Expert Answer Forum
Scroll of St Thomas QUESTION from Jonathan Malins September 10, 2000 Is the scroll of St Thomas real? Why is it that the scroll is condemned and words within are considered by the church to be heresy?
Do we really need an institution like the church as a form of medium to communicate with god? If so then why?
Do you believe the church and it's ancestors must answer to god for the atrocities of the past?
How accurate is the bible I have been told that it has been rewritten many times? In fact it was not uncommon back in medieval times for those in position of authority to change the bible to their own advantage. Is this true?
Does the Catholic Church own the bible? Why is it that the Church believes that they are the only ones with exclusive rights to the original texts? If so, who are they protecting the texts from and why? Without some form of access to these texts how can we tell that the bible is truly genuine?
I know you will try to tell me and others that answer should come in some form of divine truth. But I want the church to answer I already know Godâ€™s answer.
ANSWER by Mrs. Suzanne Fortin, B.A. on September 14, 2000 Dear Jonathan,
In order to facilitate my response, I've put your questions in bold.
Why is it that the scroll is condemned and words within are considered by the church to be heresy?
The Gospel of Thomas is considered heretical because it put a Gnostic spin on the sayings of Jesus.
Some less informed individuals might think that because the gospel reproduces many authentic sayings of Jesus, that the whole gospel itself is authentic. That does not follow
Here is a selection of some of the sayings of this gospel that have nothing to do with Catholic teaching:
7) Jesus said, Blessed is the lion which becomes man when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion consumes, and the lion becomes man.
11) Jesus said, This heaven will pass away, and the one above it will pass away. The dead are not alive, and the living will not die. In the days when you consumed what is dead, you made it what is alive. When you come to dwell in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?
13) Jesus said to His disciples, Compare me to someone and tell Me whom I am like. Simon Peter said to Him, You are like a righteous angel. Matthew said to Him, You are like a wise philosopher. Thomas said to Him, Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom You are like. Jesus said, I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated by the bubbling spring which I have measured out. And He took him and withdrew and told him three things. When Thomas returned to his companions, they asked him, What did Jesus say to you? Thomas said to them, If I tell you one of the things which he told me, you will pick up stones and throw them at me; a fire will come out of the stones and burn you up.
Those who want to read the rest may do so at:
Do we really need an institution like the church as a form of medium to communicate with God? If so then why?
Contrary to Protestants, we do not believe that the Church derives her authority from the Bible. Rather, we believe that it is a historical fact that Jesus Christ established the Church, and transmitted to her the authority to teach in His Name in an infallible manner. The Church existed before the words of Jesus were ever written down; she is the guide that God himself gave us.
As the Guide to the faithful, the Church determined that certain Gospels were authentic, historical and compatible with her teaching, and others were not. The four Gospels of the New Testament were declared to be Revelation because they were faithful records of the life of Jesus and his teachings. The Gospel of Thomas is not a faithful witness: it is a distortion of these sayings, skewed by a pseudo-philosophy (gnosticism) whose ideas contradict traditional Judeo-Christian belief. Examples of Gnostic belief: salvation by knowledge (not by grace), dualism (i.e. spirit is good, matter is evil), pantheism, etc.
We don't belong the Church because WE think WE need a medium to communicate with God. Rather, we believe that Christ established the Church on HIS authority and HE thinks we should belong to it. He promised he would guide the Church until the end of the world.
Do you believe the Church and its ancestors must answer to God for the atrocities of the past?
The Church teaches that every individual will receive their due in the afterlife, for every sin and every good deed. So whoever sinned will be punished according to the gravity of the sin, and whoever does good will be rewarded according to his deeds.
How accurate is the Bible? I have been told that it has been rewritten many times. In fact it was not uncommon back in medieval times for those in position of authority to change the Bible to their own advantage. Is this true?
No Catholic could have rewritten the Bible. In fact, the opposite is true. It is the heretics who rewrote the Bible. In the fourth century, the Church produced the Vulgate, the official Latin translation, so that there would be one authoritative text for all of Christendom. Had anyone attempted to tamper with this translation, he would not have gotten away with it. The Vulgate was the most widely circulated book in the Middle Ages. All the monasteries, universities, and cathedrals had at least one copy. Parishes and people with means might also have a copy as well. (Those who were not well-endowed might own New Testaments). If anyone had dared to mangle the text of the Bible, he would have encountered widespread opposition from the scholarly class. Even Erasmus, who was not trying to manipulate anyone, met criticism when he tried to improve on the official version.
It was the heretics who poorly translated the Bibles and attempted to write in their own interpretations to the teachings of Jesus, just as the Gnostics had. This is why their translations of the Bible were banned.
There have been many translations of the Bible, and because we no longer possess any originals, there may be variations in the narration due to a variety of reasons, e.g. copying errors, different translations, misunderstood translations, etc. The substance of the Bible remains intact. The variations in the text do not affect the substance of the texts.
Does the Catholic Church own the Bible? Why is it that the Church believes that they are the only ones with exclusive rights to the original texts? If so, who are they protecting the texts from and why?
As no one possesses the original texts, your question is a moot point.
Without some form of access to these texts how can we tell that the Bible is truly genuine?
We can tell the texts are genuine from history and from faith. Historically, we know where they were produced; we know they were the product of the apostolic age, that is, the age of Jesus' followers. Since there are four of them, and they confirm many details, we know that the narration of Jesus' life must be true. We also know that those who wrote these Gospels wrote other material. For instance, Luke wrote Acts, and John wrote his letters, and they all have the same running theme, i.e. the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Most historical documents would require much less corroboration to be accepted as true, but it is only because we are dealing with matters of faith that skeptics demand so much proof of the historical value of the New Testament.
We know from faith that since the Church has declared the New Testament to be a reliable witness of the life and teachings of Jesus, and that Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to teach the Church, then we can rest assured they faithfully transmit Jesus' Revelation.
Thank you for your question.
God Bless, Suzanne Fortin.
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