Non-Catholic Christians often confront Catholics with the question, “Where is THAT in the Bible?” This is usually a challenge to the Catholic to use the Bible to prove a Catholic doctrine. The premise is wrong, however.
Where in the Bible does it say that every Christian doctrine must be found in the Bible?
Where in the Bible does it even say which books belong in the Bible?
It is simply not biblical to look to the Bible alone for Christian doctrine.
There are verses, such as 2Tim 3:16-17 that emphasize the importance of Scripture. Let’s look at that verse:
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…”
The Bible is certainly the inspired, inerrant Word of God.
“…and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction for instruction in righteousness…”
Notice that Scripture is called “profitable” but not “sufficient.” Water is profitable for keeping you alive, but it is not “sufficient.” You also require food, shelter, etc.
“…that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
Again, if you only have water, but no food, you are not “thoroughly furnished.” You won’t be perfectly healthy. You are not thoroughly furnished if all you have is a Bible. The Bible is an essential part of your equipment, but not the only piece of equipment you require.
Look at it another way: If I leave the house to go to work wearing no pants, my wife will say, “Honey, you’re not fully dressed!” If I then put on pants but take my shirt off my wife will say, “You’re still not fully dressed!” I need the complete outfit to be fully dressed.
The point of 2Tim 3:16-17 is that you need the Bible to complete (i.e. fully furnish) your equipment, not that the Bible is your “only” piece of essential equipment.
So, what else besides the Bible do you need to complete your equipment?
You need the official teachings of the Church established by Christ.
1Tim 3:15 says, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou ought to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
In this verse, we see that the pillar and ground of the truth is the Church established by Christ, not just the Bible.
2Thessalonians 2:15 says, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.”
Here we see that both the written word and the oral word have always been important for Christians to adhere to. Though the apostles wrote some things down, they did not write down everything. Christians had to obey what the apostles said, not just what they wrote. Nowhere do we see Jesus instructing them to write down all the “essentials.” Jesus told them to “go and teach,” not to “go write a book.” The successors of the apostles received the same admonition to “go and teach” (2Tim 2:2, for example), not to “go and write.”
The Bible itself was given to us by the Catholic Church. It took about 400 years before it was decided which writings to include in the Bible. The Bible does not say which books belong in it. The Catholic Church, directed by the Holy Spirit, decided which books belong in the Bible. The Bible is actually part of Catholic Sacred Tradition. The Church and the Bible work together in harmony. They do not contradict each other.
A preacher might be able to give “good explanations” about the meaning of Scripture. However, any interpretation that contradicts the teachings of the Catholic Church is wrong, no matter how appealing or how logical it may sound. This is why there are so many opposing interpretations and so many different churches. With only a Bible, these churches and preachers are not fully equipped.
In order to understand your Bible correctly, you need to include the teachings of the Church established by Christ and directed by the Holy Spirit. To be fully equipped, you need the Bible AND the pillar and foundation of the truth, the Catholic Church. God made them to go together. If you ignore one or the other (or both), you’re missing something Jesus wants you to have.