Catholic Issues

Sola Scriptura and the Canon of Scripture

by Steve Ray on November 3, 2015

Sola Scriptura and the Canon

When non-Catholics are asked to provide biblical support or their belief that the Bible Alone is the sole rule of faith for the believer, they usually cite 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which states that “all scripture is God-breathed and is useful”. However, they somehow miss the fact that the two verses immediately prior stress the importance of oral teaching and the teaching authority of the Church. Here is the entire passage with context added:

bible112 Timothy 3:14-17

Verse 14: But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of (Timothy had learned the Gospel and become convinced that it was true by Paul’s ORAL preaching and teaching. This oral preaching and teaching is known to Catholics as Sacred Tradition.), because you know those from whom you learned it (Timothy had learned the Scriptures first from his mother and grandmother, and then the full gospel from Paul, an Apostle (and Bishop) of the Church, and possibly from other Church leaders whom Timothy had heard preaching and teaching. The teaching authority of the Church is known to Catholics as the Magisterium.) ,

Verse 15: and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures (Timothy would have known only the Old Testament scriptures from his infancy since the New Testament had not been written or completed at the time Paul’s letter to Timothy was composed. However, the New Testament is recognized as part of the Bible, the written Word of God. This is known to Catholics as Sacred Scripture.), which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (Only after commending the Tradition “handed on” from the Magisterium does Paul go on to discuss the nature of Sacred Scripture in the following verses.)

Verse 16: All Scripture is God-breathed (referring exclusively to the Hebrew Scriptures) and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Viewed this way, we can see that 2 Timothy 3:14-17 does not support the doctrine of sola scriptura at all. In fact, the opposite is true. (Compare: 1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 2:15, 3:6.)

Another point to consider is that Paul’s disciple, Timothy, was a Greek, and the Old Testament that Timothy would have been most familiar with from the time of his youth was the Greek Septuagint. Because of his travels outside of Israel, Paul, too, would have been familiar with and would have used the Greek version of the Old Testament writings. Eighty percent of Paul’s quotations of the Old Testament in the New are from the Greek Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Bible. Therefore, in this passage of scripture, Paul encouraged Timothy to continue in what he had learned from the Septuagint.

This has important implications for a controversy concerning seven books of the Old Testament now known collectively to Catholics as the “Deuterocanonicals” and to Protestants as the “Apocrypha”. Catholics consider the Deuterocanonicals to be inspired scripture while Protestants reject them. The Greek Septuagint contains these seven books while the Hebrew version of the Old Testament does not. (For more on this topic, see Gary Michuta’s excellent book Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger).

There is no doubt that the Septuagint was known to and used by Jesus, Paul and Timothy and yet, in the 16th century, Martin Luther removed these seven books from the Bible because they contain passages that support distinctly Catholic doctrines like praying for the dead and purgatory—doctrines which he rejected. Luther justified his action in part upon the fact that the some Jews themselves rejected the Deuterocanonicals as part of their canon.

This development in the history of the Jewish canon is interesting in itself. Beginning as early as 90 A.D. some Jewish leaders began to re-think which books of the Bible should and should not be considered scripture. In the second century, the Jews questioned the Deuterocanonical books due in large part to the fact that the early Christian Church was using the Deuterocanonicals to support the Christian belief in the resurrection from the dead. The Jewish scriptures were being used to win converts to the Christian faith! Consequently, some two centuries after Christ’s death and resurrection, the Jews are often thought to have questioned the Deuterocanonical books which taught the resurrection. Martin Luther used their doubt to justify his own. (For more on the “Council of Jamnia and the collection of Old Testament books, read my article The Council that Never Was as published in This Rock Magazine.)

This leads to a couple of obvious questions: “Why would the Holy Spirit guide a group of rabbis on matters related to the Old Testament canon when there was already a Christian Church in existence that was under His infallible guidance as Jesus had promised? And why should Luther accept the revised Hebrew canon instead of the canon of the Septuagint that had been used by St. Paul and from then on in continuous use in the Church for over fifteen centuries?

Luther picked that truncated canon for the same reason the rabbis did:  in order to undermine the teachings of the Catholic Church which did not fit his new theology.

For more, click here.


Was He Ready to Die?

by Steve Ray on October 28, 2015

IMG_9875It was just a normal morning — alarm clock, shower, espresso, dress and a saunter down the sidewalk to work. For Paul is was another day with a whole lifetime ahead of him. But today was different.

Someone else got up this morning too. They had their coffee dressed and jumped in the car. They tried to catch up on their phone calls along the way and didn’t notice the car stopped in front of them. He swerved and his car jumped the sidewalk.

Paul didn’t even have time to blink. The car slammed into him as he walked to work and he was dead. It was over. No time to think. No time to call out to God. He was dead in an instant.

Was he ready? Where is he now? I don’t know.

IMG_9872The other day in Rome I was just out for a run along the same sidewalk. I saw the memorial bolted into the wall with flowers and prayers. Paul’s family hopes he is in heaven. They still bring flowers, light candles and pray at the place he was instantly killed.

I stopped my walking. I pondered the memorial — Paul’s picture. He was a young man; looks like about 30 years old, handsome and full of life. Did he leave a wife and kids behind? Was he a church-goer or had he dropped out for more important things?

Flowers, candles, prayers, tears, longing, hope, sorrow, lonliness, regret. All of this was obvious from the remembrance placed on the sidewalk.

IMG_9874I crossed myself, said a prayer for Paul though I have no idea who he was — or is, I should say because life does not end at death but goes on in heaven or hell.

I suspect he didn’t know his life would end at 8:46 AM that morning. Nor did anyone else. Makes one wonder if his life was in order. Had he gone to confession? Did he harbor grudges against family or friends?

As I prayed and meditated a bit on the sidewalk, I thought of my own life and once again realized how fragile we are and how crucial it is to be right with God and the world at all times. We never know when a cell phone call, or an absent-minded driver might snuff out our life.

It’s a good time to take a quick evaluation of your life. Are you ready to die?

For my story The Last Nightmare: the Story of a Soul, click here.


This morning  Janet and I are in Rome for a few days awaiting our pilgrimage group as we embark across Italy and then by ship voyaging around Greece and Turkey to follow the footprints of St. Paul and the Early Church.

This morning, from the rooftop of our rented apartment as we eat breakfast, we’re looking out over the Vatican (see St. Peter’s dome over my head) and we can imagine the rushing wind and the flutter of wings as the Holy Spirit is busy at work – as the Synod on the Family takes place below. 

I can imagine the dust cloud as ideas and controversy and theology swirl about. Many of the Prelates from Africa and other conservative areas of the world are wondering why the West is so fixated on irregular marriages and homosexuality. And those in countries where these issues abound the question is, “What do we do?”

More than one Archbishop has asked if Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, not to mention St. John the Baptist, were wrong in their assessment of a irregular marriages. Others ask if the German Bishops think they know better than Jesus Christ.

As we sit sipping our espressos we pray for our Church, realizing it’s not really ours but Jesus Christ’s and He is the one building and protecting it. He’s done a good job for 2,000 years and we decided to trust him for the next 2,000 years :-)

So we pray for God’s wisdom and the superintendence of the Holy Spirit as we sit here looking out over the place where the Holy Spirit is certainly busy doing what he does best. We feel an anxious calm.

We pray for our leaders, the bishops and the Pope, that they will make decisions in compliance with the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and toward the salvation of souls and the integrity of our one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. 

UPDATE AT LUNCHTIME:  Here is what we saw as we walked out later in the day for lunch. The Synod must have let the bishops all out for lunch. Bishops and Cardinals everywhere. I saw five in a matter of two minutes! God bless them and their decisions.


Countdown to Persecution in America

August 17, 2015

Two excellent articles (Part I and Part II and Part III). There is no doubt our society is rapidly moving away from it foundations and turning into an intolerant, secular society. When that happens Christians are the first to suffer. Over the last few years I have been giving a talk entitled “Swimming Upstream: Living a [...]

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Supreme Court just Legalized Same-Sex “Marriage”

June 26, 2015

Oh boy! Here we go again. The battles are mounting and we Christians are becoming the despised sub-culture.  This ruling is the second blast of a double-barreled shotgun, the first being legalized murder through abortion. With these two rulings which destroy the family and the high view of marriage, sexuality and human dignity we are [...]

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Draft of Pope’s Environment Encyclical Leaked: 12 Things You Should Know

June 16, 2015

Jimmy Akin has done a great job summarizing the situation and the encyclical to-date. It starts out: With just days to go before the release of Pope Francis’s highly anticipated encyclical on the environment, a draft copy has suddenly appeared on the Internet. Here are 12 things to know and share . . . 1) [...]

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Mega-church Mania: One Mom’s Observations (she’s a good writer) and Observations from the Early Church

May 29, 2015

Mr. Ray, My eldest daughter invited me to my grandson’s ‘dedication’ at her new place of worship.  Worship? Sorry. Her new place of…..well, the giant Olympic-sized structure that, after being directed in by police/traffic officers, upon entering, reminded me of a mall.  Oh and by the way, I didn’t witness any worship. My 1st thoughts were…”Wow! [...]

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Should the Vatican Sell its Treasures…

May 15, 2015

… to feed the poor? Geez, I used to say that myself in my former life as a Protestant – when I was an anti-Catholic. Actually, if you added up all wealth and property of the Protestant churches and organizations it would FAR exceed that of the Vatican or all the individual dioceses around the [...]

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Stop Eating Animals! It is Against the Plan of God!

May 12, 2015


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“Created for Greatness”: The Emerging Catholic Men’s Movement – CWR Article

May 7, 2015

My friend Joe Hanneman just had his excellent article on the need for Mens’ Movements in Catholic World Report. He had interviewed me for the article and he used my quotes :-) Men, and women who love their men, should read this article and encourage real men to be involved. It makes better sons, better [...]

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Ten Signs that Christianity is on the Rise

May 6, 2015

Article by Tom Hoopes at I am just posting their 10 points. Click here for the whole article and the reasoning behind each of the 10 points. “Christianity is a dying relic of an ancient past. The Internet is killing it. Science is killing it. Western sophistication is killing it. Right? “Wrong. In many ways, Christianity [...]

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More Muslims Getting Revelation that Quran is a Man-Made Book; Demographics & Statistics

April 27, 2015

This is an interesting and insightful piece on Islam. There is no question it will continue to be the growing issue for America, Christians and the freedom of thought and rationality.  A new Pew Research Center study that looks at the future of world religions and potential population growth around the globe found that the [...]

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We Need More Heroes: Archbishop Cordilone’s Letter which Brought him MUCH Grief

March 16, 2015

It is too bad that a letter stating that Catholic schools must teach according to the truth and morals of the Catholic Church should bring condemnation and threats to an archbishop. Welcome to America in the 21st century. *************************************** Dissenting from Catholic Teaching or the Natural Moral Law in a Catholic High School does not [...]

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Okay, what about Catholics and the Death Penalty?

March 9, 2015

March 9, 2015 By Dr. Ed Peters, Canon Lawyer   (see also The Stream’s: “Should Catholics Oppose the Death Penalty?“) “Dr. Steven Long beat me to it. His rejoinder to the “Capital punishment must end” editorial of America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, andOur Sunday Visitor is essential reading even if, in some places, Long’s essay, “Four Catholic [...]

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Disturbing Report of Book on the Family Blocked from ‘Synod on the Family’ Participants

March 3, 2015

The head of secretariat of the synod of bishops was reportedly “furious” about “Remaining in the Truth of Christ,” [Ignatius Press publication] which includes chapters by Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller   (February 25, 2015 12:00 EST   Carl E. Olson)   Both and Edward Pentin are reporting that Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, head of secretariat of the synod of bishops, [...]

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Marriage in Heaven? Will We Know and Love Our Spouses in Heaven?

February 19, 2015

My dad died almost two years ago. Mom misses Dad and was discouraged about Mark 12:25 which her paraphrased Living Bible improperly rendered “will no be married” in heaven. I wrote the following to comfort my Mom. Mom, I know it is important to you since Dad’s death as you look forward to eternity and [...]

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