I was and still am very impressed by many Evangelicals and at one point, I actually considered becoming one. I liked their very real zeal for spreading the Gospel and they wanted very much to evangelize the world for Christ. For several years I was a member of Full Gospel Business Men’s fellowship international, an Evangelical organization which was dedicated to getting men back to regular Church attendance. And over the years I have had a number of very good ongoing friendships with Evangelicals. Although, I considered becoming one because I liked certain things they were doing, I decided against it for a variety of reasons.
BIBLE ALONE or BIBLE & TRADITION
- Should we follow the “Bible alone” or the Bible and Tradition? Pg 3
- The Apostle Paul spoke for both oral and written tradition Pg 3
- Is the Bible or the Church the pillar and foundation of truth? Pg 4
- Do Christians follow traditions that are not explicitly in the Bible? Pg 4
- Why isn’t your definition of Bible alone not in the Bible? Pg 4
Some of the Evangelical churches were extremely anti-Catholic and would even see me, because I am Catholic, as an agent of the devil. And yet, at the same time, there were those who were very warm and inviting to Catholics. Most of my experience was with this gentler kinder form of Evangelicalism. To begin with there were a whole myriad of Evangelical groups all professing their particular from of theology and yet adamantly opposed to other Evangelicals who were of a different theological persuasion. There were a number of areas that I had couldn’t agree with in the Evangelical movement. They were very sincere; however, I believed that intellectual honesty was lacking in that they were often misrepresenting the Catholic Churches teaching and taking the bible out of context.
When I was in high school, I knew very little about non-Catholics in general. I knew that many of them taught that Catholics worship Mary as God even though the Church went out of its way to explain that this was not the case. And I was aware that they believed that the Catholic Church added books to the Bible at the council of Trent. I was totally surprised when I found out that not only were books not added to the Bible, but the original Protestant Bibles had these books and they were in their Bibles up until about 1825 and some even later than that.
A number of years ago, I was handed some very negative literature on the Catholic Church. Its basic thesis was that the Catholic Church is not Biblical, not even Christian. I began to write a rebuttal of what was in this booklet. In this literature, they were misrepresenting history, Church teaching and using the Bible out of context in order to show the Catholic Church was wrong. I found myself studying the Church through the eyes of its adversaries. Interestingly enough the more anti-Catholic literature that I read, the more Catholic I became. I thought if they must misrepresent the Bible, Church and history in order to prove the Church wrong maybe the Catholic Church was right all along. If you are going to criticize my Church, why not begin by telling the truth. Why not use Catholic sources and find out what the Church actually teaches? I am convinced that there are many well intentioned people, with the best of intentions, who do not realize that what they have been taught about the Catholic Church is flawed.
BIBLE ALONE or BIBLE & TRADITION: Should we follow the “Bible alone” or the Bible and Tradition? Some Evangelicals were telling me you should not follow tradition; you should only follow the Bible and would cite Jesus as lining up against tradition. I asked one individual if she knew the specific tradition Jesus was speaking against and she didn’t know. This means she didn’t know the context. It was not all tradition; it was a corrupt tradition that Jesus was speaking against. The tradition of qorban that Jesus spoke against meant that you could ignore the 4th commandment; "Honor your father and your mother" (Exodus 20:12). "How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition” (Mk 7:10). Jesus went on to say; For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and 'Whoever curses father or mother shall die.' Yet you say, 'If a person says to father or mother, "Any support you might have had from me is qorban"' (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother” (Mk 7:10-12). Jesus did not speak against all tradition, He only spoke against this corrupt qorban tradition that was in violation of one of the commandments. Everybody seemingly believes that we should pay attention to the context, but who actually does?
The Apostle Paul spoke for both oral and written tradition. Stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours (2 Thess 2:15). He commands us to “hold fast to traditions, just as I handed on to you” (1 Cor 11:2) and to “shun those acting not according to tradition” (2 Thess 3:6). Still there are many who will believe in the Bible alone apart from tradition. What they don’t seem to realize is that by not accepting tradition as Paul admonished us to, they are rejecting part of the Bible. What do they do with these verses when speaking for the Bible Alone? They don’t bring them up. If you bring them up, they will try to move away from these verses as fast as possible, which didn’t seem to me as being very intellectually honest. This puzzled me because many of them claimed to be full Gospel and yet were ignoring or completely disagreeing with parts of Scripture.
With these and other verses that are basically ignored or taken out of context, there are still those who staunchly believe the Bible alone and will attempt to cite Scripture verses to back up their claim. The verse that is so frequently cited in an attempt to try to show Sola Scriptura (Bible Alone) is in 2 Timothy. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tm 3:16). This verse does emphasize the importance of Scripture and Timothy sees it as useful; however, it nowhere says the Bible ALONE.
Is the Bible or the Church the pillar and foundation of truth? I asked a friend who had left for the Evangelical movement this question; “what is the very foundation of truth?” He said, “the Bible.” I told him that he is at odds with the Bible because the Bible says the Church is “the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tm 3:15).” He wanted to throw out the Church in favor of Bible Alone; however, he cannot do that without throwing out part of his Bible.
Protestant Historian David Anders, Ph. D., a convert from Evangelicalism commented on this. “I was astounded to find that Luther who first put this thing on the table never argued for SOLA SCRIPTURA, (Bible Alone) he just asserted it…there is no argument why that should be the final authority. He just asserts it.” Why is there no verse in the bible that says we should follow “THE BIBLE ALONE?” It appears that David Anders, as an Evangelical had some of the same problems with the Evangelical movement that I had as a Catholic.
Do Christians follow traditions that are not explicitly in the Bible? One of the things I always admired about the Catholic Church is that it is a very honest Church; it follows the Bible and Tradition and admits it. And Evangelicals follow the Bible and their own tradition and many don’t admit it. I mentioned this to a co-worker and he said, “That may be true but I don’t; I only follow the Bible alone.” And so I asked him where the Bible alone (Sola Scriptura) is in the Bible. He didn’t answer the question; he just laughed. He knew what my next question was. Where is the “Bible alone” in the Bible? It is not in there; the concept of Bible alone comes from his tradition.
Why isn’t your definition of Bible alone not in the Bible? All Christians believe some things not in the Bible. For example the words Holy Trinity are not in the Bible. The language of three persons in one God is not in the Bible. The language of the two natures of Christ, fully God and fully man is not in the Bible. There is the understanding that the Bible properly understood in context does not contradict. The Bible doesn’t say these words and so where do these words come from? They come from Catholic and Jewish Tradition.
I had someone complain to me on Facebook, saying I was being unfair because I was not using his definition of “Bible alone.” I said, okay, we will use your definition of “Bible Alone;” however, before we do, can you please show me where your definition of “Bible Alone” is in the Bible. He said nothing further. When people claim the Bible Alone they are totally sincere and assume that the concept “Bible Alone” is in the Bible, when in fact it isn’t, https://www.facebook.com/notes/leonard-alt/some-claim-that-jesus-never-cited-oral-tradition-and-also-claim-that-all-traditi/629829013733712.
I am trying to write an article, on why I remained Catholic and didn’t move the Evangelical direction. However, I am sending this out on face book in “note format” and this format only allows me to send this out in short articles. This is one of a series of articles.
Whenever I write about the Catholic Church founded by Jesus and the Apostles, it is often an article in response to one or more articles, written by Evangelicals, who are denigrating the Catholic Church and parts of the Bible. I notice that many if not most of the people who disagree with my articles do not actually read my articles, but only read the heading. The reason I know this is true because they make comments or ask questions that are actually answered in the article itself.
And so people ask me why I even bother to write, since the people, the articles are sent out to, are not even bothering to read them. The reason that I do is because these articles are sent out to a potential audience of over 300,000 people and yes, many people do read them. When the detractors of the faith try to refute my articles without reading them, then people who do read them see the dishonesty of this. The people misrepresenting the Church unfairly, ultimately and unwittingly are leading people to the Catholic Church, simply because people see their lack of honesty.
If the Catholic Church is as wrong as some Evangelicals would allege, then why don’t they take my articles line by line and explain how I am wrong from a Biblical and historical point of view, but they don’t. In almost every case they go off to other subjects rather than dealing with the issues at hand. Their understanding of the Catholic faith is not coming from Catholic sources but sources that are at odds with the Catholic Church.
Scott Hahn as an Evangelical did the unthinkable. He began to read about the Catholic Church from Catholic sources and began to realize that the Church properly understood made sense from Biblical and historical points of view. His wife Kimberly seeing that her husband was moving in the direction of the Catholic faith sent a mutual Evangelical friend Gerry Matatics to save Scott from the clutches of the Catholic Church. Scott asked Gerry if he had ever read an entire book cover to cover about the Catholic Church from a Catholic source. He admitted that he had not. Why should he, if he had been told all his life that Catholic sources are corrupt. Scott gave him a whole list of books to read. He read Catholic literature for the first time, not because he believed it, but because he realized that all he had to do was to read and refute this Catholic literature and show Scott how unbiblical the Catholic Church was. What he found was that the Church was Biblical and being misrepresented. And so rather than convincing Scott of the lack of merit of the Catholic Church, Jerry became Catholic.
Am I still impressed with Evangelicals? The answer is yes, for two reasons. First of all we have great deal in common, for example they love the Bible. And secondly a great many of them take their faith very seriously and so they have my admiration. "I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. (Rev 3:15-16).