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Roman Catholic Quotes Regarding the Bible

The Bible Alone was Used in the Early Church

There was far more extensive and continuous use of Scriptures in the public service of the early Church than there is among us.
[Addis and Arnold, Catholic Dictionary, The Catholic Publication Society, 1887, page 509]

Our present convenient compendiums -- the Missal, Breviary, and so on were formed only at the end of a long evolution. In the first period (lasting perhaps till about the fourth century) there were no books except the Bible, from which lesons were read and Psalms were sung. Nothing was written, because nothing was fixed.
[Catholic Encyclopedia, 15 Volume Special Edition under the auspices of the Knights of Columbus Catholic Truth Committee, The Encyclopedia Press Inc., New York, 1913, Volume 9, page 296]

Through most of the fourth century, the controversy with the Arians had turned upon Scripture, and appeals to past authority were few.
[Catholic Encyclopedia, 15 Volume Special Edition under the auspices of the Knights of Columbus Catholic Truth Committee, The Encyclopedia Press Inc., New York, 1913, Volume 6, page 2]

On the other hand up to the end of the fourth century, there were practically no infallible definitions available.
[Catholic Encyclopedia, 15 Volume Special Edition under the auspices of the Knights of Columbus Catholic Truth Committee, The Encyclopedia Press Inc., New York, 1913, Volume 6, page 2]

The Bible is Unclear

The very nature of the Bible ought to prove to any thinking man the impossibility of its being the one safe method to find out what the Saviour taught.
[Question Box, 1913 edition, page 67]

The Bible does not pretend to be a formulary of belief, as is a creed or a catechism. There is nowhere in the New Testament a clear, methodical statement of the teaching of Christ.
[Question Box, 1913 edition, page 66]

That the text of the Bible is not clear and conclusive on many points of doctrine on which it does treat, is efficiently proved by the very discordances of those who attempt to deduce doctrine from it without any other aid.
[George M. Searle, Plain Facts, Paulist Press, New York, page 23]

Again, it has ever been practically impossible for men, generally to find out Christ from the Bible only.
[Question Box, 1913 edition, page 70]

The Bible was not intended to be a textbook of the Christian religion.
[John Francis Knoll, Catholic Facts, Our Sunday Visitor Press, Huntington, Indiana, 1927, page 50]

For the Scripture is not like other books. Dictated by the Holy Ghost, it contains things of the deepest importance, which in many instances are very difficult and obscure. To understand and explain such things there is always required the 'coming' of the same Holy Spirit.
[Great Encyclical Letters of Leo XIII, page 277]

Undoubtedly your reason would never find out such a mystery [the doctrine of the Trinity], which even when known by revelation is still utterly beyond the comprehension of man.
[Question Box, 1913 edition, page 38]

Second, ... a competent religious guide must be clear and intelligible to all, so that everyone may fully understand the true meaning of the instructions it contains. Is the Bible a book intelligible to all? Far from it; it is full of obscurities and difficulties not only for the illiterate, but even for the learned.
[The Faith of Our Fathers, James Cardinal Gibbons, 1917, page 70]

Modern Writings are Preferred Over the Bible

In other spiritual books the truths of the Bible are presented more fully, and in a more modern and familiar style, so that we can hardly wonder that they are, as a rule preferred; and that though Catholic families generally have a Bible, it is more venerated than read.
[George M. Searle, Plain Facts, Paulist Press, New York, page 154]

The Bible is Not Complete

Akin to these divine laws is the purely ecclesiastical law or law of the Church. Christ sent forth His Church clothed with His own and His Father's authority ... To enable her to carry out this divine plan she makes laws, laws purely ecclesiastical, but laws that have the same binding force as the divine laws themselves ... For Catholics, therefore, as far as obligations are concerned there is no practical difference between God's law and the law of the Church.
[John H. Stapleton, Explanation of Catholic Morals, Benziger Brothers, New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, 1904, page 26]

It is that of having for a fundamental authority in all ages, for a means of deciding all doubtful points, not a book alone, or a book with authorized interpreters, but simply authorized interpreters of the faith such as the Apostles were, with a book perhaps to help them, but still not absolutely needing that book for the discharge of their office any more than the Apostles did for theirs.
[George M. Searle, Plain Facts, Paulist Press, New York, page 33]

They [the Apostles] consigned to unwritten tradition many revealed truths and thus made the Church from the beginning independent of their writings.
[B. J. Spaulding, History of the Church of God, Schwarze, Kirwin and Fauss, New York, 1883, page 253

Of course if one is to take nothing as belonging to the Christian faith but what is plainly or unquestionably stated in the Bible, on will not believe or accept it [the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception].
[George M. Searle, Plain Facts, Paulist Press, New York, page 85]

By what right do you teach doctrines not found in the Bible?
Because the origin of our faith is not in the Bible alone, but the Church which gives us both the written and the unwritten word.
[Question Box, 1913 edition, page 75]

Is it not strange that if Christianity were to be learned from the Bible only, that Christ himself never wrote a line or ever commanded his apostles to write; for their divine commission was not to write but to preach the gospel ... Again, it has ever been practically impossible for men, generally, to find out Christ from the Bible only.
[Question Box, 1913 edition, page 70]

The Bible is a Dead Letter

The Scripture indeed is a divine book but it is a dead letter, which has to be explained, and cannot exercise the action which the preacher can obtain.
[Our Priesthood, page 155]

A dead and speechless book.
[Question Box, 1913 edition, page 67]

Even Catholic Traditions are Sometimes Wrong

The unshrinking defense of the Holy Scripture, however, does not require that we should equally uphold all the opinions which each of the Fathers or the more recent interpreters have put forth in explaining it; for it may be that, in commenting on passages where physical matters occur, they have sometimes expressed the ideas of their own times, and thus made statements which in these days have been abandoned as incorrect.
[Great Encyclical Letters of Leo XIII, page 295]

The Writers of the Bible Didn't Know They were Inspired

The Apostolic office implies doctrinal infallibility, but not necessarily the positive divine assistance in the act of writing which constitutes inspiration.
[Question Box, 1929 edition, page 67]

The sacred writers may have been unaware of the fact of their inspiration.
[Question Box, 1913 edition, page 80]

Access to a Bible in Everyday Language is Dangerous

At Toledo, a young woman who had gained a reputation of virtue, petitioned to be admitted to the habit, but added: 'I will bring with me my Bible.' 'What!' said the Saint [Teresa], 'Your Bible? Do not come to us. We are poor women who know nothing but to spin, and to do what we are bid.' By what word she discovered in the postulant an inclination to vanity, and dangerous curiousity and wrangling; and the extravagances into which the woman afterwards fell, justified her discernment and penetration.
[Butlers, Lives of the Saints, Volume 10, page 366]

The reformation produced indeed an exaggerated individualism, which by declaring every man equally competent to find out the doctrine of the Saviour from his own private reading of the Scriptures, has led millions to the utter denial of Christ.
[Question Box, 1913 edition, page 131]

Since it is clear from experience that if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere and without discrimination in the vernacular, there will by reason of the boldness of men arise therefrom more harm than good, the matter is in this respect left to the judgment of the bishop or inquisitor, who may with the advice of the pastor or confessor permit the reading of the Sacred Books translated into the vernacular by Catholic authors to those who they know will derive from such reading no harm but rather an increase of faith and piety, which permission they must have in writing. Those, however, who presume to read or possess them without such permission may not receive absolution from their sins till they have handed them over to the ordinary.
[Fourth rule on prohibited books, Council of Trent, 1583]

As it has been clearly shown by experience that, if the Holy Bible in the vernacular is generally permitted without any distinction, more harm than utility is thereby caused, owing to human temerity: all versions in the vernacular, even by Catholics, are altogether prohibited unlesss approved by the Holy See, or published, under the vigilant care of the bishops, with annotations taken from the Fathers of the Church and learned Catholic writers.
[Great Encyclical Letters of Leo XIII, pages 412-413]

An enraged Pope Paul V, in 1606, told the Venetian ambassador, "Do you not know that so much reading of Scripture ruins the Catholic religion?"
[The Reformation: A History by Diarmaid MacCulloch, 1972]

More than this, parts of the Bible are evidently unsuited to the very young or to the ignorant, and hence Clement XI condemned the proposition that the reading of the Scriptures is for all. These principles are fixed and invariable but the discipline of the Church with regard to the reading of the Bible in the vulgar tongue has varied with varying circumstances. In early times the Bible was read freely by the lay people ... New dangers came in during the Middle Ages ... To meet these evils, the Council of Toulouse (1229 ) and Terragona (1234) forbade the laity to read the vernacular translations of the Bible. Pius IV required bishops to refuse lay persons leave to read even Catholic versions of Scriptures unless their confessors or parish priests judged that such reading was likely to prove beneficial.
[Catholic Dictionary, Addis and Arnold, 1887, page 82]