If you should have an opportunity to discuss religion with a Catholic, do not make the mistake of supposing that you will influence him with quotations and arguments from the Bible. That is, if he is a “good” Catholic. If he was born in the Catholic Church, and most of them were, he has been taught from childhood that the Bible is a meaningless mystery except in the hands of a Catholic Priest or some other clergyman of that church. With Catholics, the Church is supreme authority. The pronouncements of the clergy must be obeyed without question. He must not study the Bible for himself. It will only confuse him, and he sins in so doing. But we shall let Catholic authority speak for itself.
The following quotations art from Reharbe’s Complete Catechism of the Catholic Religion. Have no fears about its not being authentic Catholic belief. It has the Imprimatur of the church on the flyleaf.
Page 77: “Where are the truths revealed of God contained?” Answer: “…in the Holy Scriptures and tradition.”
Page 79: “From whom alone can we know the true sense of Holy Scripture?” Answer: “From the Church alone; because the Church alone cannot err in interpreting it.”
Page 82: “From whom are we to learn the true meaning of tradition?” Answer: “From the Church alone, because she alone has received from God the authority and the guidance necessary to interpret infallibly all the doctrine that He has revealed, whether in the Holy Scriptures or in tradition.”
Page 76: “What, therefore, must the Catholic believe?” Answer: “He must believe all that God has revealed and the Catholic Church proposes to his belief, whether it be contained in the Holy Scripture or not.”
Page 79: “May no one, then, presume to explain the scripture contrary to the interpretation of the Catholic Church?” Answer: “No; for this would be as if he understood the scripture better than the Holy Ghost, who inspires the church with the true meaning of it.”
Page 80: “What has the Church decreed with regard to the reading of the Bible in the vulgar tongue?” Answer. “1. That we should have the learning and piety requisite for it; and 2. That the translation should be accompanied with explanations and that both should be approved of by the Church.”
So you see, Not just anyone can read the Bible. He must have the learning and piety for it. That means he must be well enough seasoned in Catholicism that he will pay no attention to anything that is contrary to the decrees of the Church. And even those who are allowed to read it must have a translation that has been doctored by the Church; “accompanied with explanations” is the way they put it. The council of Trent issued this “infallible” decree: That the Bishops might
permit the reading of the Bible, translated into the vulgar tongue by Catholic authors to those persons whose faith and piety they apprehend will be augmented by it; and this permission they must have in writing. But if anyone shall have the presumption to read or possess it without such written permission, he shall not receive absolution until he has first delivered up such Bible to the ordinary.
So even the learned and pious must have written permission—must read a doctored translation—sins if he reads or possesses one otherwise—and will not be forgiven until he gives up his Bible. If I were a Catholic I would be suspicious of a doctrine that has to be protected by such means. Some of them are, and that is the reason we are converting many of them to the truth, but if you hope to convert a Catholic you must first make him realize that he is being held in mental slavery by that fantastic and impious dogma of “Church infallibility.”
What does the “Mother Church” offer as proof of her infallibility? Let the catechism answer. Page 143: “Who assures us that the Church cannot err?” Answer: “Christ himself who has promised, (1) That he will be with her all days, even to the consummation of the world. Matt. 28:20. (2) That the Spirit of Truth shall abide with her forever. (John 15:16-17) (3) That the gates of hell shall not prevail against her (Matt. 16:18).”
And this proves that the Catholic Church is infallible! His passages are not apropos, but that is not my point here. Two questions: (1.) Why quote the scriptures to prove that the Church is infallible when it takes the “infallible” Church to give the meaning to the scriptures? (2.) To whom is the Bible a revelation? Not to the laity. They can’t understand it. Not to the clergy. They are inspired. They could write another one just like it. “The Bishops of the Catholic Church are successors of the apostles” (Catechism, p. 136, answer to question 20). Surely the Bible doesn’t reveal anything to them!
Here is something for the Catholic to think about. Catholics believe with the rest of us that the men who wrote the Bible were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Yet they are made to believe that they cannot understand what these inspired men wrote. They must have other “inspired” men (the Catholic clergy) tell them what these New Testament writers meant. Question: If I cannot understand what an inspired man wrote, how can I be sure that I understand what another inspired man says? Are my ears better than my eyes? If I cannot understand an apostle, how do I know that I understand his successor? Think it over. And when a Catholic gets the right answer to these questions he will not be a Catholic any longer.
But one more thing about these “successors of the apostles.” “Infallibility is not granted to each one individually, but to the Teachers (Bishops) collectively, when united with the Pope.” (Catechism, p. 144, answer to question 50.) The Bishops are not “individually infallible.” Were the apostles “individually infallible?” Paul said, (and I quote from the Catholic Bible—their doctored version) “…the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man, for neither did I receive it of man, neither did I learn it; but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11-12). Now look at verse 13. “But when it pleased Him who separated me from my Mother’s womb…to reveal His Son in me…I conferred not with flesh and blood, neither went I up to Jerusalem to the apostles who were before me: but I went into Arabia and again I returned to Damascus.” The next verse says, “after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter…” It was three years after Paul’s conversion before he saw another apostle, even Peter (who Catholics falsely claim was the Pope). Was he preaching heresy all this time, or was he “individually” infallible and inspired?