Did The Roman Catholic Church Give Us The Bible?
Did you know that the Roman Catholic Church teaches that they are the ones who gave us the bible? Oh, yes they really do, and are quite proud of it.
A few of their boastings
"Because it never was a Bible, till the infallible Church pronounced it to be so. The separate treatises, each of them inspired, were lying, as it were dispersedly; easy to confound with others, that were uninspired. The Church gathered them up, selected them, pronounced judgment on them; rejecting some, which she defined and declared not to be canonical, because not inspired; adopting others as being inspired, and therefore canonical." (What Is the Bible?p. 6).
"Look, the fact is, the only reason you and I have the New Testament canon is because of the trustworthy teaching authority of the Catholic Church. As Augustine put it, ‘I would not believe in the Gospels were it not for the authority of the Catholic Church’ (Against the Letter of Mani Called "The Foundation" 5:6). Any Christian accepting the authority of the New Testament does so, whether or not he admits it, because he has implicit trust that the Catholic Church made the right decision in determining the canon.
(Catholic Answers – What’s Your Authority)
"The fact is that the Holy Spirit guided the Catholic Church over time to recognize and determine the canon of the New and Old Testaments in the year 382 at the synod of Rome, under Pope Damasus I. This decision was ratified again at the councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397 and 419). You, my friend, accept exactly the same books of the New Testament that Pope Damasus decreed were canonical, and no others. (Catholic Answers – What’s Your Authority)
"The only authority which non-Catholics have for the inspiration of the Scriptures is the authority of the Catholic Church." (The Faith of Millions, p. 145)
"It was the Catholic Church and no other which selected and listed the inspired books of both the Old Testament and the New Testament...If you can accept the Bible or any part of it as inspired Word of God, you can do so only because the Catholic Church says it is." (The Bible is a Catholic Book, p. 4).
Are these statements true? Should people just accept these statements and say thank you very much Mama Rome. I think not. I think we have to be very careful to understand the difference between God’s sovereignty and the many means He uses to accomplish His purposes.
For instance, in the OT God spoke through a jackass and saved a man’s life. Should we thank the jackass or God. To be fair, there is no doubt that the early Roman church had a role to play in the historical preservation of the N.T. canon but all the scriptures of the N.T. were already written and made available by the apostles and N.T. writers before the RCC ever existed. The Holy Spirit inspired them as they wrote Holy Scripture. (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21) God has declared that His Word would never pass away (Matt. 24:35) The authority of it, the preservation of it, and the veracity of it in no way depends on the RCC.
The big questions are how those scriptures were compiled into a canon. The RCC said they did it. But is that really true? When did the RCC officially declare the canon of scripture? Did anyone do it before them? Did anyone have the slightest idea about what books were inspired and which were not? Did God ask anyone to make an official declaration? Who has that authority? Before one bends the knee to Rome and thanks them for the N.T. canon I think a diligent inquiry needs to take place.
The Big Picture Behind The Scene
There is only one reason why the RCC pushes this lie so ardently. The venomous idea behind it is simply this; If the RCC can convince people that they gave us the bible, then that proves that the RCC has the sole authority of God to declare what is infallible, which would then re-enforce their teaching that their church tradition, as handed down from the Magisterium, is infallible as well.
It Gets Worse
Not only does the RCC claim to be the authority to declare the canon of the N.T but also the O.T.
"And since the books of the Bible constituting both the Old and the New Testament were determined solely by the authority of the Catholic Church, without the Church there would have been no Bible, and hence no Protestantism." (The Faith of Millions, p. 10).
This is amazing to me and totally absurd. The Jews had well established the canon hundreds of years before the RCC. Jesus certainly recognized the canonicity of the O.T as seen from His quotes in the N.T. (Mt. 5:18; Lk. 24:44,45)
The Apostle Paul clearly under inspiration declared that the oracles of God were committed to the Jews. (Rom. 3:1,2; 9:4,5) The entire Hebrew scriptures were translated by seventy Jewish scholars into the Greek Septuagint over two hundred years before Christ in Alexandria, Egypt.
Jesus told the people to search the scriptures if they thought they had eternal life. The Jewish people knew what scriptures Jesus was speaking about. They didn’t to wait for Rome to show up 300 years later to authoritatively declare what was scripture.
So When Did The RCC Declare The Canonicity Of The Bible?
"It was not until the Council of Hippo in 390 that the Church gathered these gospels and epistles, scattered about in different churches, and placed them within the covers of a single book, giving the Bible to the world." (The Faith of Millions, p. 152).
"Indeed, when you accept the Bible as the Word of God, you are obliged to receive it on the authority of the Catholic Church, who was the sole Guardian of the Scriptures for fifteen hundred years." (The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 68).
The RCC declares the scriptures were officially canonized at the Council of Hippo in 390 AD. But they have some problems with this.
First, who ever said the Council of Hippo was a Roman Catholic council. It consisted only of North African pastors. Rome had nothing to do with it.
Secondly, Furthermore, in the proceedings of the Council of Hippo, the bishops did not mention once in their proceedings that they were "officially" declaring the canon for the RCC and world. That official declaration was made at the Council of Trent (1545-1563) with the bishops and high ranking officials of the Catholic Church. Only at that time did they declare all the books they thought should be included in the Bible and bound them upon the consciences of all Catholics. (Their canon included the apocrypha)
Yet read the words of one of the North African Bishops/Pastors by the name of Athanasius. In his 39th Festal Letter of Athanasius (367 AD before the Council of Hippo) he wrote these words
Continuing, I must without hesitation mention the scriptures of the New Testament; they are the following: the four Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, after them the Acts of the Apostles and the seven so-called catholic epistles of the apostles -- namely, one of James, two of Peter, then three of John and after these one of Jude. In addition there are fourteen epistles of the apostle Paul written in the following order: the first to the Romans, then two to the Corinthians and then after these the one to the Galatians, following it the one to the Ephesians, thereafter the one to the Philippians and the one to the Colossians and two to the Thessalonians and the epistle to the Hebrews and then immediately two to Timothy , one to Titus and lastly the one to Philemon. Yet further the Revelation of John
These are the springs of salvation, in order that he who is thirsty may fully refresh himself with the words contained in them. In them alone is the doctrine of piety proclaimed. Let no one add anything to them or take anything away from them...
But for the sake of greater accuracy I add, being constrained to write, that there are also other books besides these, which have not indeed been put in the canon, but have been appointed by the Fathers as reading-matter for those who have just come forward and which to be instructed in the doctrine of piety: the Wisdom of Solomon, the Wisdom of Sirach, Esther, Judith, Tobias, the so-called Teaching [Didache] of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. And although, beloved, the former are in the canon and the latter serve as reading matter, yet mention is nowhere made of the apocrypha; rather they are a fabrication of the heretics, who write them down when it pleases them and generously assign to them an early date of composition in order that they may be able to draw upon them as supposedly ancient writings and have in them occasion to deceive the guileless.
A good question to ask is how Athanasius knew what books were inspired. Notice he totally condemned as heresy the apocryphal books the RCC cherishes. Lets look at others who recognized scripture without an official declaration of the RCC. The list goes on:
315-386. Cyril, bishop at Jerusalem, gives a list of all New Testament books except Revelation.
270. Eusebius, bishop at Caesarea, called the Father of ecclesiastical history, gives an account of the persecution of Emperor Diocletian whose edict required that all churches be destroyed and the Scriptures burned. He lists all the books of the New Testament. He was commissioned by Constantine to have transcribed fifty copies of the Bible for use of the churches of Constantinople.
185-254. Origen, born at Alexandria, names all the books of both the Old and New Testaments.
165-220. Clement, of Alexandria, names all the books of the New Testament except Philemon, James, 2 Peter and 3 John. In addition we are told by Eusebius, who had the works of Clement, that he gave explanations and quotations from all the canonical books.
160-240. Turtullian, contemporary of Origen and Clement, mentions all the New Testament books except 2 Peter, James and 2 John.
135-200. Irenaeus, quoted from all New Testament books except Philemon, Jude, James and 3 John.
100-147. Justin Martyr, mentions the Gospels as being four in number and quotes from them and some of the epistles of Paul and Revelation.
Codex Before Council
A codex is a compilation of scripture in book form. Did the RCC give us the first codex. It appears not. A book called Codex Sinaiticus was found in a Mt. Sinai Greek Orthodox monastery in 1844. It contained all the NT books. It has been proven that the codex was written before 350 AD. It is in a British museum and has never been in the hands of the RCC.
The RCC did not give the world the bible, God did. The lying and boasting of the RCC is arrogance at its worse. God sovereignly preserved His word as his apostles wrote their epistles and commanded them to be circulated. The people closest to the event had no doubt about who wrote the epistles and circulated the epistles throughout the churches. (Col. 4:16; 1 Thess. 5:27; II pet. 3:16;Rev.2;2). The canon was complete before the second century began. The Holy Spirit bore witness as to what was inspired and what wasn’t. As time went on more and more heresies began to rise, and extra biblical literature was being pawned off as inspired. The RCC has had it sad share in that heretical process. But just as God spoke through the jackass there is no doubt that the RCC has played a role through he sovereignty of God to help preserve His Word. We don’t need to thank the RCC, we only need to thank our God Who promised His Word would abide forever.
Let there be no doubt, the 66 books contained in the bible are the inspired words of God because God says it is, not the RCC. Jesus plainly put His divine approval on the canon in His day. Nowhere can it be found that the Council of Hippo was making an official Roman Catholic declaration of all the books of the bible. All the books of the bible were well established and recognized among most true Christians by the beginning of the second century. God didn’t need nor ask anyone to be the authority to determine exactly which books of the bible were His word.
Remember, this boastful claim of the RCC has but one motive, and that is to assert itself as the sole authority to determine infallible truth. Only by this lie can they claim equal authority of their own church tradition with scripture. That’s the real deal, believe it or not. Much more could be said and argued but this is sufficient to get truth seekers to study more on this subject.