(Continued from page 345)
How does Papal Rome try and support its un-Biblical doctrine that 'Mary is the Mother of God'?
More truth about 'Sola Scriptura'!
So, rather than wasting our time repeating our clear explanation, we simply refer you to another parallel used by Papal Roman Catholics to try and support their un-Biblical doctrine that 'Mary is the Mother of God', which goes like this:
'The Bible nowhere uses the expression 'Mother of God.' But Mary is clearly identified as the 'mother of Jesus' (cf. Matthew. 2:13, 20; Luke 1:31; 2:34; Acts 1:14) and mother of the Son of God (cf. Luke 1:35; Galatians. 4:4). Even before the birth of Jesus, Elizabeth proclaims that Mary is 'the mother of my Lord' (Luke 1:43; cf. Catechism, no. 495). Clearly, Mary is identified throughout the New Testament as the mother of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Catechism, no. 481 summarizes the fundamental Christian belief that Jesus Christ is true God and true man: 'Jesus Christ possesses two natures, one divine and the other human, not confused, but united in the one person of God's Son.' Therefore, Saint Paul can write that in the fullness of time, 'God sent forth his Son, born of woman' (Galatians. 4:4). And so at the appointed time, the eternal, divine Word of God (cf. John 1:1), the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, 'became flesh and dwelt among us' (John 1:14). Scripture teaches that Christ is Emmanuel - God is truly with us (cf. Matthew. 1:23).
If we take these two biblical teachings, that (a) Mary is the mother of Jesus and (b) Jesus is truly God, then we must conclude that Mary is the mother of God. To conclude otherwise would be to deny either (a) or (b) or both, and thereby fall into one of the ancient heresies rejected by the apostolic Church. ... Now here is the twist. In Jesus Christ, there are two natures - human and divine - and these natures are united without confusion in one divine Person, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, in what is called the hypostatic union. Since Mary is the mother of Jesus and Jesus is a divine Person - that is, God - then Mary is rightly called the 'Mother of God.' [Suprenant, L. J., Jr., & Gray, P. C. L. (1999). Faith Facts: Answers to Catholic Questions, Volume I (189). Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing]
This sounds impressive until you realise that the exalted position Mary occupies in the Roman Catholic Church today is actually the result of many centuries of development. Mary was first recognized as the 'Mother of God' at the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431 when that council was careful to qualify the expression by declaring that Mary was the 'mother of God according to the manhood' of Jesus. Mary was truly a mother of Christ's human nature and was the 'mother of God' in the limited sense that she conceived and bore the second Person of the Godhead, not according to His divine nature but only according to His assumed human nature. Clearly, the phrase 'mother of God' was meant to uphold the fact that the man born of Mary was, in His divine nature, truly God, and, at the same time, that this second Person of the eternal Godhead was truly man, by virtue of His taking upon Himself the full nature of man as born from the womb of Mary. He was not just a human baby with deity dwelling in Him, but was 100 percent God and 100 percent human. Jesus did not have some kind of third compound nature, partially human and partially divine. The child born from Mary's womb was fully God and fully man.
In view of the fact that Mary did not give rise to the divinity of Jesus but was only the human instrument through whom the Incarnation took place, there is nothing in this doctrine that exalts Mary at all and, because Papal Rome has gone beyond the truth and facts of Scripture, the doctrine is heresy!
The Holy Spirit's ministry in the Miraculous Conception was necessary because of Christ's pre-existence as eternal deity (see Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; Galatians 4:4). The Holy Spirit's supernatural work in Mary's body enabled Christ, Eternal God, to take on a human nature and every aspect, from the production of the egg from Mary's ovary to the actual birth and the foetal state in Mary's womb, was entirely controlled by the sanctifying ministry of the Holy Spirit. And through this incarnation a key aspect of the eternal plan of salvation came to fruition. Our eternal Saviour became flesh with the specific purpose of dying on our behalf so that those who trusted in Him would be saved and dwell with God forever. Through the miracle of the Virgin Birth, the eternal Son reached out and took to Himself a true and complete humanity without diminishing His essential deity. He united deity and humanity inseparably and eternally in one Person. The important point that Rome has lost sight of in her hurry to recreate a 'goddess' figure to placate her pagan subjects is the fact that Jesus was and is Eternal God and Mary is not the mother of His deity. While the child born in her womb was divine, it was not Mary who gave rise to that divinity. Her role was as a vessel that Almighty God deigned to use to enable Jesus, as Eternal God, to take on an additional nature: a human nature! This means that Mary is Jesus' mother only in that limited sense and is most certainly not the mother of God in any sense that she gave rise to the being of God. It is this distinction that Papal Rome has deliberately masked!
It is therefore no surprise to us that you cannot understand the logic by which we defined Sola Scriptura for, as a spiritual product of the Cult of Papal Rome, you are incapable of being led 'into all truth' (John 16:7ff.) by the Holy Spirit, for you have rejected Him by accepting the 'popes' who came in their own name - and calling themselves 'Father'! As the Lord Jesus Christ made clear (John 5:43):
'I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive'.
More nails in the coffin of Papal Rome's 'Tradition'!
Let it be clear that, by Sola Scriptura, orthodox 'Protestants' mean that Scripture alone is the primary and absolute source of authority, the final court of appeal, for all doctrine and practice (faith and morals). Papal Roman Catholics often misunderstand the 'Protestant' principle of Sola Scriptura to exclude any truth outside the Bible. This, of course, is untrue, as is disclosed by Luther's famous quote about being 'convinced by the testimonies of Scripture or evident reason' (although those claiming 'all truth is God's truth' go too far!). Most 'Protestants' accept the general revelation declared in the heavens (Psalm 19:1) and inscribed on the human heart (Romans 2:12-15). However, orthodox 'Protestantism' denies any salvific value of natural (general) revelation, believing one can only come to salvation through special revelation wrought through the Holy Spirit. What 'Protestants' mean by Sola Scriptura is that the Bible alone is the infallible written authority for faith and morals. Natural revelation as such is not a written revelation, nor does it cover all matters of faith and morals (it only overlaps with some). Good reason can and should be used apologetically (to defend against attacks on orthodoxy from without), polemically (to defend against attacks on orthodoxy from within), and theologically (to define orthodox doctrines within).
Sola Scriptura implies several things. First, the Bible is a direct revelation from God and it has divine authority because of this truth. Second, Scripture is the sufficient and final written authority of God and the Bible alone is all that is necessary for faith and practice. In short, 'the Bible alone' means 'the Bible only' is the final authority for our faith and the Scriptures not only have sufficiency but they also possess final authority. They are the final court of appeal on all doctrinal and moral matters and, however good 'Church Fathers', popes, and councils may be in giving guidance, they are all fallible. Only the Bible is infallible.
Third, the Bible is clear (perspicuous) and the perspicuity of Scripture does not mean that everything in the Bible is perfectly clear to all but, rather, the essential teachings are to all people of a reasonable intelligence (the age of accountability can be argued about endlessly but it is clear that a very young child can know their need of a Saviour God). Popularly put, in the Bible the main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things. 'Protestants' have reasonable regard for the teachings of 'Church Fathers' and early Christian tradition but, obviously, they do not believe they are without error and accept their writings to be very much of secondary importance. Sola Scriptura means the primacy of Scripture over all tradition rather than the total rejection of all tradition.
Fourth, Scripture interprets Scripture. This is known as the analogy of faith principle: when we have difficulty in understanding an unclear text of Scripture, we turn to other Biblical texts, since the Bible is the best interpreter of the Bible. In the Scriptures, clear texts are used to interpret the unclear ones!
While some Papal Roman Catholic theologians can admit Sola Scriptura in the sense that Scripture contains, in one way or another, all truths necessary for salvation they will still deny what 'Protestants' affirm - that the Bible alone is sufficiently clear and no 'infallible' teaching magisterium of the church is necessary to interpret it. Another irony in these 'magisterium' claims are the similarities to other cults such as Jehovah's Witnesses who claim their organisation is necessary for believers to be able to understand the Bible - they even try to make comparisons with the Ethiopean eunuch who received personal guidance from Philip (Acts 8:26-40; NASB):
26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, 'Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.' (This is a desert road.) 27 So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, 'Go up and join this chariot.' 30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' 31 And he said, 'Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?' And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: 'HE WAS LED AS A SHEEP TO SLAUGHTER; AND AS A LAMB BEFORE ITS SHEARER IS SILENT, SO HE DOES NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH. 33 'IN HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY; WHO WILL RELATE HIS GENERATION? FOR HIS LIFE IS REMOVED FROM THE EARTH.' 34 The eunuch answered Philip and said, 'Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?' 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, 'Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?' 37 [And Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'] 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.
God was clearly instrumental in bringing specific guidance to an official who, 'tradition' has it, began the important branch of the church in Ethiopea. But we read clearly that, having been instructed sufficiently ('beginning from this Scripture [that he was reading when Philip arrived] he preached Jesus to him' so that he clearly believed and 'he baptized him'. But then 'the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing' and we have no evidence that he received further instruction from any but the Holy Spirit leading him as he read the Word of God!
In 1992, the 'infallibles' of the Vatican, after a 14-month study, finally admitted that Galileo was right!
You write: 'Christians do not believe in Sola Scriptura as the protestant community unfortunately does; but rather accepts this doctrine through the Oral Gospel - the Apostolic Tradition handed down through the ages'.
TCE: Is it possible that Papal Rome's rejection of Sola Scriptura and the 'oral tradition' claimed to have been passed down from the apostles can really be based on fact? Unfortunately, for your case, there is absolutely no Catholic tradition which can be traced back to the apostles - absolutely none! Claims to Catholic traditions arose much later than that epoch. The claim to infallibility was one of the very latest traditions and is only 150 years old! Another problem is that the concept of ex cathedra pronouncements, which would obviously be vital and central to infallibility, was not even imagined before the sixteenth century. Furthermore, Vatican II claimed that: 'Tradition that comes from the apostles makes progress ... there is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on.'' (Austin Flannery, O.P., Genesis. ed., Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, rev. ed., Costello Publishing, 1988, p754). So much for any claims to being guardian of the canon, for how could any early Papist (if they had even existed in pre-Constantinian days) have had any idea how to judge any book as Scripture when the goalposts were continuously moving, on roller skates, and attached to a sail for hundreds of years at least? This is just one of many ludicrous aspects to your claims that 'the canon' was guarded by Papal Rome.
Vatican II continued:
Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit. And Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit.. .. Hence, both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal feelings of devotion and reverence.... It is clear, therefore, that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way under the action of the Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.' (ibid., p755-6)
Since Papal Rome, replete with magisterium and contradictory traditions, did not exist during Old Testament times, and we know that the Word of God from those days (which was guarded by God to our day and is larger in volume than the New Testament) did not require either. We have already seen how the Papal idea that the Bible is 'insufficient' contradicts what the Bible itself says. The major problem is massively obvious: without any kind of record of oral statements we have no idea of what apostles taught or said and the same argument applies to anybody in history, whether inspired by God or not. For all the talk about 'apostolic tradition', Papal Rome cannot prove that even one of its traditions comes from the apostles! And the danger is obvious and has already been repeatedly demonstrated by the popes who have contradicted themselves endlessly.
When the Lord Jesus Christ quoted from the Scriptures and said that all must be fulfilled (Mark 14:49; Luke 24:44) he never, ever, quoted tradition or suggested that it would be fulfilled - which He obviously would have done if tradition was an essential part of Scripture. Paul assures us that all Scripture is 'given by inspiration of God' (2 Timothy 3:16; cf. 2 Peter 1:20,21) - but there in no assurance that any tradition, oral or otherwise, is not superfluous or additional to the Word of God. While Paul wrote clearly to Timothy to 'preach the word ... reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine' (2 Timothy 4:2) we do not read anywhere that he, or any other apostle, ever instructed Christians to preach tradition. The '150 volumes' of Papal tradition mentioned earlier would surely have never been omitted if they were essential or even slightly valid. Paul also wrote (Ephesians 3:4-5):
'Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit'
This 'mystery of Christ' was unknown in the days of the Old Testament prophets and Jewish tradition, but the apostatizing scribes and Pharisees began to form their own additions to the inspired works of Moses and the other patriarchs. We know that Christ had nothing good to say about Jewish tradition, but denounced it as having perverted and rendered ineffective God's Word (Matthew 15:1-9). When He had been so critical of Israel's error in adding 'tradition' to His Word, why would anyone believe He would require the church to depend upon such obviously easily perverted oral tradition. Clearly the truth is that He, again, gave Israel all the written instruction she ever needed to stay as close as was ever necessary - just as He had in the massively detailed instruction required in the Old Testament rituals!
The words 'tradition' or 'traditions' occur 14 times in the New Testament and eight references (Matthew 15:2,3,6; Mark 7:3,5,8,9,13) are Christ's statements in the Gospels, and all are derogatory of Jewish traditions, as noted above. Paul makes five references, two of which are clearly derogatory (Colossians 2:8; Galatians 1:14). Peter's details one reference (1 Peter 1:18) which is also derogatory and that leaves three favourable references by Paul:
'Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the traditions as I delivered them to you' (1 Corinthians 11:2);
'Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by [our] word or our epistle. ... Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us' (2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6).
Upon these latter three verses Catholicism's entire case for tradition rests. Yet none of these verses refers to Roman Catholic tradition as it has developed through the centuries since the days of the apostles. Paul was obviously speaking of things that he and/or the other apostles had already personally taught. He was not referring to traditions that might develop under the influence of unknown church leaders at some time in the future. Therefore, unless it can be demonstrated that present Roman Catholic tradition was first taught by the apostles and has remained pure to this day, no support for it can be found in these verses. And we have already shown that it is impossible to trace any present tradition held by Papal Rome back to the apostles so you can only rely on hopeful supposition, at best.
We remind you again that the Words of the Lord Jesus Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would lead the disciples 'into all truth' (see John 14:26; 16:7ff. etc.) and both our Lord and His followers also warned the early Church that there would be a great departure from the truth, and that increasing apostasy would be manifest as the years wore on, until eventually there would be a complete turning away from the faith and men would accept antichrist teachings and leaders (and eventually the anti-Christ) instead of the Christ of God. In the centuries that have passed since apostolic days these predictions have been literally fulfilled.
One needs only a slight acquaintance with Church History to know how the words of Christ and His apostles were fulfilled in the 'Dark' or 'Middle Ages,' but which Papal Rome calls the 'Age of Faith' because those were the years in which people forsook the teachings of the Word of God and received the superstitious traditions of the Roman Church. The truth is that the deceived people departed from the faith and the authority of the Papal Church was substituted for that of the Holy Scriptures because Papal Rome made sure that there were not many copies of the Scriptures available during this period so that the great majority of those seeking the truth did not have even a part of the Bible - and they almost certainly would not have been able to read it if they had possessed it. The few manuscripts that were available were generally in the hands of teachers and many of them were kept in monasteries so that it was easy for Rome to foist legends and traditions upon the common people, in place of the inspired revelation which God had given. As a demonstration of the dangers of adding to Scripture we know that many unique Papal legends that had never been any part of apostolic teaching were promulgated in those Dark Ages.
Every Papal Roman Catholic argument attempting to invalidate Sola Scriptura fails. As we have clearly shown, the Bible teaches as implicitly and logically as it teaches the truth of the 'Triune godhood' that the Bible alone is the only infallible basis for faith and practice. The fact that Scripture, without tradition, is said to be 'God-breathed' (theopneustos) and thus by it believers are 'competent, equipped for every good work' (2 Timothy. 3:16-17) supports the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. This flies in the face of the Papal Catholic claim that the Bible is formally insufficient without the aid of tradition. Paul declares that the God-breathed writings are sufficient and, contrary to the claims of some Catholic apologists, limiting this to only the Old Testament is in error since the New Testament is also called 'Scripture' (2 Peter. 3:15-16; 1 Timothy. 5:18; cf. Luke 10:7); thus, it is inconsistent to argue that God-breathed writings in the Old Testament were sufficient, while trying to assert, as Rome does, that the inspired writings of the New Testament are insufficient.
Jesus and the apostles constantly appealed to the Bible as the final court of appeal, often with the introductory phrase, 'It is written,' which is repeated some ninety times in the New Testament. Jesus used this phrase three times when appealing to Scripture as the final authority in his dispute with Satan (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). Of course, Jesus (Matthew 5:22, 28, 31; 28:18) and the apostles (1 Corinthians 5:3; 7:12) sometimes referred to their own God-given authority, but it begs the question for Papal Rome to claim that this supports their belief that Rome still has infallible authority today outside the Bible since even they admit that no new revelation is being given today! When Jesus and the apostles made any kind of appeal to an authority outside the Bible it was only in the sense that God was still giving normative revelation for the faith and morals of believers - but apostolic revelation ceased when apostolic miracles ceased - in the first century. As also proven by logic and reason it is illegitimate to appeal to any oral revelation in New Testament times as evidence that non-Biblical infallible authority exists today.
Jesus made it clear that the Word of God, the Bible, was infallible and clearly rebuked the Pharisees for negating the final authority of the Word of God with their religious traditions ('why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? ... You have nullified the word of God, for the sake of your tradition' - Matthew 15:3, 6). Jesus did not limit his statement to mere human traditions but applied it specifically to the traditions of the religious authorities who were using their tradition to misinterpret the Scriptures. It can be argued that He did not negate the value of all genuine tradition but made it clear that giving it authority equal to, or greater than, Scripture was unacceptable. Genuine tradition means that kind which teaches about Scripture and which cannot be wrong as such, but tradition that 'nullifies' Scripture is clearly forbidden by the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a direct parallel with the religious traditions of Judaism that grew up around the Scriptures, obscuring and even negating God's Word, and the later Christian traditions that Rome and others have introduced since the first century and which have had the same effect in obscuring and negating the Scriptures for those who take heed of such leaders. Indeed, since Catholic scholars make a comparison between the Old Testament religious authority (i.e., the high priesthood) and the Roman Catholic papacy, this is an obviously close analogy.
The Bible constantly warns us 'not to go beyond what is written' (1 Corinthians 4:6) which is an exhortation found throughout Scripture. Moses was told not to 'add to what I command you nor subtract from it' (Deuteronomy. 4:2) and Solomon reaffirmed this in Proverbs with the inspired words:
'Every word of God is tested. ... Add nothing to his words, lest he reprove you, and you be exposed as a deceiver' (Prov. 30:5-6)
The apostle John closed what is widely held to be the last words of the Bible with the same exhortation:
'I warn everyone who hears the prophetic words in this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words in this prophetic book, God will take away his share in the tree of life' (Revelation 22:18-19).
Jesus' Words (Matthew 15:3-6) made it clear that tradition can sometimes add teachings to the Words of Scripture that make void what the Scripture clearly affirms. Sola Scriptura could hardly be stated more emphatically!
Even prophets were not to add to the revelation God gave them for the obvious reason that prophets were not infallible in and of themselves when they spoke - but only when giving God's revelation. All orthodox Christians agree that there is no new revelation beyond the first century and that even the words of the apostles apart from the revelations they were inspired to write down could not make them void and the texts of the New Testament therefore clearly support the 'Protestant' principle of Sola Scriptura. The same genuine Christians believe that there was no further revelation after the time of the apostles and, since even the prophets themselves were not to add their teachings to the revelations God gave them in the Scriptures, then it follows that the Scriptures are the only infallible source of divine revelation.
Further, the Bible teaches Sola Scriptura by stressing that it is a revelation from God (Galatians 1:12; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:11-13) as opposed to the words of men. A revelation from God is a divine unveiling or disclosure and Paul was inspired to illustrate the difference:
'Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ' (Galatians 1:11-12).
It is important to note here that 'human being' includes the other apostles, of whom Paul adds, 'nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me' (1:17). So even the preaching of an apostle is not on the same level as the 'revelation' from God - and neither are the words of an angel (Galatians 1:6-9):
'I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed'.
This is another argument for Sola Scriptura. When the New Testament writers seem to record 'receiving' revealed teaching of apostles or prophets in an oral manner there are some obviously false examples sometimes given by Papal Roman Catholics, e.g. 2 Thessalonians 2:2:
'That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand'.
Closer examination reveals that these were warnings about three kinds of imposture, or deception, that they must be on their guard against: spirit, word, and spurious epistle. By the term 'spirit' it is clear that prophecies that are supposedly from God are meant, 'word' is the attempt to disturb their faith by the spoken word, and 'letter as from us' is clearly a warning about false 'epistles' which are known to have been circulated by 'false apostles/imposters'!
While written revelation was progressive it ended with the completion of the New Testament so the only infallible record we have of apostolic teaching is in those writings and it follows that Jesus predicted that the Bible alone would be the summation of 'all truth' that He desired for His followers. Since canonical revelation ceased at the end of the first century Sola Scriptura means that the Bible - nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else - has infallible authority.
While some Papal Roman Catholics admit that the New Testament is the only infallible record of apostolic teaching we have from the first century they do not seem to appreciate the significance of this fact for the argument for Sola Scriptura. But even many early 'Church Fathers' testified to the fact that all apostolic teaching was to be found in the New Testament. While acknowledging the existence of apostolic tradition, J. D. N. Kelly concluded: 'Admittedly there is no evidence for beliefs or practices current in the period which were not vouched for in the books later known as the New Testament.' Church history shows that many early 'Fathers', including Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Chrysostom, and Augustine, believed that the New Testament was the only infallible basis for all Christian doctrine. Further, if the New Testament is the only infallible record of apostolic teaching, then every other record from the first century is not infallible - but is fallible. Therefore the fact that the teaching 'magisterium' of Papal Rome has pronounced some extra-biblical tradition, such as the 'bodily assumption of Mary', as infallibly true is immaterial because it does not have an infallible record from the first century on which to base such a decision. Equally logically, if the New Testament is the only infallible record we have for apostolic teaching, it follows that the Bible alone teaches that the Bible alone is the infallible Word of God.
Clearly all apostolic 'traditions' were incorporated into the Bible so that, when the New Testament speaks of following the 'traditions' (teachings) of the apostles, those that were literally heard by believers were also eventually written down. If this was untrue no one could ever have been sure if they were genuinely apostolic or introduced by heretics of the kind Paul repeatedly warned about (e.g. 1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 4:14; cf. 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:15; 2:17 & 3:1; Titus 1:10-16). One such example is clearly recorded in the early history of the 'Church Fathers' when Arius spread his particular heresy by adding his own 'oral traditions' (probably more than 'written traditions') which other 'bishops' also absorbed and it was not until the Council at Nicaea that the Nicene Creed clarified the Doctrine of the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and made it impossible for Arians to smuggle their views past the unwary and ignorant. But, even in the aftermath of Nicaea, many documents supporting the Arian heresy were still circulated in the fourth century because the cult remained popular partly because of the influence of Constantius, Constantine's successor, who was fond of Arius! So much for Papal Rome settling and protecting the canon - they gained their power through Constantine but still could not handle Constantius although, centuries later, they tried to claim that kings and emperors were controlled by their popes.
The apostles were living authorities set up by Christ (Matthew 18:18; Acts 2:42; Ephesians. 2:20) but when they died there was no longer a living apostolic authority since, as already noted, only those who were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ could have apostolic authority (Acts 1:22; 1 Corinthians 9:1). There is no more evidence for derived or indirect apostolic authority (so-called 'apostolic succession') than there is that the 'signs of an apostle' were possessed by non-apostles. Even non-apostles in the New Testament could not give the gifts of an apostle (1 Corinthians 12:9, 28) or pass on the special gifts of healing all kinds of sickness or raising the dead (Matthew 10:8). To have apostolic authority one must be able to perform apostolic signs (2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:3-4) but, since these special apostolic signs have clearly long ceased (despite at least one embarrassing attempt - by Pope Pius IX in 1871 - to prove otherwise!), there is no longer apostolic authority except, of course, in the inspired writings of the apostles. Since the New Testament is the only inspired (infallible) record of what the apostles taught it follows that, since the death of the apostles, the only apostolic authority we have today is that inspired record of their teaching in the New Testament. Clearly, all necessary apostolic 'tradition' (teaching) on faith and practice is in the New Testament. We have no reason to suppose that everything the apostles ever taught that was essential to our salvation and edification is not in the New Testament, although we know that everything Jesus said is not recorded there (cf. John 20:30; 21:25) while we also have no reason to suppose that He would have allowed any important omissions to be made. Jesus promised that 'all the truth' He had taught the disciples would be brought to their remembrance (John 14:26; 16:13), so there is no reason to ever suppose that 'oral tradition' would not have been recorded in writing long before the apostles died. The obvious context of Jesus' statements recorded by John surely means 'all the truth' necessary for faith and morals (cf. 2 Timothy. 3:15-17) would be preserved since it is only reasonable to infer that God would preserve what He inspired and this would be through the written record as in Old Testament days.
While the New Testament was in the process of being written there was obviously a time when the early church relied upon the oral teachings of the apostles but, as made clear, it is entirely reasonable to believe that every teaching the Holy Spirit inspired was intended for all believers down through history and would eventually be put into writing. There is no evidence that any oral tradition was passed down in Old Testament times, from Moses, David, Samuel, et al, for Israel, so why would there be any 'oral tradition' for the church? We have the clear record that reveals Christ condemned all oral tradition developed by the rabbis as having perverted the written Word of God, so what logic would suggest He might desire the church to risk being perverted by a similar corrupting influence (and the record is clear that Papal Rome has been a long-time cesspit of corrupt human tradition)? The impossibility of tracing oral tradition back to its source, or ever being certain of its accuracy, is obvious. As shown by a simple example, oral teaching must inevitably be corrupted in the process of transmission from one generation to the next. While it is obvious that not everything that the apostles ever said was on the level of Scripture and intended for believers in all ages, it is equally obvious that the only sure way to make a distinction certain would be to put permanent teachings into writing - just as the Old Testament record reveals as a precedent.
As proven in numerous ways, apostolic oral teachings which were intended for all time were put in writing as indicated by the apostles themselves, e.g. in Paul's inspired writings in 1 Corinthians 11:23 he states that he is presenting in writing what he had previously taught them orally: 'that which also I [earlier] delivered unto you. ...' Again, in 2 Thessalonians 2:5, Paul states the same thing: 'Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?' Thus he delivered teaching in writing to the Thessalonians - and to all believers - which he had previously told them orally. Arguing that he might have been elaborating upon his earlier instruction, or providing further understanding, is pointless unless Scripture states this clearly in some way. The same teaching is true of the tradition to which Paul refers in 2 Thessalonians 3:6 when he points out, again: 'When we were with you, this [same thing] we commanded you [orally] ...' (verse 10). Peter writes in the same manner: 'Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance' (2 Peter 1:15). Putting into writing what had been taught to them orally would be the only certain and logical way to ensure they, or others, would not forget or corrupt the teachings after the death of the apostles.
Appealing to the apostles references to teachings or 'traditions' they gave orally as authoritative in no way diminishes the Protestant argument for Sola Scriptura. Firstly, it is not necessary to claim that all these oral teachings were inspired or infallible, only that they were authoritative. The believers were asked to 'maintain' them (1 Corinthians 11:2) and, in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, to 'stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.' Papal Roman Catholics try to argue that this supports Rome's view of the authority of oral apostolic traditions as well as the Bible (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:6) but there is a clear difference between the apostles affirming that their oral teaching was authoritative, being on the same level as the written Word of God - while they were alive! Living apostles spoke with the authority of Christ through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 16:13), but their oral teachings became written Scripture. While they had not yet committed all their teaching to writing and were still alive it was necessary to depend to some extent on their oral teaching. But once the apostles committed their teachings to writing and died, so that they could no longer exercise their living authority, then the Bible alone became our authority for faith and practice (2 Timothy. 3:16-17; cf. John 10:35) and, since God deemed it essential to inspire the writing of twenty-seven books of apostolic teaching, it is not reasonable to suppose that he left out some important revelation in these books. However authoritative the apostles were by virtue of their office, only their words in Scripture are inspired and infallible and it is no accident that the Bible states that this inspired Scripture is competent to equip a believer for every good work (2 Timothy. 3:16-17)! If the Bible is sufficient to do this, then nothing else is needed. The fact that Scripture, without mention of tradition, is said to be 'God-breathed' (theopnuestos) and that it makes believers 'competent, equipped for every good work', supports the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura.
The Bible teaches Sola Scriptura by stressing its own status as revelation from God (Galatians. 1:12; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:11-13), and not as the mere words of human beings. A revelation from God is a divine unveiling or disclosure and the apostle Paul put the contrast vividly when he wrote:
'I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ' (Galatians. 1:11-12 NIV).
Note that 'any man' includes the other apostles, of whom Paul adds, 'nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before I was' (Galatians. 1:17 NIV). So even the preaching of an apostle was not on the same level as direct revelation from God - neither the words of an apostle nor of an angel (Galatians. 1:8) - and this vividly expresses Sola Scriptura.
'Protestants' logically reject Papal Rome's claim that they possess an infallible teaching 'magisterium' that can unerringly interpret Scripture for clear, logical reasons and oral traditions are notoriously unreliable while the written record is much more easily preserved with clear advantages and these four advantages are true for written revelation:
(1) durability - errors of memory or accidental corruptions are minimized;
(2) easy universal dissemination through translation and reproduction;
(3) permanence and therefore purity;
(4) finality and normativeness unattainable by other means.
By contrast, what is not written down is more easily polluted, as the New Testament illustrates (John 21:22-23) in the example we have already given from the New Testament of an unwritten 'apostolic tradition' (i.e., one originating with the apostles) based on a misunderstanding of what Jesus said. While 'the brethren' (Greek. adelphos) wrongly assumed that Jesus said that the apostle John would not die, John was inspired to debunk this false tradition in his authoritative written record (John 21:20-23, NASB):
20 Peter, turning around, *saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, 'Lord, who is the one who betrays You?'
21 So Peter seeing him *said to Jesus, 'Lord, and what about this man?'
22 Jesus *said to him, 'If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!'
23 Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, 'If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?'
It was for good reason that Paul was inspired to give another clear warning against the use of tradition:
'Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and with deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ' (Colossians 2v8).
Oral teachings about Christ (not the words of Christ) and the apostles' affirmations were not called inspired or unbreakable or the equivalent unless they were 'inscripturated' in the Bible (2 Timothy. 3:16). The apostles were living authorities, but not everything they said was infallible - as Peter proved so clearly when, despite having received clear revelation from God (ref. Acts 10:9-16) how the New Covenant changed things, he chose to behave in a hypocritical (and now un-Scriptural) way (Galatians 2). Papal Catholics should certainly understand the difference between authoritative and infallible, since they claim to make the same distinction with regard to non-infallible and infallible (ex cathedra) statements made by the pope yet here, in a clear teaching about morals, they chose to argue that Peter was merely being fallible. If Papal Rome can be so laissez faire with a known record of 'Papal fallibility' we can be sure that they cannot be trusted with 'traditions' for which there is no written authoritative backup!
The Bible makes it clear that from the very beginning God desired that his normative revelations be written down and preserved for succeeding generations, e.g.: 'Moses then wrote down all the words of the Lord' (Exod. 24:4). Moses wrote in Deuteronomy: 'these are the words of the covenant which the Lord ordered Moses to make with the Israelites' (Deuteronomy. 28:69), and Moses' book was preserved in the ark of the covenant (Deuteronomy. 31:26). We also read: 'So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day and made statutes and ordinances for them ... which he recorded in the book of the law of God' (Josh. 24:25-26) along with Moses' (cf. Josh. 1:7). Likewise we read: 'Samuel next explained to the people the law of the kingdom and wrote it in a book, which he placed in the presence of the Lord' (1 Sam. 10:25). Isaiah was commanded by the Lord to 'take a large cylinder-seal, and inscribe on it in ordinary letters' (Isaiah 8:1) and to 'inscribe it in a record - that it may be in future days an eternal witness' (30:8). Daniel had a collection of 'the books' of Moses and the prophets right down to his contemporary, Jeremiah (Daniel. 9:2). Jesus and the New Testament writers used the phrase 'It is written ... ' (cf. Matthew 4:4, 7, 10) over ninety times, stressing the importance of the written Word of God. When Jesus rebuked the Jewish leaders it was not because they did not follow the traditions but because they did not 'understand the Scriptures' (Matthew 22:29). The apostles were told by Jesus that the Holy Spirit would 'guide ... [them] into all truth' (John 14:26; 16:13) and in the very next chapter, in His 'High Priestly Prayer', Jesus declared 'Your word is truth' (John 17:17) while the apostles claimed their writings to the churches were 'Scripture ... inspired of God' (2 Timothy. 3:16; cf. 2 Peter. 3:15-16). Clearly God intended from the very beginning that his revelation be preserved in Scripture, not in extra-biblical tradition. To claim that not all of God's revelation was not written down is to claim that the prophets were not obedient to their commission not to subtract a word from what God revealed to them.
Some Papal Roman Catholics claim that the apostle John gives support to the view that the Bible gives preference to oral tradition because of his words:
'I have much to write to you, but I do not wish to write with pen and ink. Instead, I hope to see you soon when we can talk face to face' (3 John 13).
This is a classic example of taking a text out of context, for John is not comparing oral and written tradition about the past but a written (as opposed to a personal) communication in the present. While many would prefer a face-to-face talk with a living apostle, rather than receive a letter from him, this is very different from oral tradition which is known to be unreliable (as shown already) compared to an inspired, infallible, written instruction or teaching. We should not ignore the words John uses here when he writes 'I hope' (Greek: ελπιζω elpizo - to expect or confide, hope(d) for, trust) which does not confer certainty and, therefore, no one can claim that the 'many (or much) things to write' were things that he was definitely going to impart to them as opposed to the many teachings that the apostles clearly made sure they had imparted to the believers that they met on their teaching missions.
The Bible is clear without the aid of traditions to help us understand it - a doctrine known as 'the perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture'. Contrary to a common misunderstanding exhibited by many Papal Catholics, perspicuity does not mean that everything in the Bible is absolutely clear but that the main message of salvation and all other doctrines touching on salvation are sufficiently clear so that a young child can understand them. 'Perspicuity' does not mean that those who are unwilling to 'receive' or 'welcome' (Greek. dekomai) the message will not become blinded (1 Corinthians 2:14; cf. Romans 1:21; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4). People can perceive the truth even if they do not receive it (cf. Romans 1:18), know it in the mind (i.e., understand it) but not know it by experience (1 Corinthians 2:14; Greek: ginosko). Jesus said that only the one who 'chooses to do His will shall know whether My teaching is from God' (John 7:17). To assume that there may be oral traditions of the apostles which were not recorded in the Bible, but should be trusted to the extent that they are claimed to be necessary to interpret what is clearly recorded under inspiration is to argue, in effect, that the possibly uninspired (for it is absolutely impossible to prove that it originated with the apostles!) is necessary to help the clearly inspired. It is extremely dangerous to assert that what fallible human beings write down after hearing claimed 'oral traditions' might be in any way clearer than what the infallible Word of God has already recorded in a pattern well-established by God!
The Apostle Peter warned very clearly (2 Peter 3:14-18 - NASB):
14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
It is not just 'SOME things hard to understand ' that are 'distort[ed]' by the 'untaught and unstable' - they treat 'the rest of the Scriptures' in the same manner - 'to their own destruction'!
There is no indication that there would be any other 'additional method' by which these 'things hard to understand ' would be made easier to understand - and, anyway, those who Peter warns about were capable of doing the same to all of the Scriptures! It is absolutely clear that there is no evidence for any 'oral tradition' for a whole variety of reasons and, certainly not least of all, it is obvious that any (unprovable!) words of the apostles that were not written down could never, ever, be more clear than the ones they did write down!
Another important factor, repeatedly made clear in their inspired writings, is the apostles' deep concern about false doctrine. Much of Paul's writing was to correct heresy and he warned the Ephesian elders:
'For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them' (Acts 20:29,30).
It would obviously be unreasonable to believe that Paul and the other apostles would not put into writing all that the Holy Spirit had inspired them to teach for, while men would even attempt to pervert the written truth, it would clearly be much easier to pervert 'oral tradition' as memories failed and new generations who had never heard the original teaching were born.
As we pointed out earlier, those who attempt to denigrate the power of Almighty God to inspire His servants to infallibly receive, record, and preserve His Word in a language known to men need to read Jeremiah 36!
Papal Roman Catholic apologists have sometimes made the assertion that 'Protestants must prove ... that Scripture is so clear that no outside information or authority is needed in order to interpret it.' The defector from Anglicanism, John Henry Newman, and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger are two who claimed that the content of revelation is in the Scriptures alone (i.e. 'material sufficiency'). It is obvious that the translation of Scripture involves interpretation and neither 'Protestants' nor Papal Roman Catholic translators deny the need for good linguistic scholarship to make good translations of Scripture. The use of 'outside information' to translate Bibles without depending on the authority of the church to do so, at least with regard to all the truths essential to our salvation, is true in both cases and is clearly exemplified in the work of Jerome who clearly overstepped boundaries as far as Augustine and others were concerned.
'Protestants' do not hold, as Papal Roman Catholics sometimes assert, that the Bible is formally sufficient without any outside help on everything taught - to do so would immediately ignore Jesus' promise of the Holy Spirit to lead us 'into all truth' (John 14:26; 16:7ff. etc.)! Many argue that 'perspicuity' only covers the main (essential) truths of salvation, not everything, but our experience shows that true believers who genuinely trust in the Word of God and display faith that demonstrates itself sincerely through demonstrating a right heart, right living, and a right attitude in prayer and fasting (cf. Matthew 6:17-18; 17:21; Mark 9:29; Acts 10:30; 13:2-3; 14:23; 1 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Sam. 12:16; 3:35; Ps. 35:13; Daniel. 9:2-3) will have their eyes opened to the very deepest truths.
Exterior information will never conflict with any clearly taught doctrine of Scripture and should only be used as a material cause, not a formal cause, of the interpretation. The form of meaning comes from the text itself as meant by the author, not from outside the text. Study on the meaning of words, archaeology, culture, etc., from outside the text, is of great help in understanding the text, but the determination of its meaning must come from the text itself. In a piece of literature a false interpretive framework taken from outside the text and alien to the meaning of the text that is used to interpret the text is illegitimate and will invariably lead to error - as Origen, Augustine, et al, proved with their allegorical methods based on Neo-Platonism, etc.
All interpreters can utilize traditional commentaries, confessions, creeds, and other scholarly sources as aids in understanding and interpreting the text, but the error comes when they are used in a 'magisterial' way. John Calvin is an example of a 'Protestant' who merely replaced the Papal Roman Catholic teaching magisterium with a magisterium of 'Protestant' scholarship which also resulted in similar murderous judgements on heretics to his system, albeit on a fraction of the scale of that of the Popes and their Inquisitions! The principle of Sola Scriptura itself does not allow outside authorities infallible status and their teaching should never be used if they contradict the clear teaching of Scripture.
To take any meaning structure from beyond the text, rather than that which is expressed in the text, is also inconsistent with the principle of Sola Scriptura. It is not difficult to understand Scripture without a teaching magisterium, at least not with regard to the essential salvific (salvation) teachings of Scripture as ground-roots Christians prove all the time in normal discourse - as proven by this Scriptural example (Acts 18:24-28):
'Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by race, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spake and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John: and he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more accurately. And when he was minded to pass over into Achaia, the brethren encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him: and when he was come, he helped them much that had believed through grace; for he powerfully confuted the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
This reveals the truth about 'oral instruction' - and from a team of one man and one woman! But this was before the canon of the New Testament was written down and completed. The difference between legitimate and illegitimate use of extra-biblical sources can be outlined as follows.
Tradition and Scripture are not inseparable as even Roman Catholic apologist Peter Kreeft inadvertently agrees in his illustration of the horse (Scripture) and the rider (tradition). The Catholic inference that it has to be infallible tradition is clearly unprovable and the elementary example of the repetition of a short oral message of 'send re-inforcements we're going to advance' which is passed on from one listener to another, but remembered only partially, until it eventually transposes to 'send three and fourpence we're going to a dance' (in the British version!) is a clear illustration of the danger of thinking that 'oral tradition' can ever be compared with the solid, written record of the Word of God. 'Protestants' who believe in Sola Scriptura accept tradition, but intelligently recognise that it is impossible to believe it can be proven to be infallible, as has already been proven by a genuine Scriptural example (John 21:20-23).
Kreeft attempts the popularly foolish Papal Roman Catholic argument that the rejection of 'infallible tradition' leads to denominationalism and that all denominationalism is scandalous, which is not necessarily so. It hardly surprises us that Kreeft is unfamiliar with the inspired words of Paul that proves that divisions are necessary when Christians do not ALL hold to the true Word of God:
(1 Corinthians 11:18-19): 'For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you'.
God's commandment is not to try and retain a false unity:
(Romans 16:17): 'Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them'.
We are to avoid those who 'cause divisions and offences' - and they caused this because they did not keep to the true 'doctrine which ye have learned'!
We do not learn in any part of the New Testament that we are to threaten or punish those who chose false doctrine and therefore cause the resultant separation from true believers. We are to warn those who sin and try to rescue them (cf. Matthew 12:31-32; Mr 3:28-30; Matthew 23:29-36):
1 John 5:16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
But those who wilfully choose false teachings over the Word of God are free to create their own denomination (or cult) and not be persecuted, tortured, or even killed - as Papal Rome practiced for centuries!
A 'denomination' that does not deny the essential doctrines of the Christian church and true spiritual unity with other believers - in contrast to mere external organizational uniformity - is not scandalous and the behaviour of Papal Rome obviously challenges the spiritual unity that Jesus said was possible:
'This is how all [people] will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another' (John 13:35).
It is not belonging to the same ecclesiastical organization that determines if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ but adherence to the principles laid down in the inspired written Word of God which instills a love for 'one another' that Papal Rome has never been capable of exhibiting!
Honest Papal Roman Catholics know full well that the scandal of liberalism is as great inside the Catholic church as it is outside of it and the pretence of 'one faith' does not stand up to serious examination. If we compare the differences between 'orthodox Papal Catholics' and 'orthodox Protestants', or all Papal Catholics and all 'Protestants' on the classical creedal doctrines, Catholicism does not enjoy any superiority. This fact negates the value of any claimed 'infallible teaching magisterium' for the Roman Catholic Church and 'Protestants' can easily claim to hold to greater unanimity of essential doctrines with only an 'infallible Bible' and no 'infallible interpreters' of it! Even the most liberal, weak and flabby 'Protestants' we know can do much better at not deviating from Biblical truth than Papal Rome, as is evident in the Papal Catholic belief in the Apocrypha, infallibility of the church, meritorious works for salvation, the exaltation and veneration of Mary, purgatory, and the any other extra-Biblical doctrines.
Papal Roman Catholics seems oblivious to the fact that 'orthodox Protestant denominations' do not differ much more significantly than do the various 'orders' within Papal Rome, such as Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, and other factions within Papal Rome. 'Orthodox Protestants' differ largely over secondary issues, not primary (fundamental) doctrines, so this Catholic argument against 'Protestantism' is rather self-condemning.
When adherents of Sola Scriptura split from each other the cause is over small matters of interpretation (e.g. mode of baptism, nature of church government) rather than 'Protestant Biblicism'. Rejecting the kind of tradition that Papal Rome adheres to is certainly not unhistorical and trying to argue that the first generation of Christians did not have the New Testament, but only the church to teach them, forgets several obvious facts. First, the early first-century Christians did have a Bible - the Old Testament, as the New Testament declares clearly (cf. Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:6; 2 Timothy. 3:15-17). Second, the early first-century believers still had the apostles to teach them the further revelation promised through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and did not need it in written form until the apostles died when it soon became imperative for their infallible teaching to be available. The rapid circulation of the apostolic writings, complete with suitable warnings about forgeries, began while they were alive. The claims that there was 'apostolic succession' is clearly without support - the only infallible authority that succeeded the apostles was their infallible apostolic writings in the form of the New Testament.
If traditions were so reliable we must ask why Jesus spent so much time debunking the false traditions of the Jews that had grown up around the Old Testament Scriptures. On one occasion Jesus said, 'You do err, not knowing the Scriptures ... ' (Matthew 22:29). In his sermon on the Mount Jesus rebuked what the Jewish leaders had 'said' (Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43), in contrast to what was 'written' (cf. Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). On another occasion Jesus declared, 'why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your traditions? ... You have nullified the word of God for the sake of your traditions' (Matthew 15:3). These words apply with equal force to many of the teachings of the Papal Rome, such as the infallibility of the pope, the need for meritorious works, the addition of the Apocrypha, the veneration of Mary, etc.
Common sense and historical experience inform us that the generation alive when an alleged revelation was given is in a much better position to know if it is a true revelation than are succeeding generations, especially those hundreds of years later, for they can apply the tests (given earlier) for propheticity (Deuteronomy. 13, 18) or apostolicity (Matthew 10:1; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:3-4) which no succeeding generation can do directly. The historical record shows that many traditions proclaimed to be divine revelation by the Papal Roman Catholic 'magisterium' were imposed centuries, even a millennium or more, after they were allegedly given by God and, in the case of some of these, there is no incontrovertible evidence that the tradition was believed by any significant number of Papal Roman Catholics until centuries after they occurred. Witnesses removed in time from any event in history are obviously handicapped in judging what was truly a revelation from God when compared to eye-witness contemporaries of those apostles who wrote the New Testament. To try and argue otherwise is as foolish as arguing that historians viewing the evidence of an event which occurred generations earlier are in a better position than the eye-witnesses who actually witnessed the event.
Luther expressed such a logical conclusion at the Council of Worms (A.D. 1521):
'Unless I am convinced by the testimonies of Scripture or evident reason - for I believe neither the Pope nor Councils alone, since it is established that they have often erred and contradicted themselves - I am the prisoner of the Scriptures.'
The Papal Catholic response that Luther was 1500 years after the New Testament, and also erred at times, misses the point. We are well aware that Luther erred, as do all men - including all the apostles including Peter and Paul - except when they were inspired to write Scripture. And this is, of course, why we should trust only the inerrant Scriptures as our final authority - and such inerrancy ended with the Apostles!.
It is an obvious fact that there are contradictory traditions and this is acknowledged by many, even Papal Roman Catholic scholars such as Abelard who noted hundreds of differences. We have already shown how some 'Church Fathers' supported the Apocrypha, while others opposed it. Some renowned teachers (e.g. Aquinas) opposed the immaculate conception of Mary, while others (e.g. Scotus) favoured it. In a similar manner, some 'Church Fathers' opposed Sola Scriptura, but others favoured it. This very fact makes it impossible to trust tradition, certainly in any ultimately authoritative sense, for the question would always be asked: 'Which of the contradictory traditions should we accept?' It is futile to claim: 'The one pronounced authoritative by the church' because it obviously begs the question, since tradition is a necessary link in the argument for the very doctrine of the infallible authority of the church!
Clearly, there are so many contradictory traditions that tradition, as such, is rendered unreliable as an authoritative source of dogma. It is obviously insufficient to argue that, while particular scholars cannot be trusted, nonetheless, their 'unanimous consent' can be trusted. As shown earlier, there is no unanimous consent among the 'Church Fathers' on many doctrines which are, nonetheless, proclaimed to be infallibly true by Papal Rome while, in some cases, there is not even a majority consent! Thus, to appeal to the teaching magisterium of the Papal Catholic church to settle the issue begs the question.
A common Papal Roman Catholic response is to claim that the early 'Church Fathers' were closer to the apostles so, when they agreed 'generally' ('unanimously' in your false view which we have refuted) that should then be considered to be 'apostolic truth'. But there are several serious problems with this reasoning. First, it does not help the Papal position, since Rome has sometimes proclaimed as infallibly true a less than unanimous position, e.g., the bodily assumption of Mary (apart from it being an undisputably un-Scriptural 'doctrine'). Truth is obviously determined neither by majority opinion or unanimous vote but by the direction of God through His Holy Spirit inspiring the written Word. It is also a fact that many heresies sprang up, even in apostolic times, but the apostles warned believers about their existence even before they sprang up (e.g. Acts 20:28-31; Colossians. 2; 1 Timothy. 4; 2 Timothy. 2; 1 John 4) and emphasised repeatedly the true doctrines so that no one ever had reason to be deceived.
Another Papal Roman Catholic response is equally vague and pointless and claims that, just as a bride recognizes her husband's voice in a crowd, the church can recognize the voice of her Husband in deciding which traditions are authentic. This is a flawed analogy for it assumes, without proof, that there is some divinely appointed post-apostolic way to decide which teachings were from God. During the period of divine revelation ending with the apostles the God-ordained way to decide which teachings were from the Holy Spirit was by special miraculous confirmation (Acts 2:22; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:3-4). While these apostolic sign-gifts do not exist everywhere today they are certainly found among orthodox Christians in the few genuine churches that still exist. The Papal Roman Catholic jibe that dozens of 'Protestant' denominations exist today fails because, while all the multitudinous heresies of Papal Rome are found collectively under the same roof (in a very loose sense since so many 'Catholics' claim the name but hardly ever turn up in church apart from on the 'important' days!), the Bible-believing groups outside Papal Rome prove their allegiance to the Word of God (as found only in the Bible!) by their consistent adherence to the same major doctrines. While some of these foolish denominations have sought participation with Papal Rome in recent times - e.g. through the erroneous influence of Billy Graham at his 'Evangelical Crusades' and the foolish event of March 29, 1994, when American 'evangelicals' signed a joint declaration titled "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the 3rd Millennium". The latter document attempted to unite a large section of 'Protestantism' with Papal Rome and was the culmination of careful planning and negotiations over the previous two years with each step being continuously monitored and approved by the Vatican. The New York Times release making the announcement, which was carried in newspapers across the country on March 30, said in part:
They toiled together in the movements against abortion and pornography, and now leading Catholics and evangelicals are asking their flocks for a remarkable leap of faith: to finally accept each other as Christians. In what's being called a historic declaration, evangelicals including Pat Robertson and Charles Colson [one of the chief originators] joined with conservative Roman Catholic leaders today in upholding the ties of faith that bind the nation's largest and most politically active religious groups. They urged Catholics and evangelicals ... to stop aggressive proselytization of each other's flocks'.
Spokesmen from varied 'Protestant' groups, such as the Southern Baptist Convention, Campus Crusade for Christ, and the 'Assemblies of God', spoke approvingly of this step, while other 'Protestant' groups recognised the foolishness of the whole endeavour and correctly denounced it as a betrayal of the 'Reformation'.
The historical evidence that supports the reliability of the New Testament is not the same as the religious tradition used by Papal Roman Catholics, for the former is objective and verifiable while the latter is not. The traditions pronounced infallible by the Papal Rome are based on traditions that only emerged centuries after the deaths of the apostles and which are disputed by both other traditions and the Bible (e.g., the bodily assumption of Mary).
The whole argument about 'tradition' relies on claims to subjective mystical experiences but Papal Rome and its popes has, down through the centuries, never experienced anything like a continual hearing of God's audible voice, or any kind of leading of the Holy Spirit, so that it can recognize when He speaks. The alleged recognition of 'her Husband's voice' is nothing more than mystical faith in the teaching magisterium of the Papal Roman Catholic Church and the abundance of blatant heresies revealed by the popes shows nothing more than hopeful thinking of the most puerile kind.
The Catholic use of tradition is entirely contradictory, arbitrary, and inconsistent in its choice of which traditions to pronounce infallible, as revealed in the manner in which the Council of Trent chose to follow the tradition that had less support in pronouncing the apocryphal books inspired. As we proved, the earliest and best authorities present at this Council and the expert ancient translator chosen by Pope Damascus to produce the Roman Catholic Latin Vulgate Bible, Jerome, opposed the Apocrypha - yet the later 'tradition' overturned the earlier one! Only the mentally challenged - the 'unlearned and unstable' (2 Peter 3:16) - can believe that a later pope can contradict an earlier one while both remain 'infallible'!
While support from tradition for the dogma of the 'bodily assumption of Mary' was supplied very late and is extremely weak, being utterly un-Scriptural and lacking any substantial evidence even from the teachings of early 'Church Fathers', Rome chose to pronounce this an infallible truth of the 'Catholic' faith. Papal Roman Catholic dogmas are not even the product of rationally weighing the evidence of tradition but rather of arbitrarily choosing which of the many conflicting traditions the pope or council decides to pronounce infallible. The so-called unanimous consent of the 'Church Fathers', to which Trent commanded allegiance, is a fiction for no such consent ever existed because they often held diametrically opposing views - as we have shown. It is a fact that a majority consent, to say nothing of unanimous consent, cannot be found among the early 'Fathers' on some traditions that were later pronounced infallibly true!
Apostolic tradition is a non-starter, for the Roman Catholic Church has never given a complete and exhaustive list of the contents of oral tradition because it dare not do so because it is such a nebulous entity. Even if all 'extra-biblical revelation' definitely existed somewhere in some tradition (as Papal Roman Catholics claim), which ones these are has nowhere been declared!
If the method by which popes and their councils chose which tradition to canonize were followed in the practice of textual criticism a sound reconstruction of the original manuscripts would never be arrived at, for it involves weighing the solid existing evidence as to what the original actually said, not reading back into it what subsequent generations would like it to have said (which we have shown even contemporary popes indulge in).
Careful examination of Papal Roman Catholic arguments in favour of an infallible tradition finds them all wanting and logical reasons for rejecting such claims in favour of the Bible alone as the sufficient authority for all matters of faith and morals stand unchallenged. Scripture and sound reason and even the words of early 'Church Fathers', as well as the views of some of the most competent Catholic theologians, support the orthodox Christian view that the Bible alone has infallible authority.
As one of your chosen authorities, J. N. D. Kelly, noted:
... 'the holy and inspired Scriptures,' wrote Athanasius 'are fully sufficient for the proclamation of the truth'; while his contemporary, Cyril of Jerusalem, laid it down that 'with regard to the divine and saving mysteries of faith no doctrine, however trivial, may be taught without the backing of the divine Scriptures ... . for our saving faith derives its force, not from capricious reasoning, but from what may be proved out of the Bible.' Later in the same century John Chrysostom bade his congregation seek no other teacher than the oracles of God; everything was straightforward and clear in the Bible, and the sum of necessary knowledge could be extracted from it.
Augustine declared that 'it is to the canonical Scriptures alone that I am bound to yield such implicit subjection as to follow their teaching, without admitting the slightest suspicion that in them any mistake or any statement intended to mislead could find a place.' This is not an isolated statement, taken out of context, where Augustine gives supreme authority to Scripture alone. In The City of God Augustine declared that 'He [God] also inspired the Scripture, which is regarded as canonical and of supreme authority and to which we give credence concerning all the truths we ought to know and yet, of ourselves, are unable to learn' (11.3). In his Reply to Faustus the Manichean Augustine insisted that 'Scripture has a sacredness peculiar to itself ... . But in consequence of the sacred writing, we are bound to receive as true whatever the canon shows to have been said by even one prophet, or apostle, or evangelist' (11.5). This is not true of any tradition. Speaking in contrast to 'the succession of bishops' after the time of the apostles, Augustine said that 'there is a distinct boundary line separating all productions subsequent to apostolic times from the authoritative canonical books of the Old and New Testaments,' for 'the authority of these books has come down to us from the apostles ... and, from a position of lofty supremacy, claims the submission of every faithful and pious mind.' Hence, 'in the innumerable books that have been written latterly we may sometimes find the same truth as in Scripture, but there is not the same authority. Scripture has a sacredness peculiar to itself.'
Augustine clearly did not place tradition on the same level of authority as the Bible and even his famous statement that he 'should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church' should be understood historically, not magisterially, for several reasons. First, the overall context is a rational defence of historic Christianity against the attack of Manichaeism, not a defence of the authority of the church (as against the Donatists). Second, the immediate context speaks of having 'no clear proof' or 'incontrovertible testimony to the apostleship of Manichaeus,' such as he had for the apostles of Christ who wrote the Gospels. Third, he speaks of that which was 'inaugurated by miracles,' which can only refer to the teachings of the apostles as recorded in the New Testament, since he refers to it being 'inaugurated' and believed that these miracles ceased with the apostles.
You can argue that Augustine wrote that, were it not for the historic apostolic truths preserved by the Catholic church which contain the revelation given to the apostles and confirmed by miracles, he would not have known the gospel. The preserved apostolic testimony in the New Testament unerringly mediated the gospel to us and Augustine makes it clear that he considered this to be infallible, so the 'authority' of the church is meant historically in this way and not 'magisterially'. While Augustine recognised the Bible alone as the infallible and inerrant authority, he did not exclude 'arguments addressed to ... reason'. But, of course, the accepted truths of reason have no claims to infallibility.
Papal Roman Catholics often misunderstand the Protestant principle of Sola Scriptura to mean the exclusion of any truth outside the Bible, but both Augustine's quote above and Luther's famous quote (that he must be 'convinced by the testimonies of Scripture or evident reason') reveal the truth they believed in. By Sola Scriptura 'Protestants mean that the Bible alone is the infallible written authority for faith and morals for, while the 'natural revelation' that many believe in (including the belief that 'some' truth is found in all religions) can never be infallible or cover all matters of faith and morals (although these adherents believe it 'overlaps' with many).
Aquinas seems to share some of the views of Augustine, for he declared that 'we believe the successors of the apostles and prophets only in so far as they tell us those things which the apostles and prophets have left in their writings,' and 'it is heretical to say that any falsehood whatsoever is contained either in the gospels or in any canonical Scripture.' From these statements, and from his use of the 'Church Fathers', it would appear that he only used their work to help understand the Scriptures and not to supplement them and that he believed in the material, if not formal, sufficiency of Scripture. Many conservative Catholics believe this to be contrary to the Council of Trent and this would put yet another renowned theologian of Papal Rome in opposition to the much later - and supposedly infallible - dogma of the Vatican.
You write: You also cited Jewish historians (Flavius Josephus and Philo) as 'authorities' to 'justify' your rejection of the Bible. Why are you not then Jewish if you consider these to be your 'scriptural' and 'spiritual' authority? They reject Christianity and the New Testament. Also, they are just part of one denomination in the Jewish 'religion', and not all the Jewish denominations reject what is called the deuterocanonical books. You amply reflect the double mind, the profoundly disturbed mind at war with itself. You purport to accept a Jewish council held by a certain group of Jews in the 2nd century, yet you partially reject their council and their unbelief in Christianity. You also reject all the Councils of Christianity. It seems you only embrace what is convenient for yourself.
TCE: Starting with a 'straw man' to try and claim we 'reject[ion] ... the Bible' is a sad indictment of what passes as methodology in your world, while ad hominem attacks are your predictable resort. While we have taken note of the clear record from proven historians and noted the true nature of the so-called 'Councils of Christianity' you blindly 'embrace' it is clear that only the view of Papal Rome matters to you.
You try and criticize us for taking note of the widely acknowledged abilities and opinions of Josephus as a historian (actually a priest-historian and therefore, in the matter of analysis of Scripture, unrivalled in the skill and training to determine what his people believed to be "Scripture") yet, as a supporter of Papal Rome, you share a very similar view with Jewish expert Michael E. Stone (Professor of Armenian Studies and of Religious Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) who says that 'All the Apocrypha and most of the Pseudepigrapha are Jewish works (some contain Christianizing additions)'. Stone says [of these works]: 'They provide essential evidence of Jewish literature and thought during the period between the end of biblical writing (ca. 400 BCE) and the beginning of substantial rabbinic literature in the latter part of the first century CE'. How could it be that you share the opinion of a contemporary Jewish historian? By your reasoning that makes you ... ?!
Clearly, in opposition to your claims that the idea of 'a canon' did not exist in Jewish thought, the 'canon' of genuine Jewish Holy Books existed. Regarding the Hagiographa, The Jewish Encyclopedia makes it clear that the Apocrypha were not part of any holy readings or used in apologetics.
You write: The Lord Jesus Christ makes sure the earth stays in its place and not spinning on itself 1000 miles per hour while at the same time traveling for some reason at 67,000 + miles per hour towards the sun, according to present day doctrinairisms. The Lord Jesus Christ works marvelously even on the most intricately tiny details of creation with His mind and it is stunning. He makes sure that the sun and the moon do their service and give us their light - while going about the earth. Heliocentrism is a pagan myth, and major false religion of the masses. This myth is unprovable because it is already discredited scientifically. It is a useless fiction. The Church's decisions and acts against Galileo (who by the way, fathered children out of wed lock, and deserted 2 of them, so you are dealing with and defending an immoral character here) were 100% correct. Also, one must note that you exaggerate the events surrounding Galileo. He was in fact treated cordially; he lived in the Papal apartments and was treated with the utmost amenities of a king. The only aspect of his life that had changed was his being barred from publishing anything publically, because he had agreed under oath never to publish his heliocentric mythology, but betrayed that trust, 15 years later. Lastly, he recanted his mythology and in fact, professed his belief in Geocentrism (without duress), and only called heliocentrism a silly fantasy that he wanted to make sense out of, recreationally, while exercising foolish empty vanity. So he never even believed in it in the first place. If you want me provide scientific evidence for Geocentrism, you may request for me to provide it. I did not want to make this communication too long due to your short attention span.
TCE: We have already challenged you over this matter and wrote:
'But, incredible as it seems to any open minds reading these words, it was not until 1992 that the Vatican, after a 14-month study, finally admitted that Galileo had indeed been right! Although Papal Rome could not admit it, this admission was at the same time an acknowledgment that the many popes who had affirmed that Galileo was wrong were themselves fallible creatures obviously capable of making false interpretations of Scripture.'
Since we also mentioned that it was 'Ptolemy's geocentric theory, which had placed the earth at the centre' it would seem apparent to most that we expected a reply on this matter. And you accuse others of a 'short attention span' and 'This myth is unprovable because it is already discredited scientifically. It is a useless fiction'? What does this say of the Vatican's 1992 apology?!
In 1609, Galileo began experiments which led to the invention of the telescope, making his first instrument from a tube of lead (an organ pipe) with a magnifying power of three diameters. In 1611 he made the mistake of visiting Rome and showing the Papal clergy, and others, the wonders of the heavens. Did they rejoice that he was revealing that the God of the Universe had created many times more stars and planets than ancients, such as Ptolemy, had ever dreamed? Far from it - Rome soon turned on him with violent attacks. The philosopher had openly taught the Copernican system of the universe but now he was on the radar of 'The Inquisition' and he was summoned before them to answer for his teachings. His work was declared heretical and 'expressly contrary to the Holy Scriptures' and he was forbidden to teach any more that the sun was central, and that the earth revolves around it. He lived in fear for many years until, in 1632, he published his 'Dialogue on the Two Principal Systems of the World - Ptolemaic and Copernican'. For this he was brought to trial again and the charge of the Inquisitors was:
'That you, Galileo, have upon account of those things which you have written and confessed, subjected yourself to a strong suspicion of heresy in this Holy Office, by believing, and holding to be true, a doctrine which is false, and contrary to the sacred and divine Scripture - viz., that the sun is the centre of the orb of the earth, and does not move from the east to the west; and that the earth moves, and is not the centre of the world.'
He was condemned to prison, required to recant his doctrines and to recite once each week for three years the seven penitential psalms. Galileo consented to recant in order to save his life, admitted that he was wrong in thinking that the earth revolved around the sun, put on sackcloth, got on his knees, and swore on the gospels to renounce his teachings forever with the words:
'For the future, I will never more say, or assert, either by word or writing, anything that shall give occasion for a like suspicion.'
Then, rising, he is said to have uttered, in an undertone (to a friend), that famous saying, 'E pur is mouve' - It moves, for all that!'
Clearly, he never really recanted as Papal Rome required through their vile, un-Scriptural, threats but, like many others, bowed only to the threats of the Inquisition - as did many others!
What a great pity that Papal Rome could not accurately interpret the Scriptures and agree with Jeremiah 30:22:
'The host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured.'
Hipparchus, about a century and a half before Christ, gave the number of stars as 1,022, and Ptolemy, in the beginning of the second century of the Christian era, could find only a few more - 1,026. On a clear night, with the unaided eye, men can see only 1,160 or, in the whole celestial sphere, about 3,000. But once Galileo's telescope began to be pointed to the heavens, less than three centuries ago, men began to know that the stars are as countless as the sand on the seashore - and the inspired Biblical writer Jeremiah was correct!
Since Galileo's day - and the inventions of such as Lord Rosse - the number of visible stars has increased to nearly 400,000,000! We have to ask how the prophet Jeremiah, writing about 600 years before Christ and 2,200 years before Galileo, could write 'the host of heaven cannot be numbered' under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit - but Papal Rome is so lacking in any kind of divine inspiration that it chose to prosecute Galileo rather than seek Scriptural truth?
We note, also, that the work of the ancients, such as Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton, led the way to an understanding of the motions of the solar system and scientific knowledge has grown at demonstrably breakneck pace since the vile grip of Papal Rome has been released from the necks of scientists! In 1624, at the request of the University of Paris, persons were forbidden by an arrest of Parliament, on pain of death, to hold or teach any maxim contrary to ancient or approved authors, or to enter into any debate but such as should be approved by the doctors of the faculty of theology. This was the kind of interference that continued even after the telescope had been invented and is reminiscent of the demonic paganism that entered the Papal Roman Catholic Church from the Platonic influences on the early 'Church Fathers' who continued in the same manner as many of the followers of Aristotle who refused to look through the instrument because it threatened the overthrow of their master's doctrines and authority! When Galileo discovered the satellites of Jupiter they were also decidedly unwelcome additions to Papal Rome's solar system.
To claim that Galileo 'lived in the Papal apartments and was treated with the utmost amenities of a king' requires factual support, for history records that he was never under less than house arrest and living in fear for his life!
Finally, in response to your claim that 'The Church's decisions and acts against Galileo (who by the way, fathered children out of wed lock, and deserted 2 of them, so you are dealing with and defending an immoral character here) were 100% correct':
Firstly, we are comparing his scientific findings with the false interpretations of Scripture by Papal Rome and making no comments on his personal life!
Secondly, what do we find if we compare his moral failings with dozens of popes who you, and many other would be 'Papal apologists', try to defend?
How did this saying come into being?:
'Rome has more prostitutes than any city in the world because it has the most celibates.'
We know this is a fact because Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) turned this particular sin of Papal Rome into a source of considerable profit by charging Rome's numerous brothels with a Church tax and then increasing his cults wealth further by charging a tax on mistresses kept by priests. Historian Will Durant wrote:
'There were 6800 registered prostitutes in Rome in 1949, not counting clandestine practitioners, in a population of some 90,000. In Venice, the census of 1509 reported 11,654 prostitutes in a population of some 300,000. An enterprising printer published a 'Catalogue of all the principal and most honored courtesans of Venice, their names, addresses, and fees'' (Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, vol. V, Simon and Schuster, 1950, V, p576).
Then, of course, we have the Borgia family! Upon becoming Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503), Rodrigo Borgia, who admitted committing his first murder at twelve years of age, cried triumphantly, 'I am Pope, Pontiff, Vicar of Christ!' Historian Edward Gibbon wrote ('The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire') that he was 'the Tiberius of Christian Rome.' He barely pretended to be a Christian and a leading Florentine scholar wrote:
'His manner of living was dissolute. He knew neither shame nor sincerity, neither faith nor religion. Moreover, he was possessed by an insatiable greed, and overwhelming ambition and a burning passion for the advancement of his many children who, in order to carry out his iniquitous decrees, did not scruple to employ the most heinous means' (Francesco Guicciardini, Storia, I, 20, as cited in E.R. Chamberlin, The Bad Popes, Barnes and Noble, 1969, p173).
But we are expected to give Borgia credit for being a fond father who at least admitted who his children were, baptized them personally, gave them the best education, and proudly officiated at their weddings in the Vatican, which were attended by Rome's leading families. Alexander VI had ten known illegitimate children, four of them (including the notorious Cesare and Lucrezia) by Vannozza Catanei, his favorite mistress who was, in time, replaced when Borgia, then 58 years old, took the newly-married 15-year-old Giulia Farnese as his mistress! Guila took, doubtlessly as part of her reward, first a cardinal's red hat for her brother (who was dubbed 'the Petticoat Cardinal' by those in the know) and he later followed the typical path of what passes as 'Apostolic Succession' in Papal Rome and became Pope Paul III (1534-49) and then became slightly less famous for convening the Council of Trent to counter the Reformation.
Papal promiscuity is immortalized in various infamous ways, such as in the construction of the Sistine Chapel which was built by, and named after, Sixtus IV who taxed others in 'the priesthood' for daring to have mistresses while paying nothing for his own. That the cardinals of the Papal Roman Cult meet to elect the next pope under a roof decorated by the incredible artwork of Michelangelo is simply one more irony in the story of this fabulous fraud that is the Papal Roman Catholic Church.
Michelangelo was commissioned to create this ceiling in the Sistine Chapel by an even more infamous reprobate, Julius II (1503-13), who bought the papacy for a colossal sum of money while never feigning belief in Christianity. His womanizing led to a number of children born 'out of wedlock' and his philandering resulted in syphilitic damage so serious that he couldn't expose his foot to be kissed!
It is not just the Sistine Chapel that stands as a monument to the 'church' which the apostle John identified clearly as the 'Mother of Harlots.' Santa Maria Maggiore, a church dedicated to Mary in a major way, was created through the efforts of a host of promiscuous popes, e.g. Sixtus III (432-40), another notorious womanizer responsible for the main structure, while the golden wood ceiling over the nave was commissioned by the notorious Borgia, Pope Alexander VI (Inside the Vatican, November 1993, p55-57), who paid for it with gold from South America received as gift from Spain's Ferdinand and Isabella, to whom he had 'given' the New World. Alexander VI was also known for his almost unrivalled wickedness, devotion to torture, mistresses, and illegitimate children - and also for beginning Papal Rome's censorship of printed books - including the Bible - through 'The Index of Forbidden Books' which endured for over four hundred years in Satan's attempt to keep the Word of God from the world's people (E.R. Chamberlin, The Bad Popes, Barnes and Noble, 1969, p198). Yet still Papal Roman Catholics try and pretend they have the 'true Church', the 'true priesthood', and have always promoted Bible study!
While the world knows that the gross immorality of Papal Roman Catholic clergy continues to this day Scripture makes it clear that true Christians were not even to associate with fornicators (1 Corinthians 5:8-9) who claimed to be Christians, so the world would know that such conduct was condemned by the church and all disciples of Christ. The man at Corinth who 'had his father's wife' was dealt with clearly by the apostle Paul ('Therefore put away from among your selves that wicked person' - 5v13) so that, when he displayed repentance, he was restored to fellowship (2 Corinthians 2:6-8).
By contrast, popes, cardinals, bishops, and priests without number have been habitual fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, mass-murderers, and ruthless and depraved villains who pursued their degenerate lifestyles without fear of any type of Pauline discipline since Petrine authority was thought to 'trump' all other authority, including that of the Word of God! The villainous popes are not even excommunicated, but remain proudly displayed on the list of past 'vicars of Christ' while priests who engage in sexual misconduct are rarely expelled from the priesthood or excommunicated from the Church - a fact we have dealt with fully on our pages!
That you are one of many blind Papal Roman Catholics who think you can rail at men such as Galileo while turning a blind-eye to the appalling nature of Papal Rome is simply indicative of the delusion all suffer when, as Peter was inspired to write:
'... speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved' (2 Peter 2:18-19).
Papal Rome has back-tracked on so many Bible truths that many reared in Roman Catholic schools have been taught that evolution is true and the Vatican has repeatedly exposed itself publically in the same manner in recent years. Perhaps you should research these facts before you attempt your ad hominem attacks on those who truly believe the truths of the Bible?
You write: Now, regarding your false allegations of Christianity supposedly suppressing the Bible; it is simple. The Bible is a Catholic Book, and when protestants put their own spin on what this is -chapter and verse - they are distorting and doing violence to the word of God both the written word and the Living Word as in the Blessed Lord Himself. Christianity must offset erroneous protestant claims about scripture. The Bible is a Catholic work from first to last. It was given to the Church, for the Church and only the Church is its proper interpreter. No one has the right to lay claim to the Church's possessions and claim them for themselves. That's called stealing. The Church has the right to suppress and destroy counterfeits of its works. The Bible is the intellectual and spiritual property of the Church. When the protestant community and other deviants began bootlegging the Sacred Works of the Church and not only plagiarizing them, but also claiming them for their own and the accompaniment royalties, the Church had the right to enforce official action towards such dangerous activities on its Sacred property. When the bootlegger deviants began counterfeiting the Scriptures, they so often interspersed their own fables, beliefs, errors, preconceived notions, and errant presuppositions. The bootleggers had no rightful authority to commit the crimes they did. Only the Church is infallible in its entire works and in the translation of holy works; the bootleggers do not possess such a gift or power, so their works were by that fact, dangerous to the Faith and the Morals of people. The bootleggers perverted the scriptures and utilized the name and fame already given to the Bible by the Church, for their corrupted works. False information leads to false ideas, and false ideas lead to illicit and immoral actions; 'error had no rights' as the saying went.
TCE: We have thoroughly refuted all of Papal Rome's myths concerning the canon and claims to be 'the Church' - errors originating with the severe errors of Augustine! We have answered your puerile accusations in many different ways in this and previous texts and will supply further devastating proofs (below) that it is only in recent days that the Vatican has been forced to feign an appearance of concern that the Word of God might be available to the people of the world. Further, we will reveal how Papal Rome has not only perverted the Word of God for centuries but has also colluded with liberal and apostate 'Protestant' groups in recent years to produce Bibles that fully round out your claim of 'interspersed ... fables, beliefs, errors, preconceived notions, and errant presuppositions' ... 'pervert[ing] the scriptures' ... 'false information ... false ideas, and ... illicit and immoral actions.' You name the crime and you'll find Papal Rome has committed it!
You write: The idea that no one knew anything about the Gospel during the time of Christianity's reign in the Christian countries of Europe is erroneous at best and blindness at worst. The idea that nobody ever heard of Christianity until 1500 years after Christ is laughable and ridiculous.
TCE: Two more 'straw men' - please show where we ever made such ridiculous claims! We have repeatedly warned and proven in a multitude of ways that the 'Gospel' and the 'Christianity' that Papal Rome preaches is not the true Gospel or true Christianity so for centuries (particularly in the Dark Ages) people 'knew' mainly the false versions, for anyone taking heed of those who brought a gospel not approved by popes was risking their very lives. There is a world of difference in this from the accusations you make.
(Continued on page 347)