“Guided by the Holy Spirit, we compiled the Bible.” That is what a television advertisement of the Catholic Church claims. Is it true? A billion people think it is, but what are the facts?
The Catholic Church is notorious for making audacious claims without proof. What is the evidence that shows the Holy Spirit guides the Catholic Church in its teaching? I have asked that question many times and here is what they typically say. First, they twist what Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16:18 and say Peter was the first pope. Second, they say that the Catholic Church goes all the way back to the first century and is the church Jesus promised to build. It is not. Third, they may say that miracles still happen which prove the Catholic faith is true. So-called visions of Mary and other such occurrences are given as examples.
The truth is that the Catholic claim to special guidance that gives revelation other than the Bible is no different than the claims of other groups. Mormons claim that God inspired the Book of Mormon. Muslims claim that the Koran is inspired of God. Jehovah’s Witnesses say God gave their doctrine. When you ask any of them “And why should I believe you?” you get nothing. You usually get their testimony and how they feel, but no proof.
When God inspired the men who spoke and wrote the Bible, He proved he was speaking through them by miracles that confirmed the revelation (Mark 16:20; Heb. 2:1-4). In addition, the Bible proves its own inspiration by fulfilled prophecies and other evidences (Luke 24:44). Catholics can point to no such proof for the pope or their “sacred traditions.”
The Catholic Church claims to have compiled the Bible in 397 A.D. They say that prior to that time people in general did not know which books belonged in the New Testament and which ones did not, so the Catholic Council of Carthage in 397 made the official decision. They tell us we would not even have the New Testament if it were not for them.
The claim is also absurd because for three hundred years before this date, certain men called “church fathers” quoted from all the books of the New Testament and spoke regularly about “the Scriptures.” Some of them wrote against Marcion, a heretic in the middle part of the second century who said some of the books in the New Testament didn’t belong in it. The church fathers condemned him. They also wrote against other false teachers who twisted the Scriptures. They did all this long before 397. Here then is the question: How could these men talk about “the Scriptures” and defend them against false teachers if they didn’t even know which books were in it? This is just one grain in a mountain of evidence against this old lie from Rome.
“Catholics come home” is the slogan of a nationwide campaign to reclaim erring Catholics. In light of all its audacious and unsubstantiated claims, it is no wonder many have left. Our plea to all of them is this: Come to the Bible!