The Absolute Basis of Truth: The Bible or Roman Catholic Authority?

by Richard M. Bennett

  1. The basis of truth, according to the Bible, must be an absolute standard.
  2. Statement:  All believers acknowledge that there must be an absolute measure by which a thing may be judged to be truth or false.  In times past, that standard was called “the rule of faith” or “the basis of truth”, meaning the measure by which truth is known.  The principle clearly demonstrated in both the Old and New Testaments, is that the written word of God itself is the basis of truth.
  3. Scripture Matthew 4:4 “But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

John 17:17  “Sanctify them through Thy Truth:  Thy word is truth.”

Proverbs 30:5-6  “Every word of God is pure:  He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.  Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”

Psalm 119:160  “Thy word is true from the beginning:  and every one of Thy righteous judgments endureth forever.”

Psalm 119:105  “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Psalm 119:142  “…Thy law is truth.”

Mark 7:7-9, 13  “Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.  For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men…And He said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition…Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”

II Timothy 3:16-17  “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

II Peter 1:20-22  “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

Isaiah 8:20  “To the law and to the testimony:  if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

Psalm 36:9  “For with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light we see light.”

I Thessalonians 2:13  “. . .when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

I Timothy 3:15  “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

  1. The basis of truth for the Roman Catholic Church is a relative standard.
  2. Statement:  For Roman Catholicism, the basis for truth is not absolute.  Rather, its basis is threefold:  the Bible, tradition, and what is proposed as divinely revealed by the Roman Catholic Church.  Of these three sources, the ultimate authority is the decision and decrees of the reigning pope.
  3. Documentation Vatican Council II Documents No. 58, Dei Verbum, 18 Nov. 1965, Vol. I, Sec. 10, p. 756  “It is clear, therefore, that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the [Roman Catholic] Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others.”

Sec. 10, p. 755  “But the task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the [Roman Catholic] Church alone.”

Sec. 9, p. 755  “Thus it comes about that the [Roman Catholic] Church does not draw her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Hence, both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal feelings of devotion and reverence.”

No. 28, Lumen Gentium, 21 Nov. 1964, Vol. I, Sec. 25, p. 379  “Bishops who teach in communion with the Roman Pontiff are to be revered by all as witnesses of divine and Catholic truth; the faithful, for their part, are obliged to submit to their bishops’ decision, made in the name of Christ, in matters of faith and morals, and to adhere to it with a ready and respectful allegiance of mind.  This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and that one sincerely adhere to decisions made by him, conformably with his manifest mind and intention, which is made known principally either by the character of the documents in question, or by the frequency with which a certain doctrine is proposed, or by the manner in which the doctrine is formulated. . . .”

Post-Vatican Council II Canon Law

Canon 750  “All that is contained in the written word of God or in tradition, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the [Roman Catholic] Church and also proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the [Roman Catholic] Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium, must be believed with divine and catholic faith . . .”

Canon 749  “The Supreme Pontiff, in virtue of his office, possesses infallible teaching authority when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful…he proclaims with a definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held as such.”  (Sec. 1)

Canon 333  “There is neither appeal nor recourse against a decision or decree of the Roman Pontiff.”  (Sec. 3)

Canon 212  “The Christian faithful, conscious of their own responsibility, are bound by Christian obedience to follow what the sacred pastors, as representatives of Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or determine as leaders of the [Roman Catholic] Church.”  (Sec. 1)

Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994)

Para. 77   “In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them ‘their own position of teaching authority.’  Indeed, ‘the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.”

Comment: Nowhere in Scripture is there reference to the existence of the apostolic succession.  The New Testament does not depict the Apostle Peter as ruling over all the apostles.  He is in fact an elder among elders as he himself states he is.  Peter himself never mentioned his authority except as being an elder or an apostle (I Peter 5:1-4).  There is no Biblical text for these power-endowing sentences of the new Catechism. Para.77 is an example of so-called “truth” by decree.

Para.78  “This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it.  Through Tradition, ‘the [Roman Catholic] Church, in her doctrine, life, and worship perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes.’  ‘The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer.’”

Comment: Far from presenting the straightforward Biblical message of salvation in Jesus Christ alone,  Rome explicitly states that she “transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes.’”  This arrogance she calls “living transmission accomplished in the Holy Spirit”. Colossians 2:8 sounds the warning against such manmade tradition, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

Para. 80  “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together and communicate one with the other.  For both of them, flowing out from the same divine wellspring, come together in some fashion to form one thing and move towards the same goal.”

Para. 81  “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit. And [Holy]*  Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit.  It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound, and spread it abroad by their preaching.”

Comment:  In the official Catholic teaching, no precise definition is given as to what exactly Tradition is.  When a person combines all the sources referred to as Tradition by popes, bishops, and scholars, there are the following:

a. about 35 volumes of the Greek and Latin writings of the “Church fathers” up to AD   604.
b. about 35 volumes of the writings of the “Church councils” throughout history;
c. about 25 volumes of the decrees of the popes;
d. about 55 volumes of the doings and sayings of the saints.
The total is about 150 volumes of reference.

Para. 82  “As a result the [Roman Catholic] Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, ‘does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone.  Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”  [Same as Vatican Council II, Sec. 9, p. 755]

Para. 84  “The apostles entrusted the ‘Sacred deposit’ of the faith (the depositum fidei), contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to the whole of the [Roman Catholic] Church.”

Para. 85  “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the [Roman Catholic] Church alone.  Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.’ This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.”

Comment:  Why would anyone be motivated to read the Bible if he is not allowed to let the Bible interpret itself?  (Psalm 36:9; II Peter 1:20-21).

Para. 87  “Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: ‘He who hears you, hears me,’ the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms [i.e., either Scripture or Tradition].”

Comment:  Consistent with Roman Catholic teaching, the new Catechism teaches that the apostles have entrusted a “sacred deposit”, i.e., Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, to the Roman Catholic Church.   Based on the subterfuge of so-called “apostolic succession”, the proof text used to back up this modern pharisaic position of tradition transmitting the written Word is from texts as Luke 10:16, “He that heareth you heareth Me…”. These words spoken to the seventy that Christ sent out were distinctively for them at that time, but Roman Catholic teaching applies this text to her pope and clergy in a gross twisting of Holy Scripture. There is no Biblical basis for her position.

Para. 67  “Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church.  They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith.  It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history.  Guided by the magisterium of the [Roman Catholic] Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ of his saints to the Church.”

Comment:  According to Rome’s teaching, while ordinary Catholics may be vehicles for extra-Biblical revelation, discernment of the authenticity of such revelation does not extend to the ordinary Catholics themselves. Rather it must be fed through the magisterium of ‘Mother Church’ , which does claim such authority [See also canon 750 above.]  Rome rationalizes acceptance of other sources of extra-Biblical revelation by stating that the ordinary faithful Catholics welcome whatever the magisterium of the Roman Church guides them into accepting.  She consolidates her power over the rank and file Catholics by denying in practice that revelation is complete and definitive. The Bible warns “not to think above that which is written”.   Here Rome gives acceptance to private extra-Biblical revelation, but only at her discretion.  What follows from such unbiblical doctrine is, for example, the tide of acceptance of apparitions of “Mary” and her “works-gospel”.

Summary:  The principle of Sola Scriptura, the written word of God alone being the ultimate authority, is clearly demonstrated in both the Old and the New Testaments.  In the New Testament, it is the written word of God and it alone to which the Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles refer as the final authority.  In the temptation, Jesus three time resisted Satan, saying, “It is written” as, for example, in Mt. 4:4, “But He answered and said, ‘It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’” Furthermore, in refuting the errors of the Sadducees, the Lord said, “…Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.”   The Lord’s total acceptance of the authority of the Old Testament is evident in His words in Mt. 5:17-18, “Think it not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.  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.”  On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed to His Father with the clearest words, “Sanctify them through Thy truth. Thy word is truth.”   Concerning
ultimate authority, the Lord appealed to the written word of God, never once referring to traditions as authoritative.  It was also on this very point that He severely castigates the Pharisees and scribes for their reliance on tradition as authoritative which made void the Word of God in their lives, as Mark 7:6-7, 9-13 records.

That the written Word of God is the ultimate authority is declared and is also made absolutely clear by the Apostle Paul.  In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”   For their edification, Paul admonishes believers “not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.”   The complete sufficiency of Scripture as the ultimate authority is fully outlined in II Timothy 3:16-17.

Vatican Council II:  The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, Austin P. Flannery, Editor, Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. (Grand Rapids, MI), 2
Vols., 1984.  All references to Vatican Council II documents are taken from this two volume work.  Bolding in any quotation indicates emphasis
added in this compilation.

Code of Canon Law, Latin-English edition, Canon Law Society of America (Washington, DC 20064) 1983.  Unless otherwise stated, all canons cited
are taken from this source. Catechism of the Catholic Church (Liguori Publications:  Liguori, MO 63057) 1994.  All references to this catechism are taken from this source.
Square brackets followed by as asterisk [ ]* indicates that this bracket is in the original document.
I Corinthians 4:6
Matthew 22:29
John 17:17
Romans 15:4
I Corinthians 4:6

Aparabatos (Greek) meaning:  Untransferable, not passing on to others. In the N.T.  no sacrificial priests are mentioned, only elders and pastors.  In Christ Jesus all believers are part of the royal priesthood. See II Thess. 2:4, “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
“We Ought to Obey God Rather Than Men” is our documented, twenty page  analysis of ECT.   The  analysis is available through Berean Beacon of  Oregon, PO Box 55353, Portland, OR  97238-5353.
Roman 3:10 applies, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
The American College Dictionary defines to immolate as:
1) to sacrifice,
2) to kill as a sacrificial victim, to offer sacrifice.

Exodus 20:4-5 states that graven images are not to be made nor are they to be bowed down to. The Catholic Church teaches its faithful to practice the same kind of grave error into which Aaron fell–for Aaron made the golden calf as a medium through which the Israelites were to worship Holy God.  See Exodus 32:5-6.  The new Catechism explains the mechanism of idolatry in Para. 2132, “The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment [sic] which proscribes idols. Indeed, the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype, and whoever venerates [worships] an image venerates the person portrayed in it.”  Ex. 20:4-5 explicitly prohibits all  practices of idolatry, including those taught in official Roman Catholic doctrine, and including the practice of worshiping the communion bread.  See also Jer. 10:14-15. For excellent study see Graven Bread: The Papacy, the Apparitions of  Mary, and the Worship of the Bread of the Altar by Timothy F. Kauffman (White Horse Publications: P O Box 2398, Huntsville, AL 35804-2398 USA or  call 1-800-867-2398) 1995, 170 pp. with appendices.