(Part 1)By Ron Kempen, Gospel Light Ministries
This month we’ll look at an apologetics page found on the web referencing a new book. The book claiming to be the biblical basis for the Catholic faith (entitled “The Biblical Basis for Tradition”) contains the following viewpoints and is written by John Salza. This page can be found at http://scripturecatholic.com.
There are many points to consider, but we’ll look in depth to see what, if any, possible truth there might be in Salza's claim of Catholicism having a biblical correctness. His apologetic viewpoint on Catholicism is noted in the italicized sections below that we will review.
There’s a misconception that the Catholic Church “made up” a lot of its teachings. That much of what Catholics believe has no foundation in Scripture.
I fail to see that there is any misconception on how we see the Catholic Church. Perhaps the point should be made that the Catholic Church actually twists Scripture in some spots and also ignores many other Scriptures that contradict what the Church teaches. This practice shows that the Catholic Church’s aim is to convince people that their beliefs are genuine based on the claim of the Catholic Church being the church that Christ started. But since we know that Scripture, as the very Word of God-not the words of men-cannot and does not contradict itself, then much of what the Catholic Church claims to be biblical shouldn’t present itself as contradictory at all but as it in actuality does for them. Part of the problem in their claim to their being the authentic Church is the idea that, since the Church has been around for 2,000 or so years, how could they be wrong in this belief? But something being ancient doesn’t necessarily equate to it being truthful. The claim to “Apostolic secession” is another point that fails to withstand Scripture’s tests. Yet these ideas are emphasized by Catholics not because of Scripture itself, but because of the same reason that Jesus gave in Matthew 22:29: “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures.” But these claims are all made in an effort to make their false traditions sound more biblical.
How do you debunk that myth if you’re a devout Catholic but your knowledge of Scripture is spotty? How do you get to the truth if you're a fervent non-Catholic but your understanding of Catholic Church teaching is shaky? (How do you do that if it’s downright inaccurate?)
As I stated earlier, Jesus Himself made it a point to say that people are mistaken not knowing the Scriptures. One has only to look at the Catholic Church's argument that Scripture doesn't cover everything, but rather that Sacred Traditions, plus the Sacred Scriptures, plus the Catholic magisterium are to be the complete authority. The fact is that Jesus practiced what He preached and gave us a church that follows His Word. What the Catholic Church claims often goes against the very thing that this book says it is: a biblical basis for the Catholic faith, when it puts tradition ahead of Scripture but claims that it doesn’t do this. Doesn’t Scripture tell us in Psalm 119:105 that “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path?” It doesn’t say “Your word and tradition are a lamp to my feet ...” Doesn’t Mark 7 warn us about following traditions that are not scriptural? Then why do so many so-called Catholic Sacred Traditions actually go against God’s Holy Word? I am prepared to point out the sacred traditions that do this here.
The Biblical Basis for Tradition is written for both audiences. In a non-confrontational manner, author John Salza quotes only from the Bible to explain the basic doctrine of the Catholic Church. Chapter after chapter focuses on doctrinal “hot spots” including sola Scriptura, tradition, papal infallibility, the seven sacraments, Mary and the saints, justification, salvation, and purgatory.
I would revise this to say what the real reasons are for why the book was written, and there are two: One reason is to keep individuals from seeing the deceptions of the Catholic Church, and the other reason is to get others to “come back home” to the Catholic Church. Every one of the “hot spots” noted above is used by the Catholic Church to attempt to convince people of the rightness of their ways regardless of how deceptive their teachings actually are on these issues. This type of deception is actually warned about in 2 Thessalonians 2:10 where it says, “with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” We ARE looking for the truth!
Here is a book that not only proves that the Catholic Faith is Biblical, but also that Catholicism is Bible Christianity par excellence. Here is a book that makes a thoughtful and welcome gift for a family member or friend who has questions about the Catholic Church.
Most members of the Catholic Church, in reality, do not know Scripture because Catholics are told that they cannot understand Scripture. Examine each of the “hot spots” mentioned above in the light of God’s Word, and you will see that this claim that Catholics can’t understand Scripture is wrong. For example, concerning the issue of Sola Scriptura, Scriptures tells us in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 that, “you welcomed it [the Word of God] not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God.” So the people who heard the Word of God were able to accept it because they understood it as the Word of God. They “welcomed” it; would you welcome something you didn’t understand? And it alone was the Word of God, since no other writing is mentioned here that is ALSO said to be the Word of God or is said to share the position of absolute authority with the Word of God. But the Catholic Church would rather take the credit for who wrote the Bible so they can ignore the specific verses in it that warn people about traditions that oppose Scripture. If people read verses that hint at that idea, the Church can simply claim that the people really don’t understand the Scripture. We CAN understand Scripture and we don’t need authoritative figures above us to explain it to us necessarily. Scripture says that we are to test every idea against Scripture, by searching God’s Word, to see if other ideas are true. This is just as the Bereans did in Acts 17:11: “they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” We are to do the same and examine what Scripture tells us so we will “know the truth and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32).
The second hot spot given above is the traditions that go against Scripture such as Mary being able to hear our prayers, that she can be prayed to, and that she is sinless. None of these are found in the Bible anywhere; rather, they are backed by a Catechism which also happens to contradict Scripture. The Catechism is another method used as a means to allow one to add or take away from Scripture, which is again forbidden in the Bible (see Revelation 22:18). One can see how faulty the Catechism is by what it says about Muslims being saved simply because they believe in only one God. Muslims, by the way, don’t believe that Jesus is God, and they say that their Allah (God) is a moon god, not the God of Scripture. These beliefs go directly against John 14:6 and Matthew 7:13-14 which say that Jesus is the only way and the narrow way to salvation.
To be Continued Next Month