Biblical Foundations of the Catholic Church

Three questions:

  1. If one were to read the bible alone, could they rationally conclude that the Catholic Church is the proper form/structure of God’s intended Christian church outlined in that book (including its authority to declare actions that are/aren’t sin (i.e. days of fasting))?

1b) Would they need to believe in Sacred Tradition to reach this conclusion?

  1. How do the words spoken by Christ (Sacred Scripture/Tradition) provide for something as specific as Cannon Law’s authority, or the RCIA process?

Just to clarify, your response implies a literal interpretation of scripture probably won’t lead an individual to the Catholic Church. Outside guidance would be necessary to instruct that individual what those scriptures to actually mean (hermeneutics).

What about Sacred Tradition? Is this necessary to lead one to the Catholic Church, or would one come to this conclusion only using a hermeneutically sound method of interpreting scripture, alone?

(BTW, I’m Catholic, I’m not trying to play got-cha. I’m only thinking through these issues now that my wife is showing some interest in converting to the Catholic Church.)

  1. No.
    1b) Yes.
  2. They do not.

None of that means Catholicism isn’t valid, just that it is not exclusively Biblical.

1.) The Catholic Church is NOT based on or a product of the bible. It is the bible that is the product of the Catholic Church that Jesus founded and based on the teachings that he gave to this Church. The bible, on it’s own, was never intended to be a standalone or all encompassing basis for the Church, but is one of the products of the Church that Jesus founded upon St. Peter and commissioned the Apostles to spread to all nations. The bible is instead meant to be used along with Sacred Tradition and the Magesterium to convey the complete Truth of what God has revealed to humanity. While there is much evidence for it within the bible, to try to justify the Catholic Church solely on the bible without having an authoritative understanding of what it contains is a bit backwards. Like looking through a telescope backwards, you may be able to see the mighty mountain in the distance and identify as a mountain, yet it is small and you can’t make out every detail. You must turn the telescope around and look through it’s lenses in the proper order; only then can you see the complete and awe inspiring details up close.

1b) Without Sacred Tradition and the Magesterium, the bible is hard (though not impossible) to identify as different than any other Religion’s sacred text*. It is necessary that a reader recognizes the source and authority behind the origination of the bible, as well as the proper way to interpret the true meaning.
[INDENT]*This is not to say that the bible lacks characteristics that set it apart from other religious texts. One of the unique aspects of the bible is that rather being a text about man seeking a relationship with god, it is the story of the One and True God seeking a relationship with us. [/INDENT]

  1. Christ gave all authority over the Church on Earth to his successor, Peter (Matthew 16:18-19). The language Jesus uses in these verses echos words in Isaiah (22:21-24) where the authority over the house of David is given to Eli’akim, the royal chamberlain of King Hezekiah of Judah and would be understood by Jews of the time. This power basically gives Peter to manage and oversee the Church on Earth. Christ is King, but the day to day operations have been left to Peter and his successors. Cannon Law, RCIA processes, as well as different rites are all justified under the Authority of the Chair of St. Peter. As the “Rock” of the Church, the Bishop of Rome has primacy and delegates authority further to the Bishops of the world. In the words of St. Ignatius of Antioch in the 1st century:

“See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude of the people also be; even as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”

As a side note, the above quote from St. Ignatius came out before the formal canon of the bible had even been determined and agreed upon by the Church. St. Ignatius was a disciple of the apostle John, the 3rd Bishop of Antioch, and also has quotes that recognize the primacy of the Bishop of Rome.

“Ignatius . . . to the church also which holds the presidency, in the location of the country of the Romans, worthy of God, worthy of honor, worthy of blessing, worthy of praise, worthy of success, worthy of sanctification, and, because you hold the presidency in love, named after Christ and named after the Father” (Letter to the Romans 1:1 [A.D. 110]).

“You [the church at Rome] have envied no one, but others you have taught. I desire only that what you have enjoined in your instructions may remain in force” (ibid., 3:1).

Along with other early Church Fathers and prominent Christian writers and Saints, it is clear that from the earliest days of Christianity, the authority of the Pope was accepted:

The Authority of the Pope Part I
The Authority of the Pope Part II

As someone going through that journey right now:

  1. Not likely, but part of the joy of the conversion process for me has been watching how the Bible comes together when you read it in light of Catholic teaching. There are so many things that made me wonder why it was even in there, or that were pretty opaque in general, that have a new clarity for me. It’s like watching a painting come to life.

  2. Indirectly, when He gave Peter the keys to the kingdom. For some reason, this didn’t bother me during my journey. I mean, someone is in charge no matter where you go, so it’s hard for me to get worked up over whether it’s the Pope and people that report to him, or a pastor, or a board of elders that have to vote over what brand of light-bulbs to buy (I wish I were exaggerating), or whatever. And the people in charge, wherever you go, will set standards for things like who can be baptized (we gave a little quiz that you had to pass to prove you knew what it meant), so … not a foreign concept in my mind. :slight_smile:

The Bible alone? That’s an interesting question.

In the Bible, did Jesus mention that He was founding a Church? Did He indicate who would be the first leader of that Church? Did He identify the leadership team of that Church? Did He give them authority to lead the Church? Did He offer an assurance that this Church – which He founded – would do His will?

Yes.

that the Catholic Church is the proper form/structure of God’s intended Christian church outlined in that book (including its authority to declare actions that are/aren’t sin (i.e. days of fasting))?

Yes. “What you hold bound on earth…”

Would they need to believe in Sacred Tradition to reach this conclusion?

Umm… Sacred Tradition gives rise to the Bible. If you believe in the Bible, you implicitly are relying on Sacred Tradition.

  1. How do the words spoken by Christ (Sacred Scripture/Tradition) provide for something as specific as Cannon Law’s authority,

You’re asking about ‘authority’, right? So, you’re just asking whether Christ gave the Church authority to act in His name? After all, Canon Law is just an expression of the authority of the Church, right?

or the RCIA process?

Again, isn’t the administration of the sacraments the right of the Church who acts in Christ’s name on earth?

I think whether you’re really just asking whether there is an explicit enumeration of powers of the Church in the Bible. No, there isn’t. Rather, Jesus offers an explicit grant of proxy to the Church to act in His name on earth. That’s all-encompassing.

Nobody has ever read the bible alone. The bible is not there for that purpose, doing so will only end in disaster. My experience is that one reads the bible with pre-determined philosophies, which become the filter through which we read it. I have also in my many years of searching believed the bible to say things it does not. It is only my interpretation injected with my belief system so I can then read what I expectantly want to hear.

I have found that since listening to Catholic philosophy, parts of the bible I simply overlooked because it was immaterial to my viewpoint, have now come alive. Coming from a protestant background (very protestant so far away the distance back to Truth was a very long journey) there is much of Scripture which I simply didn’t know even though I had read it.

I have seen philosophers such as Hans Kung make claims that the bible is silent on a Catholic subject. But it isn’t, it is right there in the bible, Hans just cannot see it.

Keep in mind there was no bible till 382 a.d. That is when the Catholic Church closed the canon of scripture (the official list of books OT & NT).

  1. that said, using Scripture & Tradition, a condensed history of the first 4 centuries

#34

  1. The pillar and foundation of truth is the Church1 Timothy 3:15

Keep in mind there was no bible till 382 a.d. That is when the Catholic Church closed the canon, ( canonized the official list of books OT & NT).

To your questions

  1. using Scripture & Tradition, a condensed history of the first 4 centuries shows the Catholic Church was there from the 1st century. The Church Jesus established #34

  2. Re: authority,The pillar and foundation of truth is the Church 1 Timothy 3:15, The Catholic Church

Cannon:

Canon:

:rotfl:

Which version of this letter has the comma after presidency? That comma can make a big difference in what this (very long) sentence means.

I see 2 translations:
JB Lightfoot
“to the church…even unto her that hath the presidency in the country of the region of the Romans, being worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of felicitation, worthy of praise, worthy of success, worthy in purity, and having the presidency
of love,…”
earlychristianwritings.com/text/ignatius-romans-lightfoot.html

Robert Donaldson
“to the Church…which presides in the place of the region of the Romans, and which is worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of the highest happiness, worthy of praise, worthy of credit, worthy of being deemed holy, and which presides over love,”
(short version of the letter accepted by most scholars)

to the Church…which also presides in the place of the report of the Romans, worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of the highest happiness, worthy of praise, worthy of obtaining her every desire, worthy of being deemed holy, and which presides over love,…"
(long version of the letter questioned by many scholars)
earlychristianwritings.com/text/ignatius-romans-longer.html

So who is this church presiding over: the church in Rome? All Christendom? The comma makes a big difference. He doesn’t mention a bishop. So if one would say that there should be a comma and it is the church that presides over all Christendom than it still isn’t mentioning a papacy. Without a comma he is saying that this church presides over the region of Rome.

He writes many lofty praises to all of the churches he writes to, and the church in Rome was no doubt deserving of the wonderful compliments. I just don’t know if he is saying that the Bishop of Rome (if there was a Bishop - he doesn’t name one) ruled all of Christianity. Or if the church presided over the area that he was being taken to face execution where he was pleading for no help to avoid martyrdom.

Ignatius in his letter to the Church of Rome, recognizes the interaction pope Clement had with the Church at Corinth many years earlier in settling sedition between their bishops.

You and I touched on this (presides, holds the presidency) a year ago. The first part of this post addresses Rome exercising authority in another country, with their bishops #221

Does this letter say that the church presides [over all Christendom] from Rome? Or that the church presides over the region of Rome? Do the translations you use have a comma? I don’t believe I had seen it translated that way before.

When Jesus said to Peter, the Rock, the one He gave the keys of His kingdom to, feed, tend, shepherd my sheep, what part of the Church, what sheep, did Jesus exclude from Peter’s reach?

Yes. In the end, it is by grace that we are saved. (Not grace alone.) And all who are saved are guided by the Father:

Matt 16: 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

1b) Would they need to believe in Sacred Tradition to reach this conclusion?

They would eventually arrive at this conclusion. Anyone who regularly watches the Journey Home, will see that the road to the Catholic Church is varied and sometimes, circuitous. But, what most of the people who have arrived at the Catholic Church’s steps frequently conclude, is that God has placed His authority in the Catholic Church. So, at least, they will accept that part of Sacred Tradition. The rest follows, sometimes slowly.

  1. How do the words spoken by Christ (Sacred Scripture/Tradition) provide for something as specific as Cannon Law’s authority, or the RCIA process?

Authority.
Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Those who accept the authority of Christ, will realize that they must accept the authority of the Church through which He speaks.

2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

This text, which I found at this site, has the text as follows:

“Ιγνατιος, ο και Θεοφορος, τη ηλεημενη εν μεγαλειοτητι πατρος υψιστου και Ιησου Χριστου του μονου αυτου, εκκλησια ηγαπημενη και πεφωτισμενη εν θεληματι του θελησαντος τα παντα α εστιν, κατα πιστιν και αγαπην Ιησου Χριστου του θεου ημων, ητις και προκαθηται εν τοπω χωριου Ρωμαιων, αξιοθεος, αξιοπρεπης, αξιομακαριστος, αξιεπαινος, αξιοεπιτευκτος, αξιαγνος, και προκαθημενη της αγαπης, χριστονομος, πατρωνυμος, ην και ασπαζομαι εν ονοματι Ιησου Χριστου, υιου πατρος· κατα σαρκα και πνευμα ηνωμενοις παση εντολη αυτου, πεπληρωμενοις χαριτος θεου αδιακριτως και αποδιυλισμενοις απο παντος αλλοτριου χρωματος, πλειστα εν Ιησου Χριστω τω θεω ημων αμωμως χαιρειν.”

Literally, it’s “which presides in the region of the land of the Romans”. It would seem that it’s not so much a description of that Church’s reach, but rather, merely a description of where the presiding Church is located.

Nevertheless, you don’t need to quibble over commas in order to understand what Ignatius is saying, if you’re questioning how he perceives the authority of the Church in Rome. Instead, you merely have to look at how he addresses the other Churches to whom he writes:

“Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, which is at Philadelphia, in Asia”

“Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Ephesus, in Asia”

“Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the [Church] blessed in the grace of God the Father, in Jesus Christ our Saviour, in whom I salute the Church which is at Magnesia, near the Mæander, and wish it abundance of happiness in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ.”

“Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the holy Church which is at Tralles, in Asia”

“Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church of God the Father, and of the beloved Jesus Christ, which has through mercy obtained every kind of gift, which is filled with faith and love, and is deficient in no gift, most worthy of God, and adorned with holiness: the Church which is at Smyrna, in Asia”

As you can no doubt see for yourself, Ignatius only identifies one Church as ‘presiding’: the Church in Rome. No other Church to whom he writes gets anything even close to that kind of address. Clearly, he’s saying something to the Church of Rome that he’s not attempting to say to the other Churches.

One answer:
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=82842

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