Catholicism: the Reason for My Hope Part II

Challoner's 1749 revision of the Rheims New Te...

Challoner’s 1749 revision of the Rheims New Testament

Scripture and How We Acquired the Bible

Why should I believe the Bible?

It is the most basic question that a critic of Christianity might ask. It is a good question because I can see nothing in the books of the Bible that tell me that what you are reading is Divinely inspired. When I open the Bible, choirs of angels do not sing and a heavenly light does not appear to illumine the pages. So why should I believe the Bible and reject the Quran or the Bhagavad Gita?

It seems that I must make this decision on some criteria other than what is in the text. Even if a statement in the text did tell me that it was divinely inspired (and no text does that) there is no proof that it is. Surely, God would not expect me to believe something that could not be ratified by an authoritative source, otherwise I might believe in fairy tales or nursery rhymes as most atheist assert. Faith and reason must each play their role. God gave us reason for a reason and a free will so that we might accept truth or reject truth or vise versa.

It seems to me that God would provide us enough proof that we could reasonably accept the premise that the books of the Bible are indeed worthy to be called the Word of God; then the believer has what is necessary to make a leap of faith (not blind faith as some describe it) and come to a decision that is at least believable and acceptable to men of reason. In order for that to happen I need a trusted authority to inform me that the Bible is trustworthy and accurately portrays the Christian faith. Without the authority I have no reason to believe.

My parents may be my authority in the belief of my ancestors and heritage. That belief rests on the assumption that our parents (and their forefathers as well) would not lie about such things and thus we take the leap of faith needed to hold to these living memories and pass them down to our children as well though we cannot fully authenticate their every detail.

It is much the same with the Catholic Church. She is the Mother who ratifies the history, the heritage and the living faith of the Christian. It is, as I say, a living memory of the faith from the time of Christ (see Part I on Authority). So it is for this reason that I am able to accept the Bible and echo the words of St. Augustine when he fought with Manichaeism in a rebuttal of Mani: “I would not believe in the Gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not influence me to do so.” (Against the letter of Mani, 5,6, 397 A.D.)

Indeed, how could I accept the books of the Bible as being divinely inspired unless the Church told me? There must be an authority.

Without an authority we are at sea without a captain. Can we each be captains? Can we each navigate or teach ourselves the necessary navigational skills to get to our destination. How about the currents? Do we know them and how to counter them? Do we take best advantage of the wind?

It is simple logic that any church not founded by Christ that would use the books approved by the True Church cannot then say that the Church is wrong but the books of the Bible are inerrant. It is impossible logic. The Bible too was rewritten in parts and certain books removed by those who had not the authority to do so.

So Luther and Calvin used a different set of Jewish Scriptures than did the Church that gave us the Bible. They preferred to use the Palestinian Canon or Jerusalem Canon as opposed to the Septuagint that was in use throughout the Holy Land during the time of Christ. The latter canons being created by Rabbi’s after the destruction of the temple to stem the loss of Jews into the new Christian Church. It removed many books that prophesized about the Messiah: books that pointed to Christ as the One who was promised.

Now Luther and Calvin used these same books for other nefarious reasons than did the Rabbi’s. There reason in using them was to discourage things concerning “works of faith” working in love; or things concerning the prayers for the dead.

Without giving the reader the books and sections that even Calvin and Luther disagreed on putting in their Bibles, it should be obvious that they had no authority to tinker with the Bible at all. By whose authority are you acting? Obviously, the answer is that the authority was their own, given to themselves, as though they possessed it by their very nature.

19 Replies to “Catholicism: the Reason for My Hope Part II”

  1. Mr. V.

    I have much to learn and to read still. As of yet, I have not read any of the books that the Protestants call the Apocrypha, and I need to sit down and read them. One of my goals for the Year of Faith.

    Reply
    • servusfidelis Post author

      We all do Mr. V. – thank God that the Church can shorten the process. Can you imagine reading the differences in theology of 35,000 different protestant churches to come up with some answers? We would then have to read your book of Hesitations and the ever popular book of Rebelations to boot. 🙂

      Reply
      • Mr. V.

        As well as 1st and 2nd Heresies. 😀

        But seriously. Is there any particular book, of the ones not included in the Protestant Bible, that you would recommend reading first, or that has particular value for a newer Catholic?

        Reply
        • servusfidelis Post author

          They all have great things in them. I think the books of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith, 1st and 2nd Maccabees are all worthy places to begin. So, in short, I can’t prefer one to the others; I’d just start reading them all and try to catch up on what I’d missed all these years. Good reading! 🙂

          Reply
  2. JessicaHof

    This is such a good exposition. After all, there is no list of contents which tell us what should be in the Bible. If we can’t rely on the Bible to tell us what should be in it, how can we possibly think that, by itself, it will tell us everything? If Jesus had wanted to write a book, He would have done so – but He founded a Church which tells us what is in the book and how to read it. Thank you for such a clear and compelling account 🙂

    Reply
  3. Betty

    Wow! Very informative and told me things I didn’t know, didn’t learn in school or as an adult. Thanks for making me curiousier and curiousier.

    Reply

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