In Response to the Article by Matt Slick at CARM.org
Did the Catholic Church Give Us The Bible?
Mr. Slick’s article poses some interesting questions, and the first I would put to him is, where did the bible come from? He goes to a great deal of trouble to refute its origin in the Catholic Church but he gives no historical or archeological argument for an alternate origin.
He states that “…when the apostles wrote the New Testament documents, they were inspired by the power of the Holy Spirit. There wasn't any real issue of whether or not they were authentic. Their writings did not need to be deemed worthy of inclusion in the Canon of Scripture by a later group of men in the so-called Roman Catholic Church.”
But there is no thesis to suggest how the exact number of books, written by many disparate authors came together. Paul wrote letters that were transported over many scattered miles to various communities. How did they come to be all in the same place? How did the Gospel writers all agree that what they were writing would be included in the scriptures? When John was exiled on Patmos, did he think, “I better write this all down so I can get It into the Bible”?
He gives plenty of fallible reasons why the Catholic Church might not have written the bible, but he gives no valid alternatives, leaving the only choice of origin as the Catholic Church for which there are mountains of favorable historical and archeological evidence.
I will concede that he is correct on one point. He claims that “The Christian Church recognizes what God has inspired and pronounces that recognition. In other words, it discovers what is already authentic.” Absolutely, one hundred percent, I cannot agree more!
First paragraph: “They often say the only way the Christian church knew what books are to be included in the Canon of Scripture was because it was revealed by word-of-mouth in the early church, that is, by the tradition of the Catholic Church.”
Of course it was. How else were the scriptures promulgated to a mostly illiterate populace? Oral recitations, oral traditions are how the majority of people communicated then. Even when the Pauline letters began to be widely circulated, they were read by the few literate people to the illiterate public who passed them on orally to other believers.
While Mr. Slick quotes 1 Corinthians 4:6 to support his thesis that what is written is of utmost importance, (to which I agree) he fails to recognize that the verse in question is concerning the content of the letter to the church in Corinth in which it is contained. This was well before that letter was part of the Bible. But for argument’s sake, and to be fair with his choice of books, let me say this about tradition:
1 Corinthians 11:2
I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you.
Paul wrote this to Corinth in that same letter, Well before that letter was a part of scripture.
Mr. Slick claims that “…the Roman Catholic Church was not really around as an organization in the first couple hundred years of the Christian Church.” While in fact, the Apostle Peter, to whom Jesus Himself gave the keys to the Kingdom, founded his Church in Rome around 170 ad. Perhaps it was not yet known as the Roman Catholic Church, but it was known as Catholic, or catholicus from the Latin, or καθολικός (katholikos) from the Greek meaning "on the whole", "according to the whole", translated to “Universal”. There was at that time, only one Christian Church which in time became known as the Catholic Church. So by the second century, the Church was in fact well established in the world, persecuted or not.
Well after the Church was formed and unified, by the mid fourth century, the Church in general had settled upon what we now recognize as the seventy two books of the bible having fully discovered and recognized what God had inspired. This collection of separate books was listed as a Bibliography of accepted books (hence the word Bible) and ratified as the canon (unalterable list) of books acceptable for worship, teaching and instruction by the Synod of Rome in A.D. 382, and later, at the regional councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397, 419), the Church again defined the same list of books as inspired.
These had been recognized, out of the untold number of gospels, letters, manuscripts and scrolls thought to be of religious significance, over the years, as the inspired Word of God.
I will concede to Mr. Slick that the Catholic Church did not give the world the Old Testament. It was indeed around thousands of years before Christ, and in the Gospels, Christ refers to it numerous times, even up to His death where he recites the opening stanza of the 22nd psalm, “My God, My God, why have you forgotten me?” so that those around Him would know that all was not lost.
However, the Catholic Church did canonize the entire list of seventy three books, from the Old and the New testament as the Holy inspired word of God and it taught, preached and instructed from that cannon from then, until today. Since 482 to this day, the church has not added or subtracted one verse to or from the Bible. The fact is that Luthor removed seven books and several verses from other books of the Old Testament when he broke from the Catholic Church. It is often mistaken that the Catholic Church added these books at the council of Trent in the fifteen hundreds, but actually, in response to Luthor’s removal of these books, the Church further ratified the existing cannon without change at Trent.
Mr. Slick states, “…when the apostles wrote the New Testament documents, they were inspired by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I couldn’t agree more, yes, one hundred percent true, just as Paul, struck blind on the road by Jesus was inspired by the Holy Spirit to travel in his ministry and write to the churches he had helped establish, was inspired by the Holy Spirit in that confrontation. Further he states that “Their writings did not need to be deemed worthy of inclusion in the Canon of Scripture by a later group of men in the so-called Roman Catholic Church.” And to this I can only ask, “If not them, then who?” Somebody physically created a list of the accepted inspired works of the Holy Spirit and compiled them together. Men wrote these books, from Moses to John, all with the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Men, also with the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, recognized which of all these books where inspired, and put them together for our understanding of God’s holy kingdom.
The Catholic Church does in no way claim to have given the world the Old Testament. But all of the books, now included in the New Testament were written by men who were Apostles, disciples or otherwise important men of the new Christian faith, followers of Jesus and members of the one unified Church founded by Jesus Christ. So these books of scripture were written by the Fathers of the Catholic Church and their writings were recognized by leaders of the Church as inspired works of the Holy Spirit and they proclaimed it to the world, “These are the books of the scriptures, Old and New that have been ordained by God as His word.
So Mr. Slick, I challenge you, if in fact it was not the Catholic Church who compiled the Bible, who did?