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Roman Catholicism
"Just Another Expression of Christianity"?

Sacred Scripture and Tradition

Edited [i] Extract from the book by Dusty Peterson & Elizabeth McDonald,
Alpha - the Unofficial Guide: World, (2003), Part Two, Chapter 10


Roman Catholicism: Index of Articles

 

 

Introduction

As we discuss in our article The Love of the Truth [yet to be uploaded], Christ magnified the scriptures.  He declared they are Truth and Life.  He emphasized their inerrancy and permanence.  He promised blessing to those who studied and obeyed them.  And He rebuked those who hid, or corrupted, or did not believe them.  Thus He expected His People to know the scriptures, and He showed their importance by repeatedly quoting them.

According to Roman Catholicism's Second Vatican Council:

"[T]he books of the Old and New Testament in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical, because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit ... they have God as their author and ... [are] [t]herefore, ... without error..." [1].

 

Rome's Track Record

Rome certainly claims to honour the scriptures.  After all, Vatican II also says:

“The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures” [2].

However, in our various articles on Rome's teachings, we discuss how this is not so in practice.  In fact her history regarding the Bible has not been a good one at all

In contrast to the exhortations of the Lord Jesus and His apostles to the early church to read, and obey, the scriptures, it has been the practice of Rome throughout the centuries to withhold them.  During the Middle Ages the only version of the Bible available was Jerome’s Vulgate which, being in Latin, could not be read or understood by the overwhelming proportion of the people (or even by most parish priests, who simply memorized the few parts they needed to recite for the Mass). 

As for translations into the vernacular, these were expressly banned, even for the 'regular' clergy [the religious orders of monks and friars, etc., as opposed to the 'secular' clergy of cardinals, bishops and parish priests] – as the following letter from Pope Gregory VII concerning a request from a monastery in Bohemia shows: 

“[W]e can by no means favourably answer this your petition … not without reason has it pleased Almighty God that holy Scripture should be a secret … lest, if it were plainly apparent to all men, perchance it would be little esteemed and be subject to disrespect...” [3].

But how can the populace truly esteem a book of which they have virtually no knowledge?  Who is showing the real disrespect for the scriptures here?  In 1229 the Catholic Council of Toulouse decreed:

“We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old or the New Testament; … we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books [in their own tongue]” [4].

This decree effectively made the Bible a forbidden book.  Attempts by some brave men to translate the scriptures into the vernacular were met with varying degrees of persecution by Rome.  John Wycliffe was one such courageous soul, translating the Latin scriptures into English in 1392.  A leading Catholic historian of the day accused him of casting “the Gospel pearl … before swine”.  (This was an inventive argument – even if it was calling Rome’s congregants “swine” – but it ignores (a) the need of everyone for the Gospel, and (b) the fact that, if the people had been taught the Word properly by Rome then the problem would not have arisen in the first place.)  Wycliffe posthumously received the following loving response from Rome for his efforts: 

“This pestilential and most wretched John Wycliffe of damnable memory, a child of the old devil, and himself a child or pupil of Anti-Christ, who, while he lived, walking in the vanity of his mind … crowned his wickedness by translating the Scriptures into the mother tongue [5].

Wycliffe, however, got off lightly.  Just over a century later William Tyndale was burnt at the stake for translating the Bible into English. 

“[F]or ages the Bible was practically an unknown book. Martin Luther was a grown man when he said that he had never seen (let alone read) a Bible in his life. No jailor ever kept a prisoner closer than the church of Rome kept the Bible from the people” [6].

Rome withheld the Bible from the people at two levels: the individual and the corporate.  Firstly, translations into the vernacular for individuals to read for themselves were refused by Rome.  But, on top of this, only tiny portions of Scripture were recited, in Latin, by her priests, in church meetings.  Thus Rome withheld both the Word of God itself from Catholics plus any teaching therefrom

The decree of the Council of Toulouse forbidding the Bible to the people in their own tongues was repeated in 1233 at the Synod of Tarragona and also at the Third Synod of Oxford in 1408.  Finally, at the Catholic Counter-Reformation’s Council of Trent in the 16th century under the leadership of Pius IV, all "unauthorised" versions and translations of the Bible were officially placed on Rome's Index of Prohibited BooksAnyone who possessed or read a Bible without written permission from their bishop was “anathema” (i.e. to be detested and cursed):

“[V]ersions of the books of the Old Testament may be allowed only to learned and pious men at the discretion of the bishop ... let versions of the New Testament ... be allowed to no-one, because but little utility, but very much danger is to flow from their perusal. ... it is evident from experience that, if the sacred books be permitted in the vulgar [people's] tongue indiscriminately more harm than utility arises therefrom by reason of the temerity of men, ...  But whosoever shall presume to read them without such power [permission], let him not be able to obtain absolution of his sins, unless he has first given back the books to the ordinary [church officer]. But the booksellers, who shall sell the Bible written in the vulgar tongue, to a person not having the aforesaid power [permission], ... shall be subject to ... penalties" [7].

Why, then, was the Word originally written in the common languages of the common people rather than in some obscure tongue?  If there is risk associated with people having the Word of God in their own language we would be warned of it in Scripture; however, there is no mention here of the Bible ever being deliberately kept in an obscure tongue.  Joshua not only chiselled the Word in the language of the people so that it was permanently and publicly readable, but even read the entire law out to the people in it (Joshua 8:30-35).  Another instance of this occurs in Nehemiah 8:2-3.

Nevertheless, in 1541, for example, Thomas Bainard and James Moreton were condemned and burned alive by the Catholic Church; the former just for reading the Lord’s Prayer in English and the latter just for reading the epistle of James in English.

Rome’s practice of prohibiting the free use of Bibles is not restricted to ages past.  As recently as the 19th century the Bible remained on the Index, even to those training for the Catholic priesthood.  And during the 20th century various Bible Societies were subject to the same treatment; their depots being closed and their Bibles confiscated and burned [8].  The Spanish people were still breaking the law if they possessed a copy of the Bible in their own language as recently as 1967.

“It is virtually axiomatic [i.e. a self-evident truth] that where there is an open Bible, men will not long remain in bondage. But by the same token where the Bible is a closed book men soon find themselves in darkness and servitude … For a thousand years … while the Roman Church held sway, the Bible remained a closed book. The Roman Church, instead of being a Kingdom of light, … [was] a Kingdom of darkness, promoting ignorance and superstition and holding the people in bondage…

“[O]bserve particularly … [her claim] that the reading of the Bible in the native tongue will do ‘more evil than good’! Imagine that, as the deliberate teaching of a church professing to be Christian! How insulting to God is such teaching, that His Word as read by the people will do more evil than good! That attitude toward the Word of God is the mark, not of a true church, but of a false church” [9].

Some might claim that, with Vatican II, Rome has dramatically changed.  After all, she has now said: “Easy access to sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful” [10].  Unfortunately there are stringent provisos attached to each of Vatican II’s statements which effectively nullify any ‘easy access’ to God’s Word by Catholics: 

  • Firstly, only heavily corrupted versions of the Bible are approved by the Church; corruptions to support Rome’s beliefs (see later).
     
  • Secondly, though Rome’s ‘laity’ may now read their ‘Bibles’, they must still go to ‘the Church’, rather than to the Holy Spirit, for final interpretation.
     
  • Thirdly, their reading is to be supplemented by the Church’s own writings, decrees and promulgations.  (When pressed, Roman priests are forced to admit that biblical proofs of Catholic doctrines simply do not exist – and that Catholics must go elsewhere to justify them [11]).  Catholics are obliged, on pain of excommunication, to believe Rome’s unbiblical doctrines even if their Bibles patently disagree.
     
  • Fourthly, although the Holy Spirit enlightens the Word to us, demonic spirits darken minds from being able to see its truths (as they did with the Pharisees).  Unfortunately, the “Christian faithful” referred to above are those who are committed to Roman Catholicism and who will thus have partaken of the idolatrous spirit behind it.

 

Approved Bible Versions

For many centuries, Jerome’s Latin Vulgate was the only version used by the Roman Church.  However, it was based on systematically corrupted Alexandrian manuscripts.  (Egypt, and especially Alexandria, was infamous for doctoring manuscripts.)

Though declared by the Council of Trent (1545-1563) to be infallible, numerous faults and inconsistencies have been found in the Vulgate (quite apart from the many falsehoods and heresies that were injected into it).  The Rheims and Douay Version, not translated from the original Greek or Hebrew manuscripts but from the Latin Vulgate c1600, thus contains the same fatal flaws, as do lesser-known ones like the ‘Confraternity’ version produced in 1941.

As well as changes to the text, Catholic Bibles have frequently suffered from the addition of footnotes that simply serve to induce confusion and doubt.  Often these Bibles have contained introductions that attempt to justify the Roman liturgy and explain why the Bible should be subservient to Rome’s teachings.  To cap it all, Catholic Bibles like the Douay contained the Apocrypha as if it were part of the canon (more on that shortly) [12].  Not all modern Catholic Bible versions retain the Apocrypha.  But Rome still stands by it.  Modern Romanist versions often exchange the Apocrypha for even worse corruption of the true canon. 

Rome’s ‘Jerusalem Bible’, which came out in 1966, contained even more alteration of the text to support Romish doctrines.  For example, at the end of Luke 1:28 the King James Version (‘KJV’) records the angel saying to Mary: “blessed art thou among women”.  In order to maintain the Catholic superstition that Mary was not just a woman but was actually divine, the Jerusalem Bible removes these words. 

Catholicized versions deliberately omit thousands of important words from verses, resulting in major corruption and in the undermining of fundamental teachings.  We could prove this in many ways, but we shall illustrate it primarily with respect to the greatest topic possible: the Messiahship, Sonship, Lordship, and even Deity of Jesus – the most crucial doctrine imaginable.  It is the one that most readily separates Christianity from false faiths, and one which few realize is repeatedly assailed by Rome. 

We shall compare verses given in the Authorized (‘King James’) Version, with Rome’s ‘Jerusalem Bible’.  The reader may like to check their own to see which one it agrees with and thus check if it has suffered Romish influence.  We have listed only a proportion of all possible examples. 

Is He Christ?

It is vital that we recognize Jesus as the Messiah (or ‘Christ’ in Greek).  He is the only Christ of God.  New Agers teach about a ‘Jesus’, and about ‘Christ’, but they are referring to two separate entities.  To them, references to ‘Jesus’ relate to the man, but ‘Christ’ pertains to a god-like ‘Christ consciousness’ which supposedly indwelt Jesus.  Keen to deny the Deity of Jesus, they frequently separate the two.  Amazingly, the Jerusalem Bible alters many references to “Jesus Christ”, thus encouraging readers to separate the person of Jesus from His inherent Messiahship.

  • Where the KJV has “Jesus Christ”, the Jerusalem regularly prefers just to say “Jesus”.  See, for example, Revelation 12:17; 1 Corinthians 9:1; Acts 15:11; and 2 Corinthians 11:31.  In another passage (Revelation 1:9), “Christ” is removed twice in the same verse.  Similarly, where the KJV has “Christ Jesus” (e.g. in Acts 19:4 and Hebrews 3:1), the Jerusalem again drops the “Christ”.
     
  • Even though “Christ” is removed from “Jesus Christ” in several other places (e.g. 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Acts 16:31; 1 John 1:7; and twice in 1 Corinthians 5:4), the Jerusalem Bible doesn’t stop there.  On some occasions when it is prepared to refer to Christ, it deletes the word “Jesus” instead, thus separating Him from His Christhood once again.  See, for example, 2 Corinthians 5:18 and Matthew 8:29.
     
  • In John 6:47, Jesus confirmed His Christhood, saying “He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life”.  The Jerusalem ‘Bible’, among others, carefully extracts the words “on Me” [13].  Consider the effect on that verse!

Catholicized versions dramatically downplay the significance of Christ anyway.  In Romans 1:16, the KJV quotes Paul’s words: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ”; but apparently the Douay and the Jerusalem Bibles are ashamed of it, for they remove the words “of Christ” here.  According to the KJV, each believer is made “an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians. 4:7)… but not according to the Douay nor its offspring, the Jerusalem.  When the KJV says “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13), the Douay and Jerusalem ‘Bibles’ again obliterate the word “Christ”.  How do these verses read in our versions?

Is He the Son of God?

Being the only natural Son of God makes Jesus God.  Believing He is God the Son is vital to salvation (1 John 4:15).  Catholicism, not unlike the New Age movement, is quietly keen to obscure this unique Sonship of Jesus Christ.  The Jerusalem Bible starts straight away by changing Luke 2:33 from “Joseph and His mother” to a reading which indicates that Jesus had a human father.

  • In the same way, there are several places where Christ referred to “My Father” but the Jerusalem ‘Bible’ instead reads “the Father”.  Examples include Matthew 24:36 and John 14:28.  (In John 10:29-32 this alteration has been subtly introduced more than once.)
     
  • In Ephesians 3:14 the KJV reads “I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”.  It will come as no surprise that the Jerusalem Bible deletes the last five words.  Similarly, where the KJV reads “God, having raised up his Son Jesus” (Acts 3:26), the Jerusalem Bible and its ilk remove the word “Jesus”.  (The true Bible is in perfect balance.  Corruptions like this destroy that balance.)
     
  • Rome is happy to teach that Jesus was merely God’s servant.  Thus its Bibles, including the Jerusalem, regularly change “His Son Jesus” to “His Servant Jesus”.  See, for example, Acts 3:13; Acts 3:26; and Acts 4:27 – as well as Acts 4:30.

We believe (just as the Eunuch did in Acts 8:37) “that Jesus Christ is the Son of God”.  Does your Bible say this?  (The Jerusalem omits the entire verse; many others insert doubt-inducing square brackets around it.)

Is He Lord?

Christ’s Lordship is non-negotiable too.  Yet we find this fundamental truth weakened in the Jerusalem ‘Bible’.  How do our versions compare?

  • Again, by altering several references to “the Lord”, Catholic Bibles subtly undermine Christ’s position.  In Acts 19:10, for example, the KJV refers to “the Lord Jesus”, so the Jerusalem simply takes out “Jesus”.  Likewise, in other places referring to the “Lord Jesus”, or “Lord Jesus Christ”, corrupt Bibles like the Jerusalem delete the word “Lord”.  See, for example, 1 Corinthians 16:22; 2 Corinthians 4:10; 2 John 1:3; and 2 Timothy 4:1.
  • Paul tells us that “the second Adam” (i.e. Jesus) was the “Lord from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:47).  The Douay, the Jerusalem, and their like destroy this unambiguous statement by removing the word “Lord”.  Yet Paul was well placed to write this, having encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus (in Acts 9:6).  In this verse, Scripture confirms Christ’s Lordship twice with: “And [Paul] trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him…”.  The Jerusalem ‘Bible’ doesn’t bother altering these words; it simply deletes the whole passage.
     
  • As Christians, for whom the cross is central, we should find the following corruption (in Luke 23:42) particularly distressing.  The malefactor crucified next to Jesus was perhaps the only mortal man present who grasped something of what was truly happening, and his faith must surely have been a real comfort to the Lord.  The KJV reads “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdom”.  Out goes the word “Lord” in the Jerusalem ‘Bible’ and its stablemates.

See Acts 22:16 for yet another place where the ‘Jerusalem’ thinks Christ’s Lordship doesn’t belong.  (Obviously, not every reference to Jesus’ Christhood or Lordship is changed – that would be far too conspicuous.)

Is He God?

According to New Agers, being ‘Lord’ is potentially different from being the one true God.  But the disciples in Acts 4:24 knew the truth.  They cried: “Lord, thou art God” (unless, of course, you are using a Bible like the Jerusalem version, which is audacious enough to take out these emboldened words.)  Many people suppose, because Rome uses the three names of the Trinity, that she is Trinitarian.  However, Rome attaches a fundamentally different meaning to the word ‘Trinity’ than it first had [14] – thus we see the Deity of Christ subverted in her Bible versions:

  • In 1 Timothy 3:16, one of the most unarguable confirmations of Christ’s Deity, the KJV says: “great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh”.  Corrupt versions like the Douay and the Jerusalem replace the word “God” with “He” in order to obscure this.  (See also Hebrews 1:3 where the KJV tells us that Christ is the “express image of [God’s] person” not a mere representation of His nature.)
     
  • In 1 John 3:16, the KJV says “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down his life for us”.  This unambiguously tells us that the person who laid down His life for us (Christ) is actually God.  Catholicized versions like the Jerusalem remove the words “of God” from this passage, thus it no longer teaches Christ’s Deity.  (In relation to this, having referred to God in the verses preceding 1 John 4:19, the KJV says “We love Him, because He first loved us”.  Catholic Bibles have the audacity to remove the word “Him” here too, despite it reflecting the greatest Commandment.)
     
  • In Acts 7:59, as he was about to die from his stoning, the KJV says that Stephen was “calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”.  The Deity of the Lord Jesus is again affirmed here, so the Jerusalem and other Catholicized Bibles remove the word “God”, or replace it with “Lord”, in order to mask this truth.  Could the reader prove Christ’s Deity with a Bible like this?

The Jerusalem version goes further still and includes readings that actually serve to help deny the doctrine that Christ is God by introducing unwarranted distinctions not found in the KJV, e.g. in: Romans 5:9 (where Christ is separated from the wrathful God); Jude 1:25 (where Christ is no longer our Saviour); and Romans 14:10-12 (where the Judgment seat is no longer Christ’s). 

The Jerusalem Bible questions many other vital doctrines about Christ.  We could go on to expose verses which cast doubt on His eternal nature (e.g. Micah 5:2), or where His hand in Creation is removed (e.g. in Ephesians 3:9).  Likewise we could reveal verses which hide his perfection (e.g. Matthew 19:16-17 [15]), or where His death is questioned (e.g. in Luke 9:31), or where His Resurrection is downplayed (e.g. Luke 13:32), or where His Ascension is hidden (e.g. in John 16:16), and so on.  In fact, the doctrine of Christ’s Deity is weakened, or obliterated altogether, in many scores of places. 

How does the reader’s Bible measure up?  Is it trustworthy, or does it show the wounds of Rome’s attacks?  (See our series of articles on Bible Versions for more information on this whole, fundamental, subject.)  The reader may be surprised to learn that most modern versions display practically all of the above corruptions, and many others beside [16].  But all this is not really unexpected, given that the editor of the Greek committee underpinning these versions was a Roman Catholic. 

People frequently attempt to dismiss this problem by pointing out that the ‘other’ readings (i.e. the KJV ones) are supplied in the footnotes of these modern versions.  But why should the correct readings be relegated to footnotes in the first place?  And how often are footnotes referenced when most people read their Bibles?  A lot of people never access them. 

The true Spirit of God glorifies Christ rather than demoting Him.  Furthermore, 1 John 2:22-23 teaches that those who deny Jesus His rightful position are “antichrist”.  We therefore contend that it was not the Holy Spirit that inspired these versions.  Interestingly, the test for a false spirit (in 1 John 4:3) also centres on Christ’s Divinity.  It comes as little surprise, then, that these Catholic versions alter the text here too.  The KJV reads, “every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God”.  Many modern versions, happy to confess a Jesus, simply remove the uncomfortable portion about His Incarnation.  But in doing so they are actually admitting that they are “not of God” [17].

 

Good News

It might seem like good news to learn that Vatican II approves the production of translations “in cooperation with the separated brethren” [18].  But lest we rejoice too soon (and bearing in mind the deliberate corruptions in Rome’s own versions), Vatican II continues:

“the Church with maternal [!] concern sees to it that suitabletranslations are made”.

Sure enough, Catholics like the Jesuit Cardinal Martini figure large in the world of Bible translation committees, heavily influencing the result in favour of Rome’s heresies… 

For example, in order to support the idea of baptismal regeneration (while simultaneously undermining Christ’s Deity once again) Romish versions try to claim that Jesus only received the Spirit of God in the River Jordan, by hiding the fact that, as a child, He “grew, and waxed strong in spirit” (Luke 2:40).  For similar reasons, they also remove the clear demand from Peter that baptism is only for those who are already believers (Acts 8:37) [19].

The reader will understand why the KJV, with its amazing track record, has been used throughout our books and articles.  Indeed, if readers wish to look up any of the Bible references we quote, they are strongly recommended to use the KJV because of the background of other versions [20].  There are numerous reasons for believing that the KJV had God’s hand on its creation [21]

The KJV is often avoided because of the widespread belief that it is too old to be easily understood, but the KJV’s language is not nearly as old-fashioned as people are often led to believe [22].  For example: (a) there are amazingly few archaic words in the KJV, and these usually appear only once or twice each (the meaning of any such word is usually obvious from the context of its first occurrence); (b) the occasional, seemingly quaint, phraseology is simply there to express Hebraisms accurately [23]; and the sentence structure likewise reflects the Hebrew and Greek texts, not Elizabethan English; (c) words like “thee” and “ye” etc, which were not even in common use when the KJV was translated, are needed to communicate faithfully the singular and plural “you” used in the original Bible languages. 

In reality, Rome’s behaviour regarding the scriptures is designed to continue discouraging her members from Spirit-led access to the true Word, while fooling the rest of us into believing that she is actually dedicated to the Bible.

 

Interpretation of the Scriptures

As we have seen, although Rome’s laity might now be allowed by their church hierarchy to read a ‘suitable version’ of the Word of God, they must not think they can interpret its meanings for themselves:

“The task of authentically interpreting the Word of God … has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church…” and “[T]he way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church...” [Vatican II] [24].

“Man can obtain a knowledge of God’s word from the Catholic Church ... When he has once mastered this principle of divine authority, the inquirer is prepared to accept whatever the divine Church teaches on faith, morals and the means of grace” [25].

Remember that, for Rome, the ‘Church’ does not mean every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, but only the ordained ‘priesthood’, so any suggestion that an individual can turn directly to the Holy Spirit for decisive understanding of the Word is unthinkable.  This is still the case today, as proved by the offering below from ARCIC (Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission):

“The meaning of the revealed Gospel of God is fully understood only within the Church … The Church cannot properly be described as an aggregate of individual believers, … So, though one person’s journey of faith may begin with individual reading of Scripture, it cannot remain there. Individualistic interpretation of the Scriptures is … incompatible with the nature of the authority of the revealed Word of God” [26].

Augustine of Hippo, revered by so many in the Protestant Churches as a theologian second only to Paul, agreed with Rome on this matter:

“I would not believe in the Gospel if I were not brought to do so by the authority of the Catholic Church [27].

But Luke – in contrast to Augustine – commended the Bereans “in that they … searched the scriptures daily” to determine whether Paul’s teaching was right or not (Acts 17:11). 

Rome teaches (and Augustine implies) that ‘lay’ believers are incapable of understanding what Scripture says without the Church to interpret for them.  But if this is true then surely, far from commending the Bereans, Luke should have challenged them for being so misguided as to think they could possibly interpret the scriptures for themselves.  And how much more so for having the impudence to think that they were actually capable of testing Paul’s teachings by them! 

Over and over again in Scripture we are told that all the people were to read the Word of God or hear it read to them.  There is never any suggestion that anyone capable of comprehending normal speech would not be able to understand it:

“[T]hou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger … that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God,… And that their children … may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 31:11-13).   See also 2 Kings 23:2 and Jeremiah 36:6-10.

“And these words … thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

“I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all...” (1 Thessalonians 5:27).  See also Colossians 4:16 and Revelation 1:3.

[F]rom [when you were] a child thou hast known the holy scriptures” (2 Timothy 3:15).

“And all the people gathered themselves … And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding [i.e. were old enough] … And he read therein … from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, … and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book” (Nehemiah 8:1-3).

 

Scripture and Tradition

It has been suggested that although “Protestant churches” used to revere the scriptures and “many fine [Protestant] scholars” still do, it is “ridiculed at a school level” within Protestantism [28].  But this remark is rather misleading.  The infallibility of Scripture is indeed denied by the world and their humanistic ‘experts’ – some of whom may claim to be ‘Protestant theologians’.  But as we shall see, it is largely because of Protestantism that we have the true Word available to us today. 

The “Protestant” scholars who arguably did the most to undermine infallibility (viz. B.F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort) were actually Romanist sympathizers who were totally devoted to two desperately corrupt Manuscripts (one found in a Catholic convent, and the other in the Vatican library).  While some Protestants have been led away (often by Catholics) from the founding Protestant belief in Sola Scriptura, Protestantism was a major tool in exalting the Bible to its rightful place and opening it up to the World.

(Hort claimed to be a Christian, yet he admitted to being a “staunch sacerdotalist” (i.e. one who depends on mortal priests and their ‘sacraments’, rather than on faith in Christ alone, as the means of grace).  He believed in Purgatory and he mocked evangelical Christianity as “easy belief”, saying “The pure Romish view seems to me nearer and more likely to lead to truth than the evangelical” [29].  He attacked the Atonement, and called the idea that Christ bore our sins “heresy”.  Among his many other Romish statements, he claimed that “Mary-worship and Jesus-worship have much in common in their cause and in their results”.  [See Heresies of Westcott and Hort [30] by D.A. Waite for more.]) 

The comment that the inerrancy of Scripture is “ridiculed at a school level” is potentially misleading for another reason.  this statement could imply that the Word of God does not stand up well to scholarly scrutiny, and that the only scholars who believe in the infallibility of the scriptures do so by overriding what their learned brains are telling them.  This is very far from the truth.  Many Protestants have proved the scriptures in the fields in which they are expert (history, archaeology, philology etc) [31].

It is worldly scholars with their own deceitful agenda who try to sow doubts about the Bible. The Word of God stands up to every claim it makes of itself.  But these people treat it as if it is any other man-made book, when true Christians believe it to be, as it claims, God-breathed and Divinely preserved – and must therefore be approached from that starting point [32]

Shamefully, some so-called Protestant groups and theologians do now deny the inerrancy of God’s Word.  But it is misleading to give the impression that the Roman Church is in any way above reproach here.  Rome may well claim to hold Scripture in high esteem, but Rome’s ‘traditions’, consisting of hundreds of her decrees and pronouncements, plus the writings of the Church ‘Fathers’ and other writings, take precedence over the Word of God for her. 

Despite the doublespeak for which Rome is justly famous, the message from the following quotes is clear enough:

“It is not from sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything that has been revealed … the Church always understands and interprets Scripture in the light of her continuous tradition. Therefore both sacred tradition and sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of devotion and reverence” [Vatican II] [33].

“Sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the Word of God, which is committed to the Church … It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, sacred Scripture, and the teaching authority of the Church, … are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others” [Vatican II] [34].

The Apocrypha

The Apocrypha forms a part of this tradition and consists of 15 extra books including the “Epistle of Jeremy”, the “Song of the three Holy Children”, and “Bel and the Dragon”.  The quotation from Vatican II, as given at the beginning of this article, includes Rome’s veiled reference to this collection of writings in the four words “with all their parts”.

These books were a part of the Septuagint (a Greek version of the Old Testament originating with the Hellenists in Alexandria), but were not included in the (trusted) Hebrew Masoretic Bible of non-Hellenistic Jews.  Although a version of the Septuagint [35] was used in Israel during the time of the Lord Jesus, this was because most Israelites no longer spoke Hebrew and because no better Greek version yet existed.  Besides, even the Septuagint was sufficient to expose the great apostasy of those times and rescue people from it, just as Wycliffe’s English version of the Vulgate was sufficient to expose the dark apostasy of his day and sufficed until much more reliable versions (like the Tyndale, Cranmer, and eventually the Authorized) were produced. 

Jews did not accept the Apocryphal books as part of Scripture.  Neither Jesus nor His apostles ever quoted from any of these books (or even referred to them), though they quoted from virtually every other book in the Old Testament – and on numerous occasions. 

According to Vatican II, the Septuagint is Rome’s preferred version of the Old Testament [36], from which Jerome’s Latin Vulgate was translated.  It is not surprising, therefore, to find Rome insisting on the authenticity of the Apocryphal writings.  In fact, the Council of Trent in the 16th century anathematized anyone who did not accept them as being part of the Canon of Scripture [37]

The word Apocrypha means ‘hidden things’ in the manner of being (a) secret or mysterious, (b) unknown in origin, forged or spurious, or (c) unrecognized or uncanonical:

“It is primarily in the sense of spurious or uncanonical that we use the term … Christ quoted [the Jewish Old Testament] as authoritative, and said, ‘The Scriptures cannot be broken’ (John 10:35). But the reason that neither He nor the apostles ever once referred to the Apocryphal books is obvious. They did not regard those books as Scripture … Romanists sometimes charge Protestants with having ‘cut those books out of the Bible.’ But the record makes it clear that if anyone cut them out it was Christ Himself” [38].

The Church ‘Fathers’

Another source of tradition used by Rome is the writings of the Church ‘Fathers’ – certain ‘theologians’ of the early centuries [39].  There are at least 35 volumes of writings from these ‘fathers’ and, though it is no doubt the case that the early church theologians held Scripture in high regard, and that some of these volumes are useful for reference, they are not infallible.  Indeed, they repeatedly contradict one another (and even themselves) on many doctrines:

“When a Roman Catholic priest is ordained he solemnly vows to interpret the Scriptures only according to the ‘unanimous consent of the fathers.’ But such ‘unanimous consent’ is purely a myth…

“Augustine … in his later life wrote a special book in which he set forth his Retractions …The early fathers condemned the use of images in worship, while later ones approved such use. The early fathers almost unanimously advocated the reading and free use of the Scriptures, while the later ones restricted such reading and use. Gregory the Great, bishop of Rome … denounced the assumption of the title of Universal Bishop as anti-Christian. But later popes … have been very insistent on using that and similar titles which assert universal authority” [40].

The Church’s ‘Magisterium’ 

The word Magisterium comes from the Latin for ‘Master’.  Rome uses the term as a shorthand way of referring to the teaching authority which, she claims, rests in her pope and bishops.  According to Rome, the writings of the apostles in the New Testament, though inspired by the Holy Spirit, are yet continually evolving or ‘developing’ through Church decrees:

“And so the apostolic preaching … This tradition which comes from the apostles develops in the Church … for there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down … [T]he Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth…” [Vatican II] [41].

(N.B. It is difficult to comprehend how the slide from the pure church – as described in Acts – to Rome’s diabolical Council of Trent and her ‘Holy’ Inquisitions could be called “development”.  If there has been “growth in the understanding” from the time of Paul to the blasphemous doctrines now taught by Rome, it is hard to see.  And how the recent introduction of dogmas like Papal Infallibility, Mary’s Assumption and Mary as Co-Redemptrix could be regarded as “the Church constantly moving forward toward the fullness of divine truth” is, we freely admit, a mystery.)

There are many hundreds of Church Council Decrees and ex Cathedra Papal Pronouncements.  These are held by Rome to be infallible, due to the position of the pope as “offer[ing] a specific ministry concerning the discernment of truth” [42].  Nevertheless many such statements contradict Scripture – and even countermand each other (just like the writings of the Church ‘Fathers’) as succeeding popes alter or retract what their predecessors have decreed.  Not all the following papal pronouncements on abortion, for example, can be ‘infallible’.  (Nor do they all display “growth in understanding”):

“Gregory VI (1045-6) said, ‘He is not a murderer who brings about abortion before the soul is in the body’ [There is no such period!].  Gregory XIII (1572-85) said it was not homicide to kill an embryo of less than 40 days since it wasn’t yet human.  His successor, Sixtus V, who rewrote the Bible, disagreed. His Bull of 1588 made all abortions for any reason homicide and cause for excommunication.  His successor, Gregory XIV, reversed that decree.  In 1621 the Vatican issued another pastoral directive permitting abortion up to 40 days.  As late as the eighteenth century the Church’s greatest moral theologian, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, still denied that the soul was infused at conception” [43].

In addition to the Apocrypha, the writings of the Church ‘Fathers’, and Council/papal decrees, there are also numerous sayings of various ‘saints’ through the ages which must be accepted as a part of “sacred tradition”.  The Catholic Catechism leaves the faithful Catholic no choice but to embrace all this “sacred” tradition.  They must swear:

“I admit and embrace most firmly the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and all the other constitutions and prescriptions of the Church … besides I accept without hesitation, and profess all that has been handed down, defined and declared by the Sacred Canons and by the General Councils, especially by the Sacred Council of Trent and by the Vatican General Council, and in a special manner concerning the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff … This same Catholic Faith, outside of which nobody can be saved, which I now freely profess and to which I truly adhere, the same I promise and swear to maintain and profess … until the last breath of life” [44].

So, what does it all mean?

“As Roman Catholicism works out in actual practice, the traditions of the church at any time are what the church says they are, Scripture means what the church says it means, and the people are permitted to read the Bible only in an approved version and within the limits of a predetermined interpretation

“But when the Christian message is thus shackled by tradition and ecclesiastically dictated interpretation it ceases to be the free grace of God offered to repentant sinners, and becomes a tool in the hands of the clergy for the control of the people. In professing to interpret the Bible in the light of tradition, the Roman Church in reality places tradition above the Bible, so that the Roman Catholic is governed, not by the Bible, nor by the Bible and tradition, but by the church itself which sets up the tradition and says what it means” [45].

Rome avoids and discourages a real commitment to Scripture.  Although abused today, the term ‘Pharisaic’ applies very precisely here for this is exactly what the Pharisees did.

 

The Reformation and Scripture

The Protestant Reformation in the 16th century was based on the principle of Sola Scriptura – i.e. ‘Scripture alone’.  The Protestant reformers insisted that all extrabiblical writings be subordinated to Scripture, not aligned with it.

“When the leaders of the Reformation appealed to Scripture and thundered against the errors of the Roman Church, that church had to defend herself. And since she could not do so from the Bible alone, she resorted to these other writings … It is natural that the Roman Church does not want to give up tradition. It cannot. If it were to give up tradition the whole system would fall to the ground, so much of its doctrine and practice has no other foundation … the Reformers based their teaching squarely on the Scriptures to the exclusion of all accumulated tradition… 

“The Reformers declared that even lay people, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, can interpret Scripture by diligent and prayerful searching and reading. Every born again Christian has … the Holy Spirit, and is therefore able to understand the basic essentials of what God has written [46].

Alexander Hislop relates a very telling story in this regard:

“When Linacer, a distinguished [Catholic] physician … in the reign of Henry VIII, first fell in with the New Testament, after reading it for a while, he tossed it from him with impatience and a great oath, exclaiming ‘Either this book is not true, or we are not Christians.’ He saw at once that the system of Rome and the system of the New Testament were directly opposed to one another” [47].

 

What Does Scripture Itself Say?

Rome claims that only certain Christians can understand Scripture; but the Word of God can be comprehended by anyone who seeks and obeys God:

“I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Thy precepts” (Psalm 119:100).

 “Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things” (Proverbs 28:5).

“[A] good understanding have all they that do His commandments” (Psalm 111:10).

Rome claims that its traditions are equal with Scripture but the Word of God condemns man’s traditions:

“Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? … Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:3b & 7-9).  

“Beware lest any man spoil you through vain philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men…” (Colossians 2:8).   See also Mark 7:9,13; and 1 Peter 1:18.

The traditions (or ordinances) of which Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15, and 3:6 are those teachings given by the apostles that became the Greek canon; they have nothing whatsoever to do with additions to the true gospel “which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).

God’s Words are pure:

“The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6).

God’s Words are complete:

“…thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32b).

And God’s Words are sufficient:

“That the man of God may be … thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16b-17) [48].

In order to know God and to be His disciples we need nothing else on earth.


 

Endnotes

[i]  Mainly just the removal of all references to Nicky Gumbel and the Alpha Course.

[1]  Walter M. Abbott, S.J., Gen. Ed., The Documents of Vatican II, (Geoffrey Chapman, 1966), Revelation, Point 11, pp.118-119.
 

[2]  Abbott, Documents, p.125.
 
[3]  ‘Pope’ Gregory VII, (1079), quoted in Margaret Deanesly, The Lollard Bible and Other Medieval Biblical Versions, (Cambridge University Press, 1920), p.24.
 
[4]  Quoted in Edward Peters, ed., Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe (Pennsylvania, 1980), p.195.  [Source revised 15 December 2013]
 
[5]  Catholic Archbishop Arundel, quoted in David Fountain, John Wycliffe, the Dawn of the Reformation, (Mayflower Christian Books, 1984), p.45.
 
[6]  Professor Dyson Hague, The Wonder of the Book, quoted in Rev. W. MacLean, The Providential Preservation of the Greek New Testament, (Westminster Standard Publication, No. 31, 4th edn., 1983), p.43.
 
[7]  Theodore Alois Buckley, The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent (Routledge, 1851), pp.284-285 at http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=P_GDBjERbmUC&pg=PR1&dq=&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false.  And the Index Librorum Prohibitorum: Index of Prohibited Books from the Roman Office of the Inquisition, 1559 at http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/ILP-1559.htm  [Some text and sources revised 15 December 2013]
 
[8]  See Loraine Boettner, Roman Catholicism (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co, 1962), p.100.
 
[9]  Boettner, Roman Catholicism, pp.96-98 & 100-101.
 
[10]  Abbott, Documents, Revelation, point 22, p.125.
 
[11]  ‘Father’ Kenneth Ryan, Catholic Questions, Catholic Answers, (Servant Publications, 1990), pp.95-96.
 
[12]  The early editions of the KJV did include the Apocrypha but this material was clearly marked as apocryphal and kept separate from the canon.  This is not true of Romish Bibles.
 
[13]  The Jerusalem ‘Bible’ changes John 7:38 from ‘believing on’ Jesus to ‘believing in’ Him.
 
[14]  The word ‘Trinity’ originally meant three persons with one substance, whereas Rome claims it means three persons with one purpose.  Rome will happily say that ‘Jesus is God’, but only in the (erroneous) sense that the whole universe is God.  It is like saying, of a man involved in the U.S. secret services, “He’s CIA”.  We say this because it is shorthand for saying he represents, or is part of, that organization.  Equally, we might say, regarding a piece of jewellery, “It’s gold”.  We are not saying it comprises all the gold in existence.  Jesus is not part of God; He is the one true God in totality (as are the two other members of the Trinity).
 
[15]  Jesus does not tell the man that he was wrong to call Him “good”!  He was trying to get the man to see the logical conclusion – i.e. that He (Jesus) was God.
 
[16]  It often takes only one word to be added to a verse (or, more commonly, subtracted because this is even harder to spot) to completely change the meaning of a passage.
 
[17]  With the new reading of 1 John 4:3, all someone needs to do to pass the test is to confess “Jesus”, rather than confess His Deity.  Any New Ager can pass such a weak test.
 
[18]  Abbott, Documents, Scripture in the Life of the Church, point 22, p.126.
 
[19]  Additionally: The papacy is supported by changing John 1:42 to say “Peter” or “Rock” instead of “a stone”; the Mass is supported by the removal of the word “unworthily” from 1 Corinthians 11:29 – and of the word “broken” in 1 Corinthians 11:24 (it was the breaking – i.e. crucifixion – of the Lord’s body that was “for” us); Purgatory is helped by changing “perform” to “show” in Luke 1:71-72 (the deceased fathers do not require further mercy to be shown them, because they are not in Purgatory!); and the idea of salvation by works is encouraged by introducing the word “salvation” into 1 Peter 2:2 (you cannot grow in salvation).  All of these corruptions, and more, are present in most modern versions.
 
[20]  Even the “New King James” encourages confusion and error – e.g. by printing (and hence legitimizing) the corrupt ‘alternative readings’.
 
[21]  God’s hand on the KJV is evident in many ways.  For example, this version ‘happened’ to get translated at precisely the time that the English language reached the very pinnacle of its capacity – and was thus brilliantly placed to communicate the depth and power of Holy Scripture.  (This was also the moment in history when the English language stabilized – and printing presses were readily available so as to enable copies to be produced far more cheaply than before.)  All of those involved in translating the KJV were giants of their trade who make today’s ‘scholars’ look like infants.  (These giants also all believed in the inerrancy and divine preservation of Scripture.)  The KJV is simultaneously beautiful, memorizable and accurate.  Surely only the Holy Ghost could achieve this.  No wonder the KJV is hated and abused by Rome.
 
[22]  The idea that the KJV is out of date is a view usually circulated by people who have never read it through from the start.  In fact, the modern versions often replace easy KJV words with harder ones, in order for their version to be different enough to be ‘copyrightable’ – a financial, rather than spiritual, consideration.  The Lord is more than capable of giving understanding if people ask Him to.  Even in recent years, the Lord has taught entirely unschooled people to read English purely from faithful exposure to the KJV.  The error many people make is to expect to understand every verse of God’s eternal Word on their first exposure.  This is not realistic – even if they had a deep grasp of Hebraisms.  The Word is meant to be studied often and verses will become clear after a solid grasp of related scriptures is attained.
 
[23]  This is why most Christians coming from a Jewish background choose the KJV.
 
[24]  Abbott, Documents, Revelation, points 10 and 12, pp.117-118 & 121.
 
[25]  The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, quoted in Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides The Beast, (Harvest House, 1994), p.335.
 
[26]  ARCIC, at http://www.ewtn.com/library/Theology/Arcicgf3.htm, published in May 1999, paragraph 23.
 
[27]  Quoted in William C. Standridge, What's Happening in the Roman Church? A Report From Rome, (Independent Faith Mission, 1975), p.32.
 
[28]  Nicky Gumbel, The Alpha Course, Talk 5, edn. 2:1.
 
[29]  F.J. Hort, Life and Letters of Fenton John Hort, (Macmillan Press, 1896), Vol. I, p.211, as quoted by Peter Burden-Teh, Christianity and Society magazine, June 2000, p.4.
 
[30]  Christians wisely reject the Jehovah’s Witness translation because they know it has been doctored to attack the Deity of Christ.  So what should we do about other versions that do the same?  Most modern versions even use the same corrupt ‘Westcott and Hort’ Greek used by the JWs.
 
[31]  Unrivalled Protestant experts have shown, using their outstanding scholarship, that the King James Bible is entirely trustworthy.  (For the record, here are the names of some of these giants: Edward Miller (Dean Burgon’s colleague), Robert Wilson, Sir Frederic Kenyon, Edward Hills, and Herman Hoskier.)  It has actually been Rome-inspired corruptions of the Word over “the last Century” which have caused its reduction in use and respect.
 
[32]  The result of this worldly, humanistic attitude is called “Higher Criticism”, and Catholics have been heavily involved in developing and espousing it.  But God will laugh at such haughtiness of men who would ignore His promises, and He ridicules their foolish conclusions.  We cannot treat the Bible just like any other book, else we lose sight of Satan’s attempts to attack it – and of God’s promised preservation of it.
 
[33]  Abbott, Documents, Revelation, point 9, p.117.
 
[34]  Abbott, Documents, point 10, pp.117-118.  See also point 21, p.125 and point 24, p.127.
 
[35]  N.B. The Septuagint is often quoted in the New Testament, but the Lord providentially ensured that the Septuagint translated the required verses accurately – or that it supplied a representative paraphrase of the original Hebrew [Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, (Zondervan, 1982), p31, point 2].  But the Septuagint elsewhere contains many serious corruptions and other shortcomings, which is why Helena Blavatsky (a Luciferian and the mother of the modern New Age movement) was a big fan of it.  Since we now have Hebrew dictionaries and faithful copies of the original Hebrew, we should no longer look to this derived Greek version – even assuming it has not been further corrupted since the version used in Christ’s day.  No wonder the Lord denounced the Scribes during His Incarnation, for they will certainly have known that the Septuagint was not a faithful rendering of the Hebrew yet they did nothing.
 
[36]  See Abbott, Documents, Revelation, point 22, p.126.
 
[37]  See William Webster, Saving Faith: How Does Rome Define It?, (Christian Resources Inc., 1995), p.90.
 
[38]  Boettner, Roman Catholicism, pp.80-81.
 
[39]  See Abbott, Documents, Revelation, point 8, p.116.
 
[40]  Boettner, Roman Catholicism, pp.78-79.
 
[41]  Abbott, Documents, Revelation, point 8, pp.115-116.
 
[42]  ARCIC, May 1999.
 
[43]  Hunt, A Woman, pp.519-520.  (See also Boettner, Roman Catholicism, pp.248-253 for examples of more papal errors and contradictions.)
 
[44]  Roman Catholic Catechism, quoted in Michael de Semlyen, All Roads Lead to Rome? The Ecumenical Movement, (Dorchester House Publications, 1993),  p.58.
 
[45]  Boettner, Roman Catholicism, pp.76-77.
 
[46]  Boettner, Roman Catholicism, pp.79&90.
 
[47]  Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, (Loizeaux Brothers, 2nd USA edn., 1959), p.129.
 
[48]  See also Psalm 1:1-3, Psalm 19:7-11 and the whole of Psalm 119, especially vv9-16.

 

Elizabeth McDonald
March 2013
 

 

 

 

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