I usually listen to Catholic talk radio for one hour each day during the work week to keep up with what’s going on in the RCC. The show I normally listen to is, “Called to Communion,” and the stated purpose of the show is to try to convince Protestants to convert to Catholicism. When a believer calls into the show with an objection regarding Catholic doctrine, host David Anders (photo above) always responds by asking, where do THEY get their authority?
I was listening to the 11/19/18 podcast of the show and Matthew from Portland, Oregon called in at the 21:22 mark and stated that Catholicism has disobeyed God’s Word by adding to the Scriptures with its man-made traditions. Anders fired back by smugly asking Matthew where he got his authority. Matthew replied that he got his authority from Scripture alone. Anders then asked Matthew how does he know that the books in his Bible are canonical to which Matthew had no reply. Anders then presented his usual claim; that we know the books of the Bible are canonical because Catholic church councils (Hippo 393, and Carthage 397, 419) declared various books as Scripture and rejected others. Matthew didn’t respond and, once again, Anders declared victory with his very familiar and well-worn “gotcha.”
But is there anything wrong with Anders’ claim? The Eastern Orthodox church certainly wouldn’t agree that those ancient church councils were Roman Catholic. And I would argue that, while the early church was already headed toward legalistic institutionalism by the time of those councils, it did not resemble either the Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy of today. But, most importantly, how does Anders explain the canon of Old Testament Scripture? The Jews had the complete Old Testament WITHOUT the benefit of ANY church council declarations. How did that happen? No, the church didn’t give us the Bible, the Holy Spirit did! The sixty-six books of the Bible are recognized as Scripture because Scripture is self-authenticating. Someone once compared the relationship between early church councils and the Biblical canon to Sir Isaac Newton and gravity. Newton didn’t invent gravity, he merely described the force that was already present.
The next time you hear a Roman Catholic boast that it was their church that gave us the New Testament, ask them who gave the Jews the Old Testament?
For more information, check the links to the ministry of Michael J. Kruger below:
What Do We Mean When We Say the Bible is ‘Self-Authenticating’?
Postscript: Anders and his fellow Catholics believe their church’s authority is based upon the combination of Scripture, the church’s “sacred” traditions, and the “magisterium” or teaching authority of the pope and his bishops. The serious dilemma conservative Catholics such as Anders now face is that the current pope, Francis, has changed multiple doctrines held to be infallible by previous popes.