The Living Voice

In my series on the Eucharist, I discussed a few Roman Catholic apologists: FishEatersChurch Fathers, and Joshua Charles. One of the issues I highlighted was what is known as “quote mining,” where a quote is taken out-of-context or twisted to say something that it doesn’t say.

Well, it will be unsurprising to learn that Protestant apologists take quotes out-of-context as well. I was alerted to one such quote by Jesse Albrecht at Rational Christian Discernment here:

A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture
Through Luther, although Calvin seems to have been the first to announce Monobiblicism clearly, the Bible became the arm of the Protestant revolt. A dumb and difficult book was substituted for the living voice of the Church, in order that each one should be be able to make for himself the religion which suited his feelings.

Citation: Bernard Orchard, “A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture.” p.11

Did everyone have a good chuckle over a Roman Catholic calling the Bible stupid? Well, I didn’t actually quote this to score a few cheap points. Indeed, what he actually said is far, far more interesting. So let me translate this into modern English and add more context:

A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture
The Bible became the arm of the Protestant revolt. A voiceless and difficult book was substituted for the living voice of the Church, in order that each one should be be able to make for himself the religion which suited his feelings. And the Bible open before every literate man and woman to interpret for themselves was the attractive bait used to win adherents. Not the solid rock of truth, but the shifting sand of private interpretation is the foundation on which Protestantism was built. It is no wonder that the Council of Trent drew up censorship regulations…

This is truly an amazing quotation all on its own. It is shocking that anyone would want to misquote this, because what he actually said is quite damning all on its own. It reveals so much about the Roman Catholic belief system that Roman Catholic apologists just don’t tell you. Some Roman Catholics, ironically, call this view a spuriously false attack on Roman Catholics, but most just remain ignorant of it. Yet, here it is, stated plainly for all to see.

Before moving forward, I want to first state my motivation up-front. Much of what I say here will likely be deemed offensive, but what I’m trying to show is that the Roman Catholic is on equal epistemological grounds with the Protestant. If you are used to claiming metaphysical superiority, I deny you that assumption. If what I’m saying is construed as mockery, then to the extent that epistemology is under discussion, I must be mocking Protestants as well. For example, if I mock one for using private interpretation, I mock the other equally.

The validity of Roman Catholicism rests on its supposed metaphysical superiority, thus a higher epistemological standard. If it is on the same level as “just another Protestant denomination,” then it has no reason for being. So as I show that the tactics of the Roman Catholic are equivalent to the tactics that the Roman Catholic finds abhorrent in the Protestant, this will cause grave offense, for to equate the two is to defeat Roman Catholicism.

Before we go into a deeper discussion, let’s read a few paragraphs earlier:

A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture
Translations of the Sacred Scriptures into vernacular languages may not be printed, unless they are approved by the Apostolic See…editions of the original text….if published by non-Catholics, are thereby forbidden…The use of non-Catholic editions of ancient Catholic versions…is, however, permitted to those who devote themselves in any way to theological or biblical studies, provided that the said books are edited with fidelity and integrity, no dogma of Catholic faith being impugned either in their prolegomeno or notes.

This is the context of the opening quote. Orchard makes it abundantly clear that translations and commentaries of the Bible must be made according to the dogma of the Catholic faith. If your scholarship leads you to a conclusion that would be construed as going against some dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, you must not translate it that way, even if the evidence demands it.

Remember Kauffman’s Law?

To the Roman apologist, all existing evidence is assumed to support the Roman position.

If you are a Roman Catholic, you were probably offended by me using that quote. But as Orchard’s quote shows, this was an accurate description of Roman Catholic belief. Accurate, that is, except in this case it doesn’t go far enough. According to Orchard, all existing evidence is required to support the Roman position, even—and especially—when it is a lie.

Let’s emphasize this: Roman Catholics are proud to believe this! They really do believe that all evidence must conform to the Roman position, that it is actually impossible for the Bible, the Apostles, or the historical record to be against their dogma. I’m not misrepresenting the Roman Catholic position. It is plain for everyone to see.

It is as I’ve said many times. The Roman Catholic Axiom is:

“The recent explicates the older”

Whatever the church teaches now is what the church must always have been taught throughout all of history, regardless of the evidence.

“We have always been at war with Eastasia.”

It is not a myth that the Roman Catholic Church wants to restrict the scriptures from the hands of the laity. Go to your local Baptist church and you’ll likely find a former Roman Catholic who was explicitly told by their priest not to read the Bible, but did it anyway. I’ve heard testimonies from those who have experienced this personally, so you should be able to verify it easily enough if you want to. It is common enough.

Without guidance, curation, and censorship, the scriptures are a threat to Roman Catholic dogma. They always have been, they always will be.

A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture
We must also keep in mind that whenever or wherever reading endangers the purity of Christian thought and living—the unum necessarium—it has to be wisely restricted.

He goes on to note how in the midst of the threat of the Albigensians making their own Bible, the Synod of Toulouse in 1229 banned the reading of scriptures by the laity. Another council in Oxford in 1408 did the same thing in response to Wycliffe’s bible. He justifies it like this:

A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture
By their fruits are they known. Bible study which produces or propagates heresy is a bad thing. In fact, as St. Augustine noted,
‘heresies have not arisen except when the good Scriptures were not well understood, and what was not well understood in them was rashly and boldly assert’

The problem with propagandists is that they project their own propagandizing onto others. This is commonly known as “gaslighting.” The reality is that Roman Catholics have, for many centuries, rashly and boldly asserted falsehoods about the origin of their religion and propagated many heresies due to their misunderstanding of scriptures. It never occurred to Orchard that what Augustine described pertained to him. Orchard is guilty of every single offense that he presumes that Protestants are guilty of committing.

Ironically, without Kauffman’s Law to protect him, Orchard wouldn’t dare quote Augustine, who didn’t believe in the Roman Mass Sacrifice. He wouldn’t risk citing Augustine, who said that written scripture sets the rule for doctrine.[1] Nor would he cite Augustine, who once said on the topic of justification by faith and works:

Augustine — De Espiritu Et Littera
works do not precede justificationjustification does not subsequently accrue to them as doers of the law, but justification precedes them as doers of the law.

Orchard’s statement is massively ironic:

Posioning the Well is Not an Argument - 2
Unfortunately, Roman Catholic history exposes the truth of what Orchard writes in the quotation above. But this is only to be expected: sola ecclesia—Roman Catholic Church authority—is irrational, since there is no good reason to accept it.
— Edited to show the irony in the original.

All Orchard has done is demonstrate the Roman Catholic Axiom. It never even occurs to him that the evidence might go the other way.

Now, let’s go back to these two key sentences:

A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture
The Bible [is] a voiceless and difficult book [that] was substituted for the living voice of the Church … [T]he shifting sand of private interpretation is the foundation on which Protestantism was built.

Roman Catholics do not believe that the Bible is the Word of God. It is voiceless. It cannot speak. The Word of God comes from the living voice: the Roman Catholic Church. Outside of the guidance of the Church, no man can read the Word of God. If one attempts to read the Bible on their own, whatever they conclude must be rejected as private interpretation.

This invalidates the role of a Roman Catholic apologist or evangelical laity.[2] I cannot stress this enough: men and women like Joshua Charles, FishEaters, Bardelys the Magnificent, Church Fathers, etc. are engaging in private interpretation when they speak of what the Roman Catholic Church believes or does not believe. They are using their private understanding when they tell Protestants what they must believe, or condemning them as blasphemers. As a matter of Roman Catholic policy, their views on the doctrine and dogma of the church are merely personal opinion.

If you think this is inflammatory and offensive, bear with me. I will prove it.

The most a Roman Catholic can say is “whatever the Roman Catholic Church teaches must be true,” which is neither argument nor true. But most Catholics will say that the church is not infallible. Everyone can make errors. Only the pope is infallible in specific circumstances. Outside of those, the church and its members are just as fallible as anyone else. So, what advantage, then, does Roman Catholicism have over Protestantism? Wait and see.

What the Roman Catholic Church has that no other church has is infallibly declared doctrines and dogmas. That’s great, right? A Roman Catholic can go to sleep at night knowing for sure what the truth is!

But which doctrines and dogmas are declared infallibly? How many such infallible dogmatic declarations are there?

It turns out that no list of infallibly declared doctrines and dogmas exists. Roman Catholics disagree on the exact number. According to Roman Catholic John C. Wright the number is 2: the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary:

John C. Wright - A Universal Apologia of the Catholic Church
The doctrine of Papal infallibility is not any sort of honor due to the Pope. It is rather that the Catholics take quite seriously the promise of Christ that the Holy Spirit would teach the Church and protect her from error. This does not mean that the Church makes no mistakes. This means that the Christian teaching preserved by the Church, teaching on the matter of faith and morals, is without error, because the Holy Spirit protects it. Since the Pope has the final veto on debates within the Church on matters of faith and moral, logically his decision — an authority he has used exactly twice in all of history — is inspired by and ratified by the Holy Spirit, hence is infallible.

Roman Catholic apologist Steve Hahn agrees. Curiously though, Tim Staples thinks it is at least four. Others say it is three, four, seven, eleven, or eighteen. To wit:

(Citations: Leslie Rumble here, Klaus Schatz here, and Adam Miller here)

One prominent Roman Catholic apologist—who recently debated James White on sola scriptura—wrote this:

Jimmy Akin — Two Instances of Papal Infallibility
The Immaculate Conception and the Assumption thus are not the only two exercises of papal infallibilty in history. They are arguably the only two dogmatic definitions (i.e., definitions of dogmas; saint canonizations being definitions of what are known as dogmatic facts rather than dogmas per se) in the last hundred and fifty years, but they are far from the only two in history.

Citation: Jimmy Akin, “Two Instances of Papal Infallibility?.” (2004)

Didn’t Wright and Hahn get the message?

Perhaps the Catholic Encyclopedia help us out:

Catholic Encyclopedia — Infallibility
And while for subsequent ages down to our own day it continues to be theoretically true that the Church may, by the exercise of this ordinary teaching authority arrive at a final and infallible decision regarding doctrinal questions, it is true at the same time that in practice it may be impossible to prove conclusively that such unanimity as may exist has a strictly definitive value in any particular case, unless it has been embodied in a decree of an ecumenical council, or in the ex cathedra teaching of the pope, or, at least, in some definite formula such as the Athanasian Creed. Hence, for practical purposes and in so far as the special question of infallibility is concerned, we may neglect the so called magisterium ordinarium (“ordinary magisterium”) and confine our attention to ecumenical councils and the pope.

Citation: Patrick Toner, “Infallibility.” The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol 7. (1910)

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there are at least three paths for a doctrine or dogma to be declared infallibly. One of them is by ecumenical council (discussed below), but there are two others given.

Timothy Kauffman has documented the guesses by Roman Catholics at the number of ex cathedra statements at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 25, 30 and 40. That’s just the infallible doctrines and dogmas from the popes! We haven’t even discussed the other sources of infallible doctrine yet.

Did you know that Roman Catholics can’t even agree on how many criteria there are for determining if something has been declared infallibly or not? Is it two? three? or four? Nobody knows.

No one has any clue how many—and which—Roman Catholic doctrines and dogmas are infallible. No one even knows if the infallibility doctrine is itself declared infallible by a pope! John C. Wright certainly didn’t think so, for he left it off his list.

Obviously the problem is private interpretation, right?

Perhaps the ecumenical church councils will be of some help. As the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, unanimity may be embodied definitively in the decrees of an ecumenical council. So all we need to do is look at the official list of ecumenical church councils, right?

Well, no. Like the number and identification of infallible doctrines and dogmas, there is no universally agreed upon list of ecumenical church councils. In 1962, two lists of ecumenical councils were published—Les canons des conciles oecuméniques and Conciliorum oecumenicorum decretal—and they did not agree with each other. To this day some argue that ecumenical councils are missing from these lists (e.g. Antioch, Arles, Trullo, Sardica, and Pisa) and that others that are listed should be excluded (e.g. 5th Lateran, Vienne, Constance, Basle, and Vatican II). That last one includes the Sedevacantists and its less divisive sympathizers, the TradCaths, who merely see Vatican II as a mistake.

Will today’s list be the same as tomorrow’s list? I don’t know, and neither do you. If we cannot know which councils are ecumenical and which councils or not, how can a Roman Catholic know which council decrees—and their doctrines, dogmas, and anathemas—are infallible and which are not?

Obviously the problem is private interpretation? Right!?!?

Nevermind for a bit that we cannot know when the church is speaking fallibly vs infallibly on doctrines and dogmas. There is a much more serious issue that we have yet to address.

Recall this statement:

A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture
The Bible [is] a voiceless and difficult book [that] was substituted for the living voice of the Church

The Roman Catholic Church’s greatest benefit is supposed to be that it interprets the scriptures correctly: giving voice to the voiceless. It provides guidance to the masses as to what the Bible contains. It is what makes it so much better than the billions of Protestant denominations. And this is, after all, why you the laity do not and should not actually read it. Thus, its doctrines and dogmas—even the fallible ones—are at least rooted in the Bible, in the true Word of God. Except, they are not.

Reverend Augustine Di Noia, O.P., Secretariat for Doctrine and Doctrinal Practices, in Washington, D.C. asked an unnamed eminent theologian which verses Rome had interpreted infallibly, who then deferred to Raymond Brown’s article on Hermeneutics in New Jerome Bible Commentary. Timothy F. Kauffman received this letter here, which stated:

Following Raymond Brown, I would think that a case could be made that the Church has defined something about the correct interpretation of the following seven passages:

Whether the intention was to define the sense of Scripture in these passages is a difficult question[s]. It is difficult, also, to say exactly what was defined—was the intention only to exclude a particular false interpretation, and if the intention was to say something positive, did the Pope or Council mean that this was the only meaning of the text?”

That’s it. That’s it entirely. In 1600 years of the Roman Catholic Church, a case could be made—subject to a massive disclaimer—that the Church has correctly interpreted six (or seven) passages. Maybe. The rest is left entirely to private interpretation, I guess.

By and large, the infallible and fallible doctrines and dogmas in the church are not based on infallible views of scripture. Most are authorized solely by the voice of the church. Let’s emphasize this: Roman Catholic’s infallible dogmas are based on fallible scriptures. If the meanings of those scriptures are determined to be something else, the dogmas based upon them do not also change. This is clearly begging-the-question with respect to scriptural interpretation.

I do not think that most Roman Catholics realize that their Church’s doctrines are not determined by correct interpretations of scripture—or necessarily on any scripture at all—but, rather, are based almost solely on church authority and its tradition. Scripture may be used to support or justify a doctrine or dogma that has been already established, but it is not what determines it. The voice of the church is, for the Roman Catholic, the very voice of God. Scripture is essentially irrelevant: dumb and difficult.

While Orchard wasn’t saying that the Bible was a dumb—stupid—book, what the church has demonstrated over its history is that the Bible really is stupid:

Stupid. adjective. 4 alacking interest or point

The Bible really has little to no use at all. It isn’t useful for the laity and the Roman Catholic Church has mostly done just fine without it for centuries.

The voice of the church defines dogma—scripture is not required.

If you don’t believe me, here is another quotation from a famous Roman Catholic apologist Cardinal James Gibbons confirming what we’ve shown:

Cardinal James Gibbons — The Faith of Our Fathers
A rule of Faith, or a competent guide to heaven, must be able to instruct in all the truths necessary for salvation. Now the Scriptures alone do not contain all the truths which a Christian is bound to believe, nor do they explicitly enjoin all the duties which he is obliged to practice. Not to mention other examples, is not every Christian obliged to sanctify Sunday and to abstain on that day from unnecessary servile work? Is not the observance of this law among the most prominent of our sacred duties? But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.

The Catholic Church correctly teaches that our Lord and His Apostles inculcated certain important duties of religion which are not recorded by the inspired writers. For instance, most Christians pray to the Holy Ghost, a practice which nowhere is found in the Bible.

We must, therefore, conclude that the Scriptures alone cannot be a sufficient guide and rule of Faith, because they cannot, at any time be within the reach of every inquirer; because they are not of themselves clear and intelligible even in matters of the highest importance, and because they do not contain all the truths necessary for salvation.

Citation: Cardinal James Gibbons, “The Faith of Our Fathers.” (1905) p.111-112

The Roman Catholic Church doesn’t believe you are saved by faith alone for the same reason it doesn’t believe you are saved by anything in particular contained in the Bible. It thinks you cannot be saved based on Scripture alone. It really does think this.

This is especially ironic as the Roman Catholic Popes are not “themselves clear and intelligible even in matters of the highest importance.” Nor, of course, are the early church writers.

The Roman Catholic Church is not clear and intelligible on matters of faith.

If your disbelief remains, here is another apologist:

Bertrand L. Conway — The Question-box Answers
The Bible was never intended to take the place of the living, infallible teacher, the Church, but was written to explain, or to insist upon, a doctrine already preached. How indeed could a dead and speechless book that cannot be cross-questioned to settle doubts or decide controversies be the exclusive and all-sufficient teacher of God’s revelation?

The very nature of the Bible ought to prove to any thinking man the impossibility of its being the one safe method to find out what the Saviour taught. It is not a simple, clear-as-crystal volume that a little child may understand, although it ought to be so on Protestant principles.”

Citation: Bertrand L. Conway, “The Question-box Answers: Replies to Questions Received on Missions to Non-Catholics.” p.67 (1909/1929)

Such contempt for the Word of God!

Matthew 18:3 (NIV)
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

One Roman Catholic is quick to admit that he thinks the book of Revelation is useless…

Douglas Beaumont — Christianity and the Apostasy Narrative
It is true that apostasy (not THE apostasy) was predicted by in the Bible in several places (e.g., Amos 8:11-12; Mt. 24:4-13, 23-26; Acts 20:29-30; Gal. 1; 2 Thes. 2:7-8; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 3:1-6;4:1-4; Jude 1:3-4; Rev. 13:4-9;14:6-7; etc.) – but this is not contrary to the existence of an authoritative, true Church (e.g., Mt.13:24-43, 47-50). Further, these verses are either so general as to be useless for specific historical prediction, or they are so precise that they cannot refer to the time periods these groups say they do (usually either with the death of the last apostle or during the time of Constantine).

Citation: Douglas Beaumont, “Christianity and the Apostasy Narrative.”

…so why not just admit that the whole Bible is voiceless, difficult, unintelligible, and dead? Why even quote from it?

Do you still think that I’m making this up? Go through the list and tell me where these are defined in the Bible:

Roman  and Papal primacy[3]
Papal infallibility
Priestly celibacy
Elevation of virginity and fasting over marriage
Mariology (immaculate conception, perpetual virginity, assumption of Mary, Mother of the Church, Queen of Heaven)
Kneeling on the Lord’s Day and during Pentecost
Incense and candles
Veneration of relics, images, the cross, and the dead
Baptismal regeneration
Intercession of the saints
Unification of church and state (The title of Pontifex Maximus, Ex communicare replaced by ex civitate, Taking up the civil sword to persecute and kill the faithful, Civil taxes flowing through the Bishops and priestly wealth acquisition)
Church holidays (Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday)
The system of sacraments
Eucharistic alterations (liturgical order, transubstantiation, the Real Presence, the sacrifice of the Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, communion on the tongue, the liturgical mixing of water with wine)

Good luck.

What will convince you? Do you need a series on how the church fathers in the first 300 years of the church identified the written word[1] as the apostolic tradition of the church? We can see how, from the 3rd century…

Cyprian of Carthage — Epistle 73
‘Let nothing be innovated,’ says [Stephen], ‘nothing maintained, except what has been handed down.’ Whence is that tradition? Whether does it descend from the authority of the Lord and of the Gospel, or does it come from the commands and the epistles of the apostles? For that those things which are written must be done.

Citation: Cyprian of Carthage (210-258), “Epistle 73.” §6

…until the cusp of the rise of Roman Catholicism in the late 4th century…

De Spiritu Sancto
Chapter 27

For we are not, as is well known, content with what the apostle or the Gospel has recorded, but both in preface and conclusion we add other words as being of great importance to the validity of the ministry, and these we derive from unwritten teaching… Does not this come from that unpublished and secret teaching which our fathers guarded in a silence out of the reach of curious meddling and inquisitive investigation? Well had they learned the lesson that the awful dignity of the mysteries is best preserved by silence. What the uninitiated are not even allowed to look at was hardly likely to be publicly paraded about in written documents.

Citation: Basil of Caesarea (330-378), “De Spiritu Sancto.” §27 ¶66

…something critical changed regarding scripture. Yet, even Basil understood that Scripture was still the final arbiter of doctrine:

Basil of Caesarea — Letter 189
…If they reject this, we are clearly not bound to follow them. Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favour of that side will be cast the vote of truth….

Citation: Basil of Caesarea (330-378), “Letter 189.” §3

Basil (and Augustine[1]) ultimately doesn’t sound very Roman Catholic because the God-inspired scriptures are a threat to the dogma[4] which Roman Catholics freely admit are not found in scripture.[5] Roman Catholics don’t use scripture to decide between us, to cast the vote of truth.

Virtually every explanation of scripture by a Roman Catholic of the Bible objectively constitutes a private interpretation (and private revelation!), which is explicitly forbidden if and only if it fails to conform with whatever the Church happens to be teaching that morning.

If you wake up and the church is teaching that the death penalty is necessarily inherent to God’s value of life, then you will joyfully cite Genesis 9:5-6 as you believe what must be true. If instead you wake up and learn in CCC#2267 that it would be immoral to use the death penalty in today’s enlightened societies, then you believe that instead. The church always taught that, nothing has changed!

If you wake up a few centuries ago and homosexuals are being burned at the stake, you are pretty happy that Sodomites—’demons’ more unclean than animals—are being destroyed. But if you wake up today to find that priests are blessing gay couples, you’ll cite Fiducia Supplicans and rejoice. The church always taught that, nothing has changed!

If you are Stephen Keenan, the writer of an 1860 Catholic Catechism, one day you will write that “Papal Infallibility” is a heretical Protestant invention. Another day in 1868, you will wake up and change your Catechism to boldly declare the dogma of ex cathedra papal infallibility. The church always taught that, nothing has changed!

One day you’ll wake up to find that Genesis 3:15—the infallibly interpreted verse given above—is interpreted that way by three popes (Pius IX, Piux X, Leo XII) and one official translation (Jerome’s Latin Vulgate). Another day, you’ll wake up and it will be interpreted another way by a different pope (John Paul II) who is looking at the original Hebrew. Well, the church always taught that, nothing has changed!

All we’ve demonstrated here is that the Roman Catholic must engage in massive quantities of private interpretation (along with a healthy dose of cognitive dissonance). The very thing that is supposedly disallowed, the very thing that supposedly dooms Protestants, is the very thing that Roman Catholics are themselves drowning under… least the ones who don’t simply stay silent and blindly obey.

It is massively ironic that the “infallible” Genesis 3:15 interpretation is required to show the “infallibility” of Ineffabilis Deus and Munificentissimius Deus, and yet Pope John Paul II freely admitted that the original Hebrew said something different. This happened because modern scholarship acknowledged that Jerome botched and mistranslated the Latin Vulgate, the official translation! The two most infallible of the infallible dogmas—the two most commonly agreed upon—are themselves built upon the shifting sands of a late 4th-century translation error. Yes, you heard that right: one of the most clearly infallibly declared scriptures—and there are not many of those—is “infallibly” based on a translation error.

Genesis 3:15 (Douay-Rheims)
I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.
Genesis 3:15 (REV)
I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.

Speaking of shifting sands, there is no practical limit to how much the Roman Catholic Church can shift doctrine. If it wants to change a doctrine to its opposite or introduce something completely new, there is nothing that can stop it. For example, how did Mary get introduced as a mediator between God and man, despite scripture giving that role to Christ alone?

I do not need the Roman Catholic Church to tell me that the “she” is a “he” and the “he” is a “she.” I can simply go on Twitter to hear that. Nor do I need Rome to interpret this for me:

John 11:35
Jesus wept.

Nor do I need Rome to help me with these words of Jesus:

Matthew 12:37
For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Mark 16:16
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

John 5:24
Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

None of these require an authoritative infallible interpreter of scripture, especially not one that isn’t very good at its job. With these verses in mind, we will discuss justification by faith (and works) in our next series.


[1] See also:

Augustine — Of the Good of Widowhood

Whereas, therefore, in every question, which relates to life and conduct, not only teaching, but exhortation also is necessary; in order that by teaching we may know what is to be done, and by exhortation may be incited not to think it irksome to do what we already know is to be done; what more can I teach you, than what we read in the Apostle? For holy Scripture sets a rule to our teaching, that we dare not be wise more than it behooves to be wise; but be wise, as himself says, unto soberness, according as unto each God has allotted the measure of faith. Be it not therefore for me to teach you any other thing, save to expound to you the words of the Teacher, and to treat of them as the Lord shall have given to me.

Citation: Augustine of Hippo, “Of the Good of Widowhood.” ¶2

[2] By church law, Roman Catholic apologists are subject to excommunication:

Catholic Encyclopedia — Religious Discussions
It is not, then, surprising that the question of disputations with heretics has been made the subject of ecclesiastical legislation. By a decree of Alexander IV (1254-1261) inserted in “Sextus Decretalium”, Lib. V, c. ii, and still in force, all laymen are forbidden, under threat of excommunication, to dispute publicly or privately with heretics on the Catholic Faith. The text reads: “Inhibemus quoque, ne cuiquam laicæ personæ liceat publice vel privatim de fide catholicâ disputare. Qui vero contra fecerit, excommunicationis laqueo innodetur.” (We furthermore forbid any lay person to engage in dispute, either private or public, concerning the Catholic Faith. Whosoever shall act contrary to this decree, let him be bound in the fetters of excommunication.) This law, like all penal laws, must be very narrowly construed. The terms Catholic Faith and dispute have a technical signification. The former term refers to questions purely theological; the latter to disputations more or less formal, and engrossing the attention of the public. There are numerous questions, somewhat connected with theology, which many laymen who have received no scientific theological training can treat more intelligently than a priest. In modern life, it frequently happens that an O’Connell or a Montalembert must stand forward as a defender of Catholic interests upon occasions when a theologian would be out of place. But when there is a question of dogmatic or moral theology, every intelligent layman will concede the propriety of leaving the exposition and defence of it to the clergy.

Citation: James Loughlin, “Religious Discussions.” The Catholic Encyclopedia (1909)

[3] Matthew 16:19, which the Roman Catholic Church has “infallibly translated” is mistranslated to justify the papacy:

Matthew 16:19 (Douay-Rheims)
And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.

This simple future is not what is found in the Greek. To wit:

Matthew 16:19
I will give to you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth must be already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth must be already loosed in heaven.”

The verb “to be” is a future passive periphrastic, not a simple future. The verb “bind” is a (past) perfect passive participle. Together these form a “future perfect indicative,” indicating a state of completion. It indicates that in the future the results of something that had been completed in the past will still be true. Another, more verbose, way to translate this is “will have already been bound” and “will have already been loosed.” It is not a future imperative.

For this reason Peter did not make new laws for the church, but rather asserted those laws which already were in heaven.

This usage is also found in Matthew 18:18. For more information, see here.

[4] This is, ironically, why Roman Catholicism is so obsessed with who “has authority” to define a specific canon of scripture, as well as defining an official version of the Bible. As with all tyrants, control is the top priority.

[5] As the Roman Catholic Cardinal James Gibbons says “[Scriptures] do not contain all the truths necessary for salvation.”

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