Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Bible kept from ordinary Catholics?

A Protestant said to me with regard to Luther omitting books from the Bible, "Even if [Luther] did leave some books out, 90% is better than the 0% they were getting." His implication was that the Catholic Church was somehow keeping the Bible from the people or discouraging the study of Sacred Scripture. I have heard this polemic in the past and wanted to provide source evidence that shows how absurd this claim really is. Observe...

Martin Luther himself admitted:

"We are obliged to yield many things to the Papists [Catholics]--that they possess the Word of God which we received from them, otherwise we should have known nothing at all about it." (Commentary on St. John, ch. 16)

The Church had translated the Bible into the venacular languages of the world centuries prior to Martin Luther. In fact there were approx. 18 editions of the Bible in German before Luther's translation. The Church has been constant in it's teaching that "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." (St. Jerome)

St. John Chrysostom (344/354 -407 AD)

"This is what has ruined everything, your thinking that the reading of scripture is for monks only, when you need it more than they do. Those who are placed in the world, and who receive wounds every day have the most need of medicine. So, far worse even than not reading the scriptures is the idea that they are superfluous. Such things were invented by the devil." (St. John’s Second Homily on Matthew)

Pope St. Gregory I (died 604 AD)

"The Emperor of heaven, the Lord of men and of angels, has sent you His epistles for your life’s advantage—and yet you neglect to read them eagerly. Study them, I beg you, and meditate daily on the words of your Creator. Learn the heart of God in the words of God, that you may sigh more eagerly for things eternal, that your soul may be kindled with greater longings for heavenly joys." (Letters, 5, 46)

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153 AD)

"The person who thirsts for God eagerly studies and meditates on the inspired Word, knowing that there, he is certain to find the One for whom he thirsts."

St. Bonaventure (1221-1274 AD)

In his day, there where no public schools and only the wealthy could afford private tutors. Therefore, most people could not read or write. St. Bonaventure had composed a copy of "Biblia Pauperum" which means the "Bible of the poor." It contained a collection of pictures illustrating the important events of the Old Testament. It also contained parallel scenes in the New Testament and it showed how the Old Testament prefigured and was fulfilled in the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

St. Teresa of Avila (1515 -1582 AD)

"all the harm that comes to the world comes from its not knowing the truths of Scripture in clarity and truth... To me it seemed I had always believed this, and that all the faithful believed it."
The publisher of the Cologne [German] Bible [1480] writes:

"All Christians should read the Bible with piety and reverence, praying the Holy Ghost, who is the inspirer of the Scriptures, to enable them to understand . . . The learned should make use of the Latin translation of St. Jerome; but the unlearned and simple folk, whether laymen or clergy . . . should read the German translations now supplied, and thus arm themselves against the enemy of our salvation."

The publisher of the Koberger Vulgate of 1477 stated:

"The Holy Scriptures excel all the learning of the world . . . All believers should watch zealously and exert themselves unremittingly to understand the contents of these most useful and exalted writings, and to retain them in the memory. Holy Scripture is that beautiful garden of Paradise in which the leaves of the commandments grow green, the branches of evangelical counsel sprout . . ."

The translators of the Protestant King James Version, in their 'Preface,' refer to previous translations:

"Much about that time [1360], even our King Richard the Second's days, John Trevisa translated [Scripture] into English, and many English Bibles in written hand are yet to be seen that divers translated, as it is very probable, in that age. . . So that, to have the Scriptures in the mother tongue is not a quaint conceit lately taken up . . . but hath been . . . put in practice of old, even from the first times of the conversion of any nation."
In another place, Martin Luther laments...
"Since the downfall of Popery and the cessation of excommunications and spiritual penalties, the people have learned to despise the word of God. They no longer care for the churches; they have ceased to fear and honor God...After throwing off the yoke of the Pope, everyone wishes to live as he pleases. [They say] 'we will spend the day like Lutherans. Drunkenness has come upon us like a deluge.' If God had not closed my eyes, and if I had foreseen these scandals, I would never have begun to teach the gospel." (WL 6, 920)

Luther confesses...
"I confess... that I am more negligent than I was under the Pope and there is now nowhere such an amount of earnestness under the Gospel, as was fomerly seen among monks and priests." (WL 9. 1311)

In a letter to Zwingli, Luther writes...
"If the world last long it will be again necessary, on account of the different interpretations of Scripture which now exist, that to preserve the unity of faith we should receive the Councils and decrees and fly to them for refuge." (Contra Zuingli et Oecol. cited in "Sola Scriptura: A Blueprint For Anarchy" by Patrick Madrid)
God bless,



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