history of the bible

How many non-Catholic Christian, Protestant ministers or church members tell people in their own denomination that the Bible is a Catholic book and explain the history of the bible?

Saying the bible is not a Catholic book, would be like saying the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights are not US documents. Am I wrong?

That fact is covered pretty thoroughly in Lutheran catechism classes. At least it was when I went through it.

How was the formation of the bible described?

From what I have read on CAF, I learned about the canon of Scripture pretty much the same as a Catholic child did. In no way was I taught that my faith started in 1517; I was taught that we shared the same history as the RCC.

Since then I have learned a great deal about the RCC in the past 500 years - from this forum, and also from my time at a Catholic college - and have learned that the RCC today is not the medieval church that Luther knew.

Mary: What were you taught about the canonicity of the book of James that Luther called “an epistle of straw” in his 1522 Preface to the New Testemanet?

What were you taught about the differences in the OT canon?

Hi Mary, I assume you are inquiring about the books we call the Apocrypha which cover the period between the OT and the NT. They have always been, and remain today, as part of the German Lutheran Bibles, and are back in use in at least some of the American Lutheran synods. Concerning these books, I was indeed ignorant of their contents since I grew up with English translations of the Bible that also lacked them.

We are aware that the canon of the Bible was pretty much set by the end of the 2nd century, and that it was set by the early Christian fathers who were part of the One Church which was the foundation of the RCC and also the Orthodox - and we would say, the Lutherans as well.

Were you ever taught about Luther’s comment the book of James was an “epistle of straw?”

Growing up I was not, but now as a Catechist, I teach my kids about this, Luther adding words to scripture, Zwingli’s declaration that the Eucharist is strictly symbolic, etc… etc… etc…

I think it is important for them to learn about falsehoods like ‘faith alone’, ‘sola scriptura’. etc… before they go off to college and get blind-sided by some yahoo trying to lead them down the ‘Roman road’ or teach them Billy Bright’s ‘sinner’s prayer’.

This is actually partly what inspired me to become a catechist. CCD was so lacking when I went through it 20+ years ago. What I was taught almost bordered on relativism. Sadly, many many aspects of CCD are still sub-par today.

Honestly Mary, I hadn’t heard a lot of his comments until I came here! I was aware that he used coarse language at times but it wasn’t until recently that I dipped farther into the history of that time. To Luther, Scripture was either Law or Gospel - and apparently James didn’t fit neatly into the boxes he defined. In any case, we use James just as we do all Scripture today. And that does include the books that are missing from many of the English language translations :wink:

This isn’t what he said.

“In a word St. John’s Gospel and his first epistle, St. Paul’s epistles, especially Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians, and St. Peter’s first epistle are the books that show you Christ and teach you all that is necessary and salvatory for you to know, even if you were never to see or hear any other book or doctrine. Therefore St. James’ epistle is really an epistle of straw,  compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it

Luther’s theology is a theology of the cross. He rightly sees James to be a book focused on the law. Nothing wrong with the law, but the fact is that James doesn’t talk much about Gospel. And that is Luther’s point. He is making a comparison. He is not saying it as a book of straw. It is also a fact that Luther preached from James all through his life.

There is also the fact that there are many things Luther said that are, frankly, not important, or not part of Lutheran teaching. Our teachings are based on scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, not Luther the man. I would ventrue to say that most Luthers have very little knowledge of the 95 Theses. They ought to know the Small and Large Catechisms, however.


Mary: Bless you for this approach. We need to see apologetics incorporated in the CCD programs in my opinion. Great statement about being blindsighted if they haven’t been taught as you teach.

That depends on what one means when declaring the Bible to be a “Catholic” book.

What it means is that it is a Catholic book, written by Catholics for Catholics and canonized by Catholics as there was no other Christian Church at the time. It is simply a historical fact.

The book of James is a New Testament book.

But the book of James was included in Luther’s translation. Agreed, it appears that he was not happy with parts of it but it remained nevertheless. Maybe I’m just confused as to the meaning of your statement. :shrug:

No, you’re right Steve. I started another thread here regarding Luther’s problem(s) with the Book of James. :thumbsup:

James, Hebrews, Jude, Revelation (books that did not go with his ‘faith alone’ doctrine) were included, but placed into an appendix without page numbers.

Yes. When the word “Catholic” is used today, most people think of the Roman Catholic Church, which didn’t exist as a separate entity until its schism from Orthodoxy, so I have never heard a Protestant minister describe the Bible as a Catholic book. Usually, the authors, dates, and purposes for the books are discussed, as is the need that came up to form a list of the books accepted as scripture, this being due to splinter sects and false teachers cropping up who had their own texts to add or wanted to ignore some texts that had had wide approval. St. Athanasius’s list in A. D. 367 is the earliest commonly cited as containing the 27 NT books most Christians accept today. A very short timeline at the link below constitutes about as much information on the canon of scripture as I’ve heard in Protestant churches.


Sorry, the Catholic Church was called the “Catholic Church” in the first century. It has never called itself the “Roman” Catholic Church. That is a name given to it by Protestants and was meant to be pejorative. When the Eastern Church went into schism with the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church remained just as it had been from the time of the Apostles. There are certainly reasons Protestant ministers would not choose to describe the Bible as a Catholic book but I don’t think the one given holds water.

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