At Vatican 1, the Roman Catholic Church proclaimed infallibly that the Bible is God's infallible word.

The same Holy mother Church holds and teaches that God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason : ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. 2. It was, however, pleasing to his wisdom and goodness to reveal himself and the eternal laws of his will to the human race by another, and that a supernatural, way. This is how the Apostle puts it : In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son .

3. It is indeed thanks to this divine revelation, that those matters concerning God which are not of themselves beyond the scope of human reason, can, even in the present state of the human race, be known by everyone without difficulty, with firm certitude and with no intermingling of error.

4. It is not because of this that one must hold revelation to be absolutely necessary; the reason is that God directed human beings to a supernatural end, that is a sharing in the good things of God that utterly surpasses the understanding of the human mind; indeed eye has not seen, neither has ear heard, nor has it come into our hearts to conceive what things God has prepared for those who love him.

5. Now this supernatural revelation, according to the belief of the universal Church, as declared by the sacred Council of Trent, is contained in written books and unwritten traditions, which were received by the apostles from the lips of Christ himself, or came to the apostles by the dictation of the Holy Spirit, and were passed on as it were from hand to hand until they reached us.

6. The complete books of the old and the new Testament with all their parts, as they are listed in the decree of the said Council and as they are found in the old Latin Vulgate edition, are to be received as sacred and canonical.

7. These books the Church holds to be sacred and canonical not because she subsequently approved them by her authority after they had been composed by unaided human skill, nor simply because they contain revelation without error, but because, being written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and were as such committed to the Church.

8. Now since the decree on the interpretation of Holy Scripture, profitably made by the Council of Trent, with the intention of constraining rash speculation, has been wrongly interpreted by some, we renew that decree and declare its meaning to be as follows: that in matters of faith and morals, belonging as they do to the establishing of Christian doctrine, that meaning of Holy Scripture must be held to be the true one, which Holy mother Church held and holds, since it is her right to judge of the true meaning and interpretation of Holy Scripture.

9. In consequence, it is not permissible for anyone to interpret Holy Scripture in a sense contrary to this, or indeed against the unanimous consent of the fathers.


The Catholic Church holds that the Bible and the Church tradition that is left by the apostles are both the word of God.

In practice, they have loads of traditions that cannot really be traced back to the apostles.  If you let something force an interpretation on what is supposed to be the word of God, in fact that interpreter becomes the real authority.  Catholics may say tradition can do that but we must remember it is a two way thing and the Bible interprets tradition too.  Not true - the Church tradition is not from God or the apostles but popes and the fathers of the Church and other charlatans.

The above decree is clear that though the Church infallibly put the Bible together, the Bible is to be obeyed and regarded as entirely the supernatural writings from God.  It is about his authorship and not about the Church saying he wrote them and not about their being free from error.  Thus the Bible could be free from error and still not be the word of God!  This is a very strong statement of divine inspiration.  A Bible that contained error and nobody was sure which bits came from God could not even be called a supernatural revelation.  It is not a revelation at all so you either accept the whole Bible as God's writing or you accept none of it.  Jesus had a similar idea for he seen himself as the word of God which was why he said you either accept him 100% or you reject him 100%. 

Did the Bible come from the Church? Did the Church make the Bible? Why are we given a fixed list for what books belong in the Bible?  The decree answers those questions. The Bible is infallible for God wrote it and not because the Church says so or because no error can be found in it.  So the Church only discovers what books God wrote.  In a sense the Bible does not come from the Church.
The Bible itself does not tell us exactly what books should be in the Bible or not.
The Catholics say that the Church was infallible and was able to tell with God's power and authority what books he inspired. But it had the Bible list made up long before it claimed to have infallibly defined that the list was correct. Both Protestants and Catholics agree with that. Protestants though like to clearly state that the list of books is right not that it is infallible for you don't have to be infallible to be right. 2 and 2 make 4 but you don't need to be infallible to see that.

The doctrine that infallibility is an ability to make the right decision and is not the same as inspiration is helpful here.  It follows then that the Church was not inspired to see what books of the Bible were infallible and inspired.  It had to do the hard work in thinking about it and letting the books show it themselves.  Then we are told that the Church was simply helped to make the correct choice.  The choice is correct both because the Church is infallible but because the books would still stand without the infallibility.  An infallible choice does not mean the choice has to be infallible.  So infallibility is no real help - the books must show they are inspired and that is that.

Protestantism argues that the list of Bible books is fallible though really divinely inspired books are infallible. It simply takes hope in the idea that it is not likely that any book is in the Bible that should not be there. It says the teachings, the essentials, come from books that are definitely inspired. There is still enough infallible truth given to us even if some particular books are not really inspired.
If the Bible really was put together and was the creation of the Church then it is not the word of God for it makes no sense to say that the writings of those who had the knowledge and the evidence and the power to write for God and the story of God with authority could be judged by those who did not have the evidence and the knowledge and first-hand experience they had.

Catholic theologians accuse Bible Christians of having no sensible reason to believe in the Bible for saying that the Bible was independent of the Church. They would say, “Unlike you fundamentalists we do not argue that the Bible is God’s word because he wrote it and say that he wrote it because it is his inspired word. We don’t argue in circles. We are not like them. We look at the Bible as an ordinary document and then we check if it gives solid evidence that it is and Jesus was God’s revelation first. Then we realise that Jesus must have established an infallible Church for we have no reason to believe that the Bible is God’s word. The Church gives us this reason by infallibly proclaiming the Bible God’s Word. At least we have a reason for believing in the Bible.” This bad logic is in the Karl Keating book, Catholicism and Fundamentalism (page 126).

Have the Catholics really reached this conclusion without preconceived ideas? Accuracy does not prove that the Bible is God’s word. And the Bible says the intelligence is a little bit deranged and the book is full of doctrines that remind us of that for they make no sense in our thinking. So it is not the theology that convinces them. They reject inspired books with fewer paradoxical doctrines which shows that they were prejudiced in their alleged research. They stick to the list made by the Church knowing that the Church would not canonise books with too many obvious errors which is hardly an impartial investigation. Religion sometimes uses evidence that the Bible is the word of God. But the evidence is not the word of God for they change it as they please. So human thinking is the real authority. It tells you what God thinks and when God is supposed to come first and be always right surely you can see the irreverence and arrogance in such behaviour? Why not listen to commonsense and keep it simple and forget about Churches and Bibles in the first place instead of going through this when you admit the need for evidence? Evidence could seemingly prove any book to be the word of God when you dismiss the books absurdities as mysteries beyond reason or as things we are too dull to understand.

And the Catholics are really saying: “The Bible is true for the Church thinks it is. The Bible says the Church is right and God keeps it from serious error. And the Church is right for the Bible says it is right”.
And they are saying, “We interpret the Bible as saying the Church is infallible and our interpretation is right for the Church infallibly interprets it thus”. So they are saying the Bible is true for the infallible Church infallibly interprets it as saying the Church is infallible.
The Church is also saying, “The Bible is true therefore it is God’s word.” This is circular reasoning for even if the Bible cannot be found to be lying that doesn’t meant it is true or that it is God’s word. Anybody can write a book that cannot be caught out in error and call it God’s word.
All that is the circular reasoning they accuse the fundamentalists of and worse. The fact that far more scholars of the Bible can be found who think it is not the word of God than scholars who think it is the word of God proves that.
And the Bible never hints that the Church is infallible which makes the Catholic vicious circle worse than the fundamentalist one. Also, if the Bible can be found to be true when you examine it then why do you need the Church to tell you that it is true? Why not argue that since the Bible withstands sceptical examination that it must be true and since only a true book can be the word of God that it must be the word of God? This is not circular reasoning. It is wrong to bring in the Church stuff for it transgresses the law of parsimony, the law that the simplest thing must be believed.

You can have two Churches that teach exactly the same but which have one small difference for a Church is a teaching body. Different teachings mean different and distinct Church. There is a huge amount of difference between the Church that made the Bible list and the Church that exists now or existed a hundred years ago. If the latter is the true Church the first is not so there is no logic in depending on the alleged infallibility of the first.

The Archbishop of Melbourne, Thomas Joseph Carr, declared that Catholics do not say the Church is infallible because the Bible is inspired but that the Church is infallible because the Bible is true (page 12, Lectures and Replies).

But the Bible existed before an infallible Church was thought of. If the infallible Church were a substitute for the Bible then why would God go to the trouble of giving us a Bible? If the infallible Church were the only trustworthy interpreter of the Bible then the Church is better than the Bible so again why not just give us a Church not a Bible?

The Archbishop said that since the Church got along without the New Testament for more than six decades that the authority of the Church does not rest on the Bible but on the Church which eventually produced the Bible (page 14). But the Church could not have survived without inspired WRITTEN teaching from the apostles. We know the importance of affidavits and the like today even soon after things are reported. It is mad to say that God spoke to the apostles and then that the Church produced the word of God. At most it could only verify that it was the word of God. His argument is mere speculation. The claim of some that the Church could have continued without anything being written is completely foolish for it is so dangerous for you need records to preserve the message right. Without written records of the apostles the Church could have no credibility when contending against heretics. The infamous Catholic apologist, Fr Leslie Rumble, who was on Radio Replies years ago was one proponent of the doctrine of the Bible being totally unnecessary. The Bible certainly does not consider itself unnecessary. We don’t have any Jesus stories that might be reliable outside the Bible which shows how barmy this doctrine is.

It is surmised that the Bible says that scripture is inspired by God but does not say what scripture is implying that only the Church could make scripture for only it can say what it is (page 43). But the word scripture means writings and the New Testament said that the books of the Old Testament were inspired and each of its books claimed to be inspired or were written by people who claimed or were claimed to have been inspired. The Bible said that he would guide the readers of the true scriptures so it was only natural that people would know what books were scripture. The hypotheses of an infallible Church is not needed to explain how we might know what books God wrote. His assertion that if the Bible were the only rule of faith then every one believing that would be able to prove to themselves that it was the only word of God (page 15) is therefore fallacious.  

The Bible was only approved by the Church after it had been put together without her infallibility. Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria created the first official list of canonical books in 367 AD and that was accepted by the Church. The list came about without infallibility. The books were held to be God’s word because they were inspired not because the Church said so. The first millennium gave no infallible statement that the canon was determined correctly. When the canon was created without Church infallibility it did not come from the Church. The Council of Laodicea in 363 did not list the canon of the Old or New Testaments but ordered that the canonical books be accepted showing that the list was accepted without the Church putting the canon together but was accepted because they were plainly inspired and not because the Church said so (page 132, Whatever Happened to Heaven?). The books were accepted because their rivals were weak and useless (ibid page 132).

The gift of infallibility may be given even to an apostate Church for her to determine which books are canonical but that does not mean that she is infallible on other things.
Early Christian tradition assumes that novelties in matters of doctrine or morals are out. The Bible assumes that the faith was given in full to the apostles. The First Epistle of John even says that the believer does not really need a teacher as the faith is so clear. Even if the doctrine of Bible only is wrong it is not far wrong.
The message is that the beliefs were already given to the apostolic Church so any decision about what books belong in the Bible and about why we should believe in the Bible was made before the Catholic Church spoke.

We conclude that the Catholic argument, "You cannot trust the Bible list of books or that the Bible is from God without the Church to infallibly tell you."  We have seen that infallibility itself cannot tell you unless it does the homework to see if the books are inspired in the first place so it is really about the homework.  We see that the Church is trying to use the issue to get people to become Catholic and would prefer them to disbelieve in the Bible rather than think the Church is not really the one right religion that all should be in.

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS CATHOLICS ARE ASKING, Tony Coffey, Harvest House Publishers, Oregon ,2006 
Catholicism and Christianity, Cecil John Cadoux, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1928
Catholicism and Fundamentalism, Karl Keating, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1988  
Encyclopaedia of Bible Difficulties, Gleason W Archer, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1982
Evangelical Catholics, A New Phenomenon, Stanley Mawhinney, Christian Ministries Incorporated, Dundrum, Dublin, 1992
How to Interpret the Bible, Fr Francis Cleary, SJ, Ligouri, Missouri, 1981
It Ain’t Necessarily So, Investigating the Truth of the Biblical Past, Matthew Sturgis, Headline Books, London, 2001
Lectures and Replies, Thomas Carr, Archbishop of Melbourne, Australian Catholic Truth Society, Melbourne, 1907
Lions Concise Book of Christian Thought, Tony Lane, Lyon, Herts, 1984
Reason and Belief, Bland Blanschard, London, George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1974
Roman Catholic Claims, Charles Gore, Longmans, London, 1894
Secrets of Romanism, Joseph Zachello, Loizeaux Brothers, New Jersey, 1984
The Bible Does Not Say So, Rev Roberto Nisbet, Church Book Room Press, London, 1966
The Bible, The Biography, Karen Armstrong, Atlantic Books, London, 2007
The Church and Infallibility, BC Butler, The Catholic Book Club, London, undated
Traditional Doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church Examined, Rev CCJ Butlin, Protestant Truth Society, London
Vicars of Christ, Peter de Rosa, Corgi, London, 1993
Whatever Happened to Heaven? Dave Hunt, Harvest House, Eugene, Oregon, 1988
When Critics Ask, Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, Victor Books, Illinois ,1992

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