Internal inconsistancy?


#1

I understand that the catholic church selected the canon. I’ve had a lot of trouble reconciling these two groups of passages found in both catholic and protestant canons. Can anyone explain how they fit togeather or should I conclude that the catholic church failed to inerrently compile the canon of scripture?

group I
Eph 2:1-10 "for by grace you have been saved and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, NOT OF WORKS lest anyone should boast.

Rom 4:1-8 "but to him who DOES NOT WORK but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for rightiousness.

“For if Abraham was justified by works he has something to boast about, but not before God. But what does the Scripture say,’ Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for rightiousness.’”

Group II
James 2:14-26 “you see then that a man IS JUSTIFIED BY WORKS AND NOT BY FAITH ONLY.”

2:21 “Was not our father Abraham justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the alter?”


#2

The conclusion you propose would be extremely premature based on the evidence you present.


#3

And we would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids and that dog of theirs…

Seriously, given that we had 1,200 years to cover our tracks (presuming for the moment that your assumption was valid), don’t you think we might have done a better job?

This is another way of asking—if the Catholic Church corrupted sacred Scripture, how do you know you’ve removed all the corruptions with the bowdlerizing of the Bible the Protestants did?

In reality, I think you’ve got it precisely backwards.

Remember that Luther fought pretty darned hard to get James out of the Bible because “faith without works is dead” is impossible to reconcile with sola fide.

Let me put this for you in a linear fashion:

  1. The Catholic Church compiled the Bible.
  2. 1,200 years later Protestants revised the canon.
  3. If the Catholic Church corrupted the Bible in the 4th century, how do Protestants know they have the correct (uncorrupted) version in the 16th?

It is not enough to simply point out the differences. One must determine which version is TRUE.

Let me put it to you this way.

Thomas Jefferson produced his own version of the Bible, eliminating the supernatural.

How do you know the Protestant Bible is true and Jefferson’s is not?

And that’s before we discuss which Protestant Bible we’re talking about, since there are now significant differences between them which go quite a bit beyond coloring Christ’s words red.

Catholics would reply that the only way you can know you’ve got the right version is through the authority of the tradition, which is either undergirded by apostolic succession (as with the Catholic Bible) or is not (with the Lutheran and subsequent Protestant versions).

It all comes down to “By What Authority?”, a line of argument Protestants hate.


#4

the truth bears inspection. I’ve never personally shyed from the “by what authority” question. however, lets not forget the bareans who the scriptures commends because they “searched daily from the scriptures to see if these things were so.” the claim is that the authority comes from christ to the apostles, especially peter and was passed generationally, from bishop to bishop. however, I am born too late to whitness the ordination of each bishop so I must have some test for the claim. it is exactly the by what authority question that I am trying to answer. but this is a huge issue and I refuse to change in a hurry. I can’t understand how catholics fail to recognize that a relatively certain chain of politically connected links traceable to peter himself is inadaquate. peter himself warned us that false teachers would creap in, so did paul, jude, and john. these wolves in sheeps clothing look like bishops because they have the position to lead, and lead people astray. furthermore, Paul’s ordination did not come through an apostolic council but through a direct encounter with the risen Christ leading to fellowship with the other apostles. so it does’nt follow that peter’s successor must be appointed through the direct action of living bishops. simply having a list of bishops that visibly succede each other, is inadequate, even if the list historically describes the visible papacy.
the claim must be tested by recognizing whether it has the property of truth. so are the references consistent? at a glance they don’t seem to be since “faith apart from works” excludes “works and faith working togeather.” simply responding by appealing to the assumption I am trying to test just goes to show you probably don’t personally have a legitmate answer.

I don’t care who compiled the bible, if the books don’t agree, than there are too many. if they don’t summerize the doctrine they are too few, and if a different set of books gave the same teaching from ministers appointed by God it could have none of the same books and still be an equivilent standard. 66 books is arbitrary, the important thing is the content of those books which I am scrutinizing to verify their authoritative source. anything that is false is not from God.


#5

Which gospels would you eliminate, seeing as how they differ in such respects as Christ’s genealogy, accounts of events, etc?


#6

I asked you first. I don’t care to eliminate any of them if they can be reasonably understood to agree. have you looked up the james and paul references, do they agree? I don’t get it. half the time on this forum when I ask a question, the response I get is to show that the protestant view is worse. I know more about protestant theology than most on this forum and I don’t agree with all of it because it dos’nt all make sense. the question is does catholocism make sense?


#7

It helps if your question makes sense in and of itself.

Here’s your argument, as I see it:

  1. Certain passages of Scripture seemingly contradict one another.
  2. This means one or the other must be wrong.
  3. The wrong Scriptures must be eliminated.

I have reworded this in light of the Gospels:

  1. Certain Gospels seemingly contradict one another.
  2. This means some are right and some are wrong.
  3. The wrong Gospels must be eliminated.

I did this to try to show you the error in your reasoning, which is in the second and third propositions.

Seeming contradictions don’t imply errors requiring “purging” of the Bible.

There are two creation accounts in Genesis. Should we eliminate the book of Genesis? Or simply the account you believe to be “more Catholic”?

I have read all of the passages you have extracted. There are any number of threads on the forum explaining them from various perspectives. I don’t think rehashing these arguments is necessary to point out that your argument is flawed.

Moreover, as a Catholic, I don’t have to rely on my own interpretation of these. Far smarter and far holier men than me have done this, and the Catechism explains the Catholic teaching of justification and sanctification quite well.

Arguing Scriptural purity with the Catholic Church is a bit like Christ trying to argue his divinity with the Pharisees by pointing out his baptism.

There was a reason he quoted Scripture to them—it was that that is what they saw as valid, and was the vehicle for showing them the error of their ways.

Catholics have less trouble with seeming contradictions in Scripture because we do not have to rest the entirety of our faith upon it being apparently contradiction-free.


#8

It is almost a cliche to cry, “context, context, context” but in this case, these quotes do require context. They are not stand-alone, hang-in-the-air statements. This is especially true of the faith-versus-works quotations. The writers were each writing against extremes on either side.


#9

Why hasn’t someone just answered the poor guy’s question?!?:shrug:

The Catholic Church usually talks about justification, sanctification, and salvation as separate steps, whereas Protestants generally talk as if they were all pretty much the same thing.

Faith is a gift; we can do nothing to earn it. So, works do not have anything to do with that initial faith that brings us to God and baptism (aka “justification”: being made right with God. See the Catechism, paragraph 1987-2029). As St. Paul says in the passage you quote from Romans, Abraham attained righteousness as a free gift from God, not as payment for his works. However, St. Paul is not denying the necessity of works per se, just that they have no bearing on the initial gift of justification.

HOWEVER, as part of that initial gift of grace and adoption, God makes us coworkers in His plan, which obliges us to do works.

Group II
James 2:14-26 “you see then that a man IS JUSTIFIED BY WORKS AND NOT BY FAITH ONLY.”

2:21 “Was not our father Abraham justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the alter?”

This section on James opens with the question, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says that he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” so his overall theme here seems to be “what is salvation?” (ok, he keeps saying “justification”, but I think not in the strict theological definition that the Church currently gives it.)

Salvation is something different than justification; it is finishing the race we start at our baptism. James says that, “faith without works is dead.” If you’re spiritually dead, you obviously aren’t making any progress in the “race”, i.e. becoming more Christ-like. If we believe in Christ, but refuse to do anything about that, do we really believe that he is Lord? If I love my husband, but refuse to do anything to help him around the house or insist that he “do his share” first, do I really love?

In the Gospels, Jesus says, “Not everyone who calls out, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will be saved, but only those who do the will of my Father.” The faith inspires the works, the works show the faith and manifest a real obedience to God, which is necessary for final salvation. St. Paul talks about the Christian life as a race and exhorts his audience to “run the race with perseverence.”

The footnote in my study Bible comments that James may have been trying to explain Paul, whose statements in Romans would seem to point to a “pray the prayer and you’re done” kind of interpretation. Obviously, though, St. Paul praises those churches who supported his ministry as good Christian examples, and St. James talks about faith and works going together naturally, not one excluding the other. As with so much of Catholic understanding, it is a both/and answer, not an either/or.

For a much better explanation, try searching the “This Rock” archives or this: catholic.com/thisrock/1994/9402vbv.asp


#10

Thanks, GM, I was beginning to wonder the same thing.

We are (initially) saved by Faith (ours or our parents). We are then continuing in our saved state by faith, through our works and our obedience.


#11

[crickets]


#12

To follow up on Gardening Mommy remarks the simple answer is it was never works alone, nor faith alone. It is simply both. Works refers to how you chose to live. If you live as instructed by God that is your works. If you live outside of God’s plan the faith will not overcome actions, and vice versa.

Abraham followed God’s direct instruction at great personal pains(works) because he believed fully in God (faith). James warning echoes Jesus in that the Pharisee live the rules(works) but show know sign of faith. Jesus and James warn Jews to develop faith or they will parish. Remember the man on the cross by Jesus who announced (and renounced) his guilt, defended Jesus, and asked remembrance (forgiveness), he was saved. Last the gift of salvation is granted by God not earned, we are told to practice faith and works as we may receive the gift but there is no promise (covenant). In the passages you cite, we are reminded failure of faith or works reduces or eliminates the opportunity to receive the gift of salvation.
Hope that helps


#13

You should have added to Group 2 this passage from Matthew: Matt: 25:31-46, which, in the very words of Jesus himself, show mankind being saved by their works or lack thereof.

I don’t care who compiled the bible, if the books don’t agree, than there are too many. if they don’t summerize the doctrine they are too few, and if a different set of books gave the same teaching from ministers appointed by God it could have none of the same books and still be an equivilent standard. 66 books is arbitrary, the important thing is the content of those books which I am scrutinizing to verify their authoritative source. anything that is false is not from God.

Here it seems that you are, at this late date, making yourself the judge of what is canonical. If you can have that authority, so should any other believer. The result is chaos.


#14

Gardening Mommy, Thanks for answering the question, a breath of fresh air. My questions are sincere and I have been open about my motivation for asking them–to see if the catholic church can be verified as true. unfortunatly a lot of people seem to be more interested in using my questions as a jumping off point to shoot down some position they think I hold. When its important I have been sincere about that too. the following is a response to the other people who have replied.

once again, I’m getting answer’s from the horse behind the cart. here’s the correction on the argument.

A divine authority is not divided against itself.

the meaning of james and paul’s propositions are divided against each other.

therefore the bible contains at least some material that is not of divine authority.
2)

the catholic church endorces the whole bible on grounds of divine authority,

the bible contains at least some material that is not of divine authority.

Therefore the catholic church endorses the whole bible on false grounds.

OR equivilently,

the bible contains some error

the bible comes through catholic authority

therefore error comes through the catholic church.

error does not come from God

catholic authority has error

Therefore catholic authority does not come from God.

The overarching Hypothosis:

Catholics always seem to be refering to the apostolic authority of their bishops for verification of the proof of true Christian doctrine and dogma. this is very much like the evangelical insistance on the bible as being the highest tangeble authority without any justification. to an outsider, “peter’s succesor says,…” does not do much in the way of persuasion. not only that, citing an historical process of succession does nothing to verify that at no point did error creep in as peter, john, paul, jude, and Jesus “alegedly” warned would happen. as a result, the theme of most of my posts is as follows

God’s authority is absolutely correct

Catholic authority is/is not correct about something.

Therefore: catholic authority could be/is not divine depending on the verification of the second assumption.

correctness can be verified imperfectly by internal consistancy, external consistancy, apparent correspondence to reality etc.

this is why it does’nt matter to me which books are in the bible if they all agree. if they don’t agree, the point is’nt for me to take one out(although some sects have) and be my own pope, the point is that the claim of divine authority of the canonizer is proved false.

This method cannot ultimately prove the correctness of the church. however, if no rigorous proof to it’s falsness can be found, “softer” evidence in favor of catholocism is more persuasive. right now however, I have tons of assumed proofs to its falsness. therefore any positive “soft” evidence is unpersuasive to me as yet.

with respect to comparing the gospels, it is easier for me to simply accept that different whitnesses will remember different parts of the same events. the slight differences in writing style can be accounted for by recognizing that the gospels contain a careful paraphrase of Jesus words that convey an equivelant meaning to what he literally said. Divine providence is still in play here. in the james/paul case, I’ve discussed this with protestant pastors only to get implausable answers. I thought maybe the catholic church could do better since they claim it’s their book.


#15

Well…Ok go ahead Dingyboatman. Prove the CC to be false. There was no-one else around at that time - to compile the Bible but the CC…:hmmm:
But how many gospels were in existance 2000 years ago, how many epistles - how many now lost MSS did St. Jerome use.
If the CC Authority is false you are left in that hideous position of not knowing what is true, and as you say, being yourself unqualified to judge what is true from the remains of the totality of every manuscript ever written by human hands.


#16

Have you read Dei Verbum?


#17

This is a fairly complex issue and it’s late, so I’ll address this briefly. As Mercygate explained, Paul and James are writing against extremes. What Paul is talking about is the extreme of works only-ism. In other words, he was talking about those who performed works in such a manner as to obligate God to save them. This is why he reminds us that we are saved by grace, not by obligating God (not to mention that any works we do in such a manner cannot stand up to God’s judgment).

James, on the other hand is addressing those who apparently claim that their faith is enough, and that they do not have any need to perform works of charity (love). So, he reminds us that (cf. the parable of the sheep and goats) works of charity are necessary to our salvation. Catholics call this “faith working in love”.

Thus, it’s not an eith/or situation…it’s both/and. Or, again, as the Catholic Church puts it, we are saved by faith working in love. The seeming contradiction, is not a contradiction at all…when read in context, both “groups” complement each other.


#18

Dingy, you praise GM, but did you read her post?

Your hypothesis falls apart at step 1. Faith (not works) is necessary for initial Salvation as Paul points out. But for the saved, our works are necessary to remain saved, as James points out.

Since 1 is false, there’s no point in going further.


#19

There are a couple of places where your logic is faulty (although I do appreciate you so clearly laying out your reasoning):

You claim a definition for divine authority which does not itself derive from divine authority. “I am the Lord your god, you will have no other gods before me”—note God does not say, “I am the Lord your God, I am not divided against myself.”

You have neither shown James and Paul’s propositions to be divided against one another, nor their underlying meaning to be.

It does not follow given these two propositions that your third would be true—you’re simply making a leap.

The Catholic Church asserts that the Bible contains the complete revelation of God, not that the Bible is infallible. There are historical and geographic errors in the Bible which are not revelatory in nature. These minor errors do not invalidate the Ten Commandments.

Your last one is a clear fallacy.

Here’s an analogous argument to show the error:

Mommy does no wrong.

Billy does not listen to Mommy and does wrong.

Therefore, Billy does not come from Mommy.

You see the point, I hope.


#20

James and Paul are not “divided against each other.” They are speaking of two different kinds of works and two different kinds of law. Romans is written in response to the Judaizers, who were telling the new Christians that ‘works of the law’ – meaning the ceremonial law – such as circumcision, were REQUIRED for salvation. Scholars believe that James is writing to counter those who had swung to the far end of the Pauline spectrum, and teaching that once you have confessed the name of Jesus, then nothing further is needed in living the Christian life. The moral law is not abrogated – so works done according to the moral law, done in Christ, done in faith constitute the living faith that saves. Note that James states that of Abraham, his works “completed his faith.” As for the phrase “works of the law” I just learned that fairly recent manuscript evidence has appeared in which it becomes clear that in first century Judaism, “works of the law” was a general term referring specifically to the ceremonial law.

  1. the catholic church endorces the whole bible on grounds of divine authority, the bible contains at least some material that is not of divine authority. Therefore the catholic church endorses the whole bible on false grounds.

OR equivilently,

the bible contains some error

the bible comes through catholic authority

therefore error comes through the catholic church.

I direct you to Paragraphs 115-119 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church*. *You present a rather narrow view of what constitutes “error.”

[quote]3)error does not come from God

catholic authority has error

I guess I missed where you come up with this one.

Therefore catholic authority does not come from God.

. . . continued in next post.

[/quote]


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