You are on page 1of 11

An inquiry into some aspects of the Catholic Faith

Prof. Lakshman Madurasinghe

In a Christian world where Christ and the Bible take a central role, Catholicism is viewed
as a religion where people did not care or understand Jesus, never read their Bibles and
were deeply immersed in idolatrous worship and repetitive prayers uttered in vain. This
in fact is a view held by many evangelicals even today where they believe that God will
send Catholics directly to hell. With their great expectation for the rapture and the world
to end perhaps in a few years from now in the final battle of Armageddon, the Pope is
often considered the Anti-Christ with the number 666 imprinted on his own vestments,
hence the urgency to preach to them and save them from imminent disaster !!

However fanciful some of these stories may seem, most often , the real truth is never
explored. The average Christian who fires these darts would not have taken much trouble
to really delve into the truth. Often we are guilty of believing what we want to believe.

We often remain Anglicans or Methodists because we were born into such faith and not
after deep scrutiny. Such misconceptions and poor scholarship have filled the world with
a large anti-catholic population while the average Catholic has also not taken the trouble
to get firmly grounded on these truths and get closer to the living God, which is a
shortcoming he or she needs to rectify in his own spiritual journey.

One of the major findings that you will discover is that contrary to what we usually
presumed, Catholics appeared in many respects very Christian. Even the hail Mary
prayer , Ave Maria, gracia plena, dominus tecum, benedicta tu was fully Biblical and
taken directly from Chapter one of St Luke’s gospel, so if we accuse Catholics of giving
Mary a special place, I realized that we have to first blame God because in the Bible it
was God who did it first. So was confession and forgiveness!!

You will also discover that Catholicism has the best Christian philosophy and
worldview, worked out through centuries of reflection and experience. As in its
theological reflection and development, the Catholic Church is wise and profound, to an
extent truly amazing, and indicative of a sure divine stamp. It has the most sophisticated
and thoughtful Christian socio-economic and political philosophy, a mixture of
"progressive" and "conservative" elements distinct from the common-place political
rhetoric which typically dominate the political arena.

Protestantism rejects the papacy, despite profound Christian Tradition, and the strong
evidence in the Bible of Peter's pre-eminence and commission by Jesus as the Rock of
His Church. No serious scholar denies he was some type of leader among the apostles
even though there are numerous arguments on whether it was a rock or pebble petra,
petros etc .,ad nauseam.
The papacy as we now know it, is derived from this primacy: Mt 16:18-19; Lk 22:31-2;
Jn 21:15-17 These are the most direct "papal" passages. Peter's name appears first in all
lists of apostles; even an angel implies he is their leader (Mk 16:7), and he is accepted by
the world as such (Acts 2:37-8,41). He works the first miracle of the Church age (Acts
3:6-8), utters the first anathema (Acts 5:2-11), raises the dead (Acts 9:40), first receives
the Gentiles (Acts 10:9-48), and his name is mentioned more often than all the other
disciples put together (191 times).

Protestant individualism led to the privatization of Christianity, whereby it is little


respected in societal and political life, leaving the "public square" barren of
Christian influence. These crowds lean too much on mere traditions of men (every
denomination stems from one Founder's vision. As soon as two or more of these
contradict each other, error is the inevitable outcome). It reminded me of the saying:” to
live above with saints we love, that would be glory; to live below with saints we know-
well that’s another story.”

Evangelicals are far too often guilty of putting their pastors on too high of a
pedestal. In effect, every pastor becomes a "pope," to varying degrees (some are "super-
popes"). Because of this, evangelical congregations often experience a severe crisis
and/or split up when a pastor leaves, thus proving that their philosophy is overly man-
centered, rather than God-centered.

A study of church Fathers of the few centuries would show that the views they held
were very much in line with the teachings of the Catholic church. While Catholicism,
because of its unified, complete, fully supernatural Christian vision, mitigates against
secularization and humanism that they were not formally divided and sectarian (Jn 17:20-
23; Rom 16:17; 1 Cor 1:10-13) and this unity makes Christianity and Jesus more
believable to the world (Jn 17:23).

Catholics avoided an unbiblical individualism which usually undermines Christian


community (e.g., 1 Cor 12:25-26).

Catholicism retains the elements of mystery, supernatural, and the sacred in Christianity,
thus opposing itself to secularization, where the sphere of the religious in life becomes
greatly limited.

Pentecostal or charismatic groups gave too high an emphasis on spiritual


experience, not balancing it properly with reason, the Bible, and Tradition (including
the authority of the Church to pronounce on the validity of "private revelations") while
others (e.g., many Baptists) deny that spiritual gifts such as healing are present in the
current age (supposedly they ceased with the apostles). I was deeply enriched by reading
Fides- et Ratio- Faith and Reason by the late Pope John Paul 11, which is a masterpiece
that all Christians should read.
The anti-historical outlook leads to individuals thinking that the Holy Spirit is speaking to
them, but has not, in effect, spoken to the multitudes of Christians for 1500 years before
Protestantism began!

They often emphasize numerical growth rather than individual spiritual growth
and are infatuated with the false idea that great numbers in a congregation (or rapid
growth) are a sign of God's presence in a special way, and His unique blessing.. God calls
us to faithfulness rather than to "success," obedience, not flattering statistics.

By and large they adopted a worldview which is, in many ways, more capitalist than
Christian. Wealth and personal gain is sought more than godliness, and is seen as a proof
of God's favor, over against the Bible and Christian teaching.

While all these may seem encouraging to Catholics, to re-affirm their faith, I
personally feel St Jerome was quite right when he said that ignorance of scripture is
ignorance of Christ.

Even though we come for regular mass and participate in all other church services and
receive the blessing of sacraments, we need to become thorough with God’s word by
regular, serious reflection. As someone rightly said, Catholics are sacramentalized but
not catechized.

Because we have a holy God, He is calling all of us to lead a holy life. If church
attendance has become a mere ritual, then, before long your life will be filled with
emptiness , boredom and lack of meaning. Could this be the reason that many young
couples are heading for divorce perhaps soon after their honeymoons while others are
calling off even their wedding dates.

The Sacraments and the Holy Eucharist

In my deeper studies of Catholicism vs Protestantism and other Christian groups , an


area that gripped me most was the Sacrament of the Hoy Eucharist. I discovered that the
Catholic system alone offered the most unique , Biblical and Christ-authorized valid
Eucharist among all churches today.

The Holy Eucharist is the oldest experience of Christian Worship as well as the most
distinctive. Eucharist comes from the Greek word which means thanksgiving. In a
particular sense, the word describes the most important form of the Church's attitude
toward all of life. The origin of the Eucharist is traced to the Last Supper at which Christ
instructed His disciples to offer bread and wine in His memory. The Eucharist is the most
distinctive event of Orthodox worship because in it the Church gathers to remember and
celebrate the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ and, thereby, to participate in the
mystery of Salvation.

The words and acts of Christ at the institution of the Eucharist stand at the heart of the
celebration; the Eucharistic meal is the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, the
sacrament of his presence. Christ fulfills in a variety of ways his promise to be always
with his own even to the end of the world. But Christ's mode of presence in the Eucharist
is unique. Jesus said over the bread and wine of the Eucharist: 'This is my body...this is
my blood....' The event lucidly explained in John chapter 6 was pre-figured in the Old
testament by bread of presence in the tabernacle and what was offered by Melchizedek
King of Salem. Jesus is known as the High Priest forever according to the order of
Melkizedek-Heb 6:20

Different churches and Different meanings

Although all denominations recognize the importance of the Eucharist, they differ about
its meaning.

Only Catholics believe that the bread and wine that is offered is the actual body and
blood of Christ and another form of sacrifice. They believe that although the bread and
wine physically remain the same, it is transformed beyond human comprehension into the
body, blood soul and divinity of Jesus. This is called Transubstantiation.

Protestants believe that Jesus made his sacrifice on the cross and simply follow the
tradition of the sacrament in memory of the event, recalling its symbolic importance in
the life of Jesus. They have removed the Eucharist from the center and focus of Christian
worship services. Some Protestants observe it only monthly, or even quarterly. This is
against the Tradition of the early Church.

Most Protestants regard the Eucharist symbolically, which is contrary to universal


Christian Tradition up to 1517, and the Bible (Mt 26:26-28; Jn 6:47-63; 1 Cor 10:14-22; 1
Cor 11:23-30), which hold to the Real Presence.

Speaking of other sacraments in general , Protestantism has virtually ceased to regard


marriage as a sacrament, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Mt 19:4-5; 1 Cor
7:14; 1 Cor 7:39; Eph 5:25-33). They also deny the indissolubility of sacramental
marriage and allows divorce, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Gen 2:24;
Mal 2:14-16; Mt 5:32; Mat 19:6, Mat 19:9; Mk 10:11-12; Lk 16:18; Rom 7:2-3; 1 Cor
7:10-14; 1 Cor 7:39). This has caused severe family break-ups today and have
permitted immorality to creep into society without any Godly authority to guide
them.

Another major deviation from the accepted Christian tradition is in allowing


women pastors (and even bishops, as in Anglicanism), contrary to Christian Tradition
(inc. traditional Protestant theology) and the Bible (Mt 10:1-4; 1 Tim 2:11-15; 1 Tim 3:1-
12; Titus 1:6). In Sri Lanka also the Anglican church allowed the ordination of three
women priests in 2006.

As a result of these loose standards most groups currently deny the headship of the
husband in marriage, which is based upon the headship of the Father over the Son (while
equal in essence) in the Trinity, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (1 Cor 11:3;
Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Pet 3:1-2). This too, is based on a relationship of equality (1
Cor 11:11-12; Gal 3:28; Eph 5:21).

Liberal Protestantism (most notably Anglicanism) has even ordained practicing


homosexuals as pastors and blessed their "marriages," or taught that homosexuality
is merely an involuntary, "alternate" lifestyle, contrary to formerly universal
Christian Tradition, as the Bible clearly teaches (Gen 19:4-25; Rom 1:18-27; 1 Cor
6:9). Catholicism stands firm on traditional morality. This has led to major conflicts in
the Anglican churches worldwide with many US and African Episcopal churches
declaring their interest to break away from the Anglican Communion.

Gaining a glimpse of the mind of Christ

Like many states of consciousness we may experience in life, such as waking , sleeping ,
dreaming and transcendence, the grace imparted at the Eucharist takes us to a newer
dimension of "Eucharistic Consciousness " that helps us live life to the fullest.
Eucharistic consciousness will give us a new way to renew our minds and bring thoughts
captive to the obedience of Christ.

There is nothing you and I can do to achieve such a state except by surrendering
ourselves willingly at the Eucharist. After all Christ came into our earthly dimension and
left again into His own dimension and the main link that connects us to both dimensions
is through is flesh and blood at the Eucharist.

This new consciousness works alongside our normal states of consciousness, and if you
yield to God fully, daily examining and allowing the Holy Spirit to work with you, you
will soon find yourself victorious in all you say or do. This would also indicate a greater
degree of love for fellow beings, more empathy and caring, more willingness to
accommodate others and greater degree of bridge building.

From “Bible-Alone” as a Major Protestant Belief to “Bible &


Tradition” As Catholicism rightly affirms…..

Having spoken about the richness of the teachings of the Catholic church and the
magnetic effect the Euchrist had in my life , I would now like to embark on a few
comments on the “Bible-alone” doctrine of the Protestant church I vigorously held onto
for long years. It did some marvelous good too that all my Catholic brothers and sisters
can learn from; I spent long years in the detailed study of the Bible and read the Bible
fully each year and the richness of the scripture is a tremendous source of comfort and
encouragement through our life’s journey.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that The Bible is a Catholic book, and no matter
how much Protestants study it and proclaim it as peculiarly their own, they must
acknowledge their undeniable debt to the Catholic Church for having decided the Canon,
and for preserving the Bible intact for 1400 years.
When I started to seriously look into Catholic teaching , much to my surprise, I noticed
that nowhere in the Bible we are told that scripture alone is the sole authority, Besides,
Scripture-alone literally couldn't have been true, practically speaking, for most Christians
throughout history, since the movable-type printing press only appeared in the mid-15th
century. Preaching and oral Tradition, along with things like devotional practices,
Christian holidays, church architecture and other sacred art, were the primary carriers of
the gospel for 1400 years. For all these centuries, this doctrine would have been regarded
as an absurd abstraction. Here are a few more things I discovered:

“Scripture alone,” which alleges that the Bible— as interpreted by the individual
believer—is the only source of religious authority and is the Christian’s sole rule of faith
or criterion regarding what is to be believed. By this ,which is one of the foundational
beliefs of Protestantism, a Protestant denies that there is any other source of religious
authority or divine Revelation to humanity.

It was Luther who accused the Catholic Church of having corrupted Christian doctrine
and having distorted Biblical truths, and he more and more came to believe that the Bible,
as interpreted by the individual believer, was the only true religious authority for a
Christian. He eventually rejected Tradition as well as the teaching authority of the
Catholic Church.

As many scholars have pointed out, an unthinking scripture-alone position can turn into
"bibliolatry," almost a worship of the Bible rather than God who is its Author. From a
more sophisticated Protestant perspective, it means that the Bible is the final authority in
Christianity, not the record of all God has said and done, as many evangelicals believe.

The Bible doesn't contain the whole of Jesus' teaching, or Christianity, as many
Protestants believe (Mk 4:33; Mk 6:34; Lk 24:15-16; Lk 24:25-27; Jn 16:12; Jn 20:30;
Jn 21:25; Acts 1:2-3).

The Council of Carthage, in deciding the Canon of the entire Bible in 397, included the
so-called "Apocryphal" books, which Protestants kicked out of the Bible. Prior to the
16th century Christians considered these books Scripture, and they weren't even
separated from the others, as they are today in the Protestant Bibles which include them.

How could the Catholic Church be "against the Bible," as anti-Catholics say, yet at the
same time preserve and revere the Bible profoundly for so many years? The very thought
is so absurd as to be self-refuting. If Catholicism is indeed as heinous as anti-Catholics
would have us believe, Protestantism ought to put together its own Bible, instead of
using the one delivered to them by the Catholic Church, as it obviously could not be
trusted!

Contrary to Protestant anti-Catholic myth, the Catholic Church has always revered the
Bible, and hasn't suppressed it. This is proven by the laborious care of monks in
protecting and copying manuscripts, and the constant translations into vernacular tongues
among other plentiful and indisputable historical evidences.
The Reformers believed some Catholic tradition to be very seriously in conflict with the
Scriptures: especially, with regard to teaching about the Church itself, but also touching
on basic principles of the Gospel. They believed that no matter how venerable the
traditional source, traditional authority is always open to question by comparison to what
the Scriptures say. The individual may be forced to rely on his understanding of Scripture
even if the whole tradition were to speak against him. This, they said, had always been
implicitly recognized in the Church, and remains a fail-safe against the corruption of the
Church by human error and deceit.

The Catholic, on the other hand, holds that the immediate or direct rule of faith is
the teaching of the Church; the Church in turn takes her teaching from divine
Revelation—both the written Word, called Sacred Scripture, and the oral or
unwritten Word, known as “Tradition.”. Scripture and Tradition are the sources of
Christian doctrine, the Christian’s remote or indirect rule of faith. Obviously these two
views on what constitutes the Christian’s rule of faith are opposed to each other, and
anyone who sincerely seeks to follow Christ must be sure that he follows the one that is
true.

Christian Tradition, according to the Bible, can be oral as well as written (2 Thess 2:15; 2
Tim 1:13-14; 2 Tim 2:2). St. Paul makes no qualitative distinction between the two forms
and tradition is not a bad word in the Bible. Good (Christian) Tradition is spoken of in 1
Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 2:15, 2 Thess 3:6, and Col 2:8. In the latter it is contrasted with
traditions of men.

The concepts of "Tradition," "gospel," "word of God," "doctrine," and "the Faith" are
essentially synonymous, and all are predominantly oral. E.g., in the Thessalonian epistles
alone St. Paul uses 3 of these interchangeably (2 Thess 2:15; 2 Thess 3:6; 1 Thess 2:9,13
(cf. Gal 1:9; Acts 8:14). If Tradition is a dirty word, then so is "gospel" and "word of
God"!

From Biblical, historical and logical bases Scripture-alone appears clearly as a man-
made doctrine.

1. The Doctrine of Scripture - Only Is Not Taught Anywhere in the Bible.

Protestants often point to verses such as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 in defense of this doctrine but
close examination of this passage easily demonstrates that it does not support the doctrine
at all. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we read, “All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to
teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice, that the man of God may be perfect,
furnished to every good work.”

2 Tim 3:16 argument fails, since it says that the Bible is profitable, but not sufficient for
learning and righteousness. Catholicism agrees it is great for these purposes, but not
exclusively so, as in Protestantism. Secondly, when St. Paul speaks of "Scripture" here,
the NT didn't yet exist (not definitively for over 300 more years), thus he is referring to
the OT only. This would mean that NT wasn't necessary for the rule of faith, if the
doctrine were true, and if it were supposedly alluded to in this verse!

2. The Bible Calls the Church and Not the Bible the “Pillar and Ground of the
Truth.”

It is very interesting to note that in 1 Timothy 3:15 we see, not the Bible, but the Church
—that is, the living community of believers founded upon St. Peter and the Apostles and
headed by their successors—called “the pillar and ground of the truth.” Of course, this
passage is not meant in any way to diminish the importance of the Bible, but it is
intending to show that Jesus Christ did establish an authoritative teaching Church which
was commissioned to teach “all nations.” (Matt. 28:19).

It is plainly evident from this that Our Lord emphasized the authority of His Church and
the role it would have in safeguarding and defining the Deposit of Faith. It is also evident
that this same Church would be infallible, for if at any time in its history it would
definitively teach error to the Church as a whole in matters of faith or morals—even
temporarily—it would cease being this “pillar and ground of the truth.” Since a “ground”
or foundation by its very nature is meant to be a permanent support, and since the above-
mentioned passages do not allow for the possibility of the Church ever definitively
teaching doctrinal or moral error, the only plausible conclusion is that Our Lord was very
deliberate in establishing His Church and that He was referring to its infallibility when
He called it the “pillar and ground of the truth.”

The Protestant would effectively deny that the Church is the “pillar and ground of the
truth” by denying that the Church has the authority to teach. Also, Protestants understand
the term “church” to mean something different from what the Catholic Church
understands it to mean. Protestants see “the church” as an invisible entity, and for them it
refers collectively to all Christian believers around the world who are united by faith in
Christ, despite major variations in doctrine and denominational allegiance. But we
believe it is the Catholic church because It is this Church and this Church alone which
was established by Christ and which has maintained an absolute consistency in doctrine
throughout its existence, and it is therefore this Church alone which can claim to be that
very “pillar and ground of the truth.”

3. Christ Tells Us to Submit to the Authority of the Church.

In Matthew 18:15-18 we see Christ saying that if an offending brother “will not hear the
church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican” (Matt. 18:17)—that is, as an
outsider who is lost. Moreover, Our Lord then solemnly re-emphasizes the Church’s
infallible teaching authority in verse 18 by repeating His earlier statement about the
power to bind and loose (Matt. 16:18-19), directing it this time to the Apostles as a
group7 rather than just to Peter: “Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon
earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be
loosed also in heaven.” (Matt. 18:18). Of course there are instances in the Bible where
Our Lord does appeal to Scripture, but in these cases He, as one having authority, was
teaching the Scriptures; He was not allowing the Scriptures to teach themselves. For
example, He would respond to the Scribes and the Pharisees by using Scripture precisely
because they often tried to trip Him up by using Scripture. In these instances, Our Lord
often demonstrates how the Scribes and Pharisees had wrong interpretations, and hence
He corrects them by properly interpreting Scripture.

The Catechism of the Catholic church has the following to say about tradition and
scripture:

80 "Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and
communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine
well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the
same goal." Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ,
who promised to remain with his own "always, to the close of the age".

81 "Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of
the Holy Spirit."" and [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which
has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to
the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may
faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching."

82 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is


entrusted, "does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures
alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal sentiments
of devotion and reverence."

83 The Tradition here in question comes from the apostles and hands on what they
received from Jesus' teaching and example and what they learned from the Holy Spirit.
the first generation of Christians did not yet have a written New Testament, and the New
Testament itself demonstrates the process of living Tradition.

Further evidence provided by Christian Scholars

-Catholicism retains apostolic succession, necessary to know what is true Christian


apostolic Tradition. It was the criterion of Christian truth used by the early Christians.

- The Catholic Church accepts the authority of the great Ecumenical Councils (see, e.g.,
Acts 15) which defined and developed Christian doctrine (much of which Protestantism
also accepts).

- Most Protestants do not have bishops, a Christian office which is biblical (1 Tim 3:1-2)
and which has existed from the earliest Christian history and Tradition.

- Evangelicalism's "techniques" of evangelism are often contrived and manipulative,


certainly not directly derived from the text of the Bible. Some even resemble
brainwashing to a degree.
- Protestantism has largely neglected the place of liturgy in worship (with notable
exceptions such as Anglicanism and Lutheranism). This is the way Christians had always
worshiped down through the centuries, and thus can't be so lightly dismissed.

- Protestantism greatly limits or disbelieves in sacramentalism, which is simply the


extension of the incarnational principle and the belief that matter can convey grace. Some
sects (e.g., Baptists, many Pentecostals) reject all sacraments.

- Protestants' excessive mistrust of the flesh ("carnality") often leads to (in evangelicalism
or fundamentalism) an absurd legalism (no dancing, drinking, card-playing, rock music,
etc.).

- Many Protestants tend to separate life into categories of "spiritual" and "carnal," as if
God is not Lord of all of life. It forgets that all non-sinful endeavors are ultimately
spiritual.

- Protestantism has removed the Eucharist from the center and focus of Christian worship
services. Some Protestants observe it only monthly, or even quarterly. This is against the
Tradition of the early Church.

- Protestantism has virtually ceased to regard marriage as a sacrament, contrary to


Christian Tradition and the Bible (Mt 19:4-5; 1 Cor 7:14; 1 Cor 7:39; Eph 5:25-33).

- Protestantism denies the indissolubility of sacramental marriage and allows divorce,


contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Gen 2:24; Mal 2:14-16; Mt 5:32; Mat 19:6,
Mat 19:9; Mk 10:11-12; Lk 16:18; Rom 7:2-3; 1 Cor 7:10-14; 1 Cor 7:39).

- Protestantism is, more and more, formally and officially compromising with currently
fashionable radical feminism, which denies the roles of men and women, as taught in the
Bible (Gen 2:18-23; 1 Cor 11:3-10) and maintained by Christian Tradition (differentiation
of roles, but not of equality).

- Protestantism is also currently denying, with increasing frequency, the headship of the
husband in marriage, which is based upon the headship of the Father over the Son (while
equal in essence) in the Trinity, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (1 Cor 11:3;
Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Pet 3:1-2). This too, is based on a relationship of equality (1
Cor 11:11-12; Gal 3:28; Eph 5:21).

- Many liberal Protestants have thrown out many cardinal doctrines of Christianity, such
as the Incarnation, Virgin Birth, the Bodily Resurrection of Christ, the Trinity, Original
Sin, hell, the existence of the devil, miracles, etc.

- Other Protestants (e.g., many Baptists) deny that spiritual gifts such as healing are
present in the current age (supposedly they ceased with the apostles).
- Evangelicalism is unbiblically obsessed (in typically American fashion) with celebrities
(TV Evangelists).

- The above sects usually teach that anyone can be healed who has enough "faith,"
contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (e.g., Job, St. Paul's "thorn in the flesh," usu.
considered a disease by most Protestant commentators).

- Protestantism claims that the Catholic Church has "added to the Bible." The Catholic
Church replies that it has merely drawn out the implications of the Bible (development of
doctrine), and followed the understanding of the early Church, and that Protestants have
"subtracted" from the Bible by ignoring large portions of it which suggest Catholic
positions. Each side thinks the other is "unbiblical," but in different ways.

- Protestantism has a huge problem with the Canon of the NT. The process of determining
the exact books which constitute the NT lasted until 397 A.D., when the Council of
Carthage spoke with finality, certainly proof that the Bible is not "self-authenticating," as
Protestantism believes. Some sincere, devout, and learned Christians doubted the
canonicity of some books which are now in the Bible, and others considered books as
Scripture which were not at length included in the Canon. St. Athanasius in 367 was the
first to list all 27 books in the NT as Scripture.

- The Council of Carthage, in deciding the Canon of the entire Bible in 397, included the
so-called "Apocryphal" books, which Protestants kicked out of the Bible (i.e., a late
tradition). Prior to the 16th century Christians considered these books Scripture, and they
weren't even separated from the others, as they are today in the Protestant Bibles which
include them. Protestantism accepts the authority of this Council for the NT, but not the
OT, just as it arbitrarily and selectively accepts or denies other conciliar decrees,
according to their accord with existing Protestant "dogmas" and biases.