How can Catholics say they are Christians if they do not believe in and follow the Bible?
The Catholic Church is the mother of the Bible. The bishops of the Church gathered at the synod or council of Hippo in 393 AD and compiled what is the current canon of books for the Bible. We believe that the Holy Spirit inspires the Scriptures and protects the Church in teaching revealed truths. All necessary saving truth can be found in the Bible, although not everything may be explicit. While we do not deny the value of God’s Word, most Protestants reject the value of Sacred Tradition and the necessary “authoritative” role of the Church.
Until the invention of the printing press, most believers did not have access to a Bible and even if they did many were illiterate. That is why the stained-glass windows of churches often detailed important stories from biblical salvation history. Bibles were originally made by hand and the production of one might take a scribe several years. Some churches chained these Bibles to pulpits, not to keep God’s Word away from the people but to insure that no one stole the Scriptures regularly proclaimed at Mass. Disagreements among believers (regarding truth and heresy) were not resolved by the Bible but by an agreed consensus of bishops in council. This is a pattern we see from the earliest days.
Acts 15:1-29 – The Council of Jerusalem
The magisterium (the Pope and bishops in union with him) constitutes the essential interpreter of the Sacred Scriptures and the Sacred Tradition. We believe that the Holy Spirit preserves the Church in the truths of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:2 – “I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you.”
2 Thessalonians 2:15 – “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.”
2 Thessalonians 3:6 – “We instruct you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to shun any brother who conducts himself in a disorderly way and not according to the tradition they received from us.”
2 Timothy 1:13-14 – “Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard this rich trust with the help of the holy Spirit that dwells within us.”
2 Timothy 2:2 – “And what you heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well.”