Asked in CatholicismReformation HistoryMartin Luther
Why was Luther's notion of sola scriptura or scripture alone a challenge to the Catholic Church?
February 26, 2016 6:29PM
Martin Luther's novel notion of "Sola Scriptura" is so untenable
and ridiculous as to be laughable to any person who knows any
history. It was a challenge to the Catholic Church because so many
people believed Luther's lies, and he ended up dragging an
uncountable number of people away from the Church which Our Blessed
Lord had founded for their salvation.
Sola Scriptura - the notion that all you need is contained in the Sacred Scriptures is absolute nonsense. What he is talking about, primarily, is the New Testament, as he mutilated and trashed the Old Testament and told the people that they didn't have to follow it.
He then proceeded to trash whole books out of the New Testament that he disagreed with and altered the text in those that remained in order for them to agree with him. For instance his rallying cry was "Faith alone", and he put the word "alone" IN to the Bible in Romans where is was not. The ONLY time that the words "faith" and "alone" come together in the Bible, the word NOT is right there in front of them - but not to worry, Martin Luther trashed that entire book as its doctrine disagreed with him so blatantly.
The challenge to the Church was how to get the truth to the people with Martin Luther leading them astray and the German princes believing Him, because they had not read the Scriptures.
The Catholic Church, on the other hand, formed the Scriptures (the New Testament) carefully from the books that were read daily at Mass. She carefully preserved them, and defined the New Testament in A.D. 392 at the Council of Rome by Pope St. Damasus I. The Catholic Church, instead of trying to keep the Scriptures away from people faithfully read the Scriptures out at every Mass and insisted that the priest carefully preach on them and expound them to the faithful. If it weren't for the Catholic Church we wouldn't have the Sacred Scriptures.
The Catholic Church has faithfully preserved the Sacred Scriptures in the Old Testament, even when the Jews and later the protestants threw out books and dismissed them. And the Catholic Church wrote and preserved the New Testament. Our Blessed Lord never wrote anything nor did He command His apostles to, either. If the Scriptures were necessary for salvation, then Our Blessed Lord did a very poor job of it, condemning generations to certain damnation without the printing press and universal literacy.
Instead Our Blessed Lord carefully entrusted His message to His Church and commissioned them to go out and preach and baptize everyone. The resulting New Testament is part of that preaching, but hardly all of it. As the Scriptures themselves say: if all that Jesus did were written down, I don't suppose there would be enough books in the world to contain it all.
May 28, 2008 7:15AM
== == Luther alleged that the Catholic Church had been influenced by man-made traditions that have no basis in the Bible. Luther was upset over many non-biblical teachings and practices of the Church such as the selling of indulgences, which was basically paying money to a pardonner to have time in purgatory remitted. The Catholic Church had opposed private Biblical interpretation. Luther taught that only the Bible was to be consulted and that any sort of Oral Tradition or papal authority was developed by the Catholic Church itself. The perceived problem with the Catholic Church was that they deliberately regulated the scriptures. Some have suggested that the Church did this because they thought people would discover that the Bible was against many of the Catholic traditions. The Catholics themselves indicated that as the 'peasants' were ignorant they should not have the word of God as they would not be able to read or rightly interpret it. Finally ,the Bible was translated into the 'vulgar' tongue of the common people by Luther in German. Some came to agree with Luther, and others said that both Luther and the Church were wrong. Some of the traditions taught by the Catholics were not in the Bible and some appeared to contradict scripture.
It comes down to the question of Authority: is it the Roman Catholic Church, or is it the Bible? The Roman Catholic Church believes that It is the only authority and that the Bible is part of Church tradition though not its entirety, while Luther taught that the Bible was the only authority. Clearly, it was one or the other : it could not be both; this was a direct challenge to the power of the church and the popes, and could not be ignored. For a really-detailed view of the Protestant understanding of the institution of the Roman Catholic church and Roman Catholicism: -see the book "A Woman Rides The Beast" by Dave Hunt (Harvest House Publishers 1994 ISBN 1-56507-199-9). (Although he is a Protestant, he is not Catholic-bashing: his book is directed to Roman Catholics and has innumerable quotes and references by Catholic writers, theologians, bishops , and popes throughout the 550-page book.) In this book, writing about tradition in the Catholic church, Hunt says (page 519) that Papal Letters
" were used to build up ficticious sayings of the popes...and to put tradition ...on a par with Scripture...[This] tradition is contained in many volumes ...and is not accessible to the average person, [and] it consists of":
-"35 volumes of Greek and Latin church fathers, usually ending ...AD604."
-" 35 volumes of church council decrees."
-"25 volumes of the pope's sayings and decrees."
-"55 volumes of alleged sayings and deeds of the saints."
Totalling "some 150 volumes in all.
Richard Bennet, former Catholic priest, explains further:
'The ordinary Roman Catholic bishop or priest, let alone the ordinary Catholic, can never find all of his tradition, or read it since it is in many dead or foreign languages...a person could never master 150 volumes in such a way to be one with the Bible...' "
A quote (on page 328) from Pope Pius VII in an encyclical letter of 1816 to the primate of Poland shows the attitude of the Roman Catholic church to the Bible :- "It is evident, from experience, that the Holy Scriptures,when circulated in the vulgar tongue, have produced more harm than benefit...We have deliberated upon the measures proper to be adopted, by our pontifical authority, in order to remedy and abolish this pestilence...this defilement of the link so immimently dangerous to souls."
The Church did not want people reading the Bible for themselves in their own language and making up their own mind about it, instead of being told only priests and bishops can understand it but the laity cannot. Personal reading of the Bible is now allowed, but only if permitted (it is not recommended carte-blanche ) and can only be interpreted and understood by their priest or bishop. All sides use the Bible to support their point of view or doctrine, but what do the Scriptures themselves actually say? Let the Bible speak for itself:- 2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. Deu 8:3 And He has humbled you, and caused you to hunger, and caused you to eat the manna, which you had not known, and your fathers had not known, in order to cause you to know that man shall not live by bread alone, but man shall live by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Joh 1:2 The same was in the beginning with God.
Joh 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Joh 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Mat 4:4 But He answered and said, It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Mar 1:21 And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.
Mar 1:22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
Mat 21:23 And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?.... ...Mar 1:27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.
Mar 11:18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine Joh 7:16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Mat 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Mar 12:38 And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,
Mar 12:39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:
Mar 12:40 Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation. Mat 16:5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.
Mat 16:6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Mat 16:7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
Mat 16:8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
Mat 16:9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
Mat 16:10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
Mat 16:11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? .
Mat 16:12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. Mat 15:1 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying,
Mat 15:2 Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.
Mat 15:3 But He answered and said to them, Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Mat 15:4 For God commanded, saying, "Honor your father and mother"; and, "He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him die by death."
Mat 15:5 But you say, Whoever says to his father or mother, Whatever you would gain from me, It is a gift to God;
Mat 15:6 and in no way he honors his father or his mother. And you voided the commandment of God by your tradition.
Mat 15:7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying,
Mat 15:8 "This people draws near to Me with their mouth, and honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
Mat 15:9 But in vain they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Mat 15:10 And He called the crowd and said to them, Hear and understand.
Mat 15:11 Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.
Mat 15:12 Then His disciples came and said to Him, Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?
Mat 15:13 But He answered and said, Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up.
Mat 15:14 Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Act 4:1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,
Act 4:2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. Act 4:5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,
Act 4:6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
Act 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?
Act 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
Act 4:9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
Act 4:10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
Act 4:11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
Act 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Act 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
Act 4:14 And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
Act 4:15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,
Act 4:16 Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.
Act 4:17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
Act 4:18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
Act 4:19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
Act 4:20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. 2Ti 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2Ti 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Ti 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Luther had no authority for his spurious teachings. His claim that the Bible alone was the source of revelation was a novelty, especially since the Bible itself was originally Oral Tradition that got written down, assembled and declared inspired by the Catholic Church. Further, the Church never withheld the scriptures. Translations in the vulgar tongues had been attempted, with the most famous examples being done in England. However, scholars shied away from such things out of respect for the Bible, which was a sacred text and not seen as a textbook or general directory to be tampered with. These early translations always failed to convey the meanings that had been preserved in the Greek and Latin and the Church had ultimately suppressed them. To further complicate matters, all Bibles were hand-written before the invention of the printing press in 1439 AD (Luther grew up in a time when printing was just beginning), thus Bibles were rare, so rare in fact that poor parishes were lucky to even have one, let alone make them available to everyone. In main churches a Bible was made accessible; they were chained to lecterns and anyone could peruse them. Luther's idea of Sola Scriptura is sometimes referred to as a heresy born of technology: had the printing press never been invented there would have been no way to distribute Bibles to everyone and hence the teaching that everyone must read the Bible to know Jesus would have simply been impossible. This is why Sola Scriptura coincides with the appearance of printing, it was simply not a conceivable or feasible heresy until it. Catholics do not argue from the Bible until the inspiration of the Bible is proven by the other party, so that the conversation can begin on a level field. They would agree with all quotes above and even point to the same quotes as condemnations of Protestantism and its novel teachings that have been propagated since the 16th century. Because of this great irony, it would seem advisable to study Biblical history, where it comes from, the development of it's canon and its propagation and preservation throughout history.