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Apologetics Ecumenism Faith Formation Ink Slingers Sacred Scripture Tiffany P

Defending the Canon of the Bible–All 73 Books, Part 2

Last week, in the first part of this two part series, I gave a brief outline of the history of the Church and, by effect, the history of the Bible. The timeline showed how the Bible came as a product of the Church (rather than vice versa), how the Church was lead by God in councils lead by bishops to discern which texts belonged in the Biblical canon, thus compiling the books into the Bible as we know it today. After 1,500 years of one accepted canon used by all Christians, Martin Luther made the decision through his own, self-proclaimed authority, to remove seven books from the canon: Sirach, Tobit, Wisdom, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Baruch, and part of Esther and Daniel. The Church there after met at the Council of Trent to address Luther’s heresies and reaffirm the canon of the Bible. Protestants today claim that it was at the Council of Trent that the Catholic Church “added” these books to the Bible.

In discourse with a Protestant, one challenge they may give you is to prove that the seven books they call “the Apocrypha” were part of the canon before the Council of Trent. Right away, a few easy explanations may come to mind. For one, we have pictorial  evidence of ancient Bibles, long before Luther’s day, that include these books. Additionally, a quick look at an Eastern Orthodox Bible will show that they also contain these seven books. The Eastern Orthodox church split from the Catholic Church in the 1200s, over 300 years before the Council of Trent.

These facts alone may be enough to stop some protesting Protestants in their evangelizing tracks, but it never hurts to be extra prepared. The following is a list of historical and Scriptural evidence that leaves no room for doubt that the original Christian Bibles contained the seven books that have since been rejected by our Protestant brethren.

The Councils that Canonized and Compiled Scripture

It cannot be denied that the Bible was canonized and compiled in the 300s, by a council of bishops acting under the Church’s authority and thus, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We know that God did not drop the completed Bible from the sky, but used men to do this task from writing it to putting it together. Most reasonable Protestants will admit this fact. Here are a few transcripts from these councils. It stands to reason that if one rejects even one of the writings decided upon in this councils, they must reject the entire Bible, for all writings were canonized at the same councils.

“[It has been decided] that nothing except the canonical Scriptures should be read in the Church under the name of the divine Scriptures. But the canonical Scriptures are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, Paralipomenon, two books, Job, the Psalter of David, five books of Solomon [Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Sirach], twelve books of the Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, two books of Esdras, two books of the Maccabees . . .” (Council of Carthrage  A.D. 397]).

“[It has been decided] that besides the canonical Scriptures nothing be read in church under the name of divine Scripture. But the canonical Scriptures are as follows: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the Son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, the Kings, four books, the Chronicles, two books, Job, the Psalter, the five books of Solomon [Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Sirach] , the twelve books of the Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, Ezra, two books, Maccabees, two books . . .” (Council of Hippo [A.D. 393]).

 

St. Augustine–an alleged Protestant

Though St. Augustine’s writings show him to be a brilliant Catholic theologian, many Protestants claim him as their own, asserting that his believed in justification by faith alone. One Protestant ministry founded by the famous Protestant R.C. Sproul claims “Calvin and Luther did not teach anything that Augustine did not teach.” Clearly Mr. Sproul had not been seeped too deeply in St. Augustine’s works, but I regress. For those Protestant followers of St. Augustine, introduce them to what he had to say about the canon.

“The whole canon of the Scriptures, however, in which we say that consideration is to be applied, is contained in these books: the five of Moses . . . and one book of Joshua [Son of] Nave, one of Judges; one little book which is called Ruth . . . then the four of Kingdoms, and the two of Paralipomenon . . . . [T]here are also others too, of a different order . . . such as Job and Tobit and Esther and Judith and the two books of Maccabees, and the two of Esdras . . . .  (St. Augustine On Christian Instruction 2:8:13 [ca. A.D. 395

We read in the books of the Maccabees [2 Macc. 12:43] that sacrifice was offered for the dead. But even if it were found nowhere in the Old Testament writings, the authority of the Catholic Church which is clear on this point is of no small weight, where in the prayers of the priest poured forth to the Lord God at his altar the commendation of the dead has its place” (St. Augustine On the Care That Should be Taken for the Dead 1:3 [A.D. 421])

St. Augustine’s above statement in bold shows that the passage in his preceding sentence, 2 Maccabees 13:43, is indeed in the Old Testament. Take note also that St. Augustine’s statements, as well as the transcripts from the councils,  all occur before the year 500, over 1,000 years before Martin Luther.

 

But What About Jesus…?

The final refutation a Protestant might give is based on the assumption that Jesus never quoted or referenced from any of those seven books. This argument does not hold water, as Jesus did not even quote from every single book of the Protestant Old Testament, but nonetheless it would not hurt our case if He did reference them.
And… He did.
Matthew 6:12, 14-15—“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; if you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your heavenly father forgive your transgressions.”
Sirach 28:2—“Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.”

Luke 18:22—“When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘There is still one thing left for you: sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”
Sirach 29:11—Dispose of your treasure as the Most High commands, for that will profit you more than the gold.”

John 3:12—“If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”
Wisdom 9:16—“Scarce do we guess the things on earth, and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty;
but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?”

John 10:29—“My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.”
Wisdom 3:1—“But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.”
Imagine if today, someone tried to remove a book, a chapter, a verse, or even one mere word from the Bible.  Protestants would likely scream bloody murder, while the Catholic Church would merely shake her head, for she has been through this before. 500 years ago, not one book but seven books (and parts of two others) were taken from the Bible. In the years since our Protestant brethren who devote themselves to Scripture and holding it in such high regard have been missing out on the beautiful words found in these seven books that have always been a part of the canon.

 

 

 

Categories
Apologetics Ecumenism Faith Formation Ink Slingers Sacred Scripture Tiffany P

Defending the Canon of the Bible–All 73 Books

One common dispute against the Catholic Church by well meaning but misinformed Protestants is the assertion that the Catholic Church “added” books to the Bible.  As it is commonly known, Protestant Bibles only contain 66 books, as they do not include Sirach, Baruch, Judith, Tobit, Wisdom, 1 and 2 Maccabees, as well as parts of Esther and Daniel.  In this two part series, with part two coming out next week, I hope to provide some guidance on defending the original 73 book canon of the Bible with historical fact. As often times Protestants disregard life in the early Church and writings from early Church fathers on the grounds that they are not Sacred Scripture, begin by reminding them of one area in which Church history is all we have to rely on, that is that the Scriptures do not themselves contain a list of which writings should belong. This point also refutes Sola Scriptura since it was the authoritative decision of the Magesterium that declared which writings were inspired and compiled them into what would become known as “The Bible”. Often Protestants will indeed reference history by claiming that the Catholic Church added the books to the Bible at the Council of Trent. The following is a timeline of the history of the Scriptures, that should hopefully serve as a guide for refuting common claims and showing our Protestant brethren how the book they hold so dear came to be and what it originally included:

AD 33: Christ establishes His Church in the days before ascending back into Heaven, (Matthew 16:18,19), therefore not leaving His flock untended and fulfilling the prophecy in Isaiah 22:21-23.  Also in this year, God sends His Holy Spirit over the Church on the day of Pentecost, so that it may be divinely guided, and the Teachings will not waver. These are important points in which to begin because they begin to show that the Church did not come from the Bible, the Bible came from the Church.

AD 51-121: The New Testament books are in the process of being written over the course of these years, as well as other early Christian writings that did not make it into the New Testament canon: the Didache (AD 70), 1 Clement (96), the Epistle of Barnabas (100), and the 7 letters of St. Ignatius to Antioch (107). Point out that although the works are not Sacred Scripture, they can be used as historical documents through which we can see what original Christianity was like, which we see is a Church that submitted to bishops, celebrated the Eucharist with a belief that Jesus was truly present, baptized people of all ages with the belief that the waters brought saving graces, and devotion to Mary as the Mother of the Church.

AD 140: Marcion, a businessman in Rome, taught that there were two Gods: Yahweh, the cruel God of the Old Testament, and Abba, the kind father of the New Testament. Marcion eliminated the Old Testament as scriptures and, because he was anti-Semitic, kept from the New Testament only 10 letters of Paul and 2/3 of Luke’s gospel (he deleted references to Jesus’s Jewish culture). Marcion’s “New Testament” was the first “Bible” to be compiled (though outside the authority of the Church), which compelled the bishops to authoritatively decide on a core canon: the four Gospels and Letters of Paul.

AD 367: This year is the first time the list of books in the New Testament, as it is today, is decided upon and physically written down, by St. Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, in one of his letters.

AD 382: Pope Damasus I, reaffirmed Athanasius’ list, making a list of them himself, in their present number and order.

AD 393:  The council of Hippo met in this year. The council of Hippo officially reaffirmed the list and order of the New Testament as it is today, first written down nearly thirty years before by the Bishop of Alexandria. It is at this council in this year that the New Testament as we know it today became declared the infallible Word of God, by Christ’s Church, nearly 400 years after Christianity began.

AD 397: At the Council of Carthage, the early Church leaders reaffirmed both the New Testament canon and the Old Testament canon as the infallible Word of God. This includes the 7 books of the Old Testament that modern day Protestants reject. We can say that this year is the official birth year of the Bible as we know it today.

WARNING: Big time jump ahead…

AD 1536: Over a thousand years later, in his translation from Greek to German, Luther removed seven books from the Old Testament canon. I Maccabees, II Maccabees, Tobit, Wisdom, Sirach, Judith, and Baruch. His followers supported this as he had the opinion of the anti-Christian Jewish rabbis to point to as an example. However, he only moved these books to an appendix, and the original King James Version included them. It was not until the 1800s in which they were removed completely, and today Protestants often do not realize they were ever there in the first place. Luther then proceeded to place 4 New Testament books, Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation in an appendix, claiming they were less than canonical. However, this was quickly shot down, as he did not have the precedent to do so.

AD 1546: Due to the issues Luther was causing, the Church met again in the Council of Trent to reaffirm, once and for all, that the 27 books of the New Testament canon, that was spoken by the Church so long ago, was indeed the infallible Word of God. This is often where Protestants get confused and assume that the Catholic Church added the seven books at this council. As historical evidence shows, they were always part of the canon, and this council merely reaffirmed what they have always taught, just as the Church several other times in history has met in councils to stand their ground against various heresies of the time.

Knowing these events and dates can help in explaining the history of the Bible when approached with questions such as why Catholics have “extra” books. Next week, we will look deeper into these events, as well as the New Testament Scriptures, to show the undeniable validity of these  post-reformation rejected writings.

 

 

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Apologetics Baptism Conversion Doctrine Ecumenism Faith Formation Sacraments Spiritual Growth Tiffany P

The Baptism of our Lord: the Reason Baptismal Regeneration is True

    In the spirit of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which was celebrated yesterday, my heart has been on this first baptism and the eternal effects that moment had on all Christians. Obviously, Jesus didn’t need the waters of baptism to purify or cleanse Himself, so that tends to raise the question of why did Jesus get baptized? I was taught in my Baptist childhood that Jesus got baptized to set the example for all future Christians. This is more or less the extent of the answer given by Baptist and other evangelical Protestant leaders, simply because they believe that baptism is merely a symbolic act: an “outward sign of an inward decision”, comparable to the Sacrament of Confirmation for Catholics. Going underneath the water represents the former person dying, and the rising up out of the water shows the emergence of a “new creation in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17). And while evangelical Protestants are not typically big into ceremonies or ritualistic acts, this one is embraced because Christ did it first.

These types of Protestants have it halfway right. Jesus indeed was baptized to set precedent for the Sacrament, so we may know that it’s an act of obedience that is to be taken seriously. However, as Catholics, we know that it is not merely a symbol of having been born again, but the very moment in which we are born into new creations in Christ:

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. –John 3:5

Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins. –Colossians 2:12-13

He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, –Titus 3:5b

With this knowledge in mind, Jesus’ baptism does more than just set the example, but rather His baptism is the reason why water performs this miracle on our soul. Not because there is anything magical about the water; contrary to common Protestant disputes, we are not relying on a superstition about the power of water. Jesus’ baptism served to purify all the waters—current and future—so that through His baptism the waters will have the ability to cleanse our souls.

Ignatius of Antioch, student under the apostle John who wrote extensively about baptism in the third chapter of his Gospel, wrote about this miracle:

“For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived by Mary by the dispensation of God, as well as of the seed of David as of the Holy Spirit: he was born, and was baptized, that by himself submitting he might purify the water (Letter to the Ephesians, 18).

Other Church fathers also touched on this subject:

 St. Ambrose of Milan: “The Lord was baptized, not to be cleansed himself but to cleanse the waters, so that those waters, cleansed by the flesh of Christ which knew no sin, might have the power of baptism. Whoever comes, therefore, to the washing of Christ lays aside his sins” (Commentary on Luke 2:83, A.D. 389).

St. Maximus of Turin: “Someone might ask, “Why would a holy man desire baptism?” Listen to the answer: Christ is baptized, not to be made holy by the water, but to make the water holy, and by his cleansing to purify the waters which he touched. For the consecration of Christ involves a more significant consecration of the water. For when the Savior is washed all water for our baptism is made clean, purified at its source for the dispensing of baptismal grace to the people of future ages. Christ is the first to be baptized, then, so that Christians will follow after him with confidence” (Sermon on the Feast of the Epiphany, c. 430)

In our Catholic tradition, we incorporate beautiful symbols into our baptism ceremonies: the candles symbolize the light of Christ, the white garments symbolize new life, the chrism representing the Holy Spirit. But even without these elements, a baptism is still valid and effective in making one a born again, new creation, so long as it is done in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit and water is the element used. Water is the only mandatory physical component in a valid, saving baptism, because Christ’s baptism has blessed the water. The water saves because Christ’s baptism has instilled His grace within it, equipping it to purify our souls.

At my own baptism in 2004, standing alongside my Baptist pastor in the baptismal pool, I heard him say the words “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you are buried in the likeness of his death…” and under the water I briefly went, rising up again a second later, “…and raised to walk in the newness of life.”

At the time, I thought what was taking place was a representative ceremony to show everyone that I have decided to follow Christ. I thought I was stepping into waters only because I was modeling what Jesus did first. But now I know that at the moment I rose up out of the water, I was truly being “raised to walk in the newness of life”: the “newness” being the new creation that I became at that moment, as the effects of Christ’s baptism 2,000 years ago still remaining in those waters purified my soul and welcomed me to the family of God.

Categories
Catechism Doctrine Domestic Church Faith Formation Homeschool Movies Prayer Rosary Tiffany P

Brother Francis: A New, Faith Building Cartoon Series

In light of the coming holiday, I decided to take a break from my usual, heavy apologetics stuff to provide a review for a Catholic kids cartoon series that I ran across, entitled Brother Francis,  one of which I purchased for my two year old daughter. She is already hooked, and being that she is one who soaks up what she sees on her favorite cartoons like a sponge (she can count  thanks to Mickey Mouse and knows her exotic animals thanks to Dora), I thought that Brother Francis would be a perfect way to help her memorize the prayers and Teachings of the Church, things that I have already begun to teach her on my own.

The biggest Christian cartoon series out there right now is Veggie Tales. My daughter loves Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato, just as I did as a kid and still do today. Veggie Tales is a Protestant produced cartoon, but the message is simple and ecumenical, free of denominational specific messages; I have yet to come across anything that the Catholic Church would disagree with in any episode. In fact, in their Christmas special on Saint Nicholas, they indeed depicted him as a bishop and incorporated aspects of the Mass into the episode telling of Saint Nicholas’ life. So Veggie Tales is a hit in this house—but sometimes you really want to drive home those deep, 2,000 year old Truths that the Church has received from the Apostles. Brother Francis delivers in that department.

The main character is young monk wearing a brown robe (hence the “Brother” in his title), sporting blue jeans underneath his robe, sneakers, and a basketball in tow: in other words, a very friendly, down-to-earth guy. But as the theme song says “he ain’t no fuddy-duddy, his faith is strong in every way”. Brother Francis addresses the invisible audience that is the children viewers, explaining classic Catholic prayers and theology in a very simple, childlike way. The DVD I purchased was “The Rosary” and the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Apostles Creed are recited, broken down line by line, and the purpose of each is explained. Brother Francis then throws his basketball to the sky to make it draw a Rosary in the air, and the order of the Rosary is then explained, along with each mystery. There is also an animated portrayal of the Annunciation, showing Mary’s joyful submission to God’s Will.

Other episodes available on DVD include “Let’s Pray!: A Lesson on Prayer”, “The Bread of Life: Celebrating he Eucharist”, “Forgiven: The Blessings of Confession”, “Born into the Kingdom: the Miracle of Baptism”, and coming in Spring 2013, “The Mass”.  The graphics in each are bright, colorful, and three-dimensional, which easily grabs toddler and young children’s attention.

I should be clear that I am not advocating for leaving your toddler’s religious education in the hands of a cartoon DVD series, or that you should ignore you children while they watch television. But for those of us less-than-perfect parents who occasionally use television as a means to catch a mental health break or breathe for a few minutes, then I say you can’t go wrong with a program that teaches them the Faith of the Apostles.

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Apologetics Devin Rose Ecumenism Faith Formation Sacred Scripture Tiffany P

If Sola Scriptura Is True

In a popular apologetics book written by one Catholic Sistas’ guest contributors Devin Rose, entitled If Protestantism Is True, an approach is taken to addressing the contrast between Catholic and Protestant ideals by assuming that Protestantism is true and attempting to make sense of Church history and theology based on that assumption. Being that Sola Scriptura is one of my favorite apologetics topics, I often find myself speculating on the issue and the logic behind the line of thinking that states the Word of God is strictly present in the written form, and therefore the Scriptures are our sole source authority.  For this post, I decided to adopt the approach of Devin Rose, assuming that Sola Scriptura is true and how that would have changed the course of salvation history, Jesus’ ministry, and even the Sacred Scriptures themselves.

If Sola Scriptura Is True…

…Jesus would not have spent the entirety of his ministry orally teaching the faith to the apostles. If God willed for His Word to be present solely through inspired writings, He would have spent His ministry writing down all of His Teachings in the form of letters, perhaps similar to the format St. Paul used in his many letters.

Jesus then would have taken His completed set of writings—already compiled in a Book because there would be no authoritative, Holy Spirit guided Church to do so for Him—and presented it to His apostles prior to His ascension. He might have said, “You are Peter, and to this rock I give this Book…” (rather than, “You are Peter, and on this rock I build my Church). He then would have instructed Peter, along with His other apostles, to go forth and “make disciples, reading to them this book and Teaching them to do all that I have written within” (rather than “Teaching them to do all that I [orally] commanded you”).

It stands to reason that Jesus would do these things, because if Sola Scriptura is true, then God’s Word will only ever be preserved in the written form—we will not have had any other source of authority in which we can rely for Truth. Jesus, therefore, would not have ascended into Heaven leaving His followers to spend over three-hundred years waiting on their authoritative source. He would not have left Earth before leaving His people with something to sit in His seat and be His authority on Earth; since this authority will not be a Church, according to Sola Scriptura, then He would have left His book at some point before His departure.

History, however, confirms the opposite: for the first one-hundred years of Christianity there were no written accounts of Christ’s Teachings, as they were at this time in the process of being written. For the first three-hundred years (until the councils of Hippo and Carthrage) there was not a compiled collection of inspired Christian writings that were publicly known and recognized as the New Testament. Therefore, if Sola Scriptura is true, then our God is a God of disorder. He established a system in which His authority would be found only through written inspiration, leaving nearly twelve generations to attempt to worship and follow Christ without a final, authoritative source of Christian Truth.

God could further be classified as a God of chaos, confusion, and disorder, if sola scriptura is true, because there would be no accompanying, authoritative voice (such as a divinely guided Church, a central Teaching office) to infallibly interpret these writings. Christians who lived several centuries and even a millennia after Christ and the apostles would then have to read these writings and draw their own conclusions. Several different people, all feeling guided by the Holy Spirit in their convictions, would come to contradictory interpretations of the Scriptures. Those who were illiterate, a large group that encompasses most of our human history, would be forced to choose which man’s interpretation to follow. As a result, multiple Christian theologies would exist in complete disunion with one another. There would be no refuge of unity within the Body of Christ, as there would be no additional source of divinely guided authority to settle these disputes.

If Sola Scriptura is true, then the Bible would make it clear. All passages referring to the “Word of God” would not describe Jesus as the Word made flesh (John 1:14) or teachings that were “received” or “heard”. The “Word of God” in the Scriptures would be a phrase always accompanied by the words “written”, “read”, or “book”. In passages regarding the Scriptures infallibility and authoritative purposes, the word “alone” would be included to emphasize that the Scriptures alone are infallible and they alone hold the authority, the only pillar and foundation of truth. In reality, the Scriptures say or imply none of the aforementioned.  Therefore, if sola scriptura is true, then it fails by its own standards.

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. –I Thessalonians 2:15