Part Two of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (Chapters 34-53)
+ + + + +
+ + + 34. The Church Judges You, Not You Her + + +
Dear reader, a great thirst for the Papacy took root in my heart at
the beginning of my conversion as I studied intensively the Supreme Authority
of St. Peter’s Office in the writings of ancient Christians, some of the
fruit of which you have just read in the preceding eighteen chapters.
Hand-in-hand with the blossom of that love came a childlike yearning for the
tender arms of
You are probably not yet ready to do as I did. But you had better be ready to do what is both honest and sensible. Because you cannot --- presuming you have read thus far carefully and attentively --- now claim, with any effective pretence at being either ‘fair’, ‘intelligent’ or ‘sincere’, that Catholics have no rational basis for their Sacred Religion. You now know, plausible-sounding excuses having fled far from your grasp, that Catholics do indeed have tremendous evidence for the doctrines and practices of their Church.
And if I have given you, in the last eighteen chapters, but a fraction of the historical proof there is to look at for the existence of a fully functioning Papacy from most ancient times, even from the very first century that Christ & His Apostles lived within; and if, as Catholics have always said, a Pope really is the Infallible Representative of Christ on earth and thus really can teach without error regarding those things a man must believe and must do so as to save his soul; and if many other doctrines exist (these also having enormous historical proof from earliest centuries) that the Roman Bishops have solemnly affirmed are crucial for a man to know, to believe, to profess and to obey in order to inherit the Gift of Eternal Life: then, at the very least, dear reader, you must look further at the evidence to verify the truth about what I --- and consequently the Church Whose Sanctuary I inhabit --- proclaim.
End of sentence.
Meanwhile, I warn you plainly not to imagine that you can stand in judgment upon the Church. Everything I’ve been telling you (and I’ve still much more to share) is meant only to lead you to the Pillar & Foundation of the Truth, which is the Church and none other, being Jesus Christ’s Roman Catholic Body. Since then, as the Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 3:14-15, the Church truly is this Pillar & Foundation upon which the Truth rests; and since, as Jesus tells us, too, in Matthew 16:18, the Church cannot be overcome by the Gates of Hell, which is the damnable domain of that most blasphemous Devil who, as Jesus also tells us in John 8:44, is an incorrigible liar and a murderer from the beginning: then how can you or any man stand in judgment upon that which cannot fail, the Church never falling prey to the lies of the Devil & Hell? How can you, personally fallible that you are, in and of yourself (and, like most human beings, only too prone to falling for a lie or misunderstanding something), deign to judge the accuracy of that which is infallible and thus can never deceive or fail to comprehend correctly, as if you have the responsibility --- and even the ability --- to deem the Holy Bride of Christ, She Who is the Roman Catholic Church, wrong and mistaken, and hence not to be obeyed or listened to?
Do you see?
Christ’s Body, the Church, stands in judgment upon you, not you upon Her. She is Infallible, being the One & Only Doorway to Salvation --- not you --- and hence you must listen to Her and obey Her Commands in order to save your soul. You cannot pretend to lecture Her, as if you had something worthwhile to teach Her, or to condemn Her, as if She could ever be wrong when it comes to knowing the Way to Heaven! Instead, whether or not you understand why She proclaims infallibly that which She does, you must believe it, profess it and follow it. Simply to know that She proclaims it infallibly, and what you must do to comply, is sufficient for the truly Catholic man. Knowing why the Church does so, if granted by the Holy Spirit during this life, is a gift of wisdom --- not a necessity for your salvation. God requires the humility of childlike obedience in order to be saved, not the hubris of intellectual rebellion.
As Ignatius of Antioch said at the turn of the 2nd century to the Catholics of Rome --- for let us speak plainly and dispense with Evangelic denials regarding the Catholicity of earliest Christians, having already proved the utter equivalence of Christianity to Catholicism alone since earliest times --- whose Bishop is the very linchpin of the Church’s Infallibility, “You have never envied anyone; you taught others. And my wish is that those instructions which you issue when teaching disciples will remain in force... I do not give you orders like Peter and Paul: they were apostles, I am a convict...” (Ignatius’ Letter to the Romans 3:1 & 4:3a)
Therefore, my dear reader, I do not share these facts from history or verses from your bibles so that you can, in and of yourself by the sheer intelligence of your mind, choose what to believe and what to obey. Presuming you have the humility of Ignatius, who admitted he was but “a convict” in relation to the Apostles Peter & Paul (the founders of the Church of Rome, as Irenaeus informed us and other early Christian writers affirm) despite being the third most important leader of the Church mere decades after Jesus had ascended into Heaven, then surely you admit how you have neither the capability nor the privilege to follow that which you merely want to follow according to the fallible dictates of your own independent reasoning. Instead, I share these things in the hope that I may lead you, by the instrument of your rational mind and by the thirst of your immortal soul, to the Heavenly Font of Everlasting Life. Yet just as a man may lead a beast to water while not able to make it drink, so a Catholic may lead a man to the Doorway of Salvation but be unable to make him obey and consequently enter.
However, there is a big difference between you and an animal, dear reader. You are formed in the Image of God, made to fill the earth and to subdue it; an animal is not. (Genesis 1:26a, 27. Read the full context of Genesis 1:20-28 to see the contrast between men, who are made in the Divine Image, and beasts, who are not, the Creator putting men over beasts to rule them.) And, whereas animals can be extremely clever sometimes, they are not --- and cannot ever be by design --- Man’s equal in God’s Sight. As Elihu rightly said to Job (in spite of saying some things that were incorrect) long ago:
“Men cry out under a load of oppression… But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker… who teaches more to us than to the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the air?’” (Job 35:9a, 10a, 11 NIV)
And a psalmist declared:
“A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.” (Psalm 49:20 NIV)
And one of the Twelve Apostles excoriated religious rebels with this simile:
“Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals --- these are the very things that destroy them.” (Jude 1:10 NIV)
You see, then, how beasts do not have the use of reason like men do. And so I beg of you --- please do not be a rebel any longer, please do not act like an “unreasoning” beast! You are made in the Image of God, designed to fill and subdue the earth by being Roman Catholic; yet the very things in God’s One & Only Church that you “speak abusively against”, being things you “do not understand”, will condemn you after you are destroyed by those shameful religious falsehoods and immoral behaviors to which you cling, being that which you only “understand by instinct”.
You are able to do better than this. Provided you are neither insane nor feeble-minded, then you are, by the converting grace of God through His Catholic Church, able to apprehend that which you abuse and to relinquish that which you cling to by instinct. And you have been given the ability to reason not so that you may stand in judgment upon the Catholic Church --- as if you, in and of your own self, by yourself, could never be wrong about matters of religion and can inerrantly perceive the supposed ‘mistakes’ of the Church --- but that you may see the Catholic Church for what She really is, for what the Creator has made Her, and Her alone, to be… the Pillar & Foundation of the Truth, incapable of any error in matters of Faith & Morals. Reasonably seeing this, you may then take (and must take, if you are going to save your soul) the very next step: to humbly submit to Her Infallible Teaching Authority found centered in the Office of the Papacy, obediently accepting Her Supreme Judgment upon you, and do everything She commands that you might enter the Ark of Her Sanctuary and so have real Hope of Salvation from the Deluge of God’s Wrath at the Day of Reckoning.
+ + + 35. Biblical Pretensions + + +
“But I stand upon the Bible!” you will protest.
Good. Then I take it you are ready to convert to the Church? For the Bible, being an inerrant product of its Divine Author --- and able to be known as such, in its totality, via the official public recognition of its contents by the Pillar of the Truth, the Church, which is His Infallible Voice upon earth --- is nothing if not thoroughly Catholic. But more on the huge amount of proof for this fact, from your very own translation of Sacred Scripture, in a little while. For the moment we address the claim implicit in your protest.
Viz., when you as an Evangelic Protestant say that you ‘stand upon’ the Bible, you really mean to say that you vaunt your bibles as some form of ‘final’ or ‘highest’ or ‘ultimate’ or ‘sole’ authority. An Evangelic will often assert that he only believes what he finds stated in his bible. This is just another way of saying the same thing, although it can get confusing since Protestants, and even fellow Evangelics, can mean a wide variety of things by what they say. In fact, most of them don’t know what they mean, exactly, having never thought it through very well --- if at all. It just sounds good to their ears, having been brought up with it all their lives, or converted to it later on as their experiences and biases converged deceptively with the message of Evangelic Protestantism.
But let us cut to the quick. You say you ‘stand upon’ your bible, believing nothing that it doesn’t say, dear reader? Then where in the world does your bible say it’s the only thing to be believed, the only thing to stand upon? Where does your bible declare it’s a ‘final’ or ‘highest’ or ‘sole’ authority, or the ‘ultimate source’ of what the Creator tells us must be believed and must be obeyed in order to save our souls? Look through bibles. Examine them carefully. I know I have. Even before I began seriously converting to the Catholic Faith, I had read through my Evangelic bible many a time and never found a verse that said, straight out, that Sacred Scripture is an ‘ultimate authority’ in matters of religion, the ‘sole voice’ of the Creator here on earth.
There isn’t one.
The original Protestants back in the 1500s made this up out of thin air. Knowing they had no sound reason for rejecting the Authority of God’s Catholic Church and Her Divinely-Instituted Papacy, and not quite yet hardened enough in conscience to brazenly rebel without at least some form of ‘plausible-looking’ justification, they turned in desperation to Sacred Scripture, having been led by the Devil to misinterpret many of its verses already, and plucked from its badly comprehended pages a new manmade religion in opposition to the One True Religion given by God to all men for their Salvation. They did this by focusing on a small cadre of verses to the exclusion of all else, and by mistakenly comprehending these verses to mean what they had not and could not ever mean, being at odds with what the earliest Christians and Holy Mother Church had always taught that they meant from the very beginning with Christ & His Apostles.
Yet what did these first Protestants care? They did not want the Saving Truth; they merely wanted their own way. Or, should I say, they wanted their own ways in the plural. For Protestantism is the history of splintering groups of dissent, there being now literally hundreds upon thousands upon millions of different denominations, congregations, leaders and individuals who each interpret, frequently contrary to one another, the Bible as they see fit without any reference outside of themselves to an unchanging framework of truth, each having a distinct idea as to who can be ‘saved’ and how it is done --- or no clear idea at all --- and, certainly, having no reliable way to demonstrate conclusively to their peers that theirs is the correct position, having no real authority to compel the others to believe and obey, and thus no way to stand firm and unshaken upon a ground of teaching that both publicly and decisively divests itself of those who deviate from its contents while resting divinely assured inside its own untainted territory with those who remain loyal.
As a result, Evangelics are, in the past century, the consequence of whittling down. Not of numbers --- for Evangelics are becoming the most numerous of religious groups. But of doctrine. A word many of them, predictably enough, hate. Yet all ‘doctrine’ means is ‘teaching’. That is to say, what it is Evangelics teach is true and useful, if not essential, to believe. But therein lies the crux. For what is essential to believe? What must a man do and believe to save his soul?
Protestants have continually innovated answers to this question over the centuries, each denomination, congregation, leader or individual putting his conflicting two bits worth into the pot based upon (or, at a minimum, not in conflict with) a purported ‘understanding’ of what Sacred Scripture declares. And, this combined with modern man’s increasing impatience with any authority outside of himself and with things spiritual or sacred, and given his increasing preoccupation with unrestrained liberty of his own self and with things material or profane, we see how the contemporary Evangelic has come to believe there is very little actually necessary for a man to believe and do so as to save his soul. In other words, the ‘gospel’ of contemporary Evangelics is a ‘least common denominator’ outcome of hundreds of years of changes by, and disagreement with, their fellows. Ergo, faced by so many incongruent teachings whilst naturally desiring some sort of unity with one another, they have reduced their inherited teachings into a mere handful of supposedly ‘essential’ beliefs they can all agree upon, thereby also agreeing to give each other full latitude to differ over ‘non-essential’ beliefs and still granting one another the name of ‘christian’ --- as if they each of them still followed the teachings of the real Christ wholly, correctly or adequately.
And I say to you again, my dear reader:
Confronted by the spectre of your religion’s own past, of its adherents’ constant splintering and ever dwindling number of teachings deemed ‘essential’ over the past 500 years, where in the world would you get the nerve to tell me you ‘stand upon’ the Bible? Because if the Bible is your ‘highest authority’ or the ‘only way’ the Creator speaks on earth nowadays --- other ways accepted by more conservative Charismatics (Charismatics of a more liberal tendency having nearly abandoned any pretense at following a biblical standard) being, at least ostensibly, nevertheless subject to, or not in conflict with, the ‘higher authority’ of their bibles --- then why doesn’t this supposed ‘highest authority’ say it’s the ‘highest authority’ and why doesn’t this so-called ‘only way’ to hear the Creator speak say it’s the ‘only way’ He speaks? Because if it is the ‘highest authority’ or the ‘only way’, then how is an Evangelic to plainly know that it is so, with inerrant certainty, when the source of his purported certainty --- an inerrant Bible --- doesn’t plainly say that it is certainly so?
+ + + 36. Fathoming the Word of God + + +
Yet you will cite the Apostle Paul:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV)
To which I say, that can look like impressive evidence for the Protestant side of things at first glance. But only if it’s the first glance and only if a man already favors Protestantism, being neither solidly grounded in the Catholic Faith nor inclined to take a longer and deeper look. For I ask you… does Paul say that only Sacred Scripture is “God-breathed” (i.e., ‘divinely inspired’) or, to the contrary, that all Sacred Scripture is inspired? You know the answer. His initial two words in the quote are “All Scripture” not ‘Only Scripture’. And there is a huge distinction between all and only! The latter (‘only’) would uphold the Evangelic position. Whereas the former --- which is what the Apostle Paul and Sacred Scripture actually declare in your own bible --- simply affirms what the Roman Catholic Church has always taught. Namely, that all Sacred Scripture is inspired by God. In short, that the Creator is the Author of the Bible.
Nor is an inarguable usefulness for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training” the same as saying that the Bible is the only thing “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training…” Once more, neither this verse nor anything else in Sacred Scripture says that the Bible is the only useful thing for doing so. Again, Protestants made this up out of thin air, to justify their rebellion against God’s Roman Catholic Church. A hypocritical justification, too, for think of the many instruction books that Evangelics have written for the express purpose of teaching, rebuking, correcting and training their adherents, something they would never do were these things not useful for doing so, and if their bibles were utterly sufficient to do so by themselves alone.
But perchance you dig up verses speaking reverently about the ‘word of God’. For instance, references to God’s “word” in what Protestants call Psalm 119 (Psalm 118 for Catholics, the two sides being at odds often over the numbering of chapters --- and sometimes even verses --- in this book and elsewhere in Sacred Scripture). Your point being that the Bible is the ‘Word of God’ and hence authoritative above and to the exclusion of all else since it is God speaking to us.
Well, first things first. Is the Bible the ‘Word of God’? Inasmuch as by ‘Word’ you mean the Creator talking to men in a way unrivalled in its heavenly wonderfulness, yes, it can be called that. This is not something the heretics discovered, or rediscovered, unexpectedly in the 16th century; they got the idea from Catholics, who had known it for hundreds of years prior to the Protestant Rebellion in the 1500s. Howsoever, if by ‘Word’ you mean a ‘final authority’ or ‘sole voice’ of God, no, it is not. Rather, the Bible itself tells us clearly what the Word as Ultimate Voice & Highest Authority of God really is --- or, should I say, Who this Word really is.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made… The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth… From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:1-3, 14, 16-17 NIV)
And the Apostle John says elsewhere:
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one but he himself knows. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ (Psalm 2:9a) He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16 NIV)
No knowledgeable Evangelic will deny that these verses speak about Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of the Living God. For “the Word was God” and “the Word became flesh”, being “the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” And how does this Grace & Truth become available to men on earth? The Apostle John tells us “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:1c, 14a, d-f, 17b NIV) Moreover, John says in another place about Jesus, “They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings --- and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” (Revelation 17:14 NIV) This “Lamb” is undoubtedly Jesus, the same John in his gospel reporting what John the Baptist announced. To wit, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” As well, “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’” (John 1:29, 35-36 NIV) And the Apostle Paul told Timothy concerning the Almighty God & His Lamb, “…I charge you to keep this commandment without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time --- God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:13f-16 NIV)
The conclusion is ironclad: that He, the Son of the Living God, Jesus Christ, is “the Word of God” and hence the Ultimate Voice of God to all that has been created, especially men who bear His Image. Indeed, since God is the One “whom no one has seen or can see” and bears a superlative title of Kingship & Lordship, as Paul notes (1 Timothy 6:16c, 15c NIV), then Jesus in bearing this absolutely identical superlative title --- a title so totally unique that, by its very nature, it cannot ever be held by more than One Being & One Being Only --- is necessarily Himself God. I.e., Jesus is God veiled in flesh. He is the Second Person of the Godhead bearing the Divine Likeness under the guise of a Sacred Humanity so that we might look upon His Face and live. (Read Exodus 33:17-23 to see how the perishable, mortal and corruptible flesh of this world, no matter how holy the man who inhabits it, cannot look upon God’s Face without dying, and examine Hebrews 12:14 to discover how no man, even apart from an earthly body, can see the unveiled God without holiness.) As Paul taught the Corinthian Catholics, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV) Wherefore Jesus is God Incarnate and hence the Highest Authority over all that exists, being “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:13d, 16c-d, 1 Timothy 6:16c NIV, see also Revelation 17:14.)
That is Who the Word of God is.
This is driven home the more by the fact that, while Psalm 119 in the NIV speaks most often of God’s “word” in the singular (verses 9, 11, 16, 17, 25, 28, 37, 42, 43, 49, 65, 67, 74, 81, 89, 101, 105, 107, 114, 133, 147, 158, 161, 169 & 172), it speaks as well of God’s “words” in the plural (verses 57, 130, 139 & 160). Therefore, whilst the psalmist in a subtle way foreshadowed the coming “word” that is the Messiah --- God’s Word-in-the-Flesh Who announced in person, by both tongue and deed, the “words” of the Triune Godhead to men regarding their Exclusive Hope & Source for Salvation --- the psalmist is speaking most blatantly about the “word” or “words” of a particular part of God’s Testimony, i.e., His Law & His Commandments. This is especially clear from lines elsewhere in the chapter, frequently side-by-side in verses where he talks about the “word”. For instance, where he says:
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119: 9-11 NIV)
“Do good to your servant, and I will live; I will obey your word. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me.” (Psalm 119:17-19 NIV)
“I am laid low in the dust; renew my life according to your word. I recounted my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees. Let me understand the teachings of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders. My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law.” (Psalm 119:25-29 NIV)
So we find that “word” or “words” in Psalm 119 are God’s Commandments, being those decrees and precepts which constitute His Law. Which raises a question. For while the Bible inarguably contains God’s Commandments & His Law, is this all that it contains? Does Sacred Scripture not speak of many other things, too?
For example, does not 1 Chronicles in its
first nine chapters give the genealogy of
I could go on, dear reader, but I think you get the idea.
Ergo, if the Bible has many things in it in addition to the Commandments of God & His Law, then why are we to comprehend Psalm 119’s references to God’s “word” as referring to the full contents of the Bible and naught else? How does this follow sensibly from what we read in Psalm 119, which is obviously talking about His Commandments & Law and not about those parts of the Bible we cannot categorize under the title of ‘Commandments & Law’? In fact, what are we to do with other passages in your bibles about God’s ‘word’? For example, the prophets who spoke for the Lord.
“This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord:
‘Stand at the gate of the Lord’s house and there proclaim this
message: “Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of
How is this ‘word’ of the Lord to be confused with the full contents of the Bible? Does not the Prophet Jeremiah, like many of his fellow prophets, use the term ‘word’ clearly referring to what the Holy Spirit at that moment was prophetically proclaiming through him to be from God’s Mind… and not to all the contents of the Bible? And, granted that this is clear, are we then to disregard the rest of the Bible’s contents --- all those passages not prefaced or bracketed by a prophetic announcement that these words come straight from the Mind of God --- as lacking Divine Inspiration? Put differently, don’t those other parts, although not bracketed by an explicit formula of prophetic announcement, belong to Sacred Scripture also? Then how do Psalm 119, Jeremiah 7, or similar passages speaking of God’s word, in any way amount to ‘proof’ that Sacred Scripture is a ‘final authority’ or ‘ultimate voice’ of God on earth, being the ‘only way’ He speaks to men in this life?
+ + + 37. Sacred Tradition Redux + + +
Nevertheless, the most stubborn of Protestants will retort, “Alright, passages from the Psalms and the Prophets talking about the word of God don’t prove the Bible alone is enough. But what about 1 Corinthians 4:6, Ephesians 6:17, Hebrews 4:12 and especially John 10:35? How can you deny that these are talking about the Bible?”
My dear reader, I don’t deny that these verses speak of the Bible, even though Protestants, tragically enough, don’t know what Sacred Scripture really is since they have emasculated their bibles by leaving out books and passages that are canonical, and by translating badly, often as not, what’s left over. Nor do I deny that the Psalms, the Prophets and other parts of the Bible frequently speak of at least some of the contents of Sacred Scripture when talking about God’s “word”. Yet that’s not the heart of the matter. The gist of what I’m saying is threefold.
One, Evangelics presume --- out of thin air and even without their bibles backing them up --- that the ‘word of God’ mentioned in their bibles always means Sacred Scripture and nothing else.
Two, Evangelics presume --- out of thin air and even without their bibles backing them up --- that the ‘word of God’ mentioned in their bibles always means the full contents of Sacred Scripture and nothing less.
And, three, Evangelics conclude --- out of thin air and even without their bibles backing them up --- that the ‘word of God’ mentioned in their bibles must then mean that the spiritual authority upon which they should stand is the full contents of Sacred Scripture and nothing more.
But let us take a look at the four verses cited in the hypothetical retort above, further refuting these three Evangelic presumptions and conclusion along the way. The first is as follows:
“Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, ‘Do not go beyond what is written.’” (1 Corinthians 4:6 NIV)
Dear reader, how can this support the Evangelic’s stance? All the Apostle Paul declares, according to the NIV scholars and their translation, is, “Do not go beyond what is written.” (1 Corinthians 4:6d NIV) Now, is this the same as saying don’t rely on anything other than Sacred Scripture? Does Paul in this verse anywhere say that the Bible is the ‘highest authority’, an ‘ultimate voice’ or the ‘only way’ God speaks? No, he doesn’t. Nor can the NIV scholars’ translation of this verse indict real Catholics. For the Catholic Church does not “go beyond what is written” in the Bible, as you have been finding out and will discover anew in spades within the following pages.
Let us get this straight. It is vital for you to comprehend. The Catholic Church does not --- repeat, not! --- “go beyond what is written” in Sacred Scripture. Every single one of the Church’s teachings or commands is based upon what God the Father through God the Son, or by God the Holy Spirit through the Father’s Prophets and His Son’s Apostles, has said. Having spoken through the Prophets, the Son and the Apostles, the Church either wrote down God’s words early on and recognized many of these writings as part of Sacred Scripture, or else passed God’s words on by mouth from one generation to the next as Sacred Tradition. Howsoever, not every writing has been recognized by the Church as Sacred Scripture, that is, canonized. Nor is anything not written down left to collective memory indefinitely. That is to say, Sacred Tradition usually gets written down at some point by someone somewhere. Nevertheless, just because a Catholic writes it down doesn’t make the writing canonical; conversely, just because the Church doesn’t recognize a writing as Sacred Scripture doesn’t make the Tradition recorded in the writing any less Sacred. The sacredness of these things --- of the teachings, commands and practices of the Church, whether transmitted “by word of mouth or letter” (2 Thessalonians 2:15d NIV, see Chapter 12 again) --- is simply this:
That they come from the Almighty Trinity of the Roman Catholic Church, Singular Creator of All That Exists, Who has made them necessary for a man’s salvation. And the Roman Catholic Church, being decreed as the Divine Will of the Neverendingly Self-Subsistent Father; and being the Ecclesial Body of the Father’s Eternally-Begotten Son; and being the divinely established Pillar of the Truth precisely because She is guided by the Everlastingly-Proceeding Spirit of Truth, the Holy Ghost, from both Father and Son; cannot forget, confuse or misrepresent these sacred things. It is She who assures us of them. Without Her judgments made known to us, we would be in doubt regarding the Sacredness of both Scripture and Tradition.
But the voice of the Catholic Church is present on the earth with us, having been founded by the Triune God for this very purpose, that we might know what He says in order to save our souls. We can thus be certain the Creator speaks through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. As a result, nothing in God’s Bible (Sacred Scripture), properly understood, can contradict anything else in God’s Testimony (Sacred Tradition). God is of One Mind and One Voice. He is also all-knowing and incapable of lying. He has knowledgeably and honestly placed the thoughts of His Mind pertaining to Salvation in Scripture and Tradition; they therefore both of them together communicate His Saving Truth.
How could it be otherwise? How can Sacred Scripture defy Sacred Tradition, or vice versa? How can one part of Sacred Scripture gainsay another part of Scripture, or Sacred Tradition conflict with itself? Both come from God. To say they conflict is to say God does not have One Mind (He is confused) or does not speak with One Voice (He is dishonest). The very notion is shameful and blasphemous! It is satanic, ascribing what is impossible to He Who Is One, Eternal, Holy & Omniscient. The Creator cannot err, cannot lie. Hence, how can His Scripture & His Tradition truly contradict --- as opposed to merely appearing to contradict due to a man’s limited knowledge or wicked bias?
+ + + 38. Protestants Go Beyond What Is Written + + +
But therein lies the rub. For men are limited in knowledge and they do have wicked biases. Consequently, how are they to avoid misinterpreting either Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition?
That this problem exists ought to be plain to you, my dear reader. After all, don’t Evangelics of a more conservative or Calvinistic persuasion (God’s Sovereignty subsumes man’s liberty, rendering free will a fiction) tend to argue with Evangelics of a more liberal or Arminian bent (man’s liberty trumps God’s Sovereignty, rendering Divine Will extraneous) regarding whether or not a seriously sinful adherent can be ‘saved’ without repenting and ceasing his sin? And don’t the smarter of these opponents wield biblical verses skillfully, easily swaying he who hasn’t yet taken sides? So how is an Evangelic supposed to know which side is interpreting the Bible correctly when both sides can sound so convincing? What does the Bible really say and how is a man to know for certain, when the verses involved can be interpreted in different ways? Does it all just come down to a person’s prejudice in the matter? Yet why is one man’s prejudice to be preferred to another man’s prejudice when it comes to interpreting the Mind of God as expressed in Sacred Scripture? Which interpretation is truly accurate, if any? What has the Mind of God actually determined to say to us in the Bible? The solution to this dilemma must stand upon infallible judgment and not upon mere prejudice --- because if the conservatives or Calvinists are right, then the liberals or Arminians are recklessly sending souls to the hideous torments of Hell by not doing everything to stop their iniquity and get them to repent! Is there a more horrible mistake imaginable? Could men be at more appalling risk? Bringing us to the heart of the problem:
How can a man beyond all doubt understand the Bible correctly?
That this is a grave problem is illustrated above. Evangelics themselves, from their own perspective, can’t agree on what might send a man to Hell, thereby leaving untold numbers of their followers’ souls dangling in jeopardy… depending on who’s right. Is this the kind of ‘assurance’ of Salvation that Evangelics like to tout? Are the majority of Evangelics supposed to gamble their everlasting fate on a liberal, Arminian prejudice that they’ll end up in ‘heaven’ despite dying persistent or unrepentant in serious sin?
Oh, and by the way, what makes one sin serious and another trifling? At the risk of damnation forever, dear reader, you had better be able to distinguish between the two without making a mistake! Evangelics were once very strict about what sends a man to Hell (for instance, no smoking, dancing, gambling or going to movies, women are not to lead congregations, the fashions of hoodlums and whores are disgusting), the standard today for most of them having become extremely lax (it’s too bad but okay to get divorced, salacious movies are tolerable, women in pants are harmless, avoiding children in marriage to have fun or to make lots of money is perfectly alright, etc.). Oddly enough, an Evangelic at the turn of the 20th century thought he based his moral strictness upon the Bible whilst his more religiously lax descendants at the turn of the 21st century claim to do the same. Did the text of Sacred Scripture mysteriously change in the space of one hundred years? Or did not the prejudice of most Evangelics change and hence their interpretation of their own bibles?
The answer is obvious.
You see, then, dear reader, why Roman Catholic teaching in this matter is the only possible solution. The Creator via His Holy Spirit keeps His Son’s Body --- which is the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23, 5:22-33, Colossians 1:18, 24) --- from officially proclaiming or practicing error. This protection includes knowing which beliefs are essential (what Catholics call ‘dogmas’) and which sins are serious (what Catholics call ‘mortal’). Transgressing either one will put a man in Hell. And I dare to say this because the Church is the Pillar & Foundation of the Truth (1 Timothy 3:14b-15), which Jesus promised that Hell could not overcome with the lies of the Devil. (Matthew 16:18, John 8:42-47) I therefore speak both reasonably and confidently, standing upon the Infallible Authority of Jesus’ Body, His Church.
Now contrast this with Protestants. Witness their many, many, many arguments about the meaning of Sacred Scripture. Disagreements that have led in the last five centuries to untold numbers of denominations, leaders, congregations and individuals establishing themselves as separate entities independent of any truly meaningful or visible connection to one another. How is this an inseparable Body of Christ, acting cohesively under the leadership and mind of a single Head? How is this a bulwark against the Devil & Hell, how is this being a Pillar & Foundation of the Truth? Moreover, should you try claiming that these are only disagreements over ‘non-essentials’, as Evangelics are wont to do, then why do Evangelics argue amongst themselves about serious sin damning a person? Isn’t it essential to go to Heaven and stay out of Hell? Then why can’t most Calvinistic Evangelics and Arminian Evangelics agree on how to do so? Why do most Evangelics glaringly contradict their spiritual ancestors of a mere hundred years ago regarding what condemns a man everlastingly? And yet each of these three examples --- Evangelics who are Calvinist, Arminian or from a hundred years ago --- claims conformity to the Bible!
The conclusion is clear. To enter Heaven and avoid Hell is essential. But none of these three factions can agree about how to do this in spite of each of them claiming to rely on the same Bible. They each contradict. Meaning you can be sure that at least two of them are wrong, going “beyond what is written.” But meaning you also can have no way to tell for sure who, if any of them, is right. Which leads to a very sensible question:
How can Sacred Scripture all by itself get a man into Heaven when people who claim to follow their bibles can’t agree on how it’s done?
Think about it. One wrong step and you’re dead. One small slip, one critical misinterpretation… and you could lose Heaven forever. Are we supposed to depend on the competing opinions of men when it comes to saving our souls? Is not the Creator’s guaranteed guidance a far superior option, a certainty devoutly to be wished? Indeed, without this kind of divine assurance it doesn’t matter who’s right, even if one of the Evangelic factions does happen to get a right answer! Because without real certainty from Divine Authority exercised infallibly on earth irrespective of men’s wishes --- and not just a phony ‘certainty’ from human prejudice fallibly opined to champion the desires of men --- it’s a crapshoot. One interpretation of the Bible can seem no better than another interpretation; one bet looks pretty much as good as any other bet. It all depends upon your prejudice in the matter.
Is this a risk worth taking?
Is this a gamble people can afford to lose?
Yet it’s not a crapshoot, my dear reader. And the Creator doesn’t tell us to play religion like a game of chance even if we do get nearly everything right. For in refusing to believe His Church is infallible --- thinking our religious beliefs are a ‘best guess’ or a ‘personal preference’ that is good enough for God due to our supposedly ‘sincere intentions’ or ‘individual liberties’ --- we condemn our souls by holding a religious lie in direct contradiction to the Church’s inerrant declaration that She speaks infallibly on behalf of God on earth. Because the God Who says in your bibles, “The Lord… is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9a, c-e NIV) is the same God Who also says, “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10b NIV) But how can anyone “love the truth and so be saved” if nobody can be sure exactly what this Saving Truth is? How can the Creator be “patient… not wanting anyone to perish,” unless He makes it possible for anyone to find the truth that saves? And how can anyone find the perfect wholeness of the Saving Truth except God establishes His Church as the Pillar & Foundation of the Truth? (1 Timothy 3:14b-15) Indeed, how can anyone discover the Saving Truth except God establishes this Church as a Visible Pillar for anyone in the world to see who has eyes to see, and as an Unshakable Foundation which cannot ever fail under the wicked onslaught of the Damning Lies of the Devil & Hell? (Matthew 16:18, John 8:42-47)
It is thus not Catholics who “go beyond what is written.” Rather, it is the other way around. It is Protestants who have departed from Sacred Scripture, ignoring and disparaging the testimony of their own bibles! It is Evangelics who either act like they can be certain how to get into Heaven when, in fact, as has been shown, they can have no such certainty, or who, admitting they have no real certainty, act like it doesn’t matter when, in fact, as has been shown, it certainly does matter. In any case, the only certainty that any of them can have, lost as they are in their false religion, is that every one of them is wrong --- they all contradict Sacred Scripture.
+ + + 39. A Serpent’s Dark & Cunning Light + + +
What irony, then, in their battle cry of ‘sola scriptura’ (‘scripture alone’) back in the 1500s. For this lie of the Devil was the heretical crux upon which Protestants hung themselves in the 16th century; and conservative Evangelics still echo its poisonous refrain till this day in the 21st century. Like the hard-hearted thief who, in contrast to the penitent thief, received no promise from the crucified Jesus that he would enter paradise after his much-deserved agony upon a cross for his crime (Luke 23:32-33, 39-43 --- see also Matthew 27:38, 44, Mark 15.27, 32c, John 19:31-32), unrepentant heretics have stolen the Bible from Christ’s Catholic Body, headed for the much-deserved agony of Hell if they do not repudiate their crime, denounce their false religion and beg for entrance into the Catholic Faith. Like uneducated thieves swiping a scholarly book on nuclear fission, then acting, in their arrogance, like they can adequately interpret its often difficult text without any authoritative guidance to safely operate an atomic reactor, so Evangelic Protestants in their hubris act as if they can adequately interpret the often difficult text of Sacred Scripture to safely live a ‘christian life’ despite rejecting authoritative guidance from the Pillar of the Truth on how to do so. Satan has deceived them!
Nevertheless, do you doubt that the Devil can use something as wonderful as Sacred Scripture to confound men’s minds, leading them astray? Then listen to the Apostle Paul where he admonishes the Corinthian Catholics:
“I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough… For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:2-4, 13-14 NIV)
Notice Paul doesn’t say to avoid religious error by wielding the Bible as a ‘final authority’ or ‘sole voice’. Rather, he by inference counsels remaining attached to “the Jesus we preached…” We repeat --- it is the teachings of Jesus that he and his fellow servants “preached” which he said would guard the Corinthians against religious error. This despite the fact that much of the New Testament and all of the Old Testament were available to read at the time Paul wrote his words! Should you not then listen to he who preaches the same Jesus that Paul preached before acting like you understand the Bible, dear reader?
Yet Who is this Jesus that he “preached”? He is the “one husband” to whom Paul “promised” the Corinthian Christians --- literally, to whom he married them --- the Christ of the Catholic Church. Which is why members of this Church, being His Body (Ephesians 1:22-23, 5:22-33, Colossians 1:18, 24), constitute the Bride of Christ spoken of by both the Apostles Paul & John. (Ephesians 5:22-33, Revelation 21:2, 9-10) To marry any other ‘christ’ is to espouse a false christ, namely, a false religion and a false church that does not teach all that the true Christ and His true Church teach & command. To do so is to become part of a false body and a false bride. As Paul warns, chary lest Satan filch shards of the Saving Truth and mix them with religious lies, blending the heady brew into a deadly concoction, “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached…you put up with it easily enough.” (2 Corinthians 11:4a, d NIV) This “other” Jesus is what “false apostles” preach, those who have a “different spirit” and a “different gospel” in contrast to the real Jesus, the real Spirit and the real Gospel of the Roman Catholic Church. Truly, this “other” Jesus is a pretend ‘jesus’ --- an imaginary god no better than a pagan idol. And by wearing this pretend ‘jesus’ of Evangelicism like a costume, “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light…” For by means of misinterpreted bibles and muddled religious thinking, the Devil deceives the unwary.
+ + + 40. The Loathsome Mechanics of Evil + + +
How does the Devil get away with this? How can he take what is good and use it for an evil purpose?
By intelligence, guile, ambiguity, gradation and complexity. That is to say, he is smart, sly, evasive, persistent and masterful. And wickedly shrewd minds know that the most successful ploys are those that hide behind the familiar. In other words, if you want to mislead a man then co-opt what he trusts --- and twist it to your liking. Not a lot, not too much at one time, normally, since that would probably alarm someone. Rather, just enough to make progress without causing excessive discomfort. Go step by step. Take what is irreproachable, taint it with what is not, and, where your steps are ambitiously large, do so using speech and actions that can be interpreted as either good or bad. In this way you can play each side, pushing for bad goals when everyone is clueless whilst feigning a harmless appearance when folks get suspicious. Better yet, take what sounds like a good aim and use it as a façade in order to do it for a reason that is actually bad! Meanwhile, if necessary, get people to oppose their rightful leaders --- those who stand in your way, delaying your aims. Corruption helps. I.e., corrupt leaders, or corruption tolerated by leaders, tend to upset everybody… even corruption that isn’t real, existing only in the confused eye of a malicious beholder. Which in turn quickens your plot since folks welcome your ideas as an improvement. Above all else, promote stupidity. Get people to forget what they once knew. Relinquishing the good they used to know, they become blind and can be trained to work for you, calling good bad and bad good.
Such are the loathsome mechanics of evil, and such is what the Apostle Paul feared when he observed, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3 KJV) Taking what was good --- for God made everything good and perfect in the beginning, as the Bible informs us (Genesis 1:12d, 18c, 21e, 25d, 31a) --- the Ancient Serpent, that shrewd Devil, twisted it toward an evil purpose.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.” (Genesis 3:1a NIV)
And how did this crafty animal, this murderous creature, lay his snare?
“He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat of any tree in the garden?”’” (Genesis 3:1b NIV)
Note the serpent’s tactic. He took God’s words, which were undeniably good --- “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17 NIV) --- and inverted them, talking about not eating from “any tree” so as to make it seem like what he repeated in part was identical to what God had said in whole.
At first Eve stood her ground. She appeared to defend orthodoxy, correctly telling him that God had commanded them not to eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the Garden, meaning the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil. She had learned this much, at a minimum, from Adam well. For God having formed the woman out of Adam’s rib (Genesis 2:20b-22), it is clear that her encounter with the Devil happened after God commanded Adam one-on-one not to eat the forbidden fruit. (Genesis 2:16-17) Ergo, Adam, her divinely appointed leader, must have infallibly instructed Eve in God’s Law later on. Such has always been the way of the Creator’s Church on earth, His Church inerrantly teaching those under Her care what has been received from Him --- whether that be but two hours ago or two thousand years ago.
Yet Satan did not give up. Having lured the woman near to the forbidden tree and having prepared Eve’s mind with a cunningly ambiguous first attempt, he took another step and assaulted her mind outright with a bald-faced lie --- a deception mixed with truth and finely calculated to cause suspicion, portraying God as ‘corrupt’ by His supposedly ‘conspiring’ to keep her and her husband from becoming His equals. A perilously attractive idea since they both bore God’s Image, having been made to look like Him! (Genesis 1:27)
“‘You will not surely die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” (Genesis 3:4-5 NIV)
Mark well the Devil’s ploy. He didn’t tell a complete lie. In fact, the only explicit mendacity in his rejoinder is the initial clause, “You will not surely die,” its negational “not” a daringly blunt denial of the words God actually said. Nonetheless, everything after that point is true… and hence plausible. He mentions becoming like God in “knowing good and evil” and that her “eyes will be opened,” the former something God Himself acknowledges where He says, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:22b-c NIV) and the latter something which did indeed occur following their Original Sin where Sacred Scripture reports, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked…” (Genesis 3:7a NIV) Had Adam at that moment inquired into the serpent’s words --- literally, had he mounted an inquisition to root out heresy and punish the evil arisen under his dominion, precisely what God did after Adam & Eve fell into the First Sin (Genesis 3:8-19) --- the Devil could have woven a fog of intricacies and still slyly evaded exposure, pretending in his partial truths to uphold the full truth. Satan thus did not venture openly into utter heterodoxy.
Yet it matters not; the lie is still there. Like negative products always resulting from the multiplication of positive and negative numbers together, so false religions always result from putting together true teachings and false teachings. There is no way around it: no amount of positive numbers can ever make a positive product with even a single negative multiplier in the equation; nor can any amount of true teachings ever redeem even a single heresy in their midst, resulting in a true religion. The Saving Truth is a total package, its dogmas unable to be rent asunder or mingled with condemned falsehoods without spiritual fatality.
+ + + 41. God’s Word Misused Against God’s Word + + +
We therefore see how Satan works. Yet need you more evidence? Then consider his strategy against the One Who is God’s Word Made Flesh --- against He Who is God Himself!
“Then Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil… and… the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”’ (Psalm 91:11-12) Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”(Deuteronomy 6:16)’” (Matthew 4:1, 3a, 5-7 NIV)
There you have it. The Devil took what is indisputably good, Sacred
Scripture, turning it toward an evil purpose. Moreover, it proves Satan is familiar
with the Bible, even the verses best suited for misinterpretation on a
particular occasion so as to tempt a person into sin! Thus, just because
someone knows “it is written” --- that something is recorded in the
text of Sacred Scripture --- isn’t the same as saying that he knows what
it means, or, knowing, that he can’t be led into forgetting
or denying what it means. Otherwise Satan would have had no good reason
to quote the Bible. For how could he possibly hoped to have “tempted”
Jesus into sin if the verses from Psalm 91 couldn’t possibly be
misunderstood unto the commission of sin? Or do you forget the Apostle
Paul’s warning about being “deceived by the serpent’s cunning”?
That Ancient Tempter, who spikes the truth with poisonous lies and purposely
mangled the correct meaning of God’s words in the
Furthermore, it is only because Jesus did thoroughly understand the Bible correctly that He was able to refute the Devil, quoting Sacred Scripture elsewhere in order to do so. And He was able to do so only because He is God and God is the Author of the Bible. Hence, how could He, the All-Knowing Author, not know His Own Mind and thus the intent of each verse that He authored? Which means, taking the next sensible step, that we must know the Mind of God if we’re going to understand the Bible correctly and be able to refute the lies of the Devil, especially those lies that he bases in Sacred Scripture.
Nevertheless, since people all over the place claim many different and conflicting meanings for passages in the Bible, then somehow just ‘knowing’ God’s intent, out of thin air in each of our minds separate and independent of one another, isn’t realistic. That isn’t how the Holy Spirit infallibly instructs us. Because if it did come down to everyone simply ‘knowing’ what God means to say in the Bible, then nobody could frankly disagree about what the Bible reports God as saying! Yet that isn’t the case, is it? Nor does great learning by itself guarantee a correct understanding of Sacred Scripture. Because many very learned men have strongly disagreed over what the Bible says. God must therefore have designed another way, a way that doesn’t depend on private intuition and unanimous agreement amongst such intuitive people, or upon great learning by itself, to make an interpretation certainly true --- or else there is no way to be sure what the Bible really means regarding those things it is absolutely necessary to understand correctly.
+ + + 42. Destruction for Those Who Distort the Bible + + +
But do you still doubt, my dear reader? Do you still want to believe you can understand everything in the Bible that’s necessary to know without God’s Pillar & Foundation of the Truth, His Catholic Church, to infallibly guide you? Then consider the case of Philip and the Ethiopian.
“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to
the road --- the desert road --- that goes down from
The implications are clear. Not everything in Sacred Scripture is easily understood. Meanwhile, many of those things not easy to understand are nonetheless crucial to grasp --- or else the Holy Spirit wouldn’t have sent Philip far out of his way from Samaria (where he had been preaching and converting souls, see Acts 8:4-8) to “the desert road… to Gaza.” And all to meet a devout eunuch who found it impossible to comprehend what he was reading in the Bible!
Obviously, Philip enabled this Ethiopian to save his soul by telling him what the truth was. And he used Sacred Scripture to do so… Scripture understood rightly, in accordance with authoritative and explanatory instruction, and not wrongly, astray from such authoritative and explanatory instruction. A Bible that the eunuch, by his own admission, could not properly fathom had not Philip, an emissary of the Catholic Church, explained it adequately per the Divine Authority of the Pillar of the Truth and via the guidance of that Spirit of Truth which inerrantly directs the leaders of the Living Pillar of God’s Household, and which does the same, under the sanction of these divinely appointed leaders, for the other good-willed members of God’s Roman Catholic Household, too.
Yet do you still doubt? Then heed the admonition of the Apostle 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 NIV)
Let this be a clarion call to your ears, dear reader. For do we need another warning? Just having the Bible won’t save a man’s soul! To the contrary, it is often “hard to understand” Sacred Scripture. One must be wise (not “ignorant”) and solid (not “unstable”) --- or else you will “distort” the Apostle Paul’s “letters” and “the other Scriptures” to your “own destruction.” In short, you will go to Hell!
Do you comprehend?
To be wise means knowing the truth. Hence the imperative of there being a “church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” to which we may turn for distinguishing true from false and good from evil. (1 Timothy 3:15b NIV) And to be solid means built upon the truth. Hence the necessity of this “church of the living God” being “the pillar and foundation of the truth.” Because a pillar is something withy and strong, supporting everything constructed above it; and a foundation is firm and immovable, upon which an immense structure may stand unfallen. In such a way may we flee the ruin of men’s works. For the history of the world is nothing but the story of successive failures of human endeavor, what was once indisputably ‘true’ and ‘good’ to one group of men’s minds having become irrefutably ‘false’ and ‘evil’ --- or at least old, uncertain and irrelevant --- to another group of men’s minds. Whereas the history of the Church is a different story, the tale of God’s Truth & Goodness infallibly maintained across the millennia despite men constantly defying and even forgetting it. And the Almighty Creator does this through His One Holy Roman Catholic & Apostolic Church.
+ + + 43. The Church, Guardian of Sacred Scripture + + +
Curiously, we are poised to unravel a historical puzzle. Not that real Catholics are puzzled, but it’s a conundrum for an Evangelic Protestant who’s beginning to see the impossibility of ‘standing upon’ the Bible alone as a ‘highest authority’ or ‘sole voice’ of God, and who’s just starting to glimpse the danger in misunderstanding what the Bible says due to his own ignorance and instability. Because clever Protestants have always faulted the Catholic Church for purportedly ‘hiding’ Sacred Scripture from Her own members, for supposedly ‘suppressing’ the Bible in their native tongues.
This is nonsense, of course. Partial renderings of the Bible had
been made for the benefit of English-speaking Catholics up to eight hundred
years prior to the invention of the modern printing press in the 1400s, as a
scholarly Evangelic book implicitly acknowledges. [Norman L. Geisler & William E.
Nix’s A General Introduction
to the Bible, printed by Moody
Well, to start with, it takes time adjusting to a new situation.
For hundreds of years Europeans published writings painstakingly by hand. Then,
suddenly, in the mid-15th century, Johann Gutenberg (who was a
German Catholic, by the way) came up with a new way of doing things. We take it
for granted now, but how many of us would be able to typeset and print an
entire book? Very few, despite the craft of modern printing having
existed for over half a millennium. It is an art, spread gradually from
person to person. It thus took time, from
Furthermore, realize that after the 1520s
And who would read such a translation, anyhow? Again, we take it for granted, but not everyone five hundred years ago was literate. Was it worth printing up hundreds or thousands of copies for people? Could many of them even afford to buy the finished product? Remember, it was still an enormous job putting together the typeset, particularly for a book as big as the Bible --- not to mention the tremendous effort required for translation by scholars before that point --- and a huge amount of paper and ink involved. This is costly. In spite of being less expensive than handwritten documents, every copy would still require each buyer to pay a small but significant sum of money for the project to break even.
Yet the biggest roadblock of all was simply bad interpretations.
You see, dear reader, Protestants don’t much care whether or not a man misinterprets Sacred Scripture. Oh, true, some of them might get mad at you for disagreeing with them about the meaning of a verse, more in the past than presently. However, the whole gist of Protestantism is that a man should be ‘free’ to read the Bible for himself and make up his own mind about what it means. So-called ‘freedom of conscience’ and ‘thinking for yourself’. (This is why contemporary Evangelics will still get mad at a Catholic for saying otherwise --- because a real Roman Catholic must condemn the vice of ‘freedom of conscience’ were a Protestant to insist he can interpret the Bible as he personally sees fit.) This is what they say. In actual practice, naturally, it amounts to the biggest and most compelling rabble-rouser attracting the most attention and followers, thereby imprinting his interpretation of the Bible on their minds and consciences. All the same, with no uniting leadership to force compliance at the risk of public ostracism or punishment --- and with many rabble-rousers having arisen across the centuries, starting independent ‘movements’ or ‘denominations’ here and there --- Protestantism is today a mishmash of religious crosscurrents. Groups tend loosely to adhere by common predilection. This includes Evangelics, who are but a subset of Protestants in general. Further Evangelic subdivisions derive from their varying degrees of Calvinism or Arminianism, Charismaticism or non-Charismaticism, or of how theologically conservative or liberal they are, etc., etc.
The point is, Protestants really don’t care if a man misinterprets the Bible. And apart from Evangelics’ small island of ‘essential’ beliefs, they are no different from the rest of their Protestant peers. They have little or no conception, most of them, beyond their paucity of ‘essentials’ (which are tainted by biblical misinterpretations and thus distortions, too, of course), that it is at peril to a man’s immortal soul to “distort” Sacred Scripture by his being “ignorant and unstable” about the Bible. The Apostle Peter’s caveat is conveniently overlooked. As a result, Protestantism is a breeding ground for all kinds of distortions and misinterpretations.
This is not the case with the Catholic Church. Good Catholics care
about understanding the Bible correctly and realize that hellfire awaits the
man who interprets it contrary to the Church’s dogmas, i.e., against the
teachings of God’s Pillar & Foundation of the Truth. Unfortunately,
most men don’t care. Most men --- including many bad Catholics or phony
Catholics --- are “ignorant and unstable”. (2 Peter 3:16d
NIV) So why should
Not that Catholics prior to the Protestant Rebellion were without
Sacred Scripture. Far from it. We already noted how
Catholics had rendered great portions of the Bible into English hundreds of
years before the invention of the printing press. The well-to-do man could have
such a copy in his own possession. Poorer men, provided they could read, might
access copies via the spiritual kindness of a wealthier man, a priest, a monk,
or a monastery. For instance, they might be allowed to visit the place where
the copy was secured, examining it with reverence and tenderness. Too, let us
remember that Latin was once widely known. Even the poorer person --- even
women --- could pick up some Latin if they were determined to learn it. How
could they not? Latin was everywhere the language of trade, politics,
physicians, scholars and ecclesiastics. They heard Latin every time they went
It is absurd saying the Catholic Church ‘hid’ the Bible from the people. She did not. Copies were available for many Catholics to read who truly wanted to do so, and who, assuming they did not know how to read already, were determined to learn. And although most Catholics were illiterate or unable to look at a copy personally, they still had access to the Bible continuously. Every single Mass --- of which there is a separate one for the vast majority of the days in a year, each replete with many scripturally-based prayers --- has two readings, some even more, from Sacred Scripture followed by a sermon, or ‘homily’, as Catholics call it. These readings and sermons were in the local language so that people could understand them. On top of all this, devout preachers such as the Dominicans and the Franciscans often went about the countryside with the approval of the Church to instruct simple lay folk in the Catholic Faith, lessons that flowered out of the words of Sacred Scripture in which they were deeply rooted and to which they constantly referred.
No, the Church did not ‘hide’ the Bible from its members. This is nescient slander, a myth perpetuated by the scriptural ignorance and indifference of bad Catholics or phony ‘catholics’ in the last fifty to a hundred years. To the contrary, the Catholic Church preserved Sacred Scripture from its enemies. Confronted by men who would mistranslate and misinterpret, She guarded its celestial contents from distortion and harm. Entrusted to Her as a precious gift from Heaven Above --- one of the greatest of Her treasures --- She did not cast Her pearls before swine. (Matthew 7:6) She instead used the Gift of God-Given Infallibility to propound the biblical text in its right sense to Her loyal children, based on a version that was orthodox and reliable.
This version was the Latin Vulgate.
+ + + 44. The Problem of the Vernacular + + +
Now here lies a big clue to the conundrum. Because Latin was the language of the ruling Church of Rome from the beginning of the New Covenant and is consequently a central piece of the puzzle for those who are struggling to comprehend Catholicism in relation to Sacred Scripture down through the centuries. And the Vulgate was supremely orthodox and reliable, its Latin not only marvelous for study and teaching but most excellent, too, for conveying the text dependably from scribe to scribe and from copy to copy across the years. Greek versions were shoddy in comparison. Their textual variations far outpaced the rock steady stability of the Vulgate, the text of which the Catholic Church watched over very carefully. There was thus no imperative for translation into the vernacular. Vernacular translations would appear from time to time --- and very useful they might be --- but Catholics in general neither clamored for them nor could these local renderings have wide application.
For know, dear reader, that after the
That is, except for Latin. Because Latin did
endure. It may have ceased to be the common tongue of the people in
everyday life, but it persisted amongst learned men, allowing them to communicate
with other educated persons no matter where in
Modern minds don’t get this. They look at their rather deficient history books and see only innumerable divisions into fiefdoms and little kingdoms during the medieval era. They see, too, the many wars and skirmishes fought between these European rulers over the centuries. Altercations in which at least one of any two or more rulers involved was usually at fault since a good Catholic cannot perpetrate war for an unjust reason, the existence of bad Catholics and bad Catholic rulers the unfortunate result of life in a fallen world. Nonetheless, the more important thing to see is that Europeans were united spiritually. What divided them was less significant than what held them together --- namely, the Roman Catholic Faith.
Comprehending this, we can see how Catholics might travel
This situation of countless dialects across
+ + + 45. Interpreting as You Want --- Forbidden! + + +
Yet this doesn’t begin to grapple with the problem of bad translations. Of scholars who are, despite pre-eminent reputations, themselves “ignorant and unstable” men, unable or unwilling to comprehend the Mind of God in accordance with the infallible guidance of His Church and so translate accurately from approved sources. Put differently, they either select bad sources that don’t accurately report what God really said or they translate ‘interpretatively’ as they go, writing what they want the Bible to say instead of what it truly means. What was the Roman Catholic Church to do? How could She best guard the prize entrusted to Her care? How most wisely to invest the talents left under Her Stewardship? (Matthew 25:14-30)
Ironically, the Protestant heresy forced Her
hand. Or, should I say, it compelled Her heart. Like a
good mother seeing Her children ravaged on all sides
by those who, like their serpentine father in the garden with Adam & Eve
and in the desert at the Temptation of Jesus, would “distort” the
Bible via both bad translations and bad interpretations, sending countless
souls to “destruction”, She could not remain idle. The Pope
therefore gave his permission to a group of priestly scholars --- some of whom
had converted from Protestantism back into Catholicism --- to render the Bible
into the English language based upon Jerome’s Latin Vulgate, the same
Jerome we encountered in Chapter 18. These priests labored at their task from
1578 (the New Testament debuted in 1582) to 1610 (when the Old Testament ended
its maiden publication) in the northern French cities of
In the meantime, the Church did all things concerning Sacred Scripture remembering the words of God through the Apostle Peter, who admonished, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21 NIV)
The KJV renders the same admonishment much better, not distorting it through ‘interpretive’ translation toward Protestant heresy as does the NIV. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:20-21 KJV)
And Peter continued in the very next verses to warn of the consequences for those who indulge their own private interpretations of the Bible or who follow men who do so:
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them --- bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment… then the Lord knows how… to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority.” (2 Peter 2:1-4, 9b-10 NIV)
There it is, dear reader. Peter tells us straight out. Men are not ‘free’ to read the Bible for themselves and make up their own minds about what it means. Men do not, in God’s Sight, have ‘liberty of conscience’ and do not have divine permission to ‘think for themselves’ however they might want concerning the interpretation of Sacred Scripture. Interpretation of the Bible is not to be of one’s own “private interpretation” and you may be sure that “swift destruction” awaits those who “despise authority”, refusing to follow the inerrant guidance and infallible dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church, God’s Pillar & Foundation of the Truth established on earth to --- amongst other things --- guard His Sacred Writ from those who would misuse it.
How can this be?
Because the men who wrote the Bible “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” --- that’s how. In other words, Sacred Scripture is authored by God, which is Who the Holy Spirit is, being the Third Person of the Trinity. Ergo, we must know the Sovereign Mind of God, what He intends to say, and not our own finite minds, what we prefer to imagine He meant regardless of what He actually says and means. To fail to know the Triune God’s Mind --- to elevate the thoughts of our own arrogant little minds above and against the Divine Meditations of His Infinite & Sovereign Mind by mistranslating, misinterpreting and otherwise distorting Sacred Scripture --- is to violate His words through the Apostle Paul when, as the NIV scholars like to put it, He cautioned, “Do not go beyond what is written.” (1 Corinthians 4:6c NIV)
+ + + 46. Militant Implications + + +
But we’ve spent a lot of time with this verse from the Apostle Paul’s 1st Letter to the Catholics of Corinth. Far from attacking the Catholic Church, we’ve seen how it decimates the Evangelic position. Let us move on to the second and third of the four passages that were part of a clever Protestant’s hypothetical retort back in Chapter 37.
The Apostle Paul told the predominately Gentile Catholics in
And he told the predominately Jewish Catholics in
I need hardly repeat what I’ve already said. Chapters 36 & 37 should be enough to show that “the word of God” is not automatically to be taken as referring to the full contents of Sacred Scripture and nothing else, nothing less and nothing more. Rather, “the word of God” normally includes Sacred Tradition as well; but more on that a little later. Nonetheless, even if for the sake of argument we imagined that the phrase, “the word of God”, always is strictly equivalent to the full contents of the Bible, this still doesn’t prove the Bible is a ‘highest authority’ or ‘sole voice’ of God in matters of religion. For where do either of the two verses say it is ‘the Bible alone’? Where do either of them say Sacred Tradition is not from God? Where do either of them say God speaks to men through Sacred Scripture and in no other way? Where do either of them say men are to interpret the Bible for themselves whilst in utter disregard for --- even hostility toward --- the infallible guidance of His Pillar of the Truth, the Catholic Church?
You know very well neither of these verses proclaims any such thing, dear reader. To the contrary, they are additional examples of how Evangelic Protestants, in spite of a reputation for ‘biblicalness’, “go beyond what is written” --- how Evangelics add to what the Bible actually says and in contradiction to what the Church, through whom God makes the meaning of Sacred Scripture certain, plainly tells us. Yet should these verses not mean what a clever Evangelic wants to think they mean, then what do they mean?
I cannot fully disclose the spiritual wealth latent in these passages. For I am not wise enough to have the capability to do so; and you are not able, dear reader, to properly comprehend this wealth unless you are Catholic. Nor are you worthy of receiving it, even if you could comprehend it and I could tell you everything, until you become Catholic! Howsoever, you can see why I discuss the two verses together. Both speak of “the word of God” and both link the idea of a “sword” to this “word of God.” Why is that?
This is where, as I said back in paragraph four of Chapter 10, “Sacred Scripture here comes harmoniously full circle. It must, for both conservative Evangelics and real Catholics insist that the Bible is an inerrant testimony authored by the Creator. Hence, all of Sacred Scripture must hold together as if composed with but one plot and one theme --- no matter how huge or sprawling or complex it at times seems.” And the attentive reader may remember a passage we looked at in Chapter 36.
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one but he himself knows. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ (Psalm 2:9a) He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16 NIV)
The Apostle John describes Jesus Christ returning to earth as a Conquering King above all other kings. Yet how shall He enforce His Rule? By what means will He subdue the rebellious and wicked nations?
“Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.” (Revelation 19:15a NIV)
Which in turn is reminiscent of a very similar verse by the Apostle John describing Jesus Christ. “In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” (Revelation 1:16 NIV)
We repeat, emphasizing the relevant portion:
“…and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword.” (Revelation 1:16b NIV)
This is inexplicably odd to most of us. Or, at least, poetically
obscure. I mean, how is “a sharp sword” --- indeed, “a sharp double-edged
sword”! --- supposed to come out of somebody’s mouth? And how is
one sword, however sharp, supposed to subdue an entire world? Notwithstanding,
the “sharp sword” immediately reminds us of Paul’s letter to
his fellow Catholics of Jewish extraction in 1st century
The congruency is perfect. For not only do we find the double-edged sword-sharp “word of God” mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Hebrew Catholics, but we also find the same said in John’s Revelation of the double-edged sword-tongued “Word of God” --- viz., the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! (Revelation 1:16b, 19:13b NIV) Would not the sharpness of the “word of God”, whether this “word” be canonically written down in the Bible or not, then derive from the incarnate “Word of God” speaking to men? Yet how does the “Word of God” --- specifically, “Jesus Christ… God the only Son,” Who “was with God in the beginning” and indeed “was God,” being the Second Person of the Trinity Who “became flesh” and is “the Word” (John 1:17b, 18b, 2, 1c, 14a, 1b NIV) --- speak the “word of God” so that we might hear and understand?
Now it gets interesting. Because elsewhere Jesus told His Jewish disciples, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63b NIV) And to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, He said, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37c-g NIV) And we remember Jesus telling His Apostles just before He was crucified, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever --- the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:15-17a NIV) As well, “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me…” (John 15:26 NIV) In still another place, Jesus assures them, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV) And John the Baptist told his disciples concerning Jesus, “The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God; to him God gives the Spirit without limit.” (John 3:31d-34 NIV)
Meanwhile, John the Baptist’s assertion is proven correct
from a brief encounter he had with Jesus previously. “The next day John
saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes
away the sin of the world…’ Then John gave this testimony:
‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on
him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize
with water told me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down
and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” I have
seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.’” (John
1:29, 32-34 NIV) Which in turn reminds us of the heretical and sinful Samaritan
at the well, to whom “Jesus declared, ‘Believe me, woman, a time is
coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in
Studious Evangelics will recognize the terms highlighted from John’s Gospel. They are fundamental and unflagging. Word, words, spirit, life, king, testimony, testify, true, truth, love, command, way, salvation: these themes and other motifs run through the Apostle John’s passages like pearls upon a necklace, causing his Gospel to soar into the heights upon the wings of a heavenly eagle. It was, in fact, an in-depth study of the Gospel of John that was a harbinger of my conversion more than a decade before I began to really convert for the first time. And these terms, these themes, are key to comprehending the “word of God” as “[s]harper than any double-edged sword…” For what does Paul say to the Ephesian Catholics?
“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17 NIV)
+ + + 47. The Sword of Truth, Part 1 + + +
Do you see the motifs again, this time in the Apostle Paul’s letter, linked to “salvation”? For in connection to what does God through Paul mention “the Spirit”? To a “sword”! And what is this “sword”? It is “the word of God.” And what is significant about God, what is significant about His words? We return to John’s Gospel, citing again John the Baptist in regard to Jesus Christ:
“The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God; to him God gives the Spirit without limit.” (John 3:31d-34 NIV)
Ah, so God-in-the-Flesh testifies, He having “the Spirit without limit” (upon Whom the Spirit descended and remained, as John the Baptist pointed out in John 1:32) and thus speaking the “words of God” to men, whereby we may act on them obediently and prove how “God is truthful.” And since Jesus, being “the Word of God” (Revelation 19:13d NIV), is that Word Who “was God” from “the beginning” --- for God is the Maker of All That Exists, and of His Word, Jesus, the Apostle John says “without him nothing was made that has been made” (which means, when you think about it, that, having made everything, He must not Himself have ever “been made”, for how could He make Himself if He didn’t yet exist to make anything, and how can He make everything if He is made and yet didn’t make Himself?) --- then we may know that Jesus tells the truth. (John 1:1c-2, 3b-c NIV)
Moreover, Jesus having “the Spirit without
limit”, Who is this Spirit? He is “the
Spirit of truth” as John informs us in two places!
(John 14:17a, 15:26c NIV) That Jesus had the Spirit the Bible also confirms
where Mark says, “At that time Jesus came from
Yet should we doubt how “God is truthful” or how Jesus came “to testify to the truth”, He being “full of the Holy Spirit” which is “the Spirit of truth”, then let us read what the Apostle Paul states:
“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness --- a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior…” (Titus 1:1-3 NIV)
“Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.” (Hebrews 6:17-18 NIV)
And King David assured us, as the NIV reports it, talking before
“O Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have given this good promise to your servant.” (2 Samuel 7:28 NIV)
The point is, dear reader, God keeps His Promise. He tells the truth and never lies. And His Son, Who is Jesus Christ and the Word of God through Whom everything is made that has been made, bears testimony to the truth, too. Indeed, He is God’s Promise, being its fulfillment as the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One! He therefore cannot do anything other than testify truly. How can He not do so, being wholly God and filled without limit by the Holy Spirit, He Who is the Spirit of Truth?
As a result, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17b-c NIV) is the Son of God. I.e., the Sword is Jesus, “the Word of God” (Revelation 19:13d NIV), He by the Spirit always speaking God’s honest, accurate and necessary words ---the Saving Truth --- to men. One of the most wonderful ways He has done this is through the Bible since, as the Apostle Peter said, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21 NIV)
We have already looked at this passage from Peter’s second letter in some detail. Now we may understand, applying its words in light of what we have just been examining, why Sacred Scripture is one of the Church’s greatest treasures. It is because everything in the Bible is certainly from the Holy Spirit --- He Who is the Spirit of Truth --- and hence certainly true! It is also because the Spirit of God through His Church preserves the special text of Sacred Scripture for good-willed men to read, hear and fathom across the centuries, being an unparalleled source of wisdom and salvation for their immortal souls provided that they interpret it correctly according to the Mind of God as given to us through the infallible guidance of His Son’s Roman Catholic Body.
+ + + 48. Surety & Salvation Through Truth’s Pillar + + +
Notwithstanding, how may we be sure its contents are from the Holy
Spirit, belonging in Sacred Scripture? We may be sure because the Church says
so. She Who is “the pillar and foundation of
the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15e NIV) testifies plainly that it
is so. This
As a matter of fact, without the Church saying so, how many people would guess that the lengthy genealogies of the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles were inspired by the Holy Spirit? How many would think that the account of Balaam’s donkey talking to him like a man is true and believable, something lots of worldly persons doubt to this very day? Who would have imagined that the occasionally mysterious and even horrifying stories found in Judges are worthy of the name of Sacred Scripture? How many would have opined that John’s Revelation surely belongs in the Bible, the canonicity of which was disputed by roughly half of Christendom until the end of the fourth century when the Catholic Church through Her Pope resolved the question? Or how many would have continued to assume, had the Church not withheld canonization thus far, that Pope Clement’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians surely belongs in the New Testament, so highly was it regarded by many earliest Christians and treated by them like Sacred Scripture? How can any of these questions of biblical content be decisively resolved without a Catholic Church visibly on earth which has existed from the time of Jesus Christ as His Body and thus judges infallibly in the Divine Authority of His Glorious Name while under the Divine Guidance of His Holy Spirit?
Protestants can only know that the contents of their bibles belong in Sacred Scripture because they got the contents of their bibles from the Catholic Church, She Who is the Pillar & Foundation of the Truth! You can also see how Protestants have maimed their bibles by taking out portions of Sacred Scripture they no longer, in their spiritual blindness, think belong there (e.g., the deuterocanonical books, what Evangelics call the ‘apocrypha’). Yet who are they, mere men of fallible minds and limited understanding, to pass judgment on the contents of that which comes from the Spirit of Truth and is inerrant? How dare they put themselves in the place of the Pillar of the Truth! This is especially repugnant given that most Protestants do not dare to say outright that they themselves are infallible. As a result, how have they dared outright to take away from, while accepting what remains, the contents they stole from the Bible of the infallible Catholic Church? Their own consciences, warped though they are, must condemn them. Nevertheless, they persist in clinging to a deformed version of Sacred Scripture.
In this way do heretics mutilate both the incarnate Word of God and the written Word of God repeatedly. The latter they do when they “distort” the Bible unto their “own destruction”, as we have already learned from the first Pope in 2 Peter 3:16. The former they do when they crucify Jesus unto their own damnation, by silencing His Divine Testimony and by refusing to heed it as infallibly given to us by Him through His One & Only Saving Body, the Roman Catholic Church. For did not Jesus say, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”? (John 14:6 NIV) Nonetheless, given that the Church is His Body (see Colossians 1:18, 24 & Ephesians 1:22-23, 5:22-33 again), then how can anyone after Jesus has left the earth for Heaven walk upon His “way”, know His “truth” and receive His “life” unless they follow this “way” of His, hear this “truth” of His and obtain this “life” of His through His Body that is still on the earth, which is “God’s household, the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth”? (1 Timothy 3:15c-e NIV)
Do you comprehend, my dear reader? Conservative Evangelics love to throw John 14:6 at Roman Catholics as if this verse somehow ‘disproves’ the Catholic Church’s privilege to wield a divine authority and Her ability to offer an exclusive salvation. In the meantime, if they simply thought it through carefully based on the testimony of their own bibles --- and as I’ve shown from the NIV, doing the legwork for you --- they would realize instead how Sacred Scripture proves the necessity of membership in Jesus’ Church in order to actually walk upon His Way, know His Truth and so receive His Life!
+ + + 49. The Sword of Truth, Part 2 + + +
The Sword of the Spirit, then, is the Word of God, which is Jesus speaking to us through His Body, the Church, all of the truth that is necessary to save our souls. And how does a man speak so as to be heard by other men who are of flesh and in a material world except that he use his mouth, a mouth which is part of his material body in the flesh? And Jesus, Who was fully man as well as fully God, cannot be separated from His Body. A Body that necessarily includes the good human members of His Ecclesial Body, the Church, being those who remain both faithful to His Testimony and obedient to His Commands! That is to say, the Truth upheld through the mouth of the Visible Head of His Body on earth --- through the Papacy of the Roman Catholic Church --- will only save a man’s soul if he believes what he hears and obeys what he believes. Given that a man does this, the Sword of the Spirit slices through the Devil’s lies, demolishing his hellish offenses, thereby clearing the Narrow Path of obstructions for such a good-willed Catholic to walk successfully toward the Hope of Heavenly Salvation.
We now get a glimmer of what God means in Sacred Scripture where He says, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” (Ephesians 6:17 NIV) and “The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV) For it is the Church Herself Who wages war upon the earth, dressed in the Helmet of Salvation and wielding the Sword of the Spirit. This is why members of the Catholic Church on earth call themselves the ‘Church Militant’. They fight as soldiers of God on behalf of themselves, to attain to Salvation, and on behalf of their foes, the children of the Devil, to gain their defection from the Army of Satan into the Army of God. Doing so, they convert these poor lost souls to the Hope of Salvation… the only Hope for Salvation that there is.
Furthermore, this religious warfare is accomplished by piercing the consciences of God’s enemies. Put differently, these devilish men are --- to some degree or another (and it is far more often to the higher degree than to a lower degree during these days of the Great Apostasy) --- dead in their minds and their hearts toward the Commandments of the Creator. Most of them have no conception of what it is He designed them to do, of what purpose He made them to fulfill, or of what destiny is in store for them provided they comply with His Sovereign Will. They are ambulant corpses upon the face of the earth, like lemmings or zombies headed for the Eternal Damnation of Hell. How can such men gain the spiritual reward of Eternal Life, they who are already spiritually dead in this mortal life?
By the good speech and good actions of the Church’s members, that’s how. Confronted by their words and deeds, men are jolted into awareness of their immortal peril. Like victims of cardiac arrest shocked into natural animation via electrodes placed upon the chest, so can they --- given that their consciences are not too hard, their exposure to real Catholicity is sufficient, and God’s converting graces are infused into their souls --- be shocked into supernatural animation by what they hear real Catholics say and by what they see real Catholics do. And the irresistible strength of these Catholics’ words and deeds is simply this:
That they are rooted in Eternal Truth.
It is this Truth that gives Life. It is this Truth that grants
Salvation. Specifically, it is the words conveying this Truth that, in
conjunction with a man’s belief in and obedience to them, gives the
Eternal Life of Heaven. The Spirit of Truth regenerates such a good-willed soul
unto the Hope of Eternal Life by His Supernatural Power, sanctifying them by
His Grace. Which is why Jesus said to His disciples, “The words I
have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” (John
6:63b NIV) And why Jesus declared, “I am the way and the truth
and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John
14:6 NIV) Because the Truth is Life, and the Way to this Truth --- the only way
that exists --- is through the Body of the Word of God, Jesus, upon Whom the “Spirit” of Truth rests “without
limit.” (John 3:34b NIV) Which is why John the Baptist reported God as
telling him, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and
remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” (John 1:33b
NIV) Because Jesus, operating through His Ecclesial Body, the Catholic Church,
dispenses the Holy Spirit --- this Spirit of Truth --- to others who become
obedient members and good soldiers of His Body, the Church, too. In this way
the Spirit’s Truth spreads as men embark on Jesus’
Unfortunately, should a man not know and believe, should he reject the words that God’s Word speaks to him through His Body, the Roman Catholic Church, then that man does not embark upon Jesus’ Narrow Way, does not have the religious lies of the Devil cleared from his path by the Sword of the Spirit, and cannot wear the Helmet of Salvation. The Sword of the Spirit cannot for him be a double-edged weapon of protection from and strength over his foe. Rather, this perilously sharp weapon turns upon him and penetrates unto the separation of “soul and spirit, joints and marrow” (Hebrews 4:12c NIV), killing him and sending him to Hell forever where he will languish, tormented severely without any hope of escape. This deadly sword “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12d NIV) In the case of a good Catholic, this is to his sanctification and, provided he merits Heaven at the day of his personal judgment, unto his eternal reward. In the case of a bad-willed man --- who, by definition, is either not Catholic or a bad Catholic --- it is to his destruction, he receiving in full at his day of reckoning what he so richly deserves in vengeance for his undying hatred of the Triune Catholic God. Or do you not recall what Jesus in John’s Gospel said to His disciples about loving Him?
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever --- the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:15-17a NIV)
Therefore, a man cannot possess the Spirit of Truth except he love Jesus. And a man cannot love Jesus except he obeys what Jesus commands. As Jesus also said:
“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:21 NIV)
The implications are stark. If you don’t have the Truth about Jesus’ Commandments --- and a man who is not Catholic does not have them, since, at a bare minimum, he fails to know or obey the first three of God’s Ten Commandments, i.e., those Commandments that tell us to love God by practicing the religion He intentionally designed us to follow by making us in His Image --- then you can’t love Jesus. But if you don’t love Jesus, then His Father will not love you and Jesus will not show Himself to you.
End of sentence.
+ + + 50. Revealed: Only Catholics Worship in Spirit + + +
Hence the significance of the verses about the wicked woman in
The Samaritans were schismatic heretics, having rebelled against the One True Religion of the Old Covenant, just as the Protestants are schismatic heretics, having rebelled against the One True Religion of the New Covenant. (See the International Bible Dictionary, entry for ‘Samaritans’ on pp.387-8, published by Logos International of Plainfield NJ in 1977, where an Evangelic authority acknowledges how Samaritans “adopted in part the forms of true religion; but most of them were but half converted…”) In both cases the rebels failed to love God by failing to obey His Commandments. As time and generations slipped by, these rebels forgot the necessity of the True Religion altogether. Hanging on to a few customs or words from the True Religion --- various names of God, terms like ‘temple’ or ‘church’, or, in the case of Protestants and the New Covenant, the days of Christmas and Easter, for example --- they might still superficially appear to be practicing a kind of ‘godliness’. This is what the ignorant think. In reality they are liars and thieves, having stolen a few things from the True Religion while deceiving themselves and others about the rest. Which is why Jesus’ declaration to the Samaritan woman applies to Protestants as well.
“You Samaritans [Protestants] worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews [Roman Catholics].” (John 4:22 NIV, explanatory terms in brackets added.)
Wherefore, dear reader, do not dare to imagine Jesus’ statement is an admonition to worship God like an Evangelic or a Charismatic, as if their varying degrees of so-called ‘simplicity’ of worship, ‘casualness’ of liturgy and avoidance of millennia-old ritual is approved of, or even commanded, by the Creator. Rather, Evangelics and Charismatics are those who worship what they do not know while Roman Catholics are those who worship what they do know, the Almighty Creator having taught and commanded precisely what the Catholic Church believes and practices in the Holy Mass of All Ages and in every one of Her sacred sacraments and rituals. Overwhelming scriptural evidence for this can be found in the article Catholic Ritual Defended: How Even a Protestant Bible Shows Catholic Ritual & Liturgy To Be Exactly What God Has Commanded in the Worship of His True Church Everywhere in Heaven & on Earth for All Eternity.
But if this is the situation, then what did Jesus mean by, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks”? (John 4:23 NIV) What are these “true worshipers” who will “worship… in spirit and truth”? My dear reader, do you not recall what John the Baptist said? “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” (John 1:33c-d NIV) Prior to Jesus, no man could “baptize with the Holy Spirit.” John himself, although he baptized (and thus the appended title, ‘the Baptist’, to his name, ‘John’), only baptized with water unto forgiveness of sins.
For example, the Apostle Paul on one of his missionary journeys
Meanwhile, John readily admitted his own inferiority to the One Who Was To Come --- to Jesus, God-in-the-Flesh. And he did so announcing what was unique about Jesus, this God-man come to earth, a uniqueness that he himself did not possess. He said, referring to Jesus, “The one who comes from above is above all… For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God; to him God gives the Spirit without limit.” (John 3:31a, 34 NIV)
Jesus had “the Spirit without limit”! The import of this is amazing. Specially chosen men before the New Covenant --- to wit, prophets, of whom John the Baptist was the greatest of them all until Jesus came, beginning His Ministry (Matthew 11:2-15, Luke 7:18-28) --- had received the Holy Spirit in a marvelous although incomplete way. E.g., “So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the tent. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied… However… Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, ‘Moses, my lord, stop them!’ But Moses replied, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them!’” (Numbers 11:24-25e, 26a, 28-29 NIV)
Howbeit, not even prophets prior to the New Covenant had “the Spirit without limit.” (John 3:34c NIV) Moreover, no one prior to the New Covenant --- we repeat, no one --- could have the eternal debt of his sins utterly erased before Jesus died on the Cross. The just man, the man who did not practice false religion and who obeyed the Commandments of the One True Most High God, could have his sins forgiven promissorily by the Creator. That is to say, due to his obedience to God and to his penitent heart and actions, such a virtuous man could receive a promise from God that the debt of his sins would be erased (literally, ‘remitted’) from existence, that God would no longer remember his iniquities or hold their debt against him, as if he still had to pay that debt. In this way such men could escape from the clutches of the Devil and consider the lot of the Church their inheritance.
Nevertheless, however much these just men’s sins were
forgiven by God in view of His entirely trustworthy Promise to remit (i.e.,
‘erase’) their debt fully by the Eternal Sacrifice of Jesus Christ
the Messiah, their debt was not presently forgiven (i.e.,
‘remitted’ or ‘erased’) until Jesus’ Sacrifice
was accomplished. Hence the biblical quotations several pages back speaking
about God’s Promise to do this for men prior to the New Covenant. (Titus
1:1-3, Hebrews 6:17-18, 2 Samuel 7:28) Hence John the Baptist assuring his
listeners that Jesus would baptize men with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33d) and
Paul asking John’s disciples in
Just men in God’s Church before the New Covenant didn’t have this contemporaneous remission of sins. Jesus hadn’t yet come, hadn’t yet accomplished His Eternal Sacrifice upon earth for their iniquities. In a very real sense you could say they were members-in-waiting of good standing, entitled to some of the benefits of membership prior to its endowment, but not yet actually and fully inducted. They could receive the Holy Spirit in a certain way. For instance, many of them were objectively holy and virtuous. Some of them were prophets. But none of them had the Holy Spirit “without limit.” (John 3:34d NIV) As a matter of fact, unlike the incomparable Jesus, they had the Spirit only in measure, to a particular degree or amount. For example, read how the Prophet Elisha dared to beseech of his master, the Prophet Elijah, for the following:
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit…” (2 Kings 2:9e NIV)
This request, while “a difficult thing” as Elijah remarked (2 Kings 2:10a NIV), the Lord granted. (See 2 Kings 2:10b-12b for confirmation.) Which means neither Elijah nor Elisha --- marvelous prophets though they were --- had “the Spirit without limit.” Because to have something “without limit” means that this something is unlimited --- literally, that it is infinite. But how can infinity be doubled? How can you have twice that of what is already limitless and hence beyond measure?
We see then Jesus’ pre-eminence. He is the sum of all true
prophecy. He is the incarnate herald to and divine destiny of the obedient
members of God’s
Moses plainly referred to the gift of prophecy in the strict sense. Viz., to the God-given ability to foretell the future in the Name of the Lord. God used this prophetic ability in men to predict what would happen to His Church, which finds Her fulfillment in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, He Whose Body is the Church. Which is why prophets of the older covenants invariably pointed toward Jesus’ Incarnation upon earth and His Suffering & Sacrifice for sins upon the Cross, since the Church’s Destiny is in Him through His Passion & His Crucifixion. Consequently, good members of His Church can attain to Everlasting Salvation. But Moses’ words are also, in my opinion, a veiled reference to prophecy in the more general sense. Viz., to the responsibility of every member of Jesus’ Ecclesial Body during the New Covenant to testify on His behalf, through word and deed, in the face of a belligerent and unbelieving world.
As the angel told John:
“I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus… For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10c-d, f-g NIV)
And the Head of the Apostles and first Pope said:
“Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.” (1 Peter 1:10-12c NIV)
Therefore, the Saving Grace spoken of by the prophets of old is now come from Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit through His Body, the Roman Catholic Church. Her members are those holding to “the testimony of Jesus” that “is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10f-g NIV) Put differently, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”, which in turn is the Roman Catholic Gospel, being the sole totality of God’s Teachings & Commandments! Moses’ words foreshadowed this Catholic Testimony of Jesus and Spirit of Catholic Prophecy, he presciently longing, I opine, for its residence in “all the Lord’s people”. (Numbers 11:29c NIV) Because the Omniscient God knew from the beginning how His Spirit of Truth would enter into penitent, orthodox men in a unique and powerful way via the Baptism of the New Covenant that His Son initiated (John 1:33b), His Omnipotent Power making sure it would happen just like He had promised by the prophets of old, remitting the debt of their sins completely at that moment.
Real Catholics fulfill this Divine Promise. Real Catholics are
those “true worshipers” spoken of by Jesus to the heretical and
schismatic woman in
“For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10f-g NIV) Absolute identicalness. Consequently, to publicly profess Jesus Christ’s Testimony, the totality of His Teachings & Commandments, is to prophesy. Yet profession alone is not enough. As the NIV renders the angel’s words, “I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (Revelation 19:10c-d NIV) Whether or not the Greek text, and the NIV scholars’ translation of the Greek text, is strictly accurate here concerning the phrase “hold to”, the teaching implicit in the phrase is correct and orthodox. Mere assent to, even profession of, the Testimony of Jesus --- that is to say, all of His Teachings & Commandments --- is not enough to be a good Catholic. No. One must also obey these Teachings & Commandments, the significance of the phrase “hold to” in “with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
We say once more:
Mere profession of Jesus’ Testimony is not enough. To testify wholly and accurately is good, but a man must obey Jesus’ Testimony, too! This is why, as we saw back in Chapter 6, Jesus said just before ascending into Heaven, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18b-20a NIV) And why, as we saw in Chapters 46 & 49, He said as well, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever --- the Spirit of truth… Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:15-17a, 21 NIV)
Mark closely what Jesus promised for those who truly love Him by actually obeying what He commands. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever --- the Spirit of truth…” (John 14:16-17a NIV) Voilá! The result of having all of Jesus’ Commandments and obeying all of these Commandments is that a man loves Him, receiving “the Spirit of truth”. This is the man that is the true worshiper, that worships God “in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24c NIV) For the Jesus Who has “the Spirit without limit” (John 3:34d NIV) is the same Jesus Who “will baptize with the Holy Spirit” (John 1:33d NIV) those “who hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (Revelation 19:10d NIV) Hence “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10f-g NIV) A testimony that must be true since it comes from “the Spirit of truth”. Which is why Jesus proclaims Himself to be “the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6b NIV) And why His Body, the Roman Catholic Church, is thus “the pillar and foundation of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15e NIV)
+ + + 51. The Sword of Truth, Part 3 + + +
This testimony, then, is the Sword of the Spirit. It is a Sword of Truth because the Spirit of this Sword is the Spirit of Truth. And this Military Weapon, this Sword, is the Word of God. Literally, God Himself in the Flesh is the Sword of Truth that “is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV) And this title of ‘the Word of God’ is also rightly applied to the Bible, as good Catholics have done for centuries on end. Because Sacred Scripture is not, as an intelligent and honest Evangelic will admit, a systematic instruction book upon religion. A wise man --- a wise Catholic --- can glean immense wisdom from the Bible in order to live by it and instruct those who will listen. Yet the purpose of Sacred Scripture in its composition and arrangement is not to systematically instruct the good-willed man who has ears to hear. If it was, then Evangelics would never write books to explain their false religion since their bibles would do fine on their own!
No, the purpose of the Bible is to be a divinely-authored record of
the Creator’s dealings with His people, of those men who are members of
His Church from beginning of time until end of time. And the purpose of His
Church after the Fall of Man in the
Leading us to an even deeper understanding of the Sword of the Spirit. Because Jesus will return to the earth someday, as Revelation 19:11-16 informs us. And we have seen that He shall be a Conquering King with the Armies of Heaven following in His train. Indeed, as we have noted several times already, He will subdue the wicked of the earth to His Holy Will.
“Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.” (Revelation 19:15a NIV)
This menacingly “sharp sword” is His Ecclesial Body piercing the consciences of sinful and rebellious men via the infallible mouth of His Papacy and the loyal testimony of His Church’s good members, either unto the rebels’ salvation (if proved to be of good will by eventual repentance and perseverance inside the Church) or damnation (if proved to be of bad will by obstinacy and final impenitence outside the Church). It is Divine Truth that accomplishes this. The truth about what is true and right, as opposed to what is false and wrong. This is what philosophers --- a philosopher in the correct and ancient sense, being a lover of wisdom (and the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, as Proverbs 9:10 teaches us) --- might call the epistemological and axiological. That is to say, this deals with what is true and factual, and with what is right and good. But the “sharp sword” is also epistemological and ontological. That is to say, it deals with what is true and factual, and with what is real and exists.
+ + + 52. God Speaks + + +
For realize, dear reader, that Jesus is God. He is, truly, the Word of God. A Word that “was with God in the beginning”, without Whom “nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:2, 3b NIV) Jesus, then, is the Creator. As the Apostle Paul says about Him, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17 NIV)
Yet how did God, how did Jesus, create everything? The very title by which Jesus goes --- “the Word of God” --- is a gigantic, conspicuous clue.
He spoke it into existence.
Our minds fly across the breadth of Sacred Scripture, all the way back to the start, where we read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light… And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water…’ And it was so… And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.’ And it was so… And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night…’ And it was so… And God said, ‘Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky…’ And God said, ‘Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds…’ And it was so.” (Genesis 1:1-3, 6, 7d, 9, 14a-c, 15d, 20, 24a-c, e NIV)
In each case, at the debut of each of the six days of creation, God spoke into existence that which came to be that day. “And God said…” (Genesis 1:3a, 6a, 9a, 14a, 20a, 24a NIV) Whereby that which was at first “formless and void” (Genesis 1:2a NIV) became by the “Spirit of God” (Genesis 1:2c NIV) --- “the Spirit of truth”! (John 14:17a, 15:26c NIV) --- orderly and real. It was made true by what He said. That is to say, it became the way things really are because of how He declared it to be. The Author of Creation, the Source of All Being & Truth, spoke into existence out of nothing that which once was not, but now truly is.
Nor let us doubt that this is so. Because we read in another place in Sacred Scripture, “Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above… Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.” (Psalm 148:1b-c, 5 NIV) As well, “For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does… By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth… For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” (Psalm 33:4, 6, 9 NIV) And the Apostle Paul declared, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (Hebrews 11:3 NIV) The King James Version makes the connection even more explicit, “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) In addition, Pope Peter warned, “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and with water.” (2 Peter 3:5 NIV) The King James puts it thusly, “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water…” (2 Peter 3:5 KJV) For if men don’t know these things it is not because they are ignorant with a good excuse, it is not because they cannot help it. Rather, they “deliberately forget” and “willingly are ignorant of” (2 Peter 3:5a NIV, KJV) the fact that God by His Word and His Spirit created the heavens and the earth and all that exists therein.
Now consider, dear reader. For if God by His Incisive Word and Powerful Spirit created all things out of nothing --- “so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3b NIV) --- then how is it anything is too hard for Him to accomplish? How can anything that is rationally conceivable be impossible for Him to do?
Mind you, we must distinguish between that which is rational and that which is irrational. This is why the old sophomoric attack on God’s Omnipotence --- wherein the malicious wit asks, “If God can do anything, then can he make a rock that’s too heavy for Him to pick up?” --- falls flat. God, by virtue of Uncreated Self-Eternality, is All-Powerful. It’s not like He would ‘strain His muscles’ at some point when the weight gets above a thousand pounds. He is a Self-Subsisting Spirit and not a mere creature of finite ability or material limitations. He alone creates out of nothing all that exists. Ergo, by rational deduction, He cannot make a rock ‘too heavy’ for Him to pick up. Period. To say otherwise is irrational. Meaning, to say God can do anything is to say that He can do anything that is rationally conceivable. Be it irrational, then we cannot rationally suggest it is possible. Because irrationality is self-contradictory. It does not hold together logically. What is concluded does not sensibly follow from what is posited. To wit, that God could make something ‘impossible’ for Him to pick up does not sensibly follow from the starting point that He is All-Powerful to begin with. The two positions are mutually incongruent. His Omnipotence comes first; therefore, it is not rationally conceivable that He could ever make something ‘impossible’ for Him to lift. Such an idea is against good sense, collapsing under the weight of its absurdity by its own inconsistency. As a result, don’t suppose that what I am about to say is the same as saying something that is absurd or unreasonable.
No, what I am about to say is perfectly rational and perfectly consistent. It is also entirely biblical. The Almighty Creator Who made all that exists out of nothing by the irresistible power of His Word and the penetrating truth of His Spirit, is the same God Who will by the power of His Word and the truth of His Spirit destroy the world for its sins. As the Apostle Peter remarked, “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:7 NIV) And the King James records Peter adding about this fearsome day, “…in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10b-d KJV) Elsewhere Sacred Scripture says regarding the Eternal & Omnipotent God on this final day, “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” (Psalm 102:25-27 NIV)
The point is, if God can make everything out of nothing through His Word and by His Spirit, and if He can destroy any of the same likewise, then how must we respond but by standing back in awe of His Unlimited Power to accomplish anything He sets His Will to do? How can anything be ‘too hard’ for Him to do, that He purposes to achieve? He merely speaks and it transpires! His Word, His Spirit, is more than sufficient to attain to that which He wishes to accomplish; no need for Him to resort to mechanisms and stratagems, manipulating creatures or other things that He has created, to make happen like He wants done. He can, should He so choose, use such mechanisms and stratagems, indirectly working through others --- but He doesn’t have to! He can simply speak and it comes to pass.
+ + + 53. The Spirit of His Mouth + + +
Herein lies the profound essence of the Creator’s Uncreated Being, of His Omnipotent Self-Subsistence. For here do we obliquely touch upon in the humblest of ways the Mystery of God’s Existence, of He Who Is the Very Ground of Reality Itself, being the Source of All Truth & the Self-Eternal I Am. (See Exodus 3:13-15 & John 8:48-59 concerning God’s Name in conjunction with His Self-Eternality & Self-Subsistence.) The psalmist proclaimed about Him, “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth… For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” (Psalm 33:6, 9 NIV)
Which in turn echoes the divinely-inspired words of the Apostle Paul, words we have already seen in this book. “For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 NIV)
In both quotations we see identical references to “the breath of his mouth”, so hauntingly reminiscent of that other mysterious quotation to which we have returned many a time. Viz., “Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword…” (Revelation 19:15a NIV) One can’t help wondering --- is there a link between the two?
If you look at what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Catholics in the language of his original text, we find that the word translated as ‘breath’ is ‘pneuma’. This is Greek for ‘spirit’, although it is sometimes justifiable to render it literally as ‘breath’. [Greek Dictionary of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, entry number 4151 on page 78.] In most cases, however, the better translation is ‘spirit’ --- a fact proven by the King James scholars, where they rendered the verse thusly:
“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming…” (2 Thessalonians 2:8 KJV)
Is Sacred Scripture starting to come full circle in your mind yet, my dear reader? You see the parallel. And I assure you that if you look at this same phrase, “the breath of his mouth”, in the verse from Psalm 33, you find the same thing. The word translated as ‘breath’ here is ‘ruwach’. This is Hebrew for ‘spirit’, although it’s occasionally correct to render as ‘breath’. [Hebrew Dictionary of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, entry number 7307 on page 142.] Most times, however, the better translation is ‘spirit’. The King James scholars prove this throughout the Psalms where they have rendered ‘ruwach’ eighteen times as ‘spirit’ whilst only six times as ‘breath’ --- one occurrence of which is in Psalm 33:6, the verse we have just been looking at. This very same discrepancy in how they have translated ‘ruwach’ is even greater on the side of ‘spirit’ elsewhere in the King James Version of the Old Testament.
Consequently, we can see that the special phrase in these verses regarding God, from Psalm 33 and 2 Thessalonians 2, is best rendered as “the spirit of his mouth” and not as “the breath of his mouth”. Furthermore, given that Psalm 33:6a says, “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made,” and that 2 Thessalonians 2:10b says the wicked “…perish because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved…”, we can then also see that the very real and astonishing parallel between these verses and the reference to God’s Son in Revelation 19:15a of “Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword…” is an indisputable linkage between spirit, word, truth and sword --- the very thing we see demonstrated quite clearly in John 14, Ephesians 6 and Hebrews 4! To wit, wherein the Apostle John records Jesus as saying, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever --- the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:15-17a NIV) And where the Apostle Paul says, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” (Ephesians 6:17 NIV) As well, “The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)
Why are these things linked?
Because God is Eternally Self-Subsisting and therefore All-Powerful, creating everything that exists out of nothing. And He does so through His Almighty Word by His Spirit of Truth.
Dear reader, take a step back and consider. Please ponder carefully. The same God Who through His Word and by His Spirit speaks into reality all that exists apart from His Own Uncreated Existence, is He Who can, through His Word and by His Spirit, accomplish anything He sets His Mind & Will to do! There is nothing too hard for Him. If He chooses in His Omniscience for a time to operate through the indirect means of His created things and by His creatures in the natural order of the visible realm, it is not because He is limited to that means. He, by His Self-Eternal Being & Unsurpassed Power, can do as He wishes. Sometimes He chooses to intervene more directly --- to work what we finite creatures call a miracle, miraculous because it is so astounding and inexplicable otherwise in the natural order, and because it is so clearly a sign of His Will amongst us. Nevertheless, He may still, in performing such wonders, operate through His invisible angels and thus not perform the prodigy directly Himself.
There shall come a time, though, when He no longer chooses to work through these created things or by these creatures, whether visible or invisible. There will come a time, at the utter end of the world and not too long from now, when He chooses to act directly. In the good justice of His Heavenly Judgment He will intervene without any intermediaries, acting alone by ontologically speaking into existence that which is to be in holy retribution for the unholy unbelief and unholy sins of this world against His Sacred Catholic Religion. By the Veracious Spirit of His Mouth and through His Irresistible Word He shall --- by the sheer ontological & epistemological force of His Uncreated Being & His Spoken Truth, by the unassailable ability of His Singular Self-Subsistence to speak into existence whatsoever He chooses to be --- strike His Divine Sword into the hearts of all rebels, those who hate Him & His Church, discerning their every evil thought and corrupt intention. He will bring about sorrow where formerly there was prosperity. He will engender destruction where formerly there was order. He will exact death where formerly there was life. He will, in short, punish the men of this world for their stubborn failure to be good Roman Catholics, for their ill-willed refusal to be what He has purposed, designed and commanded them to be from the beginning of time. To wit, for their satanic refusal to be perfect spiritual & corporal reflections of His Holy & Divine Image upon earth and in Heaven Forevermore.
Poor reader, can you not see the horrifying peril to your soul, provided that you are not yet Roman Catholic or of good will? Can you not see the Mercy of God toward your person, that He has hence far refrained from bringing overwhelming miraculous devastation to the earth in deserved punishment for our sins, and to your body, requiring your mortal life in payment for your iniquities? Notwithstanding, even though He has not yet dealt with the earth as a whole like we so richly deserve, destroying by the Spiritual Sword of His Divine Mouth the hideous rebels of this mutinous world, do not then conclude that ‘not yet’ means ‘will never’. Don’t be a fool! For the same God that through the Truth of His Word made everything out of nothing, can --- and certainly will just as He has said --- one day soon through the Truth of His Word bring everything into subjection and then into punitive ruin. As Pope Peter warned Catholics all over the world during the first century:
“Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and with water. By water also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:1-7 NIV)
Then the Apostle Peter goes on to say something even more sobering to our ears:
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” (2 Peter 3:8-10 NIV)
Let that sink in for a few minutes, my dear reader.
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Part One of Extra Eccelsiam Nulla Salus (Chapters 1-33)
Part Three of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (Chapters 54-72)
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