Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. Did Our Lord write any part of the New Testament or command His Apostles to doso?
Our Lord Himself never wrote a line, nor is there any record that He ordered Hisapostles to write; He did command them to teach and to preach. Also He to Whom allpower was given in Heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18) promised to give them the HolySpirit (John 14:26) and to be with them Himself till the end of the world. (Matt. 28:20)
Comment: If reading the Bible were a necessary means of salvation, would not OurLord have made that statement and also provided this means for His followers. But He didneither.
2. How many of the Apostles or others actually wrote what is now in the NewTestament?
A few of the Apostles wrote part of Our Lord's teachings, as they themselvesexpressly stated; i.e., Peter, Paul, James, John, Jude, Matthew, also Sts. Mark and Luke.None of the others wrote anything, so far as is recorded.
Comment: If the Bible privately interpreted was to be a Divine rule of Faith; theapostles would seem to have been derelict in their duty, when instead some of themadopted preaching only and none of them wrote all of our Lord's teachings.
3. Was it a teaching or a Bible-reading Church that Christ founded?
The ProtestantBible expressly states that Christ founded a teaching Church, which existed before any ofthe New Testament books were written.
Rom. 10:17 - So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Matt. 28:19 - Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name ofthe Father. and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Mark 16:20 - And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord workingwith them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
Mark 16:15 - And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and PREACH thegospel to every creature.
Comment: Thus falls the entire basis of the "Bible only" theory.
4. Was there any drastic difference between what Our Lord commanded the Apostlesto teach and what the New Testament contains?
Our Lord commanded His Apostles toteach all things whatsoever He had commanded; Matt. 28:20. His Church must necessarilyteach everything; John 14:26. However, the Protestant Bible itself teaches that the Bibledoes not contain all of Our Lord's doctrines:
John 20:30 - And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples,which are not written in this book.
John 21:25 - And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, ifthey should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not containthe books that should be written. Amen.
Comment: How would it have been possible for second century Christians to comply withOur Lord's command, if private interpretation of an unavailable and only partial account ofChrist's teaching were indispensable?
5. Does the New Testament expressly refer to Christ's "unwritten word"?
The NewTestament itself teaches that it does not contain all that Our Lord did or, consequently, allthat He taught.
John 20:30 - And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples,which are not written in this book.
John 21:25 - And there are also many other things which Jesus did the which, ifthey should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not containthe books that should be written. Amen.
Comment: Since the Bible is incomplete, it needs something else to supplement it;i.e., the spoken or historically recorded word which we call Tradition.
6. What became of the unwritten truths which Our Lord and the Apostles taught?
TheChurch has carefully conserved this "word of mouth" teaching by historical records calledTradition. Even the Protestant Bible teaches that many Christian truths were to be handeddown by word of mouth.
2 Thes. 2:15 - Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which yehave been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
2 Tim. 2:2 - And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, thesame commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
Comment: Hence not only Scripture but other sources of information must beconsulted to get the whole of Christ's teaching. Religions founded on "the Bible only' aretherefore necessarily incomplete.
7. Between what years were the first and last books of the New Testament written?
The first book, St. Matthew's Gospel, was not written until about ten years after ourLord's Ascension. St. John's fourth gospel and Apocalypse or Book of Revelations werenot written until about 100 A.D.
Comment: Imagine how the present-day "privately interpreted Bible-only" theorywould have appeared at a time when many books of the New Testament were not onlyunavailable, but most of them had not yet been written.
8. When was the New Testament placed under one cover?
In 397 A.D., by the Councilof Constantinople, from which it follows that non-Catholics have derived their NewTestament from the Catholic Church; no other source was available.
Comment: Up to 397 A.D., some of the Christians had access to part of the NewTestament; into this situation, how would the "Bible-only privately interpreted" theory havefitted?
9. Why so much delay in compiling the New Testament?
Prior to 397 A.D., the variousbooks of the New Testament were not under one cover, but were in the custody ofdifferent groups or congregations. The persecutions against the Church, which had gainednew intensity, prevented these New Testament books from being properly authenticatedand placed under one cover. However, this important work was begun after Constantinegave peace to Christianity in 313 A.D., allowing it to be practiced in the RomanEmpire.
Comment: This again shows how utterly impossible was the "Bible-only" theory, atleast up to 400 A.D.
10. What other problem confronted those who wished to determine the contents of theNew Testament?
Before the inspired books were recognized as such, many other bookshad been written and by many were thought to be inspired; hence the Catholic Churchmade a thorough examination of the whole question; biblical scholars spent years in theHoly Land studying the original languages of New Testament writings.
Comment: According to the present-day "Bible-only" theory, in the abovecircumstances, it would also have been necessary for early Christians to read all thedoubtful books and, by interior illumination, judge which were and were not divinelyinspired.
11. Who finally did decide which books were inspired and therefore belonged to theNew Testament?
Shortly before 400 A.D. a General Council of the Catholic Church, usingthe infallible authority which Christ had given to his own divine institution, finally decidedwhich books really belonged to the New Testament and which did not.
Either the Church at this General Council was infallible,
or it was not.
If the Church was infallible then, why is it not infallible now? If the Church was notinfallible then, in that case the New Testament is not worth the paper it is written on,because internal evidences of authenticity and inspiration are inconclusive and because thework of this Council cannot now be rechecked; many of the documents examined at thattime are no longer in existence.
Comment: In view of the historical records, it is difficult to see how non-Catholicscan deny that it was from the (Roman) Catholic Church that they received the NewTestament.
12. Why is it impossible for modern non-Catholics to check over the work done by theChurch previous to 400 A.D.?
The original writings were on frail material called papyrus,which had but temporary enduring qualities. While the books judged to be inspired by theCatholic Church were carefully copied by her monks, those rejected at that time wereallowed to disintegrate, for lack of further interest in them.
Comment: What then is left for non-Catholics, except to trust the Catholic Churchto have acted under divine inspiration; if then, why not now?
13. Would the theory of private interpretation of the New Testament have been possiblebefore the year 400 A.D.?
No, because, as already stated, no New Testament as such wasin existence.
Comment: If our non-Catholic brethren today had no Bibles, how could they evenimagine following the "Bible-only privately interpreted" theory; but before 400 A.D., NewTestaments were altogether unavailable.
14. Would the private interpretation theory have been possible between 400 A.D. and1440 A.D., when printing was invented?
No, the cost of individual Bibles written by handwas prohibitive; moreover, due to the scarcity of books, and other reasons, the ability toread was limited to a small minority. The Church used art, drama and other means toconvey Biblical messages.
Comment: To have proposed the "Bible-only" theory during the above period wouldhave been impracticable and irrational.
15. Who copied and conserved the Bible during the interval between 400 A.D. and1440 A.D.?
The Catholic monks; in many cases these spent their entire lives to give theworld personally-penned copies of the Scriptures, before printing was invented.
Comment: In spite of this, the Catholic Church is accused of having tried to destroythe Bible; had she desired to do this, she had 1500 years within which to do so.
16. Who gave the Reformers the authority to change over from the one Faith, one Foldand one Shepherd program, to that of the "Bible-only" theory?
St. Paul seems to answerthe above when he said: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any othergospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."(Galatians 1:8, Protestant version.)
Comment: If in 300 years, one-third of Christianity was split into at least 300 sects,how many sects would three-thirds of Christianity have produced in 1900 years? (Answeris 5700.)
17. Since Luther, what consequences have followed from the use of the "Bible-only"theory and its personal interpretation?
Just what St. Paul foretold when he said: "For thetime will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shallthey heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears." (2 Timothy 4:3, Protestantversion.) According to a publication by the Department of Commerce, Washington, D. C.,Bureau of the Census, in 1926 there were then in the United States 19 differentorganizations of Methodists, 19 kinds of Baptists, 9 branches of Presbyterians, 17organizations of Mennonites, 22 of Lutherans and hundreds of other denominations.
Comment: The "Bible-only" theory may indeed cater to the self- exaltation of theindividual, but it certainly does not conduce to the acquisition of Divine truth.
18. In Christ's system, what important part has the Bible?
The Bible is one precioussource of religious truth; other sources are historical records (Tradition) and the abidingpresence of the Holy Spirit.
Comment: Elimination of any one of the three elements in the equation of Christ'strue Church would be fatal to its claims to be such.
19. Now that the New Testament is complete and available, what insolvable problemremains?
The impossibility of the Bible to explain itself and the consequent multiplicity oferrors which individuals make by their theory of private interpretation. Hence it isindisputable that the Bible must have an authorized interpreter.
The Bible teaches that individuals are not of themselves competent to interpret theScriptures.
2 Peter 1:20 - Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any privateinterpretation.
2 Peter 3:16 - As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in whichare some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest,as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Acts 8:30 - And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Isaiah andsaid, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31. And he said, How can I, except someman should guide me? And he desired Philip that he should come up and sit with him.
Comment: Only by going on the supposition that falsehood is as acceptable to Godas is truth, can the "Bible-only" theory be defended.
20. Who is the official expounder of the Scriptures?
The Holy Spirit, acting through andwithin the Church which Christ founded nineteen centuries ago; the Bible teaches who inthe Church are the official interpreters of God's law and God's word.
Luke 10:16 - He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despisethme; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
Matt. 16:13 - And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I willbuild my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Mal. 2:7 - For the priest's lips should keep knowledge and they should seek the lawat his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.
Comment: Formerly at least, it was commonly held that when individuals read theirBibles carefully and prayerfully, the Holy Spirit would guide each individual to a knowledgeof the truth. This is much more than the Catholic Church claims for even the Pope himself.Only after extended consultation and study, with much fervent prayer, does he rarely andsolemnly make such a decision.
21. What are the effects of the Catholic use of the Bible?
Regardless of what personsmay think about the Catholic Church, they must admit that her system gets results in theway of unity of rule and unity of faith; otherwise stated, one Faith, one Fold and oneShepherd.
Comment: If many millions of non-Catholics in all nations, by reading their Biblecarefully and prayerfully, had exactly the same faith, reached the same conclusions, thenthis theory could command the serious consideration of intelligent, well-disposed persons -but not otherwise.
22. Why are there so many non-Catholic Churches?
Because there is so much differentinterpretation of the Bible; there is so much different interpretation of the Bible becausethere is so much wrong interpretation; there is so much wrong interpretation because thesystem of interpreting is radically wrong. You cannot have one Fold and one Shepherd, oneFaith and one Baptism, by allowing every man and every woman to distort and pervert theScriptures to suit his or her own pet theories.
Comment: To say that Bible reading is an intensely Christian practice, is toenunciate a beautiful truth; to say that Bible reading is the sole source of religious faith, isto make a sadly erroneous statement.
23. Without Divine aid, could the Catholic Church have maintained her one Faith, oneFold, and one Shepherd?
Not any more than the non-Catholic sects have done; they are aproof of what happens when, without Divine aid, groups strive to do the humanlyimpossible.
Comment: Catholics love, venerate, use the Bible; but they also know that the Biblealone is not Christ's system but only a precious book, a means, an aid by which theChurch carries on her mission to "preach the Gospel to every living creature" and to keepon preaching it "to the end of time."
24. Were there any printed Bibles before Luther?
When printing was invented about1440, one of the first, if not the earliest printed book, was an edition of the Catholic Bibleprinted by John Gutenberg. It is reliably maintained that 626 editions of the Catholic Bible,or portions thereof, had come from the press through the agency of the Church, incountries where her influence prevailed, before Luther's German version appeared in 1534.Of these, many were in various European languages. Hence Luther's "discovery" of thesupposedly unknown Bible at Erfurt in 1503 is one of those strange, wild calumnies withwhich anti-Catholic literature abounds.
Comment: Today parts of the Bible are read in the vernacular from every Catholic altarevery Sunday. The Church grants a spiritual premium or indulgence to those who read theBible; every Catholic family has, or is supposed to have, a Bible in the home. Millions ofCatholic Bibles are sold annually.
25. During the Middle Ages, did the Catholic Church manifest hostility to the Bible, asher adversaries claim?
Under stress of special circumstances, various regulations weremade by the Church to protect the people from being spiritually poisoned by the corruptedand distorted translations of the Bible; hence opposition to the Waldensians, Albigensians,Wycliff and Tyndale.
Comment: Individual churchmen may at times have gone too far in their zeal, not tobelittle the Bible, but to protect it. There is no human agency in which authority is alwaysexercised blamelessly.