Catholisism: Part 1, Authority in the Catholic Church

There are many religions and denominations that claim that they and they alone represent the true church and true Christianity. So what is ‘True Christianity?’ and what is a true Christian. The label ‘Christian’ is how many people self-identify their type of belief. However the first use of the term in Greek simply means ‘a follower of Christ’, by ‘follower’ the Greek incorporates both someone who adheres to the teaching of Christ but also in the ownership of Christ. So the term ‘Christian’ used correctly speaks of someone adhering to the teachings of Christ and also someone who is in the ownership of Christ. So whilst the term Christian is used widely and often not everyone that self-identifies as a Christian is one. If someone self-identifies as diabetic he may adopt all the practices and precautions of someone with diabetes but that does not mean he is a diabetic. What is meant by ownership by Christ? Owning a person conjures up imagery of slavery and mistreatment, however that is how humans treat people perceived as being in their ownership. God’s ownership of us is quite different.
 
'But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter we are all the work of your hand.’
                           Isaiah 64:8
     
We are all owned by God he imagined us, made us, sustains us and gave us the free will to love him back.  But people turned and continue to turn their back on God, by selling themselves into slavery. However Christians are bought back by God through Christ because he loves us.
 
‘To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.’
                    Revelation 1:5b  
 
In this booklet we are going to look at whether the Catholic Church as an institution meets this simple definition of a Christian.

A Christian- Someone who adheres to the teaching of Christ and is owned by Him.     
 

Authority

The Catholic Church adheres to authorities than the teaching of Christ as transmitted through the Bible. The Catholic Church recognises three authorities that it claims are consistent with each other.
 
  • The Bible, This is accepted as the Word of God; the bible is the source of how we know what God has done through history. However the Catholic Church believes that the bible is insufficient to give us a full knowledge of God and our relationship with him. 
 
  • Tradition, This is also regarded as the Word of God, the traditions of the Catholic Church have been recorded and act as an authority equal to the Bible. The principles that the traditions carry can be accessed through documents known as catechisms, the largest of which is the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). 
 
  • The Papacy, The Catholic Church believe that the popes from Peter to Francis have served as God’s mouthpiece inheriting through history the apostleship’s authority and position of leading the Church. The Pope is able to speak infallibly (without error) when acting in an official capacity. The Papacy is the final authority of the Catholic Church. 
 
Whilst it is often claimed that all three sources are harmonious, in fact it is the Papacy alone that decides what is included as tradition and what the interpretation of scripture is. The following is taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  
 

"The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ." (CCC 85)


The primary source of authority therefore which the Word of God (both tradition and scripture) are subservient is the Catholic Church itself and the leadership of the church, the Pope.
 

How was this authority established?

When was this massive responsibility laid onto the Pope and the Vatican? The verse that is often quoted is Matthew 16:18-19.
 

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”


The Catholic Church interprets this verse to mean that Peter the man, will be the rock on which Jesus build his Church and he personally will be given the keys of the Kingdom of heaven and that whatever Peter binds on earth will also be bound in heaven. The Catholic Church claim that this is, in fact, an office or position rather than a personal commissioning of Peter and was transmitted to a successor after his death.

The full context of the verse is as follows…

‘When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.’

                     Matthew 16:13-19
     
Upon reading the whole context of the passage it does not sound like an appointment to an office. The emphasis of the passage is ‘You are the Messiah, the son of the living God” to which Jesus replies that this was revealed by God, this dialogue is then connected directly to the next section using the word deh which we translate as ‘and’, keep in mind in Greek there is no punctuation, it would read as follows.
 

BLESSED ARE YOU SIMON SON OF JONAH FOR THIS WAS NOT REVEALED TO YOU BY FLESH AND BLOOD BUT BY MY FATHER IN HEAVEN AND (deh, could also be translated now, moreover or therefore) I TELL YOU THAT YOU ARE PETER AND ON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH AND THE GATES OF HADES WILL NOT OVERCOME IT


When Jesus says you are Peter he uses the word ‘Petros’ the Aramaic form of the Greek name Cephas meaning a piece of rock in the masculine form, however when Jesus says ‘on this rock I build my church’ he uses the word ‘Petras’ the feminine noun to describe a large mass of rock. These two distinctive words are used to show that Jesus is discussing a different rock at no point in the rest of the New Testament is Petros (Mass of rock) used as person’s name however it is used to describe Christ as the figurative rock, the only solid foundation.
 

 ‘and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ’.
                  1 Corinthians 10:4    


Is Matthew 16:13-19 a unique scripture that sets Peter apart as the foundation of the church or does it match with the rest of scripture? We can look elsewhere in bible to interpret difficult verses.
 
In the book of Acts Peter is questioned by the Jewish court as to his authority after healing a sick man.
 

They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’
                                        Acts 4:8-11

 
Peter points completely to Christ it was on Christ’s power and name that the healing was done, if Peter had believed that he had innate authority as the Catholic Church interpret he would announce it here, he could have said ‘it is by my name Peter that did this as I was given the authority by the Messiah the Son of God’ but rather he points entirely to Christ.

Furthermore Paul when teaching about the dependence on God alone and trusting in human leadership uses Peter as an example.
 

“The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul (himself) or Apollos or Cephas (Peter) or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
                     1 Corinthians 3:18-23 

 

Paul does not recognise Peter as the head of the church but rather teaches ‘nor more boasting’ about human leaders such as themselves.

So what is the Rock (Petros) referring to in Matthew 16? The Rock is the faith embodied by the statement Peter gave.
 

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this (Peters statement) was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock (Peters Statement) I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
 

By reading the passages wider context it connects this passage with the rest of scripture beautifully detailing the relationship someone receiving the message of Christ has with Christ. Peter as the statement giver is given blessing.
 

I will give you (Statement giver) the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you (Statement giver) bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you (Statement giver) loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”


If this is the case rather than a higher position Peter is given the same status as every Christ-follower, rather than being given the keys as a symbol of guardianship he is given the keys so he personally can enter and if he binds himself to Christ on earth he will be bound to him eternally.
 

Some problems with the interpretation of the Catholic Church

If in fact Matthew 16:18-19 does describe Peter being given the authority and ability to lead the church and speak infallibly only four verses later Jesus’ rebuke of Peter makes no sense. Peter suggests to Jesus that he could avoid the suffering and death that awaited him in Jerusalem and Jesus says to Peter.
 

‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
                          Matthew 16:23


It could be argued that Peter’s full authority was delayed and only given to him after Jesus ascended? However this cannot be the case because in Galatians 2:11 Peter was challenged by Paul for his conduct among the gentiles.
 

When Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned… When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
                    Galatians 2:11-14

 

The humility shown by Peter is very different to the attitude of the Popes today. It is customary for visitors to bow when greeting the Pope however when a man bowed to the first Pope, Peter and venerates him Peter replies. ‘Stand up; I too am a man." (Act 10:26) 
 

 The early history of the papal figure

 
The idea of papal authority and infallibility does not have its origins in the bible, so where does it come from? Who established the Pope as the central religious figure?
 
The first declaration of papal infallibility came on 18th July 1870 during Vatican I (a council of Vatican leaders) this council was called to counter the growing rise of liberalism, materialism, and rationalism in the culture of the day. This was around 1840 years after Jesus had said ‘on this rock I will build my church.
 
However the Catholic Church believes that the authority of the Pope as the church leader stems back to Peter. If Peter had indeed been given the position of global church leader it does not stand to reason that this is a title that either he or a body of bishops could elect a candidate to continue that position, this is assumed. If this was Jesus’ will at Peter supposed appointment it should have been stated as such.
 
The overarching supremacy of the Roman church was established in Rome not because of the supremacy of its church leaders over all other church leaders. But for political reasons, to centralize the faith of the Roman Empire in Rome itself. Early Christians faced persecution from Rome until in 313AD Constantine recognised Christianity and ordered the end of Christian persecution. In order to resolve some early disputes Constantine organised a council of all church leaders in Nicaea. However It was 67 years later when emperor Theodosius I made Christianity the sole religion of the empire, higher than all other religions. Theodosius specifically mentions the leaders of the Church of Rome and the church of Alexandria two centres of Roman rule in the west and in the east. Their Christianity was now the Roman Christianity. This is evident from Theodosius’ intervention with non-Nicene Christian leaders. Any Christian that did not agree with the Nicaean council was removed from positions of leadership by the Roman authorities. It is the relationship of church and state, the Romanness of the Roman Catholic Church that historically gave the Catholic Church its supremacy.
 
The Romans, as far back as historical records go have been religious people, following a pantheon of gods; the Roman leadership has always used religion to control and centralise its power. Theodosius I ruled a Roman empire that was in decline, he was the last Emperor to lead a united Roman empire. As the Roman Empire declined and the church grew Theodosius attached the empire and Church together, centralising power in Rome and Alexandria. Evidence of this can be seen today in the operating structure of the Church and it precedent in Roman history.
 
Pre christian dioceseThe Romans administered its empire by putting the provinces into diocese with a governor ruling each of the dioceses, these diocese governors are known as Vicarius or Vicars (ruling vicariously) ironically the emperor that implemented the use of diocese and Vicars was Diocletian (244-311AD) a notorious persecutor of the early church.

The position of a central religious figurehead also has its roots with the Roman Empire, The title Pontifex Maximus goes back into the very early period of Roman history (700-600BC) when they served the old pantheon of Roman gods, this office sets the title holder as complete ruler of all things in the religious sphere. The name itself stems from ancient Latin meaning supreme (Maximus) bridge builder (Pontifex). The job description is as follows.




 
  1. Ponti GarbThe regulation of all expiatory ceremonials needed as a result of pestilence, lightning, etc.
  2. The consecration of all temples and other sacred places and objects dedicated to the gods.
  3. The regulation of the calendar; both astronomically and in detailed application to the public life of the state.
  4. The administration of the law relating to burials and burying-places, and the worship of the Manes or dead ancestors.
  5. The superintendence of all marriages by conferratio, i.e. originally of all legal patrician marriages.
  6. The administration of the law of adoption and of testamentary succession.
  7. The regulation of the public morals, and fining and punishing offending parties. 

The title of Pontifex Maximus was eventually given to the emperors who used the job of regulating public morals to control the populace of Rome and the senate. As Roman power declined the ancient title was given to Pope Leo I and used as a title by many early Popes. The Pontifex Maximus acted within a ‘college of pontiffs’, the Pontifex Maximus is simply the supreme pontiff. The title of Pontiff under Christian Rome was given to bishops, and the idea of a college of Bishops was instated. 

When Christianity became the official state religion these new pontiffs were each sent to work alongside the vicarius in the various dioceses serving Rome as religious and civil authorities. When Rome collapsed and the vicarius were removed the structure of pontiff/bishop and diocese remained.
 
The precedent of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that operates today is simply not found in the bible, a leadership structure with one representative, leading a college of Bishops leading a plethora of local priests. However it is seen in the pagan organisation of pre-Christian Rome.
                                                                                                                                                       Emperor Augustus in the garb of the Pontifex Maximus
The reason the question of Papal authority is such an important one is that it underpins any other discussion on doctrine; a catholic cannot quote the source of Papal authority and the authority of scripture if those authorities are not recognised.
 

An example of Papal authority in operation

A good example of how Papal authority operates is found in the belief in the assumption of Mary, this is a Catholic doctrine that holds that Mary the mother of Christ did not die but ascended into heaven bodily. This aspect of the narrative does appear in scripture. It is possible that Mary was bodily assumed as others were in the bible, however to state this as infallible teaching shows how authority in the Catholic Church operates.

The earliest reference from church history of Mary’s end is from 377AD several hundred years after Mary. The source is a church leader named Epiphanius.
 

'But if some think us mistaken, let them search the Scriptures. They will not find Mary’s death; they will not find whether she died or did not die; they will not find whether she was buried or was not buried ... Scripture is absolutely silent [on the end of Mary] ... For my own part, I do not dare to speak, but I keep my own thoughts and I practice silence ... The fact is, Scripture has outstripped the human mind and left [this matter] uncertain ... Did she die, we do not know ... Either the holy Virgin died and was buried ... Or she was killed ... Or she remained alive, since nothing is impossible with God and He can do whatever He desires; for her end no-one knows.’
                                                                      Epiphanius, Panarion, Haer. 78.10-11, 23

 

Epiphanius was born in Judea and no doubt would have a good knowledge of the traditions surrounding the biblical narrative. Epiphanius is unsure as to whether Mary died. He notes that the scriptures don’t mention her death and he is uncertain as to her fate.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the issue, in 1950 Pope Pius XII speaking in the Holy See (infallibly) declared that, “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory". This having been stated it is now a part of Catholic teaching included in the deposit of faith nearly 2000 years after the fact.

How then has Papal authority operated in this instance? Remember Catholics claim that the two types of authority the Word of God (Scripture and Tradition) and the Popes own authority is harmonious. As Epiphanius notes the Bible does not mention Mary’s end nether does he allude to any traditions, ‘no one knows’. The Pope however operates in his own authority to declare infallibly that Mary was bodily assumed into heaven. The preface to this declaration is as follows.

"By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory".
                                   Munificentissimus Deus

 
The Pope claims that the authority of Jesus, the Apostles, Peter and Paul all match with his own authority. There is no record of Jesus predicting Mary’s assumption neither is it mentioned in any apostles writing or Pauls. The Assumption of Mary shows the Papal authority over tradition and scripture. Therefore the belief in the doctrine of the Assumption cannot be said to be a Christian belief as outlined in the beginning, it has purely papal origins.
 

Why would the Pope claim the Assumption of Mary was infallible?

The reason for the necessity of the Assumption of Mary is simple; it solves a major paradox in Catholic teaching. The assumption of Mary is continuation of the idea of the Immaculate Conception and the Veneration of Mary. Catholic Church teaches that Mary was sinless, in that she was born without sin. The bible teaches all people are born sinful, this is known as original sin (Psalm 51:5, Psalm 58:3, Romans 5:19) the bible also teaches that all people continue to sin as part of there nature, this is known as personal sin. (Ecclesiastes 7:20, Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:10) 
 
The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was born without original sin, that from her birth she was without sin, furthermore she also committed no sin throughout her life. The Catholic Church claims that this sinlessness was accomplished by ‘grace’ that prevented her from sinning. Therefore Mary, they claim, is without sin in every sense. The problem for the Catholic position is that death and sin are linked, cause and effect, the effect of sin is death. (Romans 6:23, Romans 5:12, James 1:15) So if Mary was born sinless and lived without sinning then she is not deserving of a bodily death. The reason the Assumption of Mary is important is because they give her the same status as Christ, that is a life born and lived without sin. The distinction however is that Christ’s sinless is well documented and ascribed in the bible (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 John 3:5, 1 Peter 2:22) however Mary’s is not. A further difficulty is that Mary surely having been sinless was unique in that she did not need a saviour. However in her magnificat she calls God saviour. ‘And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (Luke 1:46-47)

Why then does the Catholic Church venerate (lesser worship) Mary at all? The Catholic Church hold Mary very highly, seen as much more than simply Jesus’ earthly mother. A list of some titles bestowed upon her are as follows.
 
  • Mother of God
  • Mother of the Church
  • Ever Virgin
  • Co-redeemer of Mankind (Mediatrix)
  • Queen of Heaven
  • Mother of Grace   

There is no scriptural support for veneration of Mary; however the conversation with Gabriel is used by Catholics to show Mary receiving veneration.
 

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”
                  Luke 1:26-28


This verse certainly shows the importance of Mary’s position as the bearer of the baby Jesus however to claim that this verse encapsulates the whole of Catholic Mariology is to fit too much into too small a verse.

In the Acts and the Epistles, as the church is finding its feet and teaching is being communicated across the Mediterranean, we should have seen in the epistles teaching on the importance of Mary if it is part of a  complete Christian faith however this is entirely absent. She is only mentioned in passing in Acts.
 

'All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.'
                                  Act 1:14

 

Thereafter she is not mentioned again, the early church seemed to have functioned entirely without Mariology.

Jesus himself responded to someone praising Mary.
 

As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, "Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!" But he said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" 

                         Luke 11:27-28
 
Jesus could have used this interaction to teach the exaltation of his earthly mother; he does not degrade his mother but rather lifts the Word of God (scripture) over her.


How then do you discover the deposit of faith?

So what then is the source of faith? Are the scriptures sufficient? What does the bible day about itself?  

Perhaps the most powerful verses in the bible on scripture is 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
 

‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’

 
The implication of this verse is that in scripture a servant of God will be thoroughly equipped for every good work. In other words scripture is sufficient for everything we will need to know. Looking closely at the words used in this verse can be helpful. What the NIV translates as ‘thoroughly equipped’ is the words ‘Artios’ (Perfectly complete) and ‘exartizo’ (Fully furnished). What is translated as ‘every good work’ is the words every-‘pas’ (all, whole), good- ‘agathos’ (beneficial, well) and works- ‘ergon’ (act, deed, practice).
 
Therefore the servant of God is perfectly and completely fully equipped for all beneficial deeds and practices with scripture. If the sufficiency of scripture is agreed upon then much of the teaching of the Catholic Church collapses.
 
A strong argument against the sufficiency of scripture is that the original scripture did not come with a contents page. A complete list of books that are meant to be ‘scripture’ is not present in the original text. The Catholic Church claim that Jesus gave the Church the authority to decide the books of the bible and thus the bible was created.

However we can see how the bible grew at the same time as the stories it depicts and was not created after the fact. 
 
Beginning with Jesus
 
It is plainly obvious from reading the gospel that Jesus had an immensely high view of scripture.
 

‘It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law (law of Moses/Torah).'

                                                Luke 16:17
 
Jesus used the scriptures in debate with human authorities
 

'Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.'
                             Matthew 22:29

 
And in debate with spiritual adversaries.
 
Matthew 4:4 ‘It is written…’
Matthew 4:7 ‘It is written…’
Matthew 4:10 ‘It is written…’

Of course the scripture that Jesus learnt as a boy and studied was purely what we know as the Old Testament, however he used different titles.
 

Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses (Torah/Pentateuch) and the Prophets (Nevi’Im) and the Psalms (Ketuvim) must be fulfilled."

                           Luke 24:44
 
These are the three definitions of literature which make up the Jewish Tanakh or Old Testament.
 
Torah, Law
Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
 
Nevi’im, Prophets
Joshua
Judges
Samuel
Kings
Isaiah
Jeremiah
Ezekiel
The remaining 12 minor prophets
 
Ketuvim (the writings or Psalms)
Psalms
Proverbs
Job
Song of Songs
Ruth
Lamentations
Ecclesiastes
Esther
Daniel
Ezra
Nehemiah
Chronicles
 
This is the Jewish method of arranging what we know as the Old Testament with this in mind Jesus in Luke 24  incorporates the Old Testament as what he saw as scripture.  
 
Jesus saw them as accurate; he quoted scripture often in discussion. When the Pharisees test Jesus with questions on divorce Jesus responds.
 

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.
                           Matthew 19:4-6

 

Jesus uses the bible and tells the Pharisees that the Creator said ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother…’ however when we go back to Genesis from the place Jesus was quoting.
 

Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
                           Genesis 2:24

 

 In the context of Genesis it is not God speaking but rather the narrator of the book of Genesis. Either Jesus misquotes the scriptures or he regards the words of the human author as divinely inspired. He doesn’t say the writer of Genesis or Moses said this but claims that God the Creator said this. We can see that Jesus saw the Old Testament as divinely inspired scripture.
 
Jesus also taught his own words had equal and surpassing authority of the Old Testament scriptures.
 

For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.
                            John 12:49

 

Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
                           John 14:10

 

You have heard it said…But I say to you…
Matthew 5:21-22


As Jesus’ life and teaching are authoritative then it stands to reason that the recording of his life and teaching in the gospels is authoritative as scripture. Therefore it is right that the gospels be considered scripture.
 
The Authority of the Apostles
The apostles are also given a unique authority to teach by Jesus.
 

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
                  John 14:26

 

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
                    John 16:13


It is clear then that the apostles are given Holy Spirit in the capacity of a teaching authority. What is written by them therefore is regarded as scripture.
 
Paul
The Apostle Peter discusses Paul’s writings in 2 Peter.
 

‘Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.’
                                  2 Peter 3:15-16

 
Peter regards Paul’s writings as scripture comparable to other scriptures. Paul also saw his own teaching as divinely inspired, incredibly arrogant if acting alone but this is corroborate by Peter.
 

‘If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored’
                               1 Corinthians 14:37-38

 
In summary the bible supports itself in the following ways.
  1. Jesus regarded the Old Testament to be scripture that is the Torah, the Nevi’im and the Ketuvim.
  2. Jesus regarded himself and his own apostles of having a teaching authority and capable of writing scripture.
  3. As an apostle Peter recognised Paul as a writer of scripture, Paul himself claimed he wrote divine command. 

The only books of the bible that are left out of the above categories are, Acts and Jude and perhaps Revelation and Hebrews as the authorship is debated.
 
  • Acts was written as a continuation of the Gospel of Luke (Acts 1:1-2) and therefore granted the same status.
  • Hebrews is believed to be written by Paul but not with certainty.
  • Jude is believed to be written by Jesus brother.
  • Revelation is believed to be written by the apostle John. 

The obvious response to this summery is that it is circular reasoning, this is quite true. It is circular reasoning to claim that the Bible is scripture because the Bible says it is, however that is not what I am demonstrating. I am demonstrating that the bible as we know it was considered scripture before any council or bishops met and discussed the issue. The formation of the canon grew alongside the Church not as the result of the Council of Nicaea (325AD) or Carthage (397AD).


On whose authority

In the beginning we looked at the definition of a true Christian. ‘Someone who adheres to the teaching of Christ and is owned by Him.’ The Catholic Church adheres to models of operations and beliefs not sourced to Christ and therefore cannot be said to be Christian.
Christian faith is demonstrated by following the beliefs and practices that Jesus taught preserved for us through the inspired word of God the scriptures.     
 

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
                               John 14:6

 

God, the awesome transcendent God is approachable by the sinner because Jesus Christ made approach freely available that is what it means to be a follower of Christ and owned by him.

‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.’
Ephesians-2:8

 

Peter Graham, 22/10/2015