Apologetics for the Masses #463 - The Bible and the Catholic Church

Bible Christian Society


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A question about Catholic teachings vis-a-vis the Bible.

General Comments

Hey folks,

Three things:

1) I'll be on EWTN Live, with Fr. Mitch Pacwa, this Wednesday evening, November 8th, talking about my new book - 7:00 PM (Central).

2) Here's a link to the Bookmark Brief  I recorded with Doug Keck at EWTN.  I think the full Bookmark interview airs on EWTN a week from this Sunday, the 12th:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROUwOrFDDPo

3) If you do get a copy of the new book, please consider leaving a review for it at amazon.comIt received a 1-star review on Amazon from a Mr. Jonathan Davis who said, "Author fails to illustrate any competence of biblical teaching or Protestant beliefs."  That's it.  No details whatsoever to back up his claim.  In other words, he's a Protestant and, if he actually read the book, couldn't answer the questions.  So, I'll consider that a 5-star review!

The book - A Blue Collar Answer to Protestantism (Catholic Questions Protestants Can't Answer) - is available here:


Also, it is now available as an eBook (mobi and epub) at that same link.  Just choose the "eBook" option under "FORMAT".  And, the Kindle version is now out.  You can get it on Kindle here:


If you get a copy, let me know what you think...good, bad, or ugly. 


I recently received a comment from a Protestant subscriber to this newsletter regarding something I said in one of my newsletter takedowns of Mike Gendron's anti-Catholic YouTube video.  He makes a good point and asks a fair question.  Below is his email and my response to it.


Hi John,

Just a quick follow up to your excellent responses to Gendron that caught my eye and I think may be worthy of your consideration for a discussion on their own at some point. As a protestant with family members in different protestant traditions, one thing I've never heard said is not that they take their doctrines from the Bible (they do but in a non fallible way as you pointed out) but rather that the Catholic beliefs are put into the Bible as Scripture merely confirms what was taught verbally before Scripture was ever written/people could read etc. I've never really thought about that but it's clearly is a fundamental aspect of Catholic theology. I'm pretty sure there will be lots of folks out there didn't know this either so I thought I'd raise the issue.

As ever, thanks for your newsletters.

Best wishes

Andrew (Glasgow, Scotland)

P.S. If the catholic understanding is put 'into' the bible, how is that not the same thing as eisegesis (or maybe it is) compared to exegesis? Just thinking as I'm writing this, my tradition would always say only exegesis was correct but if you dig down into the key doctrines eg sola fide/scriptura they would strongly deny that was using eisegesis to establish the doctrine.


This is what I said in my newsletter that he was referring to:

"Here's the thing, though - the Catholic Church does not read the Bible and then decide what it's teachings should be based on man's private, non-authoritative, fallible interpretations of the Bible, as the Protestants do.  The Bible, particularly the New Testament, reflects what the Catholic Church believed and taught before the Bible, as we know it, was ever put together.  We put our teachings...the infallible teachings we received from Jesus Christ through the Apostles (Acts 2:42)...into the Bible; whereas, the Protestants purport to take their teachings out of the Bible - based on nothing more than their private, fallible interpretations of the Bible.  Folks need to realize that all uniquely Protestant beliefs are based on man's private, non-authoritative, fallible interpretations of the Bible.  Nothing more."


My Comments
Okay, when I say that we - Catholics - put our teachings into the Bible, exactly what am I saying?  Think about this - every Protestant denomination that I know of, claims to get their beliefs, teachings, doctrines, dogmas, practices, etc. from the Bible.  Sola Scriptura! is the battle cry.  They go by the Bible and the Bible alone to determine authentic Christian doctrine and practice.  And, it is predominantly - sometimes exclusively - the New Testament from which the tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of Protestant faith traditions draw to determine authentic Christian doctrine and practice as they see it. 

But, here's the thing...the church founded by Jesus existed before a single book...a single sentence...a single jot or tittle of the New Testament was ever written.  So, I ask myself, did the church founded by Jesus Christ get its teachings from the Bible...from the New Testament?  The answer, unequivocally, is, "No!"  It couldn't have because the only "Bible" in existence for the first few decades of the Church, was the Old Testament.  It was 15-20 years or so after Jesus' death and Resurrection that the first book of the New Testament was written, and as much as 60-65 years before the entire New Testament had been written.  Furthermore, it was many decades later before every Christian community had copies of all the books that later came to be recognized as "The Bible".  So, no, the church founded by Jesus Christ did not get its teachings from the Bible. 

Again, the Church founded by Jesus existed before a single book of the New Testament was ever written down.  Which means it did not, it could not, rely upon the Bible as its source for all things Christian.  The Bible is actually indebted to the Church for its existence.  The Bible came from the Church, the Church did not come from the Bible.  The Bible reflects the teachings of the pre-existing Church which Jesus founded.  The Church can, and has, existed without the Bible.  The Bible cannot exist without the Church.  In the Acts of the Apostles, what do we see as the main activities of the Church founded by Jesus?  Acts 2:41-42, "So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.  And they devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." 

They devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching.  It does not say that each one of those 3000 souls devoted themselves to reading the Bible to discern what is or is not authentic Christian doctrine and practice. And Who did the Apostles' get their teaching from?  From Jesus Christ.  So, the Church founded by Jesus, which was headed by the Apostles', had its beliefs and practices - which came from Jesus through the Apostles - in place before the New Testament ever existed. 

Which means, every single Protestant faith tradition...every single Protestant denomination...every single Protestant "church" that claims the Bible as its source of Christian doctrine and practice...is not the Church founded by Jesus Christ.  It can't be.  The Church is the source for what the Bible teaches, not the other way around.  The Apostles' teaching, which was passed down orally, for the most part, for decades, is the source from which the Bible - at least, the New Testament - sprang.  The Apostles' teaching existed before the New Testament came to be.  The church had a body of doctrine before the New Testament came to be.  Yes, a good bit of that teaching was eventually written down, piecemeal, over several decades to form what we now call the New Testament.  So the Church was eventually passing along the Apostles' teaching - the Word of God - in oral and written form.  As Paul says to the Thessalonians, "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter."  

The point is, though, that never would you have heard a Christian say, "We go by what the Bible says and not by what the Church says," which I have heard dozens and dozens and dozens of times over from Protestants.  The Bible says what the Church says...period!  The Bible says, what Jesus Christ, through the Apostles, in and through the Church, says!  What the Church teaches and what the Bible teaches cannot conflict because the Bible teaches what the Church teaches. 

So, again, to say that your church gets its teachings from the Bible is nothing more than an admission that your church is not THE Church founded by Jesus Christ.  The teachings of THE Church founded by Jesus Christ shed light on, help to explain, help to "break open" the teachings of the Bible because the Bible simply reflects what the Church founded by Jesus was teaching before the New Testament came into being.  That is what I mean when I say the Catholic Church put its teachings "into" the Bible instead of getting our teachings "out of" the Bible as the Protestant churches claim. 

Furthermore, as is stated in that quote above from an earlier newsletter, Protestant teaching isn't actually taken directly from the Bible.  The Bible is not the direct source for Protestant teaching, it is actually the indirect source for Protestant teaching.  The direct source for Protestant teaching is any given Protestant's interpretation of what the Bible says. And, as every single one of you knows, every Protestant interpretation of the Bible is, necessarily and without exception, a private, non-authoritative, fallible interpretation of the Bible.  Which means, there is the chance, that any given Protestant interpretation of Scripture - being non-authoritative and fallible (i.e., subject to error) - could be wrong. Protestantism is built upon man's fallible interpretations of the Word of God, not the Word of God itself. 

Now, to make sure I've answered Andrew's question regarding eisegesis and exegesis - 

Eisegesis: A subjective method of interpretation by introducing one's own opinions into the original.

Exegesis: the critical interpretation of the biblical text to discover its intended meaning.

Protestants will tell you that they engage in "exegesis" of the Scriptures - simply explaining what the passages mean - as opposed to eisegesis - which is, essentially, making the passages say what you want them to say.  Or, another way of describing the two is by saying exegesis is digging to get the true meaning "out of" Scripture, as opposed to eisegesis, which is putting your thoughts and ideas "into" Scripture. 

That's why when I said that Catholics put their teachings "into" Scripture, it sounded an alarm bell for Andrew.  The difference is, though, that the Church's teaching, as I explained above, is the source for the written Scripture...at least, for the New Testament.  So, the Catholic Church does not put it's teachings "into" Scripture in the sense that Scripture pre-existed the Church and the Church took it and then interpreted the Scriptures in a way that corresponded with what the Church wanted to teach.  No.  The Church pre-existed Scripture and the Scriptures reflect what the Church was already teaching in the 1st century.  That's the manner in which the Church put it's teachings "into" Scripture. 

Another thing, though, is that even though Protestants claim to do exegesis instead of eisegesis, that is demonstrably false, at least in regard to every single doctrine and dogma that is particularly Protestant.  We can see this in the fact that there are so many doctrinal contradictions within Protestantism.  If all Protestants do nothing but exegesis, then how come we are getting so many different interpretations - contradictory interpretations - of this or that or the other Scripture passage?  Same Bible, dozens upon dozens of contradictory interpretations.  Exegesis, or eisegesis? 

Furthermore, the fact that Protestants admit (in theory, although not always in practice) to having, at best, a fallible, non-authoritative interpretation of each and every Scripture passage they read, is pretty much an admission that they absolutely cannot avoid subjective, eisegetical interpretations of Scripture.  I mean, if the best you can do is to say, "This is what that passage of Scripture means...in my fallible opinion," then how can you claim not to be putting your opinion into your interpretation of Scripture?  Makes no sense.

In the next newsletter, I'll give you some examples of just what I'm talking about taken from the real world...from a couple of "dialogues" I'm having with folks on YouTube.  These folks think they agree with each other, but by questioning them separately, it turns out they don't actually agree with each other.  I'm waiting on their responses to my latest questions to them to see how they explain the fact that they both agree on Once Saved Always Saved, but then disagree on what certain Scriptures I've questioned them about - in regard to Once Saved Always Saved - actually mean.  It's kind of funny that they get completely opposite and contradictory meanings out of the individual verses within a particular parable - the Parable of the Prodigal Son in this instance - but then still insist that the Parable of the Prodigal Son teaches Once Saved Always Saved...even though their interpretations of the parable are 180 degrees apart. 

As Mr. Spock would say, "Fascinating". 

To conclude: The moral of the story is that if your "church" claims to take its teachings solely from Scripture - in other words, Scripture pre-existed your church's teachings - then that is an admission that your church is not THE church founded by Jesus Christ. 

Closing Comments

I hope all of you have a great week! 


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Apologetics for the Masses