Q.Why doesn’t the Catholic Church base its theology on Scripture alone?
A. For several reasons:
1. For 400 years after the birth of Christ, the New Testament, as we know it today, was non-existent. The books of our present New Testament were in existence, of course, but, so were hundreds of other writings, both Gospels, epistles, and histories. There was a lot of debate about what was worthy of canonization and what was not worthy of trust. List of trustworthy writings were begun in the 150’s A.D. but the New Testament Canon was not definitively and finally defined and closed until the early 400’s.
2. Since there was no canon of sacred scripture for nearly 400 years, it would have been impossible for all theology to be based on something that did not exist. The Church evangelized the world after Pentecost with the teaching of the Apostles, taught by Christ, and after they died these teachings were preserved in the Sacred Tradition (with a capital “T”) of the Church. Of course, the writings of Apostles were available and used but all must align with what was known to have been taught by Christ to His Apostles. That is why there is nothing in the teaching of the Catholic Church that confilcts with Sacred Scripture.
The Church taught FIRST from the deposit of Teachings given to the Apostles by Jesus. Then as the need arose to write epistles or Gospels these were written, SECONDARILY. So, Sacred Scripture, is derived from the teaching of the Apostles or Tradition. Not the other way around as in most Protestant Churches.
But Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and King Henry VIII cut themselves free from historical Christianity so they were left with nothing except the Bible. Therefore they draw their theology OUT of the Bible. And because, interpretations, cut off from historical Christianity vary wildly, there are now more than 40,000 Protestant sects in direct opposition to Jesus’ prayer, “that all of them may be one” John 17:21
3. The only Christian Church in the world for over 1400 years based theology on both Sacred Scripture and Tradition (teaching of the Apostles) until the advent of Martin Luther.
4. There is nothing in Sacred Scripture that commands the faithful to base theology on Scripture Alone/Sola Scripture.
5. Until some time after the invention of the printing press, the Bible, was an extremely costly book. At today’s minimum wages of $5.15 and only counting the time for one monk to write the whole Bible, it would take 10 months at a cost of $10,712. But that doesn’t count the second monk who checked the pages for accuracy, which would raise the cost of one Bible in today’s US Dollars to $21,424 And that still does not include the cost of materials, or for the time for another monk to decorate the pages and for someone else to bind the pages together and put on a cover. At these prices it is easy to see why every person could not have their own personal Bible for study and devotions. It also becomes clear why Churches chained the Bible in the Church to prevent the theft of this precious possession used every day at every Catholic Mass.
6. The idea of the necessity of Scripture alone for personal reading, salvation, and growth in holiness was a very late invention by Martin Luther etc. It could not be an eternal Christian principle because the majority of people, until the last several hundred years could not read. Even today, 20% of the world population cannot read. So, Our Heavenly Father, in His infinite wisdom and mercy would not make salvation dependent upon personal reading of the Bible, as some Protestant sects teach.