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[ Why believe in unbiblical things? ]

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How can Catholics believe in so many things that aren't in the Bible?

In almost every case, our beliefs are in the Bible, though they require correct interpretation. However, the Catholic Church teaches that Divine Revelation consists of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and Magisterial Teaching - the three are complementary and inseparable, just as the Trinity is inseparable.

The idea that the Bible is the final authority for Christians (called Sola Scriptura) cannot be true for a number of reasons:

a) The Bible never says that it is authoritative but clearly supports the Pope and the Church as authoritative. Even if it did state it was authoritative, what proof is that of it's authenticity? Many religions have books that claim to be inspired by God - why would our Bible be any different? The Bible does state that "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:14-17)." But this passage does not tell us which books are "inspired" nor could it since some of those books hadn't even been written when Paul wrote to Timothy.

b) The Bible itself says it can be misinterpreted and that not everything is contained within it:

"First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (2 Peter 1:20-21).

"So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures" (2 Peter 3:15-16).

"But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" (John 21:25).

c) The books of the New Testament were not completed until the end of the First Century, and the Bible did not exist as such until the end of the 4th Century when the canon of books was determined by the Catholic Church at the Councils of Hippo (393 A.D.) and Carthage (397 and 419 A.D.). There were many writings by the Apostles that were not included as part of Sacred Scripture, such as the Gospel of James and the Apocalypse of Peter. In other words, the Bible only exists because it was defined by the Catholic Church, the sole authority Christians have for their belief in its inspired nature. Whether they realize it or not, our Protestant brothers and sisters believe in the authority of a Bible written by and defined by the Catholic Church, a belief that contradicts the idea that the Bible alone is authoritative.

d) The Bible confirms that tradition must be maintained - not the spiritless practice of the Mosaic Law, which Jesus condemned...

"'This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.' You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition. He went on to say, 'How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition!'" (Mark 7:6-9).

...but the traditional teaching that Jesus commissioned to the Apostles (Matthew 28:18-20).

"I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you" (1 Corinthians 11:2).

"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

(Matthew 18:17-18; 28:18-20; Mark 7:6-9; John 21:25; Acts 2:42; Acts 8:31; 1 Corinthians 11:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 1 Timothy 3:15; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21, 3:15-16).


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