for his followers.
How many of the Apostles or others actually wrote what is now in the New Testament? A Few of the Apostles wrote part of Our Lord's teachings, as they themselves expressly stated; i.e., Peter, Paul, James, John, Jude, Matthew, also Sts. Mark and Luke. None of the others wrote anything, so far as is recorded.
COMMENT: If the Bible privately interpreted was to be a Divine rule of Faith, the apostles would have been derelict in their duty when instead, some of them adopted preaching only.
Was it a teaching or a Bible-reading Church that Christ founded? The Protestant Bible expressly states that Christ founded a teaching Church, which existed before any of the New Testament books were written.
Rom. 10-17: So then faith cometh by HEARING, and hearing by the word of God.
Matt. 28-19: Go ye therefore and TEACH all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Mark. 16-20: And they went forth, and PREACHED everywhere the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
Mark 16-15: And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and PREACH the gospel to every creature.
COMMENT: Thus falls the entire basis of the "Bible-only" theory.
Was there any drastic difference between what Our Lord commanded the Apostles to teach and what the New Testament contains? Our Lord commanded his Apostles to teach all things whatsoever He had commanded; (Matt. 28-20); His Church must necessarily teach everything; (John 14-26); however, the Protestant Bible itself teaches that the Bible does not contain all of Our Lord's doctrines:
John 20-30: And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book, etc.
John 21-25: And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
COMMENT: How would it have been possible for second century Christians to practice Our Lord's religion, if private interpretation of an unavailable and only partial account of Christ's teaching were indispensable?
Does the New Testament expressly refer to Christ's "unwritten word"? The New Testament itself teaches that it does not contain all that Our Lord did or, consequently, all that He taught.
John 20-30: And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book, etc.
John 21-25: And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written everyone, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written Amen.
COMMENT: Since the Bible is incomplete, it needs something else to supplement it; i.e., the spoken or historically recorded word which we call Tradition.
What became of the unwritten truths which Our Lord and the Apostles taught? The Church has carefully conserved this "word of mouth" teaching by historical records called Tradition. Even the Protestant Bible teaches that many Christian truths were to be handed down by word of mouth.
2 Thes. 2-15: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
2 Tim. 2-2: And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
COMMENT: Hence not only Scripture but other sources of information must be consulted to get the whole of Christ's teaching. Religions founded on "the Bible only" are therefore necessarily incomplete.
Between what years were the first and last books of the New Testament written? This first book, St. Matthew's Gospel, was not written until about ten years after Our Lord's Ascension. St. John's fourth gospel and Apocalypse or Book of Revelations were not written until about 100 A. D.
COMMENT: Imagine how the present-day privately interpreted "Bible-only" theory would have appeared at a time when the books of the New Testament were not only unavailable, but most of them had not yet been written.
When was the New Testament placed under one cover? In 397 A. D. by the Council of Carthage, from which it follows that non-Catholics have derived their New Testament from the Catholic Church; no other source was available.
COMMENT: Up to 397 A. D., some of the Christians had access to part of the New Testament; into this situation, how would the "Bible-only privately interpreted" theory have fitted?
Why so much delay in compiling the New Testament? Prior to 397 A. D., the various books of the New Testament were not under one cover, but were in the custody of different groups or congregations. The persecutions against the Church, which had gained new intensity, prevented these New Testament books from being properly authenticated and placed under one cover. However, this important work was begun after Constantine gave peace to Christianity in 313 A.D., allowing it to be practiced in the Roman Empire.
COMMENT: This again shows how utterly impossible was the "Bible-only" theory, at least up to 400 A. D.
What other problem confronted those who wished to determine the contents of the New Testament? Before the inspired books were recognized as such, many other books had been written and by many were thought to be inspired; hence the Catholic Church made a thorough examination of the whole question; biblical scholars spent years in the Holy Land studying the original languages of New Testament writings.
COMMENT: According to the present-day "Bible-only" theory, in the above circumstances, it would also have been necessary for early Christians to read all the doubtful books and, by interior illumination, judge which were and which were not divinely inspired.
Who finally did decide which books were inspired and therefore belonged to the New Testament? Shortly before 400 A. D. a General Council of the Catholic Church, using the infallible authority which Christ had given to His own divine institution, finally decided which books really belonged to the New Testament and which did not.
Either the Church at this General Council was infallible, or it was not.
If the Church was infallible then, why is it not infallible now? If the Church was not infallible then, in that case the New Testament is not worth the paper it is written on, because internal evidences of authenticity and inspiration are inconclusive and because the work of this Council cannot now be rechecked; this is obvious from reply to next question.
COMMENT: In view of these historical facts, it is difficult to see how non-Catholics can deny that it was from the (Roman) Catholic Church that they received the New Testament.
Why is it impossible for modern non-Catholics to check over the work done by the Church previous to 400. A. D.? The original writings were on frail material called papyrus, which had but temporary enduring qualities. While the books judged to be inspired by the Catholic Church were carefully copied by her monks, those rejected at that time were allowed to disintegrate, for lack of further interest in them.
COMMENT. What then is left for non-Catholics, except to trust the Catholic Church to have acted under divine inspiration; if at that time, why not now?
Would the theory of private interpretation of the New Testament have been possible for the year 400 A. D.? No, because, as already stated, no New Testament as such was in existence.
COMMENT: If our non-Catholic brethren today had no Bibles, how could they even imagine following the "Bible-only privately interpreted" theory; but before 400 A. D., New Testaments were altogether unavailable.
Would the private interpretation theory have been possible between 400 A. D. and 1440 A. D., when printing was invented? No, the cost of individual Bibles written by hand was prohibitive; moreover, due to the scarcity of books, and other reasons, the ability to read was limited to a small minority. The Church used art, drama and other means to convey Biblical messages.
COMMENT: To have proposed the "Bible-only" theory during the above period would obviously have been impracticable and irrational.
Who copied and conserved the Bible during the interval between 400 A. D. and 1440 A. D.? The Catholic monks; in many cases these spent their entire lives to give the world personally-penned copies of the Scriptures, before printing was invented.
COMMENT: In spite of this, the Catholic Church is accused of having tried to destroy the Bible; had she desired to do this, she had 1500 years within which to do so.
Who gave the Reformers the authority to change over from the one Faith, one Fold and one Shepherd program, to that of the "Bible-only theory"? St. Paul seems to answer the above when he said: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Galations 1-8 - Protestant version ).
COMMENT: If in 300 years, one-third of Christianity was split into at least 300 sects, how many sects would three-thirds of Christianity have produced in 1900 years? (Answer is 5700).
Since Luther, what consequences have followed from the use of the "Bible-only" theory and its personal interpretation? Just what St. Paul foretold when he said: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears." 2 Timothy 4-3 (Protestant edition). According to the World Christian Encyclopedia and other sources, there are 73 different organizations of Methodists, 55 kinds of Baptists, 10 branches of Presbyterians, 17 organizations of Mennonites, 128 of Lutherans and thousands of other denominations.
COMMENT: The "Bible-only" theory may indeed cater to the self-exaltation of the individual, but it certainly does not conduce to the acquisition of Divine truth.
In Christ's system, what important part has the Bible? The Bible is one precious source of religious truth; other sources are historical records (Tradition) and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.
COMMENT: Elimination of any one of the three elements in the equation of Christ's true Church would be fatal to its claims to be such.
Now that the New Testament is complete and available, what insolvable problem remains? The impossibility of the Bible to explain itself and the consequent multiplicity of errors which individuals make by their theory of private interpretation. Hence it is indisputable that the Bible must have an authorized interpreter.
2 Peter 1-20: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
2 Peter 3-16: As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Acts 8-30: And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Isaias, and said, understandest thou what thou readest? 31. And he said, How can I except some men should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
COMMENT: Only by going on the supposition that falsehood is as acceptable to God as is truth, can the "Bible-only" theory be defended.
Who is the official expounder of the Scriptures? The Holy Spirit, acting through and within the Church which Christ founded nineteen centuries ago; the Bible teaches through whom in the Church come the official interpretations of; God's law and God's word.
Luke 10-16: He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
Matt. 16-18: And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Mal. 2-7: For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.
COMMENT: Formerly at least, it was commonly held that when individuals read their Bibles carefully and prayerfully, the Holy Spirit would guide each individual to a knowledge of the truth. This is much more than the Catholic Church claims for even the Pope himself. Only after extended consultation and study, with much fervent prayer, does he rarely and solemnly make such a decision.
What are the effects of the Catholic use of the Bible? Regardless of what persons may think about the Catholic Church, they must admit that her system gets results in the way of unity of rule and unity of faith; otherwise stated, one Faith, one Fold and one Shepherd.
COMMENT: If many millions of non-Catholics in all nations, by reading their Bible carefully and prayerfully, had exactly the same faith, reached the same conclusions, then this theory might deserve the serious consideration of intelligent, well-disposed persons-but not otherwise.
Why are there so many non-Catholic Churches? Because there is so much different interpretation of the Bible; there is so much different interpretation of the Bible because there is so much wrong interpretation; there is so much wrong interpretation because the system of interpreting is radically wrong. You cannot have one Fold and one Shepherd, one Faith and one Baptism, by allowing every man and every woman to distort and pervert the Scriptures to suit his or her own pet theories.
COMMENT: To say that Bible reading is an intensely Christian practice, is to enunciate a beautiful truth; to say that Bible reading is the sole source of religious faith, is to make a sadly erroneous statement.
Without Divine aid, could the Catholic Church have maintained her one Faith, one Fold, and one Shepherd? Not any more than the non-Catholic sects have done; they are a proof of what happens when, without Divine aid, groups strive to do the humanly impossible.
COMMENT: Catholics love, venerate, use the Bible; but they also know that the Bible alone is not Christ's system but only a precious book, a means, an aid by which the Church carries on her mission to "preach the Gospel to every living creature" and to keep on preaching it "to the end of time."
Were there any printed Bibles before Luther? When printing was invented about 1440, one of the first, if not the earliest printed book, was an edition of the Catholic Bible printed by John Gutenberg. It is reliably maintained that 626 editions of the Catholic Bible, or portions thereof, had come from the press through the agency of the Church, in countries where her influence prevailed, before Luther's German version appeared in 1534. Of these, many were in various European languages. Hence Luther's "discovery" of the supposedly unknown Bible at Erfurt in 1503 is one of those strange, wild calumnies with which anti-Catholic literature abounds.
COMMENT: Today parts of the Bible are read in the vernacular from every Catholic altar every Sunday. The Church grants a spiritual premium or indulgence to those who read the Bible; every Catholic family has, or is supposed to have, a Bible in the home. Millions of Catholic Bibles are sold annually.
During the Middle Ages, did the Catholic Church manifest hostility to the Bible as her adversaries claim? Under stress of special circumstances, various regulations were made by the Church to protect the people from being spiritually poisoned by the corrupted and distorted translations of the Bible; hence opposition to the Waldensians, Albigensians, Wycliff and Tyndale.
COMMENT: Individual churchmen may at times have gone too far in their zeal, not to belittle the Bible, but to protect it. There is no human agency in which authority is always exercised blamelessly.