Dear QuestForTruth —
Thanks for your question.
You've answered the question
yourself when you say:
I believe that if God wanted us to know
it, He would have put it in His Word to leave with
Using your own logic, if the Bible were the sole
authority for the New Testament Church, the Bible
itself would say so. Just as important, if not more,
one of the Books of the Bible within the inspired
text, would clearly spell out which books belong
in the Bible.
Nevertheless, the Bible tells us neither of these
Yes, the Bible does say that all Scripture is inspired
and profitable. Paul wrote that to Timothy,
(2 Timothy 3:15-17), but in context, Paul was talking about the
Scriptures that Timothy had been schooled in. In
other words, Paul was talking about the Old Testament
Scriptures, so if Paul was saying the Scriptures
were the only rule of faith, he was only referring
to the Old Testament Scriptures and therefore we
should pay no attention to the New Testament ones.
What Paul was saying is that all Scripture is inspired. To that, the Catholic Church says Amen!!!
The Bible instead teaches that the Church itself
is the final authority. Again, Saint Paul writes
If I am delayed, you may know how one ought
to behave in the household of God, which is the
Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark
of the truth.
(1 Timothy 3:15 (RSV))
We also see in several Gospel passages that Jesus
gave the His Church authority to bind and loose.
(See Matthew, chapters 16 and 18). In these text,
Jesus is talking directly to the Apostles. The phrase bind and loose is a Jewish expression from the day
that meant make decisions.
the Gospel of John, the Apostles were promised that
the Holy Spirit would lead and guide them in all
things, reminding them of what He taught. These Apostles
left successors. These successors eventually came
to be called Bishops. Of those, Peter was chief of
the Apostles, the first Pope, followed by his successors.
For that reason, the Bishops in union with the Pope
are the final authority for the New Testament Church.
That said, the Pope and bishops are limited by Divine
Revelation which is the Word of God. The Word of
God is found in the Bible and in Apostolic Tradition.
Again, quoting St. Paul:
So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to
the traditions which you were taught by us, either
by word of mouth or by letter.
So according to Paul the Word is transmitted by
word of mouth from generation to generation as well
as by written form; which is precisely how we got
the Bible to begin with. The list of books did not
come floating down from Heaven.
For almost 400 years we didn't have an official
list of books. It was not until 382 A.D. that a Council
of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome started the
guided by the Holy Spirit of defining a canon, a word that means measuring rod. This is how we got the
Bible as we know it today. In subsequent decades
at the Councils of Hippo in Carthage, the same Catholic
Church ratified the list again. So the only reason
you have a Bible to read is because the Catholic
Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, preserved it, and
discerned the list of books.
All of our liturgies and rituals are filled with
the Scripture. Oh, we may not turn to chapter and
verse, but all our liturgical prayers and ceremonies
are based on the Scriptures. The Holy Mass makes present
the Divine Liturgy taking place in Heaven as recorded
in Revelation, chapters 4 and 5.
The Bible is a Catholic Book my friend and therefore
the Catholic Church has the authority to interpret
Some 60 years before we had an official Bible, the
Church met to define the Trinity in 325 A.D. and by
the way, you won't find either the term Trinity or the definition of the Trinity in the Bible. It took
a Council of the Church to define the Trinity as:
- Three Persons
- each fully God
- One in Substance and One God.
It took the Church to define who Jesus Christ is:
- One Divine Person with two distinct natures,
- one Human and one Divine, hypostatically fused.
- Jesus Christ is the God-Man fully Human and fully
This is basic Christology, accepted by Protestants,
(including Bible Christians), Orthodox Christians
and, of course, Catholics. We all accept this, (with
few exceptions), but you won't find this anywhere
in the Bible.
The Church had to seek Apostolic Tradition: that
which had been handed down from Bishop to Bishop,
in order to discern and define these truths.
You see, if you accept the New Testament, you
are automatically accepting a Catholic Teaching because it was the Church who gave you the New
Testament that you are reading.
Sure, the books were written earlier but for centuries
all kinds of books were floating around.
- Some of
them good, but not Scripture.
- Some of the heretical
like the Gospel of Thomas (which the Da Vinci
Code is based on).
The only reason a Protestant can say the Da Vinci
Code is nonsense is because the Catholic Church
lead by the Holy Spirit rejected the Gospel of
I hope this helps. If you have more questions and
want to continue this dialogue we would be thrilled.