Thank you very much. We have a lot to cover and I hope that you brought your Bibles tonight. Ruffle the pages a little bit so I can be assured that you did. What I would like to do in our time this evening is to focus upon how we as Catholic Christians should relate to the Scripture, and how we as Catholic Christians can help our non-Catholic brothers and sisters understand the Church’s teaching with regard to Scripture. That’s why the title of the talk is rather provocative: The Bible and the Church, Both or Neither. In titling the talk in that way, I’m throwing down the gauntlet. I’m challenging Catholics and non-Catholics to rethink some old practices and to perhaps break old habits.
Many non-Catholic believers are convinced that the Bible alone is not merely sufficient, but exclusive as an authority for our faith and for our practice as believers. There are many Catholic theologians in good standing with the Church who might contend for the material sufficiency of the Bible: that everything we need to believe and everything we need to do is somehow contained in Scripture, either explicitly or implicitly. So it isn’t just that the Protestants say, “The Bible is sufficient,” because many Catholic theologians can contend that as well. But the non-Catholic, the Bible Christians, the fundamentalist says, “The Bible alone is our sole and exclusive authority. It is the only form in which we find the word of God binding for believers today.” I want to challenge the non-Catholic brother or sister in Christ who is either here tonight or who will hear these words on tape or who will get into a conversation with you when you patiently and gently explain the Church’s position. I want to challenge them to reread Scripture and to discover that that position is anti-Scriptural and it runs contrary to many different passages that are found both in the Old and New Testaments.
I also have something in store for the Catholics as well. I want to throw down the gauntlet and challenge you to recognize the fact that it’s the Bible and the Church, both or neither. If you say, “Well, I’m close to the Church. I’ve got devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, I attend daily Mass, I go to frequent confession, but I don’t understand the Bible.” Then I want to suggest to you, that if you listen closely to the Church that you supposedly adhere to so closely, you’ll discover that there is something woefully deficient, seriously defective about your own relationship to the Church. Because one can’t say, “I have the Church, I don’t need the Bible,” or, “I have the Pope and the blessed Virgin Mary and the holy Eucharist I don’t really need to study Scripture.” If you’re saying that, then you’re saying it in a flagrant disobedience to what the popes throughout this century and many other ages have declared, have commanded, have suggested, taught, and invited lay people to do.