The Biblical Evidence for the Catholic Faith

Someone has asked the question:

What is the Biblical evidence for the Catholic faith?

Since the Catholic faith is the Christian faith, the question could be rewritten to ask: “What is the Biblical evidence for the Christian faith?” The obvious and instantaneous answer would be: “the entire New Testament is the biblical evidence for the Christian Faith.” We find the word “Christian” in both Acts as well as the Epistles to distinguish this new and different faith from Judaism and Paganism or Gentiles.

Catholic Faith

If, however, the questioner is asking if the word “Catholic” appears in the New Testament, then the answer is no. No more than Protestant or Lutheran or Episcopalian. All are “Christian” but their branch names are not in the Bible. Perhaps a bit of history might explain.

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Prior to the Reformation there was only one Christian Church and it was divided into the Roman branch (when it became the official religion of the Roman Empire) and the Eastern branch. Both branches teach the same doctrine and are direct descendants of the apostles who formed their early Churches. They are divided only by history, culture and language: the Roman branch uses Latin and the Orthodox uses Greek.

The word “catholic” appears in the Apostles Creed:

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.

In this sense, “catholic” means “international” or widespread as opposed to local or limited by national boundaries. Jesus told his disciples that his message was for all peoples and not just for the Jews. It was for this reason that the apostles took Jesus message far beyond the borders of Israel.

The original split from Roman Christianity was based upon the “protests” of some reformers who were called “Protestants” and indeed were the impetus for the reformation of the Roman Christian Church while, at the same time, creating new, and splinter Protestant Christian groups. Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic priest (as opposed to Eastern Orthodox) was a famous early “protestor” against some of the abuses in the Church of the time. Unwittingly, he founded the Lutheran division of Christianity.

Another famous “protestor” was King Henry VIII who was angry with the pope for not granting him a divorce from his first wife. Henry decided to create his own Church and called it the “Church of England” with himself as its first head or leader. (Other names for the Church of England are “Anglican,” referring to the English branch and “Episcopalian,” referring to the American branch).

Religious tensions were very high and frequently broke out into violence. Some European countries, like Great Britain, made their branch of Protestantism a state church to which everyone must belong. (In other words no other religion could practice their faith openly.) The King of Denmark, for example, made Lutheranism the state religion and Catholics found practicing their faith were imprisoned or executed. The same kinds of brutalities existed in Catholic countries as well.

Not everyone in Europe agreed with the tenets of these new Protestant state churches and so other splinter Protestant groups were formed who were also persecuted for disagreement with the state religion. Some of these splinter groups, seeking religious freedom, emigrated to the United States and Canada. Some were named for their founders (Calvinists); others were named for their specific article of faith (Revelationists). The desire for religious freedom was so strong that it was written into the Constitution of the United States.

There is an assumption, by some, that only the material in the written New Testament contains Jesus teachings. I searched the New Testament and could not find this teaching. Instead I found that the Apostle John said that he had written an “abbreviated” Gospel because there was so much to tell about Jesus, his teachings and his miracles, that there wasn’t enough paper in the world to write it all down! That says to me, that not everything there is to know about Jesus, his Apostles and the early Church, is contained in the New Testament.

Others say, that if the “word” is not contained in the New Testament, that “word” is not valid Christian teaching. So, I looked for the word “Trinity” in the New Testament and could not find it. Yet many Protestant Christians, like Catholic Christians, believe in a Trinitarian or Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). In fact there is a Protestant denomination that calls itself “Trinitarian.” Where did the word “Trinity” come from since it is not in the Bible? History gives us the answer.

To ask for the Biblical evidence for the Catholic Christian faith is to make the assumption that the Catholic faith is based upon some of Jesus teachings and not others. To pick and choose which parts of the New Testament are “Catholic,” and which parts are not, is to act as if the New Testament were a Biblical cafeteria where one could choose to believe only the parts that one liked. This is not Catholic Christian teaching. Jesus’ message throughout the New Testament is to be respected, thought about, prayed over and lived

There is no Protestant New Testament in existence, in any language, which does not owe it origins to the Catholic Church which collected all the written documents about Jesus and his apostles, decided which were true to Jesus message, and created the New Testament. The original Greek documents of the New Testament was translated into Latin and hand copied by Catholic monks for hundreds of years so that we would have the Bible we have today. No matter in what language the Protestant New Testament is found, its original source was the Catholic Latin Version.

There will be no statement in the New Testament that someone can point to and say, “this is the evidence for the Catholic faith” as they might for some Protestant Christian sects. Catholic Christian teaching says that all the teachings in the Gospels, Acts, Revelation and Epistles are the authentic teachings of Jesus.

So, in answer to the question, “What is the Biblical evidence for the Catholic faith?” the answer would be: the New Testament.