Does the Bible Agree with Your Church?
MANY people think that their religion does not encourage the reading of the Bible. Writing in the London Catholic Herald Michael de la Bedoyere said that “despite the fact that he had had very exceptional opportunities of what might be called high-level Catholic training, never was anything done to stimulate him to read the New Testament, let alone the Old.”
Yet pamphlets approved by church leaders say: “The Roman Catholic Church considers the Bible the greatest Book in the world. . . . God is the Author.” “Why does the Church encourage the reading of the Bible? Because she knows that in order to grow, to develop spiritually, to become mature Christians, we must be nourished by God.”
But why have they not really been urged to read “the greatest Book in the world,” of which God himself is the Author? Could it be that there really is a difference between what the Bible says and what the church has taught? A Catholic Information Society pamphlet says: “Catholics, not looking for a complete description of their beliefs in the Bible, are not surprised when they do not find such words as ‘Pope’ or ‘Purgatory’ mentioned.”a
But are they surprised? Do they ever wonder why the apostles, who were supposed to be such good Catholics, sound so little like it, never even once mentioning the pope, or the name of their church, or the cardinals, or the trinity, or purgatory, or the mass, the holy eucharist, indulgences, the use of images, holy days, or processions; why they never called one another “His Holiness,” “Reverend” or “Father,” and why they failed to mention so many other things that are so common in the church? When reading the Bible you would think that the apostles had an entirely different religion.
And, for a fact, they did!
It is amazing what you would learn by listening to the apostles and their inspired writings. By reading 1 Timothy 3:2-5 you would learn that a bishop (1) may have a wife, and (2) is instructed regarding the rearing of his children. A bishop may have children? How different from the church’s practice today!
By reading 1 Timothy 4:1-3, from the Catholic Douay Version you would learn that it is those who would “depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error and doctrines of devils,” who would forbid to marry and command abstinence from meats. Might this not shock even a priest who read it on a Friday? It is what the Catholic Bible says, however, and it was written under inspiration by Paul, one of the greatest of the apostles!
Matthew 23:9 might raise a further question in your mind. It records Jesus’ statement: “Call none your father upon earth: for one is your father, who is in heaven.” (Dy) A priest might tell you that Catholics “are surprised that non-Catholics should quibble when they call their priests ‘Father’—when non-Catholics address their own male parent as ‘Father.’” But if you had read Jesus’ statement for yourself you would know that Jesus was not talking about what you call your male parent, but was talking about what you call your religious leader! Would it shock you to read in your Bible that Jesus himself forbade his followers to use such titles?
Consider even the mass. According to the church, the mass is “the unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of our Lord upon the cross.” But Hebrews 10:11, 12 says that in contrast with the sacrifices of the Jewish priests that had to be offered regularly, Christ offered “one sacrifice for sins.” Would it surprise Catholics to know that this one sacrifice was sufficient, and that the mass is not needed?
And what about 1 Corinthians 15:50? Would it surprise people who believe, as an article of faith, that Mary’s human body went to heaven to read in the Catholic Bible that “flesh and blood cannot possess the kingdom of God”? And will they be even further surprised as their continued reading shows them that nowhere in the Bible is any exception made to this rule, not even for Mary? Surely if the doctrine were true the apostles would have been sufficiently enthused about it to have written it down!
But Protestant religions, too, directly ignore the Bible’s specific statements. Is the Protestant who believes that the soul never dies shocked when he learns that it does? You can read it for yourself at Ezekiel 18:4; 18:20 and Acts 3:23.
Or is the Protestant who believes that the wicked are eternally tormented in hellfire shocked to read at Ecclesiastes 3:19 that dead men, like dead animals, are out of existence? Or is he shocked when he learns that the same Hebrew and Greek words were translated both “hell” and “grave” in our English Bibles, and therefore that hell is no hotter than the cold graves in the neighborhood cemetery?
God’s written Word is “the sword of the Spirit.” It divides between what is true and what is false. It can cut deep in doing so. It disagrees with much of what is taught in today’s churches, and for those who will accept it it slashes away falsehood and uncovers long-hidden truths.—Eph. 6:17.
The Bible presents problems for people who say you should call religious leaders “Father,” who say that clergymen must not marry, that meat cannot be eaten on certain days, that Christ’s sacrifice must be renewed through the mass, that the wicked are burned forever in hell and that the soul never dies. But who is the reliable authority on religion, men or God? The answer is obvious; so study God’s Word, see if it agrees with your church, and change your belief if it does not!
a These three quotations are from The Holy Bible a Treasure of the Catholic Church, under the Imprimatur of Patrick A. O’Boyle, archbishop of Washington, page 6; Why Catholics Should Read the Bible, Imprimatur Francis Cardinal Spellman, archbishop of New York, page 7; and When Roman Catholics Read the Bible, page 5.