Today, our non-Catholic Christian brothers and sisters place an enormous emphasis on reading and studying the Bible. And while I am in favor of both, it is critical that we do not lose sight of the fact that hundreds of millions of people came to know Christ without ever owning or studying the Bible. Many modern Christians make it sound like it is impossible to receive salvation without a Bible. If that were the case, what happened to the people who lived before the Bible was printed? (pg 228-229)We can easily forget what life was like for the vast majority of Christian history, before public libraries, before cheap paperbacks, before e-books, before the internet, before the printing press was invented, before mass literacy was achieved. For most of Christian history the overwhelming majority of people couldn't read. Those who could read couldn't afford to purchase a hand-copied manuscript of the Bible (books being among the most expensive things people could buy). How then were these souls saved? It is with this in mind, what Kelly calls "the gap in most Protestants' understanding of Christian history", that the doctrine of sola scriptura becomes an absurdity. It is with this in mind, that one can understand why no one, before Gutenberg printed the first Bible in the 1440's, ever based Christianity on "the Bible and the Bible alone." With this in mind, we can better understand why Christianity is not "a religion of a book" but is a religion of the Word, the Word made flesh, the Word who speaks through the Apostle's and their successors in the Church He founded nearly 2,000 years ago. It is through the preaching, teaching, passion plays, and art that the Catholic Church taught the Bible to all those faithful men and women who lived, worshiped, and died before Luther and his revolution. It is through the hard work of the Catholic Church that the Bible was assembled, the books of the Bible decided upon, and that the Bible was preserved for so many centuries.
So the next time you, my dear separated brothers and sisters, open your Bible, remember you owe everything you take for granted to the Catholic Church.
|St. Peter's Basilica|
This post links to RAnn's Sunday Snippets, A Catholic Carnival