I converted to Catholicism in 1989, after decades of searching, experimenting and experiencing -- also after years of arguing and debating. The first book I read from a Catholic source was Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating. This book blew most all of my arguments out of the water. Karl Keating also founded Catholic Answers, and it is from apologetics cards produced by this wonderful organization that I'm sharing the following brief explanations of our Faith in regards to the Holy Bible.
The earthly leadership of the Church was given to the apostles, but that leadership was not intended to die out with them. They passed on their authority and power:
For it is written in the Book of Psalms ... "Let his office another take." So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us...must become with us a witness to his resurrection (Acts 1:20-22).
And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles (Acts 1:26).
The Bible teaches that the Church had, from the very beginning, bishops, priests (presbyters), and deacons. Bishops could pass on their power through the laying on of hands in ordination, thereby making other men bishops, priests, or deacons:
These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them [making them deacons] (Acts 6:6).
And when they appointed presbyters for them in every church, with prayer and fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed (Acts 14:23).
New bishops, such as Timothy, were told to be careful in selecting men for ordination:
Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given to you by prophetic utterance when the elders laid their hands upon you (1 Tim. 4:14).
Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands (1 Tim. 5:22).
Jesus delegated his authority to the apostles and their successors, the bishops. To reject the authority of the bishops is to reject the authority of Jesus:
Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me (Luke 10:16).
The Bible nowhere teaches that it is the sole authority in matters of belief. In fact, the Bible teaches that Tradition - the oral teachings given by Jesus to the apostles and their successors, the bishops - is a parallel source of authentic belief:
Stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15).
I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you (1 Cor. 11:2).
The word of the Lord abides forever. And this word is the good news which has been preached to you (1 Pet. 1:25).
Not everything Jesus taught or did is found in the Bible:
But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written (John 21:25).
The Bible cannot interpret itself - no book can - and we are warned about the dangers of trying to interpret it without the help of the Church:
First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation (2 Pet. 1:20).
So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" And he said, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" (Acts 8:30-31).
Jesus gave his own authority to the apostles. Their successors, the bishops, with the Pope as their head (taking Peter's place), are to guide us:
"As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (John 20:21).
We can hope to gain heaven, but we cannot be absolutely sure that we will gain it, no matter what:
We are confident in the hope of attaining glory as the sons of God (Rom. 5:2).
Hope would not be hope at all if its object were in view; how could a man still hope for something which he sees? (Rom. 8:25).
It is not enough just to be a Christian. Even Christians can go to hell. We must also avoid serious sins. Our ultimate destination will be determined by our deeds:
All of us have a scrutiny to undergo before Christ's judgment seat, for each to reap what his mortal life has earned, good or ill, according to his deeds (2 Cor. 5:10).
See then the kindness and severity of God; severity toward those who fell, but God's kindness to you, provided you remain in his kindness, otherwise you too will be cut off (Rom. 11:22).
He will award to every man what his acts have deserved (Rom. 2:6).
But the Lord said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book" (Ex. 32:33).
If we go on sinning willfully, when once the full knowledge of the truth has been granted to us, we have no further sacrifice for sin to look forward to; nothing but a terrible expectation of judgment (Heb. 10:26-27).
We must try to lead holy lives. By doing that we can avoid habits of sin and can remain in a state of grace:
You must work out your salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).
I buffet my body and make it my slave; or I, who have preached to others, may myself be rejected as worthless (1 Cor. 9:27).
Jesus gave the apostles (and consequently their successors the bishops and their helpers the priests) his own power to forgive sins:
He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained" (John 20:22-23).
"Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 18:18).
The priest takes the place of Jesus and does so at Jesus' command:
"As the Father has sent me, so I send you" (John 20:21).
"Whoever receives you receives me" (Matt. 10:40).
And how is a priest to know which sins are to be forgiven and which are not to be forgiven (that is, "retained")? Only if the sinner confesses the sins to him. St. Paul also taught that the ordinary way to have sins forgiven is through confession to a priest:
All this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18).
The Bible teaches that it isn't enough just to feel sorry for your sins - you have to confess them too. Jesus told the apostles to do everything he taught them:
Jesus said to his apostles: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19-20).
"Not everyone who say to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven" (Matt. 7:21).
God does not want us to worship any creature. We are to worship only him. the Bible forbids us to worship idols, which are representations of false gods:
"You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them" (Ex. 20:3-5).
But God didn't say we shouldn't make any images at all - if that were so, we'd be forbidden to make photographs, since they are images.
What is forbidden is the worship of images or the worship of false gods represented by images. But there's nothing wrong with making images, such as statues, which bring us closer to God (or which remind us of his friends in heaven, the saints, whose examples of holy living we should follow). In fact, God commanded the Israelites to make images which reminded them of him:
"You will model two great winged creatures [angels] of beaten gold, you will make them at two ends of the mercy seat. ...The winged creatures must have their wings spread upwards protecting the mercy seat with their wings and facing each other, their faces being toward the mercy seat" (Ex. 25:18, 20).
"You will have [the sheets of linen] embroidered with great winged creatures" (Ex. 26:1).
Sometimes God allows the pious use of images to have spiritual or even physical effects:
And the Lord said to Moses, "Make a serpent and mount it on a pole, and if anyone who has been bitten looks at it, he will recover." Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole and anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent and he recovered (Num. 21:8-9).
We honor the saints in heaven because they are God's special friends. This honor is called veneration. It is not the same thing as adoration, which we give only to God. The greatest of the saints is the Blessed Virgin Mary. The honor given her is greater than that given to other saints, but it is still not adoration:
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed, for he who is mighty has done great things for me (Luke 1:48-49).
Mary and the other saints can pray for us, just as our friends on Earth can pray for us:
What he saw [in a vision of heaven] was this: Onias, who had been high priest...was praying with outstretched hands for the whole body of the Jews. Then likewise a man appeared, distinguished by his gray hair and dignity, and of marvelous majesty and authority. And Onias spoke, saying, "This is a man who loves the brethren and prays much for the people and the holy city, Jeremiah, the prophet of God" (2 Macc. 15:12-14).
Along with their harps, the elders were holding vessels of gold filled with aromatic spices, which were the prayers of God's holy people (Rev. 5:8).
I appeal to you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf (Rom. 15:30).
With the saints in heaven we belong to the Body of Christ, which is his Church. We are not cut off from Christians who, at death, go to heaven:
But God has so adjusted the body...that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together (1 Cor. 12:25-27).
Jesus taught that baptism is necessary for salvation:
"Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Holy Spirit" (John 3:5).
God wants everyone - including children, of course - to be saved, and his kingdom is said to be for children:
This is good and pleasing to God our Savior who wills everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:3-4).
Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matt. 19:14).
Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord will call" (Acts 2:38-39).
Under the Old Covenant, male infants were circumcised. Under the New Covenant, baptism replaces circumcision:
In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not administered by hand, by stripping of the carnal body, with the circumcision of Christ. You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God (Col. 2:11-12).
The Bible nowhere says that only adults can be baptized. In fact, the apostles baptized whole families, including children (and, probably, very young children):
She and all her household had been baptized (Acts 16:15).
He and all his family were baptized at once (Acts 16:33).
Because Jesus was about to go back to heaven, he selected the apostle Simon to be the earthly head of the Church. The Church needed to have a visible source of authority. While he was on Earth, Jesus himself was that visible authority. Now Simon would be his representative or "vicar." Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter (in English, "Rock") to signify his new status:
Jesus looked at him, and said, "So you are Simon, the son of John? You shall be called Cephas," which means Peter (John 1:42).
"You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church" (Matt. 16:18).
Jesus and the apostles spoke Aramaic. In Aramaic Simon's new name is "Kepha," which means "Rock." (When "Kepha" is written in Greek, it is "Cephas.") Thus, what Jesus really said was, "You are Rock, and upon this rock I will build my church." Until this moment, only God had been called Rock. The change of name meant Simon was being given some of God's own authority.
Jesus went on to make Simon Peter the prime minister in his kingdom:
"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16:19).
Jesus prayed that Peter would always teach rightly. It was to be Peter's task to guide the Church:
"I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren" (Luke 22:32).
Finally, Jesus, who is the Good Shepherd, made Peter the shepherd of his flock:
"Feed my sheep" (John 21:17).
Jesus said he would be present really, not just symbolically, in the Eucharist under the appearances of bread and wine. At Mass we receive his real Body and Blood.
Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it and giving it to his disciples said, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, "Drink from it all of you, for this is my blood" (Matt. 26:26-28).
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world" (John 6:51).
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you" (John 6:52-53).
"My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink" (John 6:55).
Jesus knew many people would reject the doctrine of the Real Presence.
Then many of his disciples who were listening said, "This is a hard saying; who can accept it?" [Jesus] said to them, "Does this shock you? ...There are some of you who do not believe" (John 6:60-61, 64).
St. Paul also taught the Real Presence.
The cup of blessings that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (1 Cor. 10:16).
Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. ...Anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself (1 Cor. 11:27, 29).
Christians believe there are three divine Persons in the one true God. We don't believe in three separate gods. The Bible proves not just that the Father is God, but that the Son (who is also called the Word) is God.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).
"I [the Father] am the first and I am the last; there is no God but me" (Isa. 44:6).
"I [the Son, Jesus Christ] am the first and the last: I am he that lives and was dead" (Rev. 1:17-18).
"Thus shall you say to the children of Israel: I AM has sent me to you" (Ex. 3:14).
"Before Abraham was, I AM" (John 8:58).
In Christ the fullness of deity dwells bodily (Col. 2:9).
Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28).
Just as the Son is God, so is the Holy Spirit. He is not merely the Father's "power," but is himself a Person and is spoken of as a Person:
"The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things" (John 14:26).
You lied to the Holy Spirit. ...You have lied not to human beings, but to God (Acts 5:3-4).
The apostles are told to baptize not in the names (plural), but in the name (singular) of the three Persons of the Trinity. This shows the three Persons share a common nature:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19).
- From Catholic Answers.
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