Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Eric Sammons

1/29/2011 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Answering the Question, 'Where is that in the Bible?'

Over the last 25 years I've had more debates than I can count with Christians of various denominations. These conversations varied as widely as the perspectives of the different people I debated, but nearly every one eventually included the question: "Where is that in the Bible?" Why "sola scriptura" falls short and misses the mark.

Pope Benedict carries the Book of the Gospels

Pope Benedict carries the Book of the Gospels

Highlights

By Eric Sammons

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/29/2011 (4 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Bible, Tradition, Eric Sammons, Apologetics, Sacred Scripture, Tradition


GAITHERSBURG, MD (Catholic Online) - Recently I was reading a newspaper article in which a prominent Evangelical Christian stated, "Every Christian's core beliefs ultimately rest upon the same foundation: the Bible." Over the last 25 years I've had more debates than I can count with Christians of various denominations. These conversations varied as widely as the perspectives of the different people I debated, but nearly every one eventually included the question: "Where is that in the Bible?" Whether the topic is infant baptism, purgatory, justification by faith alone or the Assumption of Mary, Scriptural support is demanded. And for good reason - after all, the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and therefore, if a belief is found in the Bible, then surely it is true.

However, there is a false presupposition lurking behind this question and the statement made by that Evangelical leader, one that is commonly held by Christians today. It is the presupposition that the Bible is the source of Christian doctrine - that the Bible contains all the teachings of the Christian Faith and its purpose is to be a catechism of sorts for our teachings and beliefs. If you read just about any book from your local Family Bookstore (a chain of Protestant Christian bookstores), the language used is soaked with this premise: "The Bible teaches.", "The Bible says.", "we see from the Bible that.". Unfortunately, this foundational tenet of Protestantism is also held by many Catholics.

This presupposition, however, is not only false, it is illogical and contrary to history. Let us take a brief look at salvation history and see how the Christian Faith was passed on to us - what is its source?

1)  After the Fall, God raised up a nation (Israel) to be His people. He sent them prophets, kings and priests to teach them about the ways of God.
2)  At the fullness of time, God sent His Son. This Son, Jesus Christ, preached, did mighty works, and suffered, died and rose again for our salvation.
3)  The followers of Christ, especially the apostles, went about preaching the Gospel to the known world. What is this "Gospel"?  It is the revelation of God centered on the person of Jesus Christ - which includes the preparations for his coming as well as his teachings, mighty works and redemptive death and resurrection.
4)  Some of these followers wrote down this Gospel in letters, histories and "gospels."
5)  The successors to the apostles - the bishops - continued to preach the Gospel handed on to them, guarding and protecting it from error.

The content of our Faith, then - the "Gospel" - was passed on to future generations by two methods: (oral) preaching (Tradition) and writings (Scripture). The college of bishops - the "Magisterium", or teaching office of the Church - continued to preach that Gospel through time, making sure that it was not deformed or altered. But it is important to know the order in which these things flow: the Gospel is the content of the Faith, and oral preaching and writings are the methods by which they are passed on.

An objection might be raised here that the way we know about salvation history is through the Bible, so the Bible is "before" the Gospel. However, this confuses the method in which we receive history with the history itself. One would not think that a book about Socrates is the source of his life and teachings; instead, it simply recounts what we know about him. It is a written means of teaching about who he was.

So if we want to know the source of our beliefs, we must look to the Gospel, which includes the life of ancient Israel and is fulfilled completely in the person of Jesus Christ and his life, teachings, works and redemptive suffering and death. This Gospel was passed on to the apostles, who then passed it on through their preaching and through their writings.

There is one pre-existing Gospel, then, and two methods by which we receive that Gospel, as has been the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church since its earliest days. In the second century, St. Irenaeus, bishop of Gaul, wrote Against Heresies, which defended the Catholic Faith against the various false teachings of his day. The work is a rather difficult read, but if you are able, read Book III from the Preface through Chapter 3. In that famous section, Irenaeus lays out why the heretics' teachings should not be believed, whereas the Faith proclaimed by the Catholic Church is trustworthy:

1) The Gospel was given to the Church through the apostles (Preface-Chapter 1).
2)  The Gospel was passed on to us through Scripture and Tradition, and the heretics contradict both of these pillars (Chapter 2).
3)  The Gospel, passed on to us through Scripture and Tradition, is defended and protected by the successors to the apostles, the bishops (Chapter 3).
4)  Therefore, if we follow the bishops, especially the bishop of Rome, then we can be assured that we are following the true Gospel (Chapter 3).

The Church today follows this same divine logic. In Dei Verbum, Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, the Church beautifully and clearly articulates the relationship between the Gospel (also called "Revelation"), Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium. Sections 1-6 discuss Revelation being given from God, and sections 7-9 note the two ways in which that Revelation is handed on to us. Finally section 10 notes the role of the Magisterium in guarding and teaching that deposit of faith.

None of this means, of course, that any part of the Gospel will contradict Scripture, Tradition or the teaching of the Magisterium. The "glue" which holds all these parts together in one unified whole is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the originator of the content of the Gospel, the inspiration of the Scriptures, the guide of Tradition, and the protector from error of the Magisterium. Left to his own devices, man would be unable to sustain consistent teaching for even a few decades, but with the Holy Spirit as its guardian, the Church faithfully passes on the authentic and saving Gospel to all generations.

So when someone asks, "where in the Bible does it say?", you can know that if the Catholic Church teaches it, it is part of the saving Gospel, which precedes the Bible and is the source of its content.

-----

Eric Sammons is the author of the book Who is Jesus Christ? Unlocking the Mystery in the Gospel of Matthew, published by Our Sunday Visitor in September 2010. Eric, his wife and their five children live in Maryland. You may purchase Who is Jesus Christ? Unlocking the Mystery in the Gospel of Matthew here

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Living Faith

6 types of men Christian women should dismiss for marriage Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Women, and men, should be wary of whom they shall live with for the rest of their lives. Marriage is not a temporary commitment, it lasts for a lifetime no matter how you will put it --- two people still shared the same vows to cherish one another through a sacred ... continue reading


Pope Franics to host major conference on climate change Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis will host a major summit on April 28 entitled "Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development." MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The conference will feature famous American economist, ... continue reading


Can Catholics Practice Yoga and Transcendental Meditation?

Image of

By Deacon Ian VanHeusen

Among many Christians who are honestly seeking to deepen their prayer life, there is a genuine concern about erroneous forms of prayer. People should be careful to accept practices which diverge from the faith they have received, whether through the family or in a ... continue reading


Is there a war between feminism and the Catholic Church? American nuns' 'radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith' Watch

Image of The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has ended an investigation into radical feminist ideals held by the U.S.'s largest nun group, warning the organization to fall in line with Catholic orthodox stances.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The year-long inquiry into American nuns by the Holy See's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has concluded, and will not take any action against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the body that governs around 80 percent of nuns in the ... continue reading


Passionate pastor attempts to fix the missing spiritual link in churches across the U.S. Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Reverend Percy McCray suggests that leaders of faith should undergo in-depth training programs to better deal with cancer-stricken patients and their hurting families. According to McCray, as it stands now, most churches across the United States lack the proper ... continue reading


Dialogue: an essential ingredient for peaceful relationships Watch

Image of

By Tony Magliano

According to the New York Times, during a White House luncheon in 1954 Winston Churchill said, "To jaw-jaw [talk-talk] always is better than to war-war." While clearly not a pacifist, the United Kingdom's World War II prime minister had seen upfront the absolute horror ... continue reading


Pope Francis risks international outrage by using term 'genocide' to describe Armenia massacre Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Risking international opinion and possibly stirring up anger throughout Turkey, Pope Francis used the word "genocide" to refer to the mass killings of Armenians a century ago under the Ottoman Empire. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "In the past century, our ... continue reading


Pope Francis: Children 'can never be considered a mistake' Watch

Image of

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

Pope Francis said Wednesday that children are never a mistake, and called adults out for building faulty systems that leave children exploited and abandoned, rather than treated as the blessings they are. (CNA/EWTN News) - "Brothers and sisters, think about this ... continue reading


Easter around the world: 10 amazing photos that caputre Easter celebrations

Image of Easter vigil

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Christians all over the world observed the Lenten Season and ended with the celebration of Easter Sunday, the symbolism of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Across the globe, believers from different countries celebrated in various ways. With the use of social media, ... continue reading


5 wonderful ways to remind yourself Jesus is always with you Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

All our troubles and hardships may sway us from the idea that Jesus is always with us, no matter what we're doing or what we're currently going through. If anything, our hardships should bring us closer to Him. We sway from Him because for most of us, Jesus is just a ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 6:1-7
1 About this time, when the number of disciples was ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
4 The word of Yahweh is straightforward, all he does ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 24:35-48
16 That evening the disciples went down to the shore ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 18th, 2015 Image

St. Apollonius the Apologist
April 18: Martyr whose Apologia, or defense of the faith, is considered ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter