I tend to have a lot of doubts about the faith and whether it is some social construct I’ve been believing my whole life, so I’m looking more into things and trying to find proofs for why I should believe things. A lot of my questions seem to boil down to Church authority. I can’t seem to come to a conclusion, however. It seems that the Church’s authority rests on Jesus saying to Peter in Scripture that upon this rock He will build His Church. Even if one were to accept that this is proof enough from just one verse, one would also have to believe that Jesus did really say that, and that Scripture is divinely inspired. However, the decision that the Bible is divinely inspired seems to have come from the Church’s authority. So I feel like I’m in a circle–the Church is established the Bible, but the Bible’s validity came from the Church. I’m sure I’m not the first person to have had this issue, so any clarity or answers would be greatly helpful.
The church does not get it’s authority from a scriptural verse. it gets it’s authority from Jesus when he said to Peter and the apostles “What You bind on earth will be bound in heaven and what you loose on earth will be loose in Heaven.” the scripture verse is a witness. But read the early church fathers like Ireneaus, for they also witness to this.
Think of this- without the authority or scripture we have no knowledge of Jesus.
We must start with the Jewish writings which became the Old Testament. Most of these were completed by the time of Christ’s birth. They fortell the coming of a Messiah who would save His people from their sins. Just about everything about his life was foretold. Then Christ did come and his life, as recorded in the New Testament, was just as foretold by the Jewish Scriptures. No one can foretell the future except God. So this is powerful evidence that Jesus was Who He said He was and that the Scriptures were of Divine origin…
All of the New Testament was completed before the death of the last Apostle. And there is no record of any objections to it during the first century except from the Jewish authorities. And note that Christ foretold the destruction of the temple and this acutally happend in 70 A.D. and all its inhabitants were slaughtered by the Romans. That is solid evidence.
Then we have the unimpeachable evidence of the character of the men who were Christ’s Apostles and disciples. These were ordinary men, they were not men of the world and they were men dedicated to the moral life demanded by Christ, a moral system such as was never before seen in the world. These were holy men.
And then we have the content of the Scriptures beginning with the Jews and culminating with the Death and Resurrection of Christ. What human mind, what group of human minds could have dreamed up such a fantastice history, such a fantastic theology. Who could have dreamed of a God Who called Himself, " I am Who am, " Who had a Son Who became man, and Who said that He and the Father were One, and Who promised to send another Divine Person to guide and protect His Church in all Truth until the end of time? Who could have dreamed of a God Who would unite his own nature with a human nature and be born of a virgin, Who could be killed, and Who would rise from that death, spend forty days confirming His followers and then ascend into heaven before 500 witnesses? No human, no group of humans could have concocted all that.
Then there are the Fathers of the Church, many of whom knew the Apostles or at least some of them. Their writings are witness to the truth of the Scriptures. You should read some of them.
Then you have the witness of all the saints throughout history. Their holy and heroic lives testify to the truth of both the Scriptures and the veracity of the claims of the Catholic Church to be the sole authority in all matters of Faith and Morals.
Now. I don’t know what has been causing you to have doubts. If you have been reading somthing, if you have been watching something or listening to something that is causing these doubts, you need to stop that. Avoiding temptations is the first and most effective means of avoiding sin. And temptations against faith are very dangerous. Whatever is the cause, put it out of your mind.
Would it be similar to the following?
“It seems that the United State’s authority rests on the Constitution saying that “We the people…do ordain and establish this Constitution” and “the executive Power shall be vested in a President”. Even if one were to accept that this is proof enough from just a small part, one would also have to believe that the Constitution really always did say that, and that what the United States history books says is true. However, the decision that the Constitution is trustworthy seems to have come from the United State’s authority. So I feel like I’m in a circle–the United States established the Constitution, but the Constitution’s validity came from the United States.”
I can only agree with what others have said:
(I) The Church and Her Magisterium get their authority from Jesus and the apostles.
(II) The apostles also passed on Jesus’ teaching and their own, some of which was collected in Sacred Scripture.
(III) Because the Church was authorised by the apostles - Jesus - and ultimately, God - She has the authority to judge the canonical status of certain writings.
So, to be succinct, the Bible’s authority comes from the Church, but the Church’s authority comes the Christ. Yes, part of this might be recorded in the Bible, but it isn’t based on the Bible. Just as, I suppose, if you filmed the President being sworn into office and turned this footage into a documentary. If someone saw the doco, he wouldn’t say it is the documentary that authorises the President but rather records his authorisation by another. The Bible is like this.
Matthew 16:18-19 is not the only passage. There are others. For instance, in John 21:15-17 we find the pasage where Jesus asks Peter three time, “Do you Love Me?” Three times Peter says yes. Twice Jesus responds with “Feed My sheep” (verses 15 & 17) In verse 16 however, Jesus says something different. He says “Tend My flock”. The word that is translated as ‘tend’ means to rule or govern. Here Jesus, the Good Shepherd is charging Peter with being the shepherd of Jesus’ sheep. None of the other Apostles received this charge just as none of the other Apostles were told they were the rock on which Jesus would build His church.
Two other things. First, Jesus told the Apostles that the Spirit of truth would come and lead them into all truth. Second, Jesus promised them that He would remain with them until the end of the age. So, we can trust what the church teaches because it is led by the Spirit of truth and Jesus is not going to stand by and watch the church He established (at great personal cost) lapse into error. Once you get your head wrapped around those two points you will see clearer.
You are right. If the authority of the Church rests on the Bible and the authority of the Bible rest on the Church, then we are in a vicious circle.
But the way we receive faith is not through an apologetical demonstration. We receive faith directly from God by contact with people or writings of faith. From the apostles right on to the present day, the faith has been transmitted, witht God’s help, from one Christian to another based on the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection. We are witnesses to Christ’s resurrection, and on this we base our faith.
Whaat do you think?
Your thinking seems to get you into muddles.
Pray more; connect with the Source.
Brazil’s westernmost state is called Acre. It’s deep into the amazon forest and very few Brazilians have ever visited it. Perhaps America’s equivalent is Alaska.
Acre is never in the news. Few Acre natives are seen around. Brazilians have little reason to believe in Acre’s existence except for what their geography books tell them. But can they be trusted? Jokingly, many Brazilians claim that they “don’t believe in Acre”. It is a joke but, come to think of it, Acre may very well have been made up.
Does it seem ridiculous? Having been educated a modern, as I have, you seem to have a very analytical, cartesian, approach to things, Duck. But do mind that realities go beyond what can be written, and the most important can only be understood by being lived and shared.
Finally I ask you to consider which alternative narrative do you have. Because I suppose you have already sensed that the modern materialistic narrative is a little bit kaputt, and really makes not much sense, right? The bits appear right, but the whole just doesn’t seem to hold on together… All those ‘social constructs’ and no purpose at all to be found behind its everchanging essence.
Lord, to whom shall we go?