Where We Got the Bible


"We are not undervaluing the written Word of God, or placing it on a level inferior to what it deserves. We are simply showing the position it was meant to occupy in the economy of the Christian Church. It was written by the Church, by members (Apostles and Evangelists) of the Church; it belongs to the Church, and it is her office, therefore, to declare what it means. It is intended for instruction, meditation, spiritual reading, encouragement, devotion, and also serves as proof and testimony of the Church’s doctrines and Divine authority; but as a complete and exclusive guide to heaven in the hands of every man—this it never was and never could be.

“The Bible in the Church; the Church before the Bible—the Church the Maker and Interpreter of the Bible—that is right. The Bible above the Church; the Bible independent of the Church; the Bible, and the Bible only, the Religion of Christians—that is wrong. The one is the Catholic position; the other the Protestant.”

*From *Where We Got the Bible – Our Debt to the Catholic Church by Fr. Henry Graham, p. 29.


That book is excellent (I also have Graham’s other book, What Faith Really Means).


On a couple other threads, a forum member by the name of ‘Sola Scriptura’ complained that whenever he debated Catholics about Sola Scriptura, they wanted to talk about the canon.

To me, they are inseparable. Christianity is *not *a “religion of the book,” like Islam. That religion’s founder wrote a book and told his followers to 'read and heed." Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity did no such thing. Instead he went around preaching. He did not command his followers to start a Bible and Tract Society, but to go and preach the Gospel. The church was in existence, baptising, preaching, disciplining, etc. for at least a decade before pen was set to paper on the New Testament, and several decades would pass before the last of the New Testament was written. Even then, as the writings were copied, passed around and read in the churches, there was no uniform concensus as to what the New Testament canon consisted of. There was no attempt to formulate a canon until the Marcionite heresy of the mid-second century, and even then there was disagreement on what should be left in or out, and it wasn’t until the end of the 4th century that the NT canon as we know it today was settled.

Years ago I had a book titled The King and the Beast, a Contemporary English Version of the NT with various commentaries. There was a chapter entitled ‘No Loose Canons’ which told how “early church leaders carefully weighed the various books to make sure that only the correct books were chosen” or words to that effect. What never crossed my mind to ask was “who were these Christians?” and "what authority did they have?’ If I had thought to ask those questions, I would have become Catholic sooner than I did.

In the end, it was the Church that gave birth to the New Testament, not the other way around.


EXCELLENT POST…Short, to the point and absolutely TRUE!!!


The Bible books, whether in their matter or their form, are insufficient to serve as a criterion for their own inspiration. This has been commonly termed as the Anglican criterion. The matter contained in a sacred book may be historical or doctrinal, and everyone acknowledges the sublimity, holiness, and harmony of the doctrines of the Bible. But the decisive question is not what the book contains, but rather under what conditions it was written, because the matter of the book does not enter into the strict and proper concept of inspiration. Futhermore, there are books of the Old Testament with dry geneologies and statistical details, narratives of human misdoing which are not apt to serve as material for spiritual reading. The literary form (i.e., the elegance of the language) is not sufficient to prove the inspiration of a book. Some of the books of both the Old and New Testaments are recognized to be inferior in style. The criteria of style and literary quality are subjective, and depend to a large extent upon the psychological disposition of the reader.

Thr fruits produced in the mind of the reader by a book are also an insufficient criterion for the inspiration of that book. These fruits are claimed to be deep religious sentiments of faith, hope, and charity for God and man, etc. Luther declared he could tell inspired from non-inspired books ex gustu et sapore, just as he could tell good from bad food. Undoubtedly deep religious emotions are sometimes aroused by reading and meditating upon Scriptures, and all admit that the Bible has exercised a salutary influence upon mankind. Yet, such a criterion is purely subjective. Impressions from reading the Bible vary from person to person, and even with the same person at different periods. Some books of the Old Testament, though recognized as inspired, never excite any religious emotions in man. Yet, the “Imitation of Christ”, a non-inspired book, arouses the deepest religious emotions. Such a criterion, therefore, being neither objective nor universal, but purely arbitrary, does not suffice to prove a book inspired.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.