Many people have this false notion that because Catholics do not believe in sola scriptura we do not believe in the inerrancy and necessity of Scripture. This is just not true. Such should be obvious from some of our previous blog posts. Still, thus far, our posts on Scripture have primarily focused on refuting the erroneous belief in sola scriptura. This post will defend the trustworthiness of Sacred Scripture from those who doubt it. I don’t mean this to be an exhaustive study. For those who want to go more in-depth on this subject I recommend reading Dr. George Park Fisher’s “Grounds for Theistic and Christian Beliefs”. This recommendation may seem shocking to some of our readers, for Dr. Fisher isn’t Catholic, but Protestant. To be sure, I personally don’t agree with everything in his book; but it is a good read overall.
One argument against Sacred Scripture is to deny the Resurrection by saying that the disciples of Jesus stole His body. St. Mark deals with this claim in his gospel, but let’s take a different look at it. The claim that the disciples snuck into the tomb and stole the body of Jesus is ridiculous. We know from Roman protocol that there would be no less than four guards at the tomb of Christ. In John 19:23 we see Jesus’ garment torn into four pieces. One piece for each guard. So there had to be at least four guards at the tomb of Christ taking turns keeping watch. Each would stay awake for three hours keeping guard. Now, one can not legitimately make the argument that the guards fell asleep. The Roman penalty for falling asleep on guard was decapitation. There were no exceptions. No one would risk this.
It is easy to see that there were more than four guards. There were 11 Apostles (Judas Iscariot had hung himself), and many more disciples. So, it would stand to reason that Pontius Pilate would send as many guards as possible. Four couldn’t stop a mob. So it I safe to say that there were more than four guards.
Now let us look at the actual process of stealing the body of Jesus from the tomb. The argument is absolutely absurd! People actually suggest that the disciples of Jesus unsealed and moved a stone weighing at least a couple of tons without the guards noticing. Just sit for a moment and think of how unreasonable-nay, impossible-that would be. There is just no way the disciples of Jesus stole His body! Yet, even Jesus’ greatest enemies, the Jews, acknowledged His tomb was empty! The case for Sacred Scripture is looking pretty good right now.
Another argument against the Resurrection of Jesus, and the trustworthiness of Scripture, is that the Apostles were nuts. This is as unlikely as the disciples stealing Christ’s body! There are many instances in Scripture where the Apostles speak of their flaws and mistakes. In the very same chapter where we see Jesus giving Peter the charge of His Church, we also see Jesus referring to Peter as “Satan”. (Mt. 16:23) I’ll grant that St. Peter didn’t write the Gospel According to Matthew, but St. Matthew was an Apostle. He was also a part of the Church, and under the headship of St. Peter. If St. Matthew was crazy would he really write about his leader’s flaws? Crazy people don’t do this!
Although St. Paul was not one of the original Twelve Apostles, he was an Apostle nonetheless. He was a follower of Jesus, a bishop of the Church, and perhaps the greatest missionary ever. Now, assuming Paul was crazy, why would he have written that he himself was the greatest sinner? (1 Tim. 1:15) Why would he say there was nothing good in him? (Rom. 7:18-20) The answer is that St. Paul would not have done this. Crazy people just don’t write negatively about themselves, or those they follow. It must be concluded that the Apostles were not crazy.
One last argument against the Resurrection and trustworthiness of Scared Scripture that I would like to examine here is the claim that the Apostles were liars. Well, we have ruled out that the Apostles were crazy. So the argument that the Apostles were lying and didn’t realize it isn’t plausible. Such an argument must assume that the Apostles were crazy; and we have proven this assumption wrong. So the only argument left is that the Apostles were consciously lying about the Resurrection. If this is true, then we certainly can not trust the testimony of Scripture.
The problem is that this argument is as false as the others. All but two of the Apostles died a martyr’s death. The only exceptions were Judas Iscariot (who hung himself), and St. John the Evangelist (who died of old age). Humans do not die for what they know is a lie. It is built into the human psyche to tell the truth when faced with death. There is not one account of a healthy (meaning not crazy) person dying for what he/she knows is a lie. So the argument that the Apostles were consciously lying does not hold water.
We now can see that the gospel accounts of the Resurrection are truthful. Christianity itself hinges on this one teaching. There are, of course, other teachings that are unique to, and essential to, Christianity. Some of these are the Incarnation, virgin birth, and Holy Trinity. If any one of these is proven false, then Christianity is proven false. The same holds for the Resurrection. St. Paul himself says, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, your faith is also vain.” (1 Cor. 15:13-4)
As a Catholic I believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. The arguments against the Bible just can not stand under scrutiny. Scripture’s account of the Resurrection of Jesus is trustworthy. Christianity hinges on this belief. Since all of the truths of the Christian faith come from the same source (God), all of the truths are intertwined. So if one truth is true, they all are true. Hence, if we can trust what the Bible says about the Resurrection, we can trust what it says about everything else. Scripture is trustworthy. End of story.
Peace in Christ,
David J. Pollard
American Catholic Solidarity