Who is Right About the Bible?
"If a teaching isn’t explicit in the Bible, then we don’t accept it as doctrine!" Most born-again believers would agree that this is correct. However, that statement does cause much division between Catholics and Evangelicals. When Scriptures are proclaimed to be the authority that man should follow, often times Catholics will object this, saying that the Bible does not teach this and that there is much more to the truth than what is being said by the “Bible alone” crowd. So in this article, let us examine the arguments for both sides to get God's view.
Catholics would point out that the Bible teaches that the "Sacred Traditions" are to be on the same level as Sacred Scriptures. They will use the following two verses to back up their beliefs. The Bible tells us, "And we also thank God . . . that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God." (1 Thess. 2:13) It also has, "So, then, brethren stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." (2 Thess. 2:15) "In fact, when Paul wrote his second letter to the Thessalonians, he urged Christians there to receive the oral and written Traditions as equally authoritative." is what they will tell us. On the surface, it appears that they might be right, but let's look closer to that line of thought. I would agree to that except for a few very slight, but much needed clarifications must be noted to their perspective. For instance, what Paul said and what Paul wrote is the same thing, written completely so we would be able to discern God's word. Thus, we are able to see clearly when a church is or isn't telling the truth. Paul could not preach orally to everyone, everywhere for all times. But Scriptures can give us everything when they are in written form, as a copy of what was spoken, so that everyone gets the same message. The Bible does tell us that Jesus warned us about wolves in sheep clothing and of a time that deceptions being so great that the elect would even be in danger. Well folks, we are living in those days now. By sticking to what is written, we can know what the message says, just as Jude 3 tells us: "I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints."
A second problem solved by sticking to the Bible as God's authoritative Word is that someone can know if the traditions of a particular church follow God's plan for us. Just as many Churches today are so ear tickling to its members, many churches have traditions that they might claim to be of God, but these traditions actually go against God's word. Jesus warned us about that, also, in Mark 7:9 - " He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. "
2 Timothy 3:15, 16, 17, says, "And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus, 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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." When Evangelicals quote this passage, we are told by Catholics that it never claims Scripture to be the sole rule of faith. They add also that "man of God” refers to ministers, not to the average layperson. Furthermore, they would remind us that "the Church is the final court of appeal for the people of God in matters of faith, morals, and discipline," citing verses such as Matt. 18:15-17 to back themselves. In addition to this, they will continue with the line of reasoning that the Catholic Church gave us the Scriptures and they decided which books can be canonized. Often times, it comes as a challenge to us to explain which books we think should or shouldn't be in the Bible.
As stated earlier above, these may seem to be unchallengeable statements. However, it really isn't that hard to know what the will of God is if you truly know Scriptures. Look at those verses again and you will see that all Scriptures are given ... so that one would be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. And we know John 8:31 and 32 tells us "if you stay in God's word ...you would KNOW the truth and the truth would set you free." Just as the early disciples were uneducated men (Acts 4:13), we will all grow by His Word, not just ministers. (1 Peter 2:2)
Another point one should respond with, to these attempts to misguide us, is that we don't get saved by knowing how the Bible was given but by doing the word and by following what it tells us. Since both parties agree that the Bible is God's word and since that is the most important factor, then we should to pay attention to what it says, which is far more important than how we received the Word.
Finally, ask the Catholic that since they feel the Church (their church) is the authority to follow, then what book or piece of information can they show that is inerrant as the Bible is. There is no other book or object that can be considered as truthful or authoritative as the Bible is. Psalm 119:104, 105, tells us, "Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path." Nor is there anything like it in for as Hebrews 4:12 tells us, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." If they tell you that the Bible is full of contradictions, then ask them where, because God is truth and cannot lie. Think about that one again. Do you really want to call God a liar? Tell them the facts about how every prophetic verse has happened and will continue to be accurate just as Jesus told us in Matthew 5:18, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and Earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Remind them that the Church of God, that Christ started, follows His Word, and is not a denomination, but rather, they are the believers of Jesus Christ’s finished work at Calvary.
Perhaps this clarification will open doors to witness to the Catholic. Perhaps not, but either way, praise God for His Holy Word, the inerrant instruction book to mankind