Thursday, December 14, 2017
Imagine two guys having a discussion about the correct way to drive a car. After some disagreement, one of them gets frustrated and says to the other, “Your argument is wrong because you don’t even know how the engine works! You don’t know all the parts that make up the car! You wouldn’t know the difference between a carburetor and a catalytic converter!”
Of course, this is silly because you don’t have to know all the parts of a car in order to drive the car. There are probably thousands of people who could not tell a catalytic converter from a carburetor. But so what? In spite of their lack of knowledge in this area, they would still be able to drive the vehicle. There is a difference between properly using a car and knowing everything about the car.
Ok, most people would agree that the frustrated guy above has a very poor argument. Yet, this is exactly the tactic that many Catholics will try to use against Protestants when debating about the Bible. The Protestant will quote a Bible passage and the Catholic might say, “You’re quoting the Bible, but you don’t even know WHAT the Bible is! You don’t know which books belong in it!” (i.e., the canon) – as though that somehow stops the Protestant from understanding what he is reading.
One does not have to know the authors, the original languages, or the full canon of Scripture in order to sufficiently understand and gain useful information from it. By reading the Bible, a person can get saved, learn to live for God, and teach others the same, without ever having an exact knowledge of the canon. Sure, it can certainly help to know all about the background of the Bible and have a fuller knowledge of it. If a person does know all this, then great. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that those who don’t are unable to grasp what Scripture says.
The point is, Catholics and Protestants are basically on equal ground when simply using / reading / interpreting the Bible. The Catholic seems to be missing the point that they share a common source. You see, both the Catholic and the Protestant agree that Scripture is from God. They both agree that it is an authoritative and inspired guide. They both agree that it is (at least part of) their rule of faith. So, at this point, it is irrelevant if one does, or does not, have a full knowledge of how the Bible came about. Just as in the car analogy above, there is a difference between properly using the Bible and knowing everything about the Bible.
So why would anyone even use this argument? This tactic is just a smokescreen, a distraction that just muddies the water. Catholics usually resort to it when they are losing an argument.
If the original argument is not about the canon itself, then you don’t have to know the canon for your argument to be valid.
There is a time for studying the origin, background, and canon of the Bible. But using it to divert attention from a different argument is misguided, at best, and deceptive, at worst.