On a Catholic web site, I found a section that bears the title: Tough Questions About Scripture [TQAS]. As might be anticipated, this page conforms to the Catholic practice of representing Scripture as a collection of interesting and sometimes useful writings of secondary importance when compared to Romanism's Sacred Tradition. How sad that Catholics so often find it necessary to disparage the Bible. Given that Catholicism cannot support many of its beliefs or doctrines by calling upon Scripture, Mama Church must devalue the Bible in order to strengthen its Traditions.
The author of the article I am about to quote from is Steve Kellmeyer, a genteel and well-informed defender of Catholicism with whom I crossed apologetic swords a number of times some years ago.
What follows are samples from Kellmeyer's attempt to explain why Bible-believing Christians could not possibly know with certainty many things from Scripture were it not for the labors of the infallible Magesterium of the Catholic Church and her [so called] "Sacred Tradition." Following each quotation, I will offer a few arguments in response.
The questions below are impossible for a believer in sola scriptura to answer, since no verse or combination of verses in Scripture provides the required information. Though every sola scriptura Christian interprets Scripture in a slightly different way, nearly all Christians, Catholic, Protestant, fundamentalist, or evangelical, hold a common set of beliefs about the faith, beliefs which Catholics know to be true because of the testimony of living Sacred Tradition, but which other Christians simply accept on faith, sometimes with no real Scriptural support at all. The topics presented below are of this variety - they are held to be true by almost all sola scriptura Christians, yet no Christian can demonstrate from Scripture why it is that he or she believes such a thing, since no verse or combination of verses in Scripture teaches the belief. [ TQAS] [My emphasis]
I find it interesting that, while acknowledging that we poor, benighted "Protestant. fundamentalist, or evangelical" non-Catholics hold to a common set of beliefs with Catholics concerning our faith, Kellmeyer appears to imply that our reliance on faith to support our beliefs is somehow less reliable than Romish reliance on the utterings of the Magisterium. Let's see if that is so:
Ex nihilo Creation: All Christians know that God created the world out of nothing, but the Protestant Scriptures do not say this anywhere. Some of the Bible commentaries on Genesis 1:1-2 assert that the Hebrew phrase, "the earth was a formless waste and darkness was on the face of the deep," was a Hebrew metaphor for ex nihilo creation, but the evidence in support of this assertion is not particularly compelling. Indeed, before the canon of Scripture was established, the earliest fathers of the Church had to make this point through reason alone to their pagan opponents. [TQAS]
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. [Colossians 1:16-17 KJV] . [My emphasis]
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were NOT made of things which do appear. [Hebrews 11:3 KJV] [My emphasis]
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. [Psalm 90:2 KJV] [My emphasis]
The revelation of Jesus Christ ended with the death of the last Apostle: The question is quite simple: is Scripture closed? For example, would God inspire the writing of any more sacred books today? While not all Christian denominations agree, most recognize that no inspiration coming to us after the death of the last apostle could qualify as Scripture. However, this idea of the closing of the canon of Scripture is not found anywhere within Scripture itself. It is an apostolic teaching borne down through the ages in the body of Sacred Tradition guarded by the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, the Magesterium. [TQAS]
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book. [Revelation 22:18-19 KJV]
Sounds pretty closed to me.
Provide the name of the "beloved disciple": Remarkable, but true. The only reason we know the beloved disciple was John, the author of the Gospel, is through Sacred Tradition and the Magesterium. It is to be found nowhere in Sacred Scripture" [TQAS]
A verse no, but I can use what Scripture tells me and figure it out easily enough!
Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? [John 13:23-25 KJV]
Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? THIS IS THE DISCIPLE which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true .[John 21:20-24 KJV] [My emphasis]
The "disciple whom Jesus loved" was part of the inner circle of disciples and was closely associated with Peter. The synoptic Gospels named this inner circle as Peter, James and John. Since Peter is separate from the beloved disciple, only James and John are left. James was martyred too early to be the author (Acts 12:1-2), so the Apostle John was the author of this gospel. This conclusion from internal evidence is consistent wth external testimony from the early church.
Let's see, this is the Gospel of John one of the sons of Zebedee who is spoken of as the disciple that Jesus loved who testifies that he IS that disciple. Gee, and I figured it out without the help of "Sacred Tradition" or the infallible Magesterium!
Provide the names of the authors of Matthew's Gospel, Mark's Gospel, Luke's Gospel, John's Gospel, or the Acts of the Apostles: Again, Scripture doesn't tell us that the Gospel of Matthew, for instance, was written by Matthew. The titles to the Gospels are known to us only through Sacred Tradition - Scripture doesn't say who wrote any of these listed works. Likewise, the chapter and verse divisions are traditions of men, chapter divisions being added in 1206 A.D. by Stephen Langton, a professor at the University of Paris and subsequently Archibshop of Canterbury and a cardinal, while the verse numbering was added in the sixteenth century in order to assist in mechanically printing the text. The final form of the verse numbering scheme was set by Robert Etienne, also called Stephenus, in 1551 A.D" [TQAS]
This question concerning the names of the books of the New Testament is so irrelevant that I won't even try to refute it. I mean, who cares what the names are? The authors of these books wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so it would be most accurate to name God as the author and the writers, whatever names we may assign to them, put that inspiration into written words. They were not amanuenses, however, for one might readily see that they each wrote in his own particular style. `
However, I do want to address and correct that last part about chapter and verses.
A man I know owns a three-volume edition of the 1771 Encyclopedia Britanica. On page 545 one may read: "But the true author of the invention [i.e. the paragraphs - Ron] was Hugo de Sancto Caro...This Hugo flourished around 1240".
This Hugo was the first Dominican to become a cardinal. He divided the chapters into A,B,C,D,E,F,G and H in each book, so they weren't "chapters" as we know them . But see how Rome usurps the efforts of Jewish theologians. It was a Jew who gave us the verse numbers, as we might learn by continuing to read on page 545: "The subdivision of the chapters into verses, as they now stand in our Bibles, had its original from a famous Jewish Rabbi, named Mordecai Nathan, about the year 1445."
Explain the doctrine of the Trinity: Once a Christian has the doctrine of the Trinity, Scripture can be found to support it, but no verse or combination of verses in Scripture tells us that God is one in divine nature having two processions between three Persons in four relations, each Person wholly and entirely God, all co-equal, co-eternal, none sharing the divine nature, but each possessing it totally unto Himself, the Godhead having but one divine intellect and one divine will.
Admittedly there were some questions in Kellmeyer's paper that I could not answer by quoting a single verse of Scripture, e.g. the Trinity, but I don't need to.
The Bible teaches the Godhead. Each person, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are referred to as God. And God says of himself, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God [is] one LORD:" [Deuteronomy 6:4] So if there is only one LORD, which is Yaweh, who is GOD ( all capitals of the word "lord" in the KJV is in place of the Name of God; YAWEH), and the Father, Son and Spirit are all God then there must be a tri-unity of the three for there is only one God.
We baptize in the NAME (singular) of Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, not in their Names (plural) which testifies that they are One. OR, Rome has got that screwed up too and the Godhead is somehow different from how she teaches. I don't think that we will understand completely until we are in heaven.
Kellmeyer poses other challenges on his page, and some who read this might find it interesting to develop Christian responses of their own.
Soli Deo Gloria