Common Sense on Common Verses



As we all know, Catholic Christianity, besides not actually being Christian, is definitely not Biblical. Accordingly, all it takes to tear down this crypto-pagan structure of man-made traditions is a few precision strikes with the Word. After all, the last thing any Catholic apologist would want you to do is "read/know your Bible." Trust me, I would never say that on the podcast.


Alright, end sarcasm. Let's quickly evaluate a few of these supposed KO shots:

 

You can't call priests father! "And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven."


If this is a literal prohibition, you and I break it whenever we refer to our earthly fathers, and Paul broke it when he called himself a father to Timothy and the Corinthians. The prior verse would forbid mister, missus, teacher, professor, and doctor. It's not a literal prohibition and allows for spiritual fatherhood.

 

Jesus condemns traditions! "He answered them, And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?"


A tradition is that which is handed down. If humans start one that contradicts revealed truth, big oof. If the God-Man teaches his Apostles, and they hand on that teaching as a religion, that would be tradition and divine command (e.g. 2 Thess. 2:15). If human teachers (maybe "reformers?") later start their own traditions that contradict that Sacred Tradition, however...

 

Salvation has nothing to do with works! "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God."


Catholics baptize babies into Christ, into salvation - how could we possibly believe we have been saved by our own merits? Our objection to "faith alone" isn't about humans working their way into God's favor, it's that you have to keep going with "faith that works through love." Your lungs are a gift - that doesn't make breathing a nice add-on.

 

Jesus condemns repeated prayers! "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words."


Why does Jesus qualify repetition? Is it because he's condemning the pagan practice of long, babbly, and cynical prayers of no substance, not meditative prayer on his life (e.g. the Rosary), or his mercy (e.g. the Divine Mercy Chaplet or the Jesus Prayer)? Did he give us an explicit prayer in the Lord's Prayer because repeating things is bad?

 

Peter was not an infallible Pope! "Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns."


The actual dogma of Infallibility is about the Church's leadership not being able to bind the Body of Christ to grave error. It doesn't mean any individual Pope can't be a bad person. Many were. Peter was frequently a dolt, albeit well-intended. The same applies to when Paul corrects Peter's behavior later.

 

Jesus condemns transubstantiation! "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life."


If Jesus is saying that his own flesh counts for nothing, then the whole Incarnation and Passion thing is null. The flesh of Jesus wins us eternal life! Rather, flesh vs. spirit is how Jesus talks about belief and unbelief - here, "flesh" is disbelieving that Jesus truly is the Bread of Life, true food and true drink.

 

We're all priests! "You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."


Well, yeah. That's why Catholics partake of the flesh of the sacrificial Lamb as the heart of our worship and offer up our lives - including good works - to the Father through the Son. If you check your Bible, that's priesthood. That we use the term "priest" to refer to our pastors is a semantic point - it's just derivative from "presbyter," the Biblical term.

 

We're all saints! "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus"


Again, this is a semantic point. We affirm that we possess sanctifying grace from the moment of salvation. Thus, as the Bible does, you can refer to Christians as "saints" or "holy ones." Over time, the customary usage of the term narrowed for various reasons, but the theology agrees. But you might be surprised if you ask your pastor whether we are sanctified when we are justified...

 

The Bible condemns celibacy and Lenten rules! "They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth."


Catholics have never been forbidden to marry nor do we believe certain foods (or drinks) are bad - there's a reason we're known for large families and feasts. We do however, agree with Christ and Paul that celibacy is a higher calling, freeing us to dedicate our all to God, and we follow the Apostles in Acts in establishing community disciplines, like how they temporarily forbade bloody meat.


 

Bishops must be married! "Now the bishop is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,"


That's shocking, especially since it comes from Paul, who exercised the same authority despite explicitly being celibate and an advocate for celibacy. Is it possible that what he means is that adulterers and polygamists, defying the morality of the Faith, shouldn't be entrusted to lead it? It's also possible that clerical celibacy is a discipline adopted pragmatically, not a doctrine we pretend to be revelation.

 

The Bible forbids religious images! "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them."


If every image is a forbidden idol, there goes the Ark of the Covenant, the Temple of Solomon, and the Bronze Serpent, all of which were images used to glorify God and edify the people. Now, if you do find someone worshipping an image or any creature, yes, tell them off - you'll be upholding our doctrine.

 

And, for bonus points, the Virgin Mary lightning round!

 

Mary wasn't always a virgin! “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?"


It's not like the Bible uses the term brother very broadly, with everything from half-brothers (children of David), to cousins (Abraham and Lot), to tribal kin (Levite priests), to ancient common ancestry (Isaac and Ishmael's descendants). We have to use context to discern whether it means full blood brother, like that Jesus entrusted his mother to John, not to another son.

 

Mary calls God her savior! "and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,"


Yes. God saved Mary through preservation from Original Sin. God is Mary's savior. This is 100% okay.

 

Everyone, including Mary, sinned! "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"


First, strictly everyone? Jesus? Infants? Extremely disabled people? This only works as a universal and literal declaration if we define it very carefully as "all creatures are subject to sin." In which case... yeah. If God hadn't saved Mary by preservation from sin, she would have been a sinner like everyone else.


 

Intercessory prayer violates Christ's role! "For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus"


Please read the full passage. Please. Paul is clear that Christ is the mediator of the covenant - the Lamb who was slain to reconcile God and mankind. Nobody thinks Mary died for our sins to forge some alternate covenant (no, if you hear "co-redemptrix," that's not what that means). Paul in fact starts this chapter by asking for prayers for others - by seeking intercession!

 

And now to prove Sola Scripture, because if it ain't in Scripture, that's a mighty contradiction!

 

Scripture is enough for us to be fully formed! "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."


We agree entirely with Paul's letter. All Scripture is inspired, useful, and leads us to being fully-formed. It does not, however, say that Scripture can do this without our being guided and using other tools - a nail is necessary and excellent for completing a house, but good luck with a nails-alone home.

 

We can understand like Paul just by reading! "By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ"


If the Bible were that easy, there would be only one Sola Scriptura community. There are thousands, however, confirming the Bible's warnings against private interpretation. Paul is instead telling them they will understand Scripture - but only by following the teaching he has handed them (i.e., "tradition.")


 

We're supposed to check all teachings against Scripture! "Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."


So, Luke is praising the Bereans for... doubting the Gospel? If this verse is about how we shouldn't believe until we personally interpret the Scriptures that way, it makes doubt a virtue, when the Apostles consistently celebrate belief - like how the Bereans embraced the scriptural truths illuminated by Paul.


 

Paul tells us to not go beyond what is written! "Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other."


If "what is written" refers to Scripture, it makes no room for whatever teaching the Corinthians got before this or anything written after this (e.g. 2 Corinthians). Paul's precise meaning may be unclear, but that only goes to show there are things hard to understand that some wrest unto destruction.


 

Revelation condemns adding to the Bible! "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll."


John is pretty clearly talking about altering the book of Revelation itself. Given how long it took for Revelation to be universally accepted as Scripture, the above would be a weird thing for it to mean. Even if it did somehow... the next verse condemns removing, which would seem to apply to the reformers cutting parts out of the Old Testament.

 

Obviously, many of these points deserve deeper discussion, but I'm not at all opposed to the idea that much of the Bible can be illuminated by common sense - we just have to be sure that it is the sense of the Church, the pillar and foundation of the truth, which prevails over the pitfalls and fallacies that all of us individually, from the simplest believer to the most sophisticated philosopher, are prone to.


Ultimately, the common sense we must apply to any part of the Bible is this: did Jesus Christ come in the flesh to suffer and die for the salvation of my soul, only to abandon me to a spiritual babel of my own Biblical scholarship and comprehension? Or did my Lord and my God preserve the truth in a visible body that I might rely on his work, not my own?


You don't need much more than common sense to know which a God who loves us would do.