Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Katliks Always Addin' Stuff

In the aftermath of the Beckwith Incident (Frances Beckwith's conversion to Catholicism) I found a podcast on Dr. Albert Mohler's blog. He is the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and often sides with the Pope's writings on abortion and artificial contraception.
Dr. Bruce Ware, vice president of the Evangelical Theological Society was his guest to discuss Evangelical Identity in light of Beckwith's reversion. At one point in the discussion, Dr. Ware made the comment that Catholics added books to the bible. "The Roman Catholic Church adds to the Bible, not only books to the Bible, apocryphal books, but statements by the pope ex-cathedra and magisterial statements that are equally binding.." This ruffled my feathers a bit so I wrote to him and he kindly wrote back explaining to me the canon controversy:

"The apocryphal books (Jewish books written between 200 B.C and A.D. 200) were never considered canonical, even though some of them were sometimes place in the bindings along with the 66 books of the Bible.
In the Reformation time period, because of the controversy over the catholic doctrine of pergatory, the Roman Catholic Council of Trent (A.D. 1546) added the apocryphal books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, I and II Maccabees to their own Bible. In other words, the RC church had previously also held to the 66 books of the Bible as those inspired by God and canonical, and in this action at Trent, the RC church added these apocryphal books to their own Bibles."

I am not questioning Dr. Ware's integrity because he obviously believes what he wrote and said but I need to ask again: Did Catholics really add books to the bible at the Council of Trent in 1546? Is this issue something that can't be definitively settled? A discussion by Jimmy Akin found here goes into great depth to discuss the various Church councils (as early as the fourth century) which accepted the "apocryphal" books as canon . No Catholic apologist would deny that some early Church fathers disputed some of the books including St. Jerome, but at the end of the day, the "apocryphal" books had been firmly accepted by the Catholic Church a full 1100 years before Trent, and were not added in 1546 to justify the doctrine of purgatory.

Akin writes: Protestant patristics scholar J. N. D. Kelly remarks that in spite of Jerome's doubt, "For the great majority, however, the deutero-canonical writings ranked as Scripture in the fullest sense. Augustine, for example, whose influence in the West was decisive, made no distinction between them and the rest of the Old Testament . . . The same inclusive attitude to the Apocrypha was authoritatively displayed at the synods of Hippo and Carthage in 393 and 397 respectively, and also in the famous letter which Pope Innocent I dispatched to Exuperius, bishop of Toulouse, in 405"
(Early Christian Doctrines, 55-56).

Isn't it more intellectually honest to state: "Catholics didn't add to the Bible, but accept a canon that Luther rejected?" (Whether or not you agree with the canon.)

Why is this distinction so important? If you listen to the original podcast Dr. Ware makes his statement in the same sentence that he says that Catholics added extra-biblical doctrines based on binding ex-cathedra papal/magisterial statements. Yes, we do believe in doctrines (assumption of Mary) that are not chapter/verse found in Scripture, but to tie that in the same sentence as "Catholics added books to the Bible" smacks of anti-Catholic rhetoric, IMHO.
The average non-Catholic (like I was) will nod their heads in agreement and wrongly conclude: "Yep, just like Dr. Ware says, Katliks always addin' stuff...."


Blogger MMajor Fan said...

Hi tiber! Glad you are on the honesty patrol :-) Here is page 16 from the book "Reading the Old Testament" by Lawrence Boadt, 1984, Paulist Press.

For the Old Testament, the final decision as to which books make up the complete canon, and to which books make up the complete canon, and to which no further books may be added, came only slowly through a long period of time. Nor has it been an easy question to deal with, because Protestants, Jews and Catholics disagree on what should be included. The Jewish canon, later taken over by the Protestants, contains only thirty-nine books, all written in Hebrew or Aramaic languages, and all discussed and accepted by the rabbis, the Jewish religious leaders, in the first century A.D. or shortly after. On the other hand, for the Catholic Bible, the canon contains forty-six books, seven beyond the thirty-nine in Hebrew. These forty-six books were first listed as the canon by local church councils in North Africa in the fourth century: at Hippo in 393, and at Carthage in 397 and 417 A.D. But they were not given solemn approval by the Church until the Council of Trent in April of 1546, although they had been accepted as binding practice from the time of the fourth century decisions.
Soooo... the Protestants only accept the books that the Jewish leaders approved of...and the Catholic books have been binding practice since the fourth century based on, um, you know, the Christian church councils in North Africa..... hmmm....let me think :-)

May 23, 2007 11:53 PM  
Blogger japhy said...

Pope Saint Damasus I, who commissioned Jerome to write the Vulgate, set forth the current canon of Scripture (with the possible exception of 2 Corinthians) in the late 300's. Augustine lists all the books of the Bible that Catholics acknowledge today (On Christian Doctrine, Book II, Ch. 8, Para. 13, cf.

May 24, 2007 7:21 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks folks for the sources.
I had read that Jerome had to tussle with the Pope about the deuterocanonicals but finally agreed to translate them into his vulgate.

May 24, 2007 7:37 AM  
Blogger Edmund C. said...


One quick thought. Another avenue of argument that I think is very convincing for the Catholic Canon is the Septuagint. Somewhere on the 'net, someone has compared which version of the OT is cited by the NT writers, and it's almost universally the Septuagint, which includes most of the Deuterocanonical books. I can dig it up later if you're interested--gotta run to a seminar...

May 24, 2007 12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm a regular at and am an Anglican, so you know where I'm coming from.

While I fully subscribe to the 46 books as inspired, I think we need to be a little more careful about the way the canon was viewed. You mentioned some local councils, but this in no way reflected a universal understanding of the canon, any more than the council of Orange reflected a universal understanding on grace and freewill (since the controversy was mostly a Western phenomenon).

In fairness to St. Jerome, had he known that it was obvious what *THE* Christian canon was, there wouldn't have been a need to submit to the reigning pope's instructions regarding the books. Clearly, the first 3 centuries had a large agreement, but not a monolithic one, as far as the OT is concerned (even the NT has an interesting history in this regard).

So while you are right in holding Dr. Ware's feet to the fire about such an irresponsible statement, as if Rome pulled these books out of thin air and glommed them onto the Bible, I think what he *meant* to say (if he's historically astute) is that Trent is the first council to explicate the Canon under the pain of excommunication, which is a first because (1) Trent is assumed (from Rome's POV) to be a General Council that addresses this dogmatically and (2) anathemas are tied to rejecting the Deuteros.

Let me know what you think.


Your Anglican friend,
St. Worm

May 24, 2007 2:38 PM  
Blogger Pilgrimsarbour said...

I always appreciate a discussion of this sort between Catholics and Protestants. To me it is one more topic (very important) which requires one's intense study. In the end, though, it necessarily becomes a faith issue based upon the position of one's respective communion. I don't think it's a question of who's honest and who is not. Unfortunately, none of us is expert enough to know whose experts are the most expert. It's very complicated, and Christians of good will on both sides of the issue come to honestly differing conclusions. One thing's for sure, this question won't be settled to anyone's satisfaction via the blogosphere.

May 24, 2007 3:42 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Dear St. Worm:
Thanks for your comments. I am honored to have your comments on my blog. Yes, it is much involved than I or Dr. Ware portrayed it,and that is part of my point on this post.

Should an issue as complex as the canon of the OT be dismissed with "Catholics added books at Trent?" I respect many of the views expressed on his post in the past, though not always agreeing and this comment from Dr. Ware was surprising to me coming from someone with his credentials.
Given the context of his statement in the same breath as his comments of ex-cathedra statements, what *I heard* him say was: "Rome pulled these books out of thin air and glommed them onto the Bible.(like all that other stuff Catholics add)"
Thanks for the comment!

May 24, 2007 5:34 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...


I always appreciate your insightful commentary and balanced viewpoint. I agree when you write: "I don't think it's a question of who's honest and who is not."

We miss the truth when any discussion (or rather, when one who discusses) descends into speculation about others' integrity rather than communicating truth as each best knows. By all means, reasonable people can disagree about reason itself, our human perception being what it is and our human minds (marvelous as they are) being the finite tributes to their infinite creator that they are.

I know that our friend the Tiber Jumper in his enthusiasm for having discovered facts that he hitherto imagined were, well... unimaginable, sometimes appears to disregard the feelings of some who have not shared his epiphany. I speculate that is not born of desire to put others off; rather, that it is a by-product of the contrast between his former understanding and his present. That is, I think Tiber's jibes are more self-directed than even he suspects.

Still, though we will not, as you say, settle these questions in the blogosphere, yet we can reason together, and, God willing, come to mutual understanding of at least those things that by mere record of history, *ought* to be knowable. Thus (getting back to the topic of the blog) I would hope and pray that any reasonable person would acknowledge the mere historical fact that the Catholic Church did not add books to the Bible at the council of Trent in reaction to the Reformation, those books having been included in canonical lists for many centuries prior. To me it seems that claiming otherwise bears as much weight as would an assertion that the NRA added "the right to keep and bear arms" to the U.S. Constitution in 2007 in reaction to the gun control lobby. In that regard, though I would offer correction sans jibing, I must still agree that Tiber's protest is meritorious, and worthy of consideration and thoughtful address beyond a statement of faith to the contrary.

With humble sincerity I remain your servant and brother in Christ: Jesus, who is greater than all our imaginings,

May 24, 2007 6:29 PM  
Blogger Pilgrimsarbour said...


Thanks as always for your thoughtful comments. I listened twice to the podcast with Dr. Ware. I don't pretend to have a lock on the history of the canon. In fact, there is so much history of the Church that I have read and re-read, and have yet to read, that I hardly know where to begin or where to end. I have been mainly moved from one topic to another as dictated by the latest "crisis event" on the blogs. This has the nasty by-product of keeping the student in a kind of history limbo { :) } as he darts about, checking historical facts, perhaps never really reaching solid conclusions on anything, or at least, very little. These posts pose a challenge regarding the assumptions of their main ideas in that, although I may not agree with the conclusions drawn from the arguments, I can see how some conclusions are warranted, based on the argument's underlying premise. For example, Dr. Ware may state with integrity that the apocryphal books were added to the canon at Trent. It can also be stated as true that the books were in use as canon centuries earlier by many congregations. I don't think it would be scandalous to say that the Reformation prompted Rome to examine more fully their understanding of the canon. Perhaps if we say that Trent made the books "official" for the Catholic Church, that is a safe statement to which all can agree. At any rate, my entire blog experience and the subsequent historical and theological reading it has prompted has left me more than ever sympathetic to Captain Jean-Luc Picard's dilemma in one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. After having spent hours listening to a famous lecturer, he commented to his senior staff:


All God's Best,


May 24, 2007 8:48 PM  
Blogger MMajor Fan said...

For those who aren't Catholics, just another bit of info. Passages from the books that Catholics include in the Bible are utilized in the liturgy of the mass. So it's not like they are just stapled to the Bible, their words are also included in our liturgy. For example, the Introit of the Mass on Pentecost (this coming Sunday, incidentally!) is from Wisdom 1:7. The Spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world, alleluia; and that, which containeth all things hath knowledge of the voice, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
The Church has a rich history of drawing upon those writings in the celebration of the mass.

May 25, 2007 2:52 AM  
Blogger onionboy said...

It's hard not to be frustrated over such patently wrong information being stated as fact such as this Doctor does along with so many others.


May 25, 2007 9:23 PM  
Blogger Pilgrimsarbour said...

Friend Onionboy,

It has been shown throughout history that even men of good will will draw different conclusions from the historical facts presented. If the information is indeed, as you say, "patently wrong," that is, obvious and easily verifiable in a factual way, then Protestants are nothing but liars, and know themselves to be such. I hope that is not what you intended to say. I'd hate to think that the bridge only goes one way with some folks.



May 26, 2007 12:55 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...

Like the infinite mind that made us, we posses the gift of reason. Unlike that mind, ours are limited and finite.

Frustration with the inability of one finite mind to perfectly grasp what another, equally finite mind has apprehended dates back to the Tower of Babel and is as inevitable as the sunrise, so long as we remain in our earthly shells.

Pilgrim, my brother: You are absolutely correct to observe that reasonable people can disagree about conclusions drawn from the same data--and indeed, you are absolutely correct to say that to arrive at a different conclusion, does not make one a liar. I also believe, hope and pray that Onionboy did not intend to imply so.

However, I also note that our good friend and brother is expressing frustration with differences in reasoning that he cannot reconcile to his own understanding. This also does not (at least to me) insinuate that those who reason otherwise, do so dishonestly.

I too share O.B.'s frustration, as from my best understanding in this particular matter, the very same cannon that the Church declared Dogmatically accurate at Trent had been declared canonically accurate at Florence over 100 years before the Reformation; and that council was a continuation of the council of Ferrara (AD 1115) which also accepted the deutero-cannon.

When I look at the history (the thousands of documents generated over many hundreds of years: the fact that for centuries before Luther, virtually all of Christendom held these books as Sacred Scripture) my interpretation of that history makes it seem to me patently true that the Church did not *add* books to the cannon at Trent.

That other reasonable folk conclude otherwise does indeed baffle me; however, that does *not* make me conclude that they come to these conclusions via duplicity, dishonesty, stupidity, ignorance or malfeasance. I merely don’t understand it. As I said before, *I'd* hope any reasonable person would come to the same conclusion I reach; however, that does not mean I deem those who do not are lying.

Yes, I believe Dr. Ware can say what he did with integrity! Nevertheless, I could not condone his words and keep my own integrety: I do not follow his reasoning, and I do not agree with his conclusion. He and I each hold contrary views of the same history, each (I imagine) baffled by the position of the other.

I know that when any of us take contrary stands to our brother, we run the risk of alienating him. May God mitigate these differences between brothers with the balm of His agape love--that covers a multitude of wrongs. May our merciful Lord teach us all His truth in fullness. May His charity rule our hearts and motivation. May his integrity be our model and his life of sacrifice be our template.

Please, good brothers in Christ, forgive me my sins against you and all others, for upon every occasion that I deem myself anything but my brother's servant, I offend you and, more importantly, I offend God.

Humbly, and with fear of the living God who shall judge me,
I remain,
your brother in Christ,

May 29, 2007 2:40 PM  

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