The reason for making the point that the Bible was not canonized until 400 AD is not because I did not know that all of the writings that eventually were canonized were available to the earliest churches. But these writings were scattered around the ancient world. How long do you think it took before St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians could be found in every Christian Church? Or his letter to Timothy?
The point is, that for your average Christian, even if he could read and even if he could afford to pay someone to copy all the writings he could find locally, which writings?
At what point, before the canonization of Scripture 400 years after the birth of Christ, did all of the Churches have access to all of the books and epistles?
And if a Church was lacking some of the inerrant writings then, according to the Protestant Sola Scriptura, wouldn’t their faith be lacking in some essentials?
How was the fullness of Faith supplied?
While it may seem clear to us, was it really all that clear 2000 years ago which gospels and which letters were trustworthy? My question for you is this: If Sola Scriptura is an eternal doctrine then what was a believer to do?– without a Bible and without the ability to read– in order to grow in love of God and holiness during the first 400 years of Christianity?
To me, the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura doesn’t ring true when all of Church History is taken into account. But a teaching Church, a Church that read Sacred Scripture at every mass to feed the faithful on the Word of God as well as feed the them the body of Christ in Communion. That aligns with history and it rings true.
I don’t think Luther meant Sola Scriptura to mean it as an actual a doctrine, as such, but rather a confession that his belief was that the Bible was the true guiding light and source for the Christian Faith and he was going to put his trust in that when there were differences between what it says and what was happening in the church, like the use of the Indulgence which was the catalyst for his initial confrontation with the Catholic Church. His aim was to effect change within the Church, not to form his own church, but this eventually proved impossible given the position taken by the Catholic Church and so they left him no choice but to say I am going to put my trust in the Bible.
Luther’s situation was desperate along with all the faithful who knew, with the sensus fidelum, that what they saw going on was not true and pure Christian Religion. Sin is bad but when the clergy and leaders of the Church sin egregiously the repercussions are devastating to the faithful. For example the recent Clergy Sex Scandals. Luther’s attempt at reform was good. But he did have a choice. To Trust in God and His Church even if it meant martyrdom. We have many Saints who were martyred by wicked churchmen.
I am going to put my trust in the Bible
This sounds simple. But what is the true interpretation of the Bible?
In order to find out we must look outside of scripture because the Bible is not self-interpreting. The Bible cannot speak up and say “You are right on that point but you are Wrong this point over here.” So, Protestants are easily convinced that their interpretation is infallible—even though they would never actually say that word–infallible--it is what they believe.
If the Bible was self-interpreting, there would not be over 40,000 different Protestant denominations. All claiming to be led by the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit WAS leading the interpretation of Scripture all would come to the same interpretation. But, either people are not listening, or this is not the job of the Holy Spirit cut off from the Catholic Church.
The number of different Protestant denominations is not generally a test of differences in doctrine,
Originally it was the reason for starting a new church denomination in direct opposition to Jesus’ express wish that we all be one.
but just as I said earlier the Church of Christ is really a body of believers banding together as we are admonished in order to use our various gifts for the benefit of the whole group since that was the Holy Spirit’s intention in giving out those gifts, and so that we might encourage one another and spur one another on in good works. We are not meant to be islands to ourselves.
And so the diversity of the Protestant churches are there more so because of many factors such as ethnic background, geographic location, preferences in worship such as type of music and liturgical format.
This may be true at times but generally a group doesn’t split for these preferential reason. In the beginning of every denomination there was usually differences in scripture interpretation and belief on something considered essential according to a group of people. Like recently many Episcopalians have left the American Episcopalian Churches and set up under orthodox Anglican Bishops due to the ordination and approval of homosexual bishops.
As a rule, these diverse churches are united in the essentials of the doctrines of the Christian Faith but with freedom in the non-essentials.
But historically these essentials keep shrinking in number. Are abortion, homosexual marriage, ordination of women, homsexual adoption, euthanasia- essentials or non-essentials?
As Paul put it in Romans 14:5 “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” So if the Seventh Day Adventists desire to worship on Saturday, and they are convinced this in right, and the Baptists are convinced Sunday is the correct day, these are not essentials to the faith and both can do their thing in good conscience which is really what is important for these non-essentials. These things do not divide us as brothers and sisters, but only allow us to worship God in the fashion most seemly to us.
But you are divided and that is why you have peace. With the passage of time passions have cooled and bitterness may have gone but there is still division.
Click HERE—for a look at interpretation of scripture and how easy differences arise.
The splintering of Protestantism violates Christ’s express desire for unity in John 17.
If the faith of the early Christians had believed doctrines like any one of the Protestant Churches I would have never become Catholic. I did not want to be Catholic. I am Catholic because I know Jesus founded a Church, it was called the Catholic Church very early, (100’s AD earliest extant writing-but possibly even earlier) , and the beliefs of this ancient Church correspond to the beliefs of the Catholic Church today and not to any other Protestant Church.
As Archbishop Fulton Sheen said,
There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church — which is, of course, quite a different thing.
For more on the Canon click–>Five Myths about the Seven Books