And May I Ask “By Whose Authority?”

On 09/01/2013, in Catholic, Fact, by Tom Voiland

Thirty-Three Thousand Different Spins

I was chatting on Facebook recently with an old friend.  We were discussing current pop culture and she mentioned an all-too-familiar Christian saying, “Well, what would Jesus say?”  I responded with some Catholic-centric answer.  She said, “I must disagree; that’s not consistent with Biblical teaching!”.  I countered by reminding her that only the Catholic Church holds the full deposit of faith, which includes Sacred Tradition, so disagreeing with only half the facts (just Scripture) doesn’t hold much weight.  If anything gives me instant red-ass it’s when a non-Catholic begins to lecture me about Christianity.  Especially when insisting that Scripture is the only source of faith and morals.

I am not claiming to be a Biblical Scholar, so my irritation was not borne of her challenging my knowledge of Scripture.  My annoyance came from being rebuked by someone who attends one of the thirty-three thousand Christian denominations that now exist.  Thirty-two thousand nine hundred ninety-nine created by man, not Christ.  There’s only one True Church, the one Christ established, the one St. Ignatius of Antioch declared “the universal Church” – the Catholic Church.  Thus, when someone with anti-Catholic vinegar in their tone smugly tells me that they “must disagree”, I take offense.  First, because I’m Catholic, and second because I don’t want to be lectured by someone who may attend church at a seven-eleven with the counter clerk giving the sermon.

And so one has to wonder while sitting in a street corner church literally created, opened if you will, by a man claiming to be a pastor (or a bishop), “How can I be sure I’m getting the whole story here?  The Truth?  An accurate interpretation of Scripture?  And how is this different from the man (or woman) who opened the New Reformed Church of the Nazerene around the corner?”  It’s an easy answer – you can’t!  The only place where you can hear an authentic homily is in a Catholic Church, delivered by a cleric who is part of an unbroken string of men who have been ordained through a laying on of hands by a direct descendant of the Apostles – a Catholic Bishop.  And who ordained the Apostles?  Catholic or not, we all know the answer to that question.

What’s Your Authority?

This is the preeminent question for all separated Christians.  “Who gave you the authority to interpret Scripture?” By authority, I don’t mean personal or academic credentials.  I mean the authority to rightly interpret the Bible.  They will always fall back on the authority of Scripture itself. “Scripture says this” or “Scripture proves that.”.  Here’s the thing, they must prove from the Bible that the Bible is the only rule of faith.  It can’t be done.

One of the fundamental precepts of the Protestant Reformation is called Sola Scriptura, “the Bible only”.  That Scripture holds the full deposit of faith and is the comprehensive dogma for all Christians.  Two things make this canard completely transparent.  One, Sola Scriptura was invented by man, not Christ or the Catholic Church (Christ on Earth).  Second, it flies in the face of a thousand plus years of Christian doctrine which taught that the fullness of the Faith is found in Scripture AND Sacred Tradition, rightly guarded and interpreted by the Magisterium (the college of Bishops).

What’s Your Proof?

2 Timothy 3:16–17 is the most commonly used proof by Evangelicals and Fundamentalists for Sola Scriptura. In the King James Version, the verse reads this way: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Many separated Christians claim that 2 Timothy 3:16–17 claims Scripture is sufficient as a rule of faith. But an examination of the verse in context shows that it doesn’t claim that at all; it only claims Scripture is “profitable” (Greek: ophelimos) that is, helpful. Many things can be profitable for moving one toward a goal, without being sufficient in getting one to the goal. Notice that the passage nowhere even hints that Scripture is “sufficient”—which is, of course, exactly what Protestants think the passage means.

There’s a lot more that can be written here to demonstrate that the Catholic Church is the only true authoritative body on Earth provided the opportunity by Christ to interpret Scripture.  This doesn’t mean others can’t “read” from the Bible, but any explanation that follows will always be inherently flawed.  So if you ever want to know “What would Jesus say?”, jump in your car on a Sunday, drive to the nearest Catholic Church, sit in the pew and wait for the homily.  Then you’ll know.


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