(1) The point that we have arrived at now, if you remember, is this: The Catholic Church, through her Popes and Councils, gathered together the separate books that Christians venerated which existed in different parts of the world; sifted the chaff from the wheat, the false from the genuine; decisively and finally formed a collection – i.e., drew up a list or catalogue of inspired and apostolic writings into which no other book should ever be admitted, and declared that these and these only were the Sacred Scriptures of the New Testament. The authorities that were mainly responsible for thus settling and closing the “Canon” of Holy Scripture were the Councils of Hippo and of Carthage in the fourth century, under the influence of St. Augustine (at the latter of which two Legatees were present from the Pope), and the Popes Innocent I in 405, and Gelasius, 494, both of whom issued lists of Sacred Scripture identical with that fixed by the Councils. From that date all through the centuries this was the Christian’s Bible. The Church never admitted any other; and at the Council of Florence in the 15th century and the Council of Trent in the 16th and the [First] Council of the Vatican in the 19th she renewed her anathemas against all who should deny or dispute this collection of books as the inspired Word of God.
(2) What follows from this is self-evident. The same authority which made and collected and preserved these books, alone has the right to claim them as her own and to say what the meaning of them is. The Church of St. Paul and St. Peter and St. James in the first century was the same Church as that of the Council of Carthage and of St. Augustine in the fourth, and of the Council of Florence in the 15th, and of the Vatican in the 19th – one and the same body – growing and developing, certainly, as every living thing must do, but still preserving its identity and remaining essentially the same body, as a man of 80 is the same person as he was at 40, and the same person at 40 as he was at 2. The Catholic Church of today, then, may be compared to a man who has grown from infancy to youth, and from youth to middle age. Suppose a man wrote a letter setting forth certain statements; whom would you naturally ask to tell what the meaning of these statements was? Surely the man that wrote it. The Church wrote the New Testament; she, and she alone, can tell us what the meaning of it is.
Again, the Catholic Church is like a person who was present at the side of Our Blessed Lord when He walked and talked in Galilee and Judea. Suppose, for a moment, that that man was gifted with perpetual youth (this, by the way, is an illustration from W.H. Mallock’s, Doctrine and Doctrinal Disruption, chap. xi) and also with perfect memory, and had heard all the teaching and explanations of Our Redeemer and of His Apostles, and retained them; he would be an invaluable witness and authority to consult, surely, so as to discover exactly what was the doctrine of Jesus Christ and of the Twelve. But such undoubtedly is the Catholic Church: not an individual person, but a corporate personality who lived with, indeed was called into being by, Our Divine Saviour; in whose hearing He uttered all His teaching; who listened to the Apostles in their day and generation, repeating and expounding the Saviour’s doctrine; who, ever young and ever strong, has persisted and lived all through the centuries, and continues even till our own day fresh and keen in memory as ever, and able to assure us, without fear of forgetting, or mixing things up, or adding things out of his own head, what exactly Our Blessed Lord said, and taught, and meant, and did.
Suppose, again, that the man we are imagining had written down much of what he heard Christ and the Apostles say, but had not fully reported all, and was able to supplement what was lacking by personal explanations which he gave from his perfect memory: that, again, is a figure of the Catholic Church. She wrote down much, indeed, and the most important parts of Our Lord’s teaching, and of the Apostolic explanation of it, in Scripture; but nevertheless she did not intend it to be a complete and exhaustive account, apart from her own explanation of it; and, as a matter of fact, she is able from her own perpetual memory to give fuller and clearer accounts, and to add some things that are either omitted from the written report, or are only hinted at, or partially recorded, or mentioned merely in passing.
Such is the Catholic Church in relation to her own book, the New Testament. It is hers because she wrote it by her first Apostles, and preserved it and guarded it all down the ages by her Popes and Bishops; nobody else has any right to it whatsoever, any more than a stranger has the right to come into your house and break open your desk and pilfer your private documents. Therefore, I say that for people to step in, 1500 years after the Catholic Church had had possession of the Bible, and to pretend that it is theirs, and that they alone know what the meaning of it is, and that the Scriptures alone, without the voice of the Catholic Church explaining them, are intended by God to be the guide and rule of faith – this is an absurd and groundless claim. Only those who are ignorant of the true history of the Sacred Scriptures – their origin and authorship and preservation – could pretend that there is any logic or common sense in such a mode of acting. And the absurdity is magnified when it is remembered that the Protestants did not appropriate the whole of the Catholic books, but actually cast out some from the collection, and took what remained, and elevated these into a new “Canon,” or volume of Sacred Scripture, such as had never been seen or heard of before, from the first to the sixteenth century, in any Church, either in Heaven above or on earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth! Let us make good this charge.
(3) Open a Protestant Bible, and you will find there are seven complete Books wanting – that is, seven books fewer than there are in the Catholic Bible, and seven fewer than there were in every collection and catalogue of Holy Scripture from the fourth to the sixteenth century. Their names are Tobias, Baruch, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, I Machabees, II Macabees, together with seven chapters of the Book of Esther, and 66 verses of the 3rd chapter of Daniel, commonly called “The Song of the Three Children” (Daniel 3:24-90, Douay version). These were deliberately cut out, and the Bible bound up without them. The criticisms and remarks of Luther, Calvin and the Swiss and German Reformers about these seven books of the Old Testament show to what depths of impiety those unhappy men had allowed themselves to fall when they broke away from the true Church. Even in regard to the New Testament, it required all the powers of resistance on the part of the more conservative Reformers to prevent Luther (an ex-Catholic priest) from flinging out the Epistle of St. James as unworthy to remain within the volume of Holy Scripture – “an Epistle of straw,” he called it, “with no character of the Gospel in it.” In the same way, and almost to the same degree, he dishonored the Epistle of St. Jude and the Epistle to the Hebrews and the beautiful Apocalypse of St. John, declaring they were not on the same footing as the rest of the books and did not contain the same amount of Gospel (i.e., his Gospel). The presumptuous way, indeed, in which Luther, among others, poured contempt and doubt upon some of the inspired writings which had been acknowledged and cherished and venerated for 1000 or 1200 years would be scarcely credible were it not that we have his very words in cold print, which cannot lie, and may be read in his biography or be seen quoted in such books as Dr. Westcott’s The Bible in the Church. And why did he impugn such books as we have mentioned? Because they did not suit his new doctrines and opinions. He had arrived at the principle of private judgement – of picking and choosing religious doctrines; and whenever any book, such as the Book of Machabees, taught a doctrine that was repugnant to his individual taste – as, for example, that “it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins” (2 Mach. 12:46) – well, so much the worse for the book; “Throw it overboard,” was his sentence, and overboard it went. And it was the same with passages and texts in those books which Luther allowed to remain and pronounced to be worthy to find a place within the boards of the new Reformed Bible. In short, he not only cast out certain books, but he mutilated some that were left. For example, not pleased with St. Paul’s doctrine, “We are justified by faith,” and fearing lest good works (a Popish superstition) might creep in, he added the word “only” after St. Paul’s words, making the sentence run: “We are justified by faith only,” and so it reads in Lutheran Bibles to this day . An action such as that must surely be reprobated by all Bible Christians. What surprises us is the audacity of the man that could coolly change by a stroke of the pen a fundamental doctrine of the Apostle of God, St. Paul, who wrote, as all admitted, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. But this was the outcome of the Protestant standpoint, individual judgement: no authority outside of oneself. However ignorant, however stupid, however unlettered, you may – indeed, you are bound to – cut and carve out a Bible and a Religion for yourself. No Pope, no Council, no Church shall enlighten you or dictate or hand down the doctrines of Christ. And the result we have seen in the corruption of God’s Holy Word.
(4) Yet, in spite of all reviling of the Roman Church, the Reformers were forced to accept from her those Sacred Scriptures which they retained in their collection. Whatever Bible they have today, disfigured as it is, was taken from us. Blind indeed must he the Evangelical Christian who cannot recognize in the old Catholic Bible the quarry from which he has hewn the Testament he loves and studies – but with what loss! At what a sacrifice! In what a mutilated and disfigured condition! That the Reformers should appropriate unabridged the Bible of the Catholic Church (which was the only volume of God’s Scripture ever known on earth), even for the purpose of elevating it into a false position – this we could have understood; what staggers us is their deliberate excision from that Sacred Volume of some of the inspired Books which had God for their Author, and their no less deliberate alteration of some of the texts of those books that were suffered to remain. It is on consideration of such points as these that pious persons our side the Catholic fold would do well to ask themselves the question – Which Christian body reslly loves and reveres the Scriptures most? Which has proved, by its actions, it’s love and veneration? And which seems most likely to incur the anathema, recorded by St. John, that God will send upon those who shall rake away from the words of the Book of Life? (Apoc. 22:19)
God Bless BJS!!
Taken from Where We Got The Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church by RT REV HENRY G. GRAHAM I am not the Author merely the distributor.