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Contemporary Roman Catholicism embraces a lot of biblical beliefs like most churches in the world do. Contemporary Roman Catholic Church has gone through several political, social and religious tumults all over the world. However, their understanding of God through the Bible has grown very strong across the period1.
Any religion in the world has its Bible, which governs and helps followers and believers in their everyday lives; the Roman Catholic Church has extraordinarily strong ties to their Bible, too. The Bible marks the foundation of Catholicism and Christianity grown on the pillars of the books contents, its translation and importantly its interpretation among the believers.
The Bible as an inspired sacred writing has a divergent and varied understanding beyond scientific analysis. Roman Catholic Church has gone through difficult times like many Christians regarding Judaism faith and other sacred literature. Roman Catholicism uses the Bible as a divine book that God communicates with from old prophetic times to the times of Jesus reign2. The Bible is a book under God’s own co-authorization.
The writers were inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit according to God’s plan. The book was written by God’s directions. The Contemporary Roman Catholic Church has remained united by their teachings and understanding of the Bible throughout difficult political times. The biblical teaching and interpretation have remained the main tool that guides Christians and strengthens their faith in God3.
The paper focuses on Contemporary Roman Catholic Church in the Bible through their teachings, interpretations and religious movements. To underscore its aim, the paper uses scripture guidelines and puts them side by side with Catholicism. This is very vital since Protestantism has influenced many Western countries in the modern society.
Consequently, Catholics’ identification of God has come mainly through the Bible. They have come to realize that God’s communications are set in the Bible. Additionally, the church believes that the Bible is uniquely written to meet every individual satisfaction without reliance on interpretation from any other party in the magisterium of the church.
However, Roman Catholics faces difficulty in selecting materials to believe since the churches are flooded with scriptures of almost similar content. In creating catholic understanding of the Bible, the paper brings out some biblical aspects that guide and help catholic believers in their everyday lives. It also highlights reasons why Catholics have fought strong wars and political tensions in defence of the Bible.
Catholics strongly believe that only the word of God can unite the world as shown in the Holy Writ. Catholics take the Bible to be a revelation that God presents Himself through. The Bible hence makes people develop friendship between themselves and God. Without the Bible, there would be no freedom between man and God as strangers can never agree on similar terms. Revelation among Roman Catholics can be seen in different forms.
Natural revelation is seen from the creations of God and the development of the human mind. The Old Testament in the Bible are devoted to expressing natural revelation of God to man through the creation stories. Catholics believers acknowledge the power of God through the creation process. Consequently, the power of mind is revealed in the book of Wisdom. The book criticises those who do not apply their rationality in almost its nine chapters.
The book emphasises the openness of Gods revelation to man; those who do not believe hold no excuse. “They strive to comprehend them and fall victims to appearance, seeing so much beauty” Wisdom (13: 1-9)4. The verse continues, “Even so, they are not to be excused; if they are capable of acquiring enough knowledge to be able to investigate the world, how have they been so slow to find their Master?”
Wisdom (13: 1-9)5. St. Paul also denounces those who do not believe in God as His actions are enough massage to enable each and every one to believe in Him (Rom 1: 18-236). Catholics believe in the Bible as their revelation to the Master as per the teaching of the verses7.
Catholics understand the supernatural revelation of God to man through the Bible. Supernatural revelation is shown in the Old Testament when God directly or indirectly talked to ancestors through prophets as shown in Hebrews. In the recent days, God spoke to man through his son Jesus, the son who is the glory of God and His copy (Hebrews 1: 1-2)8.
From supernatural revelation, Catholics have come to believe in the Holy Trinity. God is presented as the Father, the Holy Spirit and the Son. This is a unique sign and practice within the Roman Catholic Church9.
Roman Catholic Churches have their traditions, which are controlled by God’s past revelations as in the Bible. There are sacred traditions and ecclesiastical traditions that hold the Church together. Church traditions known as magisterium has been the tool that Roman Catholic Church fights with.
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The Church sends instructions about God through apostles such as Roman Pontiff, who is seen as the successor to St. Peter. Also, The Pope is the Christ Vicar and the head of Catholic Church. Despite changes in doctrines, from Old Testament times there has been no significant change over divine revelation and accretion. The bible hence can be seen as a tool that has maintained Catholic Church10.
The Roman Catholic Church believes and teaches God’s inspiration. According to prophet Hosea, the authorship of Pentateuch is ascribed to God himself (Hosea 8: 12). David’s Psalm are ascribed to His authorship as well, “Lord, you are He who by the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father David …have said” (Acts: 24-25)11.
God as the author of the Old Testament is also shown in the New Testament with St. Peters. Peter says, “No prophecy of Scripture is made private by interpretation. For the prophecy comes not by the will of man at any time, but the holy men of God spoke inspired by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:2)12. Peter and Paul warned the Church against false prophets as the old prophets did. The Roman Church as well warns against false prophet from the biblical lessons.
Pope Clement 1 was the first pope to pronounce the sacred books to Corinthians as true words of the Holy Spirit (Letter to the Corinthians, 45)13. These words were later repeated by pope Eugenius IV who combined the Old and New Testament in the understanding of the Church of Rome as inspiration of Holy Spirit. Catholics believe in the Bible is the sacred book inspired by God14.
However, the church as well has been facing a crisis of the Bible in regards to several issues. Believers have developed the so called mind violence based on inerrancy. This comes out because of errors in the modern Bible made by scholars. it in its turn has made some of the Catholic believers take the Bible with less respect than they perceived before.
The Bible is expected to hold no contradictions that any form of such errors raises doubts on its inspirational nature. In such stances, people tend to believe that the book was never inspirational rather it was a human authored. The challenges of many texts also raise many doubts as people get confused over the original text. This is difficult for some people as they fall in the confusion.
Roman Catholicism Doctrines
The Roman Catholicism is also identified by its biblical Canon. As a Holy and inspired book, the Bible canonical writing is used in the church as the only rule and standard in the Church for teaching and liturgy. The Bible, on the other hand, is a norm of practices and faith among the believers’ virtue. Contemporary Catholicism has canonized the Bible in their beliefs. The canons are found both in the Old and the New Testament as the foundation of sacred agreements between God and the man.
The Catholic canons, hence, owe their origin from the biblical during the Old Testament. Examples of the canons are the Alexandria and Palestinian canon and the Jews Mosaic law found in the Testaments. The New Testament canons contain all the books that were released by Saint Damascus. These form the binding agreements between the catholic believers and their Church15.
The Contemporary Roman Church owes its doctrines’ development to the Bible. The church doctrines are the beginning of God’s revelation and understanding. The dogmatic nature of the doctrines allows the church to grow not only by additional faith mysteries and accretions but also conferred insights by the Holy Spirit. The dogmas are authentically approved by Catholic Church to aid the believers in walking in the right path.
The church doctrines are traced back to God. They are opened by his creation stories and command to man. Consequently, they became more open in the Old Testament in Gods Revelation to the Jews through the prophets and other different means. These enable the Jews to remain united and develop stronger faith. Doctrines chronologically grew and got passed from generation to generation of the Church16.
In the New Testament, the revelation of the doctrines developed immensely. This can be seen in the last Supper when Jesus tells the disciples, “I shall not call you servants anymore, because a servant does not know His masters business. I call you friends because I have made known to you everything I have learned from my Father” (John 15: 15)17.
The trinity is one of the most mysterious doctrines that was revealed and is practiced in the contemporary Catholicism. The church believes that Yahweh revealed himself through prophets in the Old Testament and through His only son in the New Testament. The fact that Jesus dwelt among men is a son of God’s revelation and redemption18.
Catholic Epistles, which include letters of Apostle Peter, John, James and Jude have been studied by Roman Catholic Church since their inception from Lusebius from Caesarea. The books mark unique distinction of the church from other religions and the protestant groups. The contemporary church has continued with this practice by ensuring that the believers are provided by with the best Bibles for their study19.
The Conception of the three fold anointment practiced by the Catholic Church is biblically traceable. The Messiah was expected to be a priest, a teacher and a King, who were anointed by God. These Old Testament versions symbolises the triad of code and the creed found in the Roman Catholic Church.
The Church has hierarchical system that bore its roots to the Testaments as well. The priests are ordained people who once served as Catholic deacons and teachers. They are highly respected people and serve as God’s messengers who bring the word of God to the Church20.
The Catholic Church annunciation is one of most practices carried out by the contemporary church. Mary Magdalene is referred to as Hail Mary in the Catholic Bible. This translates to a person full of grace. According to Catholicism, Mary is blessed by God to be the mother of Jesus. God uses Mary for redemption of the world. This makes Mary a revered symbol in the contemporary Catholic Church.
Through Holy Mary, God was able to communicate to the world. Christmas celebration among the Roman Catholic Church includes teachings and praises over Mary. Catholics are strengthened to believe in God like Mary who had no doubt in angel’s message. The church’s teaching over the spiritual conception of Christ is of considerable importance. The believers are made to accept that God is not an ordinary person despite the fact that He lived among men21.
Catholics carry prayers in reflection of Mary. The prayer is a long discourse in Mary’s heart. Mary’s prayer is the best show of humility, which is full of inspirations. Consequently, it is a humble adoration among the believers. The Roman Catholic Church carries out magnificat as a liturgy from the early Church. It is also referred to as the prayer of consecration. Mary’s magnificat is in four parts. The first part gratitude is offered to God.
In the second part, God is praised for his holiness, power and mercy. In the third part, the way God deals with the humble and the proud is compared. The fourth part refers to the fulfilment of prophesies. Catholic believers are taught the importance of each and every part of the magnificat in the Bible.
By faith, they are able to adore God in the prayer through praise. Praise is the way the believers appreciate God’s interventions and acknowledging themselves. Catholic believers are able to understand how God works with the proud and the humble. The magnificat guides the believers when they pray as well as in their daily actions22.
Catholicism teaches about temptations and prepared the believers accordingly. Temptations are drawn in the Bible from the early lives of Abrahams and later in Christ Himself. In the New Testament, Jesus temptations were the last message to the believers. Temptations are aimed at testing and strengthening hearts among Christians.
From the Bible, Catholics are prepared to meet tough moments while walking in the path of God. From the temptations of Jesus, Christians learn that temptations come from the world, devil and the flesh. Jesus was a revelation to believers on what is encountered while seeking eternal life23.
Just like Moses and Elijah, Jesus was tempted for forty days and nights in the wilderness. The Roman Catholic Church practices Lent from the biblical understanding of preparation for temptations. The first temptation to Jesus came after His thirsty and hungry moments.
The devil’s aim was to make Jesus lose God’s confidence in providence. Catholics learn from this temptation that despite the level of mortification, God’s providence should never be doubted. Additionally, God’s powers should not be utilized by one’s personal gains. These temptations show the devil as a deceiver to Christians24.
Roman Catholic Church teaching over the temptations consists in the fact that the Bible can be used as a weapon against the devil. Jesus was able to counter the devil from biblical quotes.
The second temptation was a test whether God does miracles for no cause. Jesus teaches the Christians not to test their God and rely on biblical guidance in case of temptations. Catholics are taught to pray constantly since God, through his providence, can put the church in mysterious positions. Some of the tests might be too hard to cope with, but prayers always win God’s will.25
The virtue of adoration is tested in the last temptation where Jesus is asked by the devil to worship it in exchange of the earthly possessions. Roman Catholic Church teaches the believers to fully adore their only God and recognize Him as the creator of the heaven and earth.
God should be adored by will and mind among the believers. Contemporary Catholic Church as well insists on service to church and God as a sign of adoration. Jesus sets the best example by stating that there is only one God. This acts as the best guidance to Christians during their temptations26.
Unlike the early Church, contemporary Roman Catholic Church offers believers opportunity to make their own choices in matters relating to their faith. The believers are at free will to make their own biblical understanding and interpretation, despite, the lessons the Church teaches.
As a result, issues such as marriages have become contentious in the contemporary Church. The influence of growing technology offers some confusion in biblical interpretation since so many varied materials reach the believers. Nevertheless, the Bible has remained the main fighting tool in developing Catholicism across the world27.
Despite many traditional beliefs in contemporary Catholic Church, the church holds several biblical truths. Most of the contemporary church practices are traditions carried down from the Old Testaments as well as faith initiated from Jesus ministries. The Church’s development is founded on its strong inclination to the Bible through its interpretation, teaching and usage.
Roman Catholic Church acknowledges the inspired and mystical nature of the Bible as God’s communication to man. As a result, following biblical teaching becomes an essential in acceptance of God. Churches mould their believers to fit the eyes of God through doctrines adopted in both Old and New Testaments.
These include the teachings of the commandments as brought from Mosaic laws to Christ times. Roman Catholic Church rebukes poor practices in the church as directed in the Bible to enable Catholic followers to follow the clear path. Believers are guided from the lessons of the early prophets, Holy Mary and Christ Himself as written in the scripture.
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Fergus, Kerr. Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians. New York: Wiley, 2007.
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Geisler, Norman and Ralph MacKenzie.Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences. Michigan: Baker Academic,1995.
Gerard, Mannion. Church and Religious ‘Other’ Volume 4 of Ecclesiological Investigations. London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2008.
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King James Version Bible
Michael, Horton. The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way: Roman Catholic Perspectives. London: Zondervan, 2010.
Noll, Mark and Carolyn Nystrom. Is the Reformation Over?: An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism. Michigan: Baker Academic, 2005.
Noll, Mark and Carolyn Nystrom. Is the Reformation Over?: An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism. Michigan: Baker Academic, 2008.
Scott, Hahn. Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI. Michigan: Brazos Press, 2009.
Surhone, Lambert M., Mariam T. Tennoe, and Susan F. Henssonow. Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller AG & Co. Kg, 2010.
1 Kerr Fergus,.Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians. (New York: Wiley,2007), 91.
2 Schüssler Francis and John Galvin. Theology and the Sciences. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011), 117.
3 Norman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie.Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences. (Michigan: Baker Academic, 1995), 112.
4 King James Version Bible
5 King James
6 King James
7, Coxon H. B. Roman Catholicism: An Explanation of Catholic Belief Taken from Official Sources. (South Carolina: BiblioBazaar, 2010). 47
8 King James
9 Mannion Gerard. Church and Religious ‘Other’ Volume 4 of Ecclesiological Investigations. (London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2008), 213.
10 Hahn Scott. Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI. (Michigan: Brazos Press, 2009), 178.
11 King James
12 King James
13 King James
14 (Norman and Ralph 1995, 98)
15(Kerr 2007, 71)
16 Mark Noll and Carolyn Nystrom. Is the Reformation Over?: An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism. (Michigan: Baker Academic, 2008), 111.
17 King James
18 Chester Gillis, Catholic Faith in America. (New York. Infobase Publishing, 2002), 278.
19 (Schüssler and John 2011, 312)
20 Mark and Carolyn 2008, 137)
21 (Coxon 2010, 67)
22 Horton Michael,.The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way: (Roman Catholic Perspectives. London: Zondervan, 2010), 89.
23 Lambert M. Surhone et al. Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. Saarbrücken: (VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller AG & Co. Kg, 2010), 127.
24 (Manion 2008, 211)
25Kapic Kelly and Bruce McCormack. Mapping Modern Theology: A Thematic and Historical Introduction. Michigan: Baker Books,2012.
26 (Mannion 2008, 207)
27 Markm Noll, and Carolyn Nystrom. Is the Reformation Over?: An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism. (Michigan: Baker Academic, 2005), 56.