Last week, a comment from “John the Curious Catholic” inspired me to post the following. He’s a Catholic examining Protestant theology; I wrote the following once to help a couple of Protestants who were examining the Roman Catholic teachings. John, feel free to correct or contend with whatever I may have misconstrued or treated too simplistically. All I know about the subject, I learned from the guy in the picture (R. C. Sproul). If you want more detailed info, consult his website, www.ligonier.org. But considering, this isn’t your first rodeo, you probably already have! At any rate, happy reading!
Detailing the Historic Errors of Roman Catholicism, Contrasted with the Historic and Scriptural Emphases of the Protestant Reformation
“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11-12)
” . . . the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whome the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:19b-21)
The Word of Christ and Church Tradition
The Roman Catholic Church subscribes to the “Two Source” theory of revelati0n. This is the view that Church Tradition alongside Scripture serves as God’s means of revealing divine truth to the world. Church Tradition develops in many ways: Ecumenical and Catholic Councils, writings of the Church Fathers, “ex cathedra” (from the throne) pronouncements by Popes.
The Reformers had respect for all aspects of “Church Tradition” — they knew it has its place; however, they also knew that the authority of Scripture exceeds the authority of all other forms of Church authority. Creeds, Councils, Fathers, Popes, Bishops are all subject to Scripture, according to Protestant doctrine because God has “exalted above all things [his] name and [his] word” (Psalm 138:2). The Reformers’ work was to examine all these things in the light of Scripture, rejecting that which is not consistent with Scripture, maintaining that which is. Scripture alone was written by Christ’s Apostles and it is their writings which embodies the foundation of which Christ himself is the cornerstone. It is written in the Acts of the Apostles that the converts on the first Day of Pentecost following Christ’s ascension ” . . . devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching . . . ” Inasmuch as the Roman Catholic Church seeks divine revelation in the Word of Christ and postapostolic Church Tradition, they undermine their devotion to the Apostles’ teaching, whereas the Protestant Church obediently confesses that divine revelation is only found in the writings of the Apostles (meaning the New Testament) and Prophets (meaning the Old Testament). Their slogan for this biblical emphasis was, “SOLA SCRIPTURA,” that is, “Scripture Alone.”
Not only did the Roman Catholic Church undermine the authority of Scripture by Church Tradition (cf. Matthew 15:6b-7a), they also corrupted the Word of God by weaving into its contents apocryphal books which demonstrably lack the marks of inspiration borne by the canonical Old and New Testaments. While it is true that some early editions of the Authorized Version commissioned by King James I of England and produced by Anglican clergy and scholars contained the Apocrypha, they published them separately between the Testaments for use as informative intertestamental history, similar to our modern English translations which frequently contain articles detailing this very same information. The only difference between then and now is that then, they provided the original sources; now we merely condense this material in essay form. Furthermore, the 39 Articles of the Church of England explicitly deny the inspiration of the Apocryphal books.