Choose a topic from Vol 3:


Reason proves God's existence
Primitive monotheism
Mystery of God's inner nature
Personality of God
Providence of God and the problem of evil


Immortal destiny of man
Can earth give true happiness?
Do human souls evolve?
Is transmigration possible?
Animal souls
Freedom of will
Free will and faith


Religion and God
The duty of prayer
The mysteries of religion
Can we believe in miracles?

The Religion of the Bible

Historical character of the Gospels
Canonical Books of the Bible
Original Manuscripts
Copyists' errors
Truth of the Bible
New Testament "contradictions"

The Christian Religion

Christianity alone true
Not the product of religious experience
Compared with Buddhism, Confucianism, Mahometanism, Bahaism, etc.,
Rejected by modern Jews
The demand for miracles
The necessity of faith
Difficulties not doubts
Proofs available
Dispositions of unbelievers

A Definite Christian Faith

One religion not as good as another
Changing one's religion
Catholic convictions and zeal
Religious controversy
The curse of bigotry
Towards a solution

The Problem of Reunion

Efforts at the reunion of the Churches
The Church of England as a "Bridge-Church"
Anglicans and the Greek Orthodox Church
The "Old Catholics" of Holland
Reunion Conferences
Catholic Unity
The Papacy as reunion center
Protestant hostility to Catholicism
The demands of charity

The Truth of Catholicism

Necessity of the Church
The true Church
Catholic claim absolute
A clerical hierarchy
Papal Supremacy
Temporal Power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Catholic attitude to converts
Indefectible Apostolicity
Necessity of becoming a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic belief in the Bible
Bible-reading and private interpretation
Value of Tradition and the "Fathers"
Guidance of the Church necessary

The Dogmas of the Catholic Church

Dogmatic certainty
Credal statements
Faith and reason
The voice of science
Fate of rationalists
The dogma of the Trinity
Creation and evolution
The existence of angels
Evil spirits or devils
Man's eternal destiny
The fact of sin
Nature and work of Christ
Mary, the mother of God
Grace and salvation
The sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
Man's death and judgment
Resurrection of the body
End of the World

Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church

Catholic intolerance
The Spanish Inquisition
Prohibition of Books
Liberty of worship
Forbidden Socieities
Church attendance
The New Psychology
Deterministic philosophy
Marriage Legislation
Birth Prevention
Monastic Life
Convent Life
Legal defense of murderers
Laywers and divorce proceedings
Judges in Divorce
Professional secrecy

The Church in Her Worship

Why build churches?
Glamor of ritual
The "Lord's Prayer"
Pagan derivations
Liturgical symbolism
Use of Latin
Intercession of Mary and the Saints

The Church and Social Welfare

The Church and Education
The Social Problem
Social Duty of the Church
Catholicism and Capitalism

Bible-reading and private interpretation

507. Is it true that Catholics must not read Protestant translations of the Bible?

It is true that Catholics are forbidden to read Protestant Versions of the Bible. Sacred Scripture is so important, and is entitled to such reverence that the Catholic Church permits to her subjects only such translations as she herself is able to guarantee to be substantially correct. English-speaking Catholics have their own Douay Version provided for their use. The Protestant scholar Scrivener said of the Douay Version, "Its scrupulous fidelity and exactness are its best recommendation. It is an act of justice to recognize that none of us has ever been able to reproach its translators with any willful alteration of the Scriptures." Catholics are obliged in conscience, therefore, to use the Catholic, and not the Protestant Version. This is a disciplinary law of the Church to which they owe obedience; and violation of that law is, of course, sinful.

508. Many good Roman Catholics have confessed to me that they have never read or heard a line of Scripture.

That is not true. No Catholic can attend Mass on Sundays without hearing the appointed sections of Scripture. Private reading of Scripture is not of obligation with Catholics, though it is recommended as a devotional practice, and fulfilled by many.

509. I think it is appalling that people should not read the Word of God for themselves.

How then did multitudes of Christians manage through so many centuries before the invention of the printing press, when it was impossible for them all to secure copies? They were not the worse Christians for that. They were taught by the Catholic Church. And the Catholic Church still teaches the Christian religion to her subjects with such success that Catholics have much clearer, more definite, and more accurate notions of Christianity than any of those who rely only on their own reading of the Bible.

510. How can one know all that is necessary if one does not read Scripture day by day?

We can know all that is necessary to believe and to do by being taught by that Catholic Church which Christ sent to teach all nations. It is not necessary to read Scripture in order to obtain this knowledge; and those who do read Scripture, making it the sole source of their knowledge, more often than not do not succeed in learning the essentials of Christianity. Those who maintain the necessity of reading the Bible limit the efficacy of Christianity in an impossible way. For thus millions and millions of Christians could not have known the essentials of Christianity before the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century; and the illiterate could never have a chance of knowing the truths necessary for salvation, owing to their inability to read! The reading of Scripture is not, and never was intended by Christ to be man's guide in the great affair of salvation. He intended man's guide to be the teaching Church He founded and commissioned to teach all men in His name. And men have ever been able to turn to the Catholic Church for the necessary information in all ages.

511. We Protestants believe that each man should read the Bible for himself and accept the truth he discovers in its pages.

That is an unsound principle. Many men fail to understand the true meaning of the Bible, and still more read wrong meanings into it. Thus St. Peter says that there are many things in Scripture hard to be understood which the unlearned and unstable wrest to their own destruction. The very fruits of such private interpretation should be sufficient proof that God could never have intended such a method. For men have made the Bible support the most opposite doctrines and have established hundreds of distinct and irreconcilable sects, each claiming to represent the true religion of Christ. God could never have intended a principle which would lead to such chaos.

512. In Acts XVII, 11, St. Paul commends the Bereans because they eagerly searched the Scriptures to see whether the things preached to them were so.

The passage excludes the very conclusion you wish to draw from it. The Berean Jews are commended as opposed to the Thessalonian Jews because the Berean Jews at least listened to the Gospel and examined references to the Scriptures where the Thessalonians would not give any attention, but persecuted the preachers of the Gospel of Christ. But the passage you quote commends their eager interest, not their searching of the Scriptures as such. Nor can the passage possibly be interpreted as favoring private interpretation as a guide to truth. The Berean Jews turned to the Scriptures to see if what was said of Christ as the Messiah was true. Yet with what result? The very next verse after the one you quote tells us that "many indeed believed." Many, not all, of those who so eagerly scanned the Scriptures, discovered the truth and received the grace of the Christian faith. Those who failed to believe did not profit much by their reliance on private interpretation. Their decision for themselves was erroneous! No. Private interpretation is not a sure guide to the truth, and Christ wisely established an infallible Church to be the guide of men in matters of religion. The Jews of Berea who were converted accepted wholeheartedly and persevered in the teaching of the Apostles.

513. If other students of the Bible differ from you in their interpretations, they have a right to their own views.

Neither they nor I have any right to adopt any interpretation of the Bible which is opposed to that officially taught by the Catholic Church. The Bible itself says that no Scripture is of private interpretation, and also that the Church is the "pillar and ground of truth." The idea that each man has a right to his own private interpretations of Scripture is anti-Scriptural.

514. Peter says that "no prophecy of Scripture is made by private interpretation," but he adds, "for the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost." 2 Pet. I., 20-21. You leave out those last words which show that he refers to the prophets, not to ordinary readers.

The last words you quote do not qualify the preceding verse as you think. There is no doubt whatever that St. Peter warns against private interpretation in verse 20, giving the reason in verse 21. The sense is as follows: "Do not presume to think you may privately interpret Scripture for yourself. If Scripture were merely the result of natural human thought, it would be different. But it is not the result of merely human thought. The holy writers were inspired by God-and it is the Spirit of God, not your own reasoning, which can dictate the true sense." That Spirit of God operates through the Catholic Church, the appointed and authentic religious guide of men. In the same Epistle, III., 16, St. Peter obviously shows that he was opposed to private interpretation when he says that there are many things in Scripture hard to be understood, and which the unlearned and unstable wrest to their own destruction.

515. When we read Scripture we have only to be led by the Holy Spirit.

By what test do you decide that it is really the Holy Spirit leading you? How do you know that you do not just think what you want to think, and then persuade yourself that it must be right because you think it, and that your opinion must be the voice of the Holy Spirit? Other people, just as sincere, arrive at other conclusions. Why would it be wiser to accept your verdict rather than theirs? All kinds of strange religions have been given to the world by men who have declared with the utmost confidence that the Holy Spirit is responsible for their ideas. St. John warns us: "Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, if they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into this world." And he adds, "He that heareth not us, is not of God. By this we know the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error." 1 Jn. IV., 6. St. John appeals to the teaching of the Apostles as constituting the teaching Church - that Catholic Church of which Christ said, "If a man will not hear the Church, let him be as the heathen." That Church we Catholics hear and obey.

516. Has the ordinary reader no chance whatever of arriving at the correct sense of Scripture?

In very many isolated passages of Scripture he could certainly do so. In a great many passages he would scarcely be able to do so. In many others he would have no chance at all. There is no doubt whatever that the Bible is one of the most difficult books to understand. One needs a vast knowledge of ancient languages, history, and customs; and must be quite at home with Hebrew and Greek allegorical, metaphorical, and typical expressions, quite apart from the spiritual insight required to penetrate the loftiest mysteries. How many individuals are thus qualified? The untrained lack the historical and philological formation necessary to appreciate the true sense of what is written, and therefore make isolated texts mean what they wish, without adverting to either context or parallel passages. In the "Merchant of Venice" Shakespeare puts upon the lips of Bassanio the famous words, "In religion, what damned error, but some sober brow will bless it, and approve it with a text."

517. Even though he were to fail here and there, could not the average reader gain a knowledge from the Bible of the whole body of Christian doctrine in general?

That would not be possible, for Christian doctrine in its totality is not to be found in Scripture. Much of Christian doctrine is contained not in Scripture but in tradition; and a clear understanding of Christian doctrine requires in many cases the precise definitions of the Catholic Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.



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