Church History

A man named and Alan posted a comment on my blog. He claims that he was once a Catholic and therefore he is eminently qualified to comment on Catholics reading Bibles. He said they don’t read Bibles and they “don’t even own Bibles”. His ignorant exaggerations discredit everything else he says but I still thought it would be interesting to respond to him with a few facts for the education of everyone else.

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To Steve Ray:
As one who was raised in the Catholic Church: St. Luke (GS); St. Edward (HS); John Carroll University, graduate I am uniquely qualified to comment on Catholics relationship with the Holy Bible. Fact, as a general rule, Catholics do not read the Holy Bible. Catholics do not enter Church with a copy of the Holy Bible in tow.

While I do not recall being told not to read the Bible, Catholics simply relied on the weekly homily delivered by the priest. Bible message references to be sure, but no Catholics following along or reading the Bible during the homily. Sorry Steve, iss fun to pretend Catholics are "in their Bible," they simply do not own one. Time for you to get real, my friend.

STEVE RAY HERE IN RESPONSE:
Alan, First of all, thanks for sharing your thoughts on my blog. Second of all, you are not uniquely qualified since you only went to a very limited number of Catholic churches in a very limited space and time. The Catholic Church is been around for 2000 years. How old are you?

Second, Catholic Bibles are one of the hottest things being sold right now. I am a Catholic and I study the Bible all the time and I know many many others who do. So you’re sweeping generalizations discredit everything else you say.

I’d also like to remind you that no one had their own Bible up until the last couple hundred years. First of all, thanks for sharing your thoughts on my blog. Second of all, you are not uniquely qualified since you only went to a very limited number of Catholic churches in a very limited space and time. The Catholic Church has been around for 2000 years. How old are you?

Second, Catholic Bibles are one of the hardest things aren’t being sold right now. I’m a Catholic and I studied the Bible all the time and I know many many others who do. So you’re sweeping generalizations discredit everything else you say.

I’d also like to remind you that no one had their own Bible up until the last couple hundred years. First of all the Bible wasn’t even collected and put together in a book until the end of the fourth century. For the next thousand years a Bible cost the equivalent of three year’s wages which meant that even you would not be able to afford to carry a Bible to church and follow along with your “pastor“.

Carrying a Bible to church is a relatively new idea. On top of that, for those who believe that you should read the Bible for yourself as the primary way to be a real Christian, one must remember that for most of history 90% of the people or more were illiterate and even today 50% of the world cannot read or do not even have the Bible yet printed in their language.

That is why the Church, and by that I mean the Catholic Church, which has been here for 2000 years, reads large sections of scripture every day at Mass and all through history people listen to those and often memorized them because they didn’t have their own Bibles or couldn’t read. Even today in places where there is no written language the Catholic Church continues to provide the word of God along with healthcare and education which protestants unhappily don’t do very much.

And are you aware Alan, that the Bible was originally written with the intention of being read out loud to a group. It was not intended to be read silently to yourself. In fact it wasn’t until the fourth century that Saint Ambrose started the very unusual practice of reading the Bible silently to himself instead of having it read out loud.

If you took a Christian from the first four centuries and put them in a Baptist church today, they would have no idea where they are or what was going on. However, if you put a first century Christian in a Catholic Church today, except for the strange clothes and different language, they would know exactly where they are and what is going on because it’s the same liturgy that has been celebrated on Sundays since the beginning.

If you don’t believe that, read Justin Martyr who gave the first written account of what was done on Sunday mornings and you’ll find out that what we are doing today in the Catholic Church is exactly what the early Christians did from the 1st century.

In summary, we would welcome you back to the true Church and when you read your Bible remember it was the bishop’s and councils of the Catholic Church to determine which books belonged to the canon, put it together and copied it and passed it down through the generations — Protestants that read their Bibles today (which happen to be very few and that I know because I used to be one) have the Catholic Church to thank for the book.

Here’s a truth you may want to memorize along with John 3:16. “To be deep in history is to cease being a Protestant.”

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This short one-minute video is a few years old now, but it always makes me swell with pride. I am sharing it again to remind us that the Catholic Church is a blessed and elegant and universal Church that needs to be loved and defended. Enjoy, again!

Maybe share with a friend or family that has drifted away…

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This is just one page of Bob Sullivan’s excellent little tri-fold handout to explain how we got the Bible. It is from the Catholic and historical perspective without all the Protestant biases and twisting of history. I think you enjoy the whole thing which you can see here.

You can print this out, fold it twice and hand it to someone who needs to know or keep one in your pocket.

Click here to open the full printable document

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