Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Dead Letter of Scripture

Following on a discussion in this combox, I shared a few quotes from Catholics on the Bible. I think my use of the quotes wasn’t quite understood, so I thought I would break the quotes down here.

"It is the Church, the holder of Tradition, that gives life to the dead letter of Scripture. Experience shows that it is only in the life of the Church, the Bride of Christ, that Scripture, divinely inspired as it is, becomes 'living and effectual, and more piercing than any two-edged sword' (Heb 4:12)"
-A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, 1951 (pg 2)
with imprimatur and acknowledgment of Pope Pius XII

1. Scripture is a dead letter in need of life.
2. Only the Roman Catholic Church gives life to Scripture.
3. Therefore, without the RCC, Scripture is dead and ineffectual.

"In regard to these truth [faith and morals] the authority of Tradition and of the Bible is equal...Nevertheless, as we shall see later, the Church is superior to the Bible in the sense that she is the Living Voice of Christ, and therefore the sole infallible interpreter of the inspired Word, whenever an authoritative interpretation is required."
-A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, 1951 (pg 2)
with imprimatur and acknowledgment of Pope Pius XII

1. The Roman Catholic Church “is superior to the Bible".
2. Therefore, the Bible is inferior to the Church.

"A competent religious guide must be clear and intelligible to all, so that everyone may fully understand the true meaning of the instructions it contains. Is the Bible a book intelligible to all? Far from it; it is full of obscurities and difficulties not only for the illiterate, but even for the learned...The Fathers of the Church, though many of them spent their whole lives in the study of the Scriptures, are unanimous in pronouncing the Bible a book full of knotty difficulties."
-The Faith of Our Fathers

1. A competent religious guide must be clear to all.
2. The Bible is not clear to all.
3. Therefore, the Bible is incompetent.

(this one is directly related to the previous combox discussion - lack of clarity equals incompetence.)

"We must, therefore, conclude that the Scriptures alone cannot be a sufficient guide and rule of faith because they cannot, at any time, be within the reach of every inquirer; because they are not of themselves clear and intelligible even in matters of the highest importance, and because they do not contain all the truths necessary for salvation."
-The Faith of Our Fathers

1. Scripture is not accessible to all.
2. Scripture is not clear, even in very important matters.
3. Scripture does not contain all the truths necessary for salvation.
4. Therefore, Scripture alone is an insufficient rule of faith.

FINAL SUMMARY: God's breathed-out revelation to his creation is dead, ineffectual, unclear, incompetent, insufficient, incomplete with regards to salvation and inferior to the Roman Catholic Church.

What does that say about God?

In contrast, what God's Word says about itself:

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isa 55:10-11

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Ps 119:105

"And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." Deut 8:3

"The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple." Ps 119:130

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers." 1 Thess 2:13

"Is not my word like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?" Jer 23:29

"and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." 2 Tim 3:15-16

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