Back to the Bible


by John Salza

Our Sunday Visitor, 2005

256 pages, $13.95

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As a child in Southern Baptist Sunday School, I memorized this pledge: “I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God’s Holy Word. I will make it a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path, and I will hide its words in my heart that I might not sin against God.”

This is, of course, a dangerous promise for Baptist children because, if they take it seriously — as I did — that illuminated pathway can lead straight into the bosom of the Catholic Church.

But, even though the idea behind the pledge is probably sola scriptura, I am glad I learned it. The pledge hasn’t always kept me from sinning against God, alas, but those words tucked deep in my heart still enable me to recognize my sins as sin. When I fall, I know enough to be ashamed, contrite and grateful for forgiveness.

What apologist-author John Salza does in The Biblical Basis for the Catholic Faith is to figure forth a neat doctrinal roadmap of this glowing pathway. Creator of, a popular Catholic apologetics website, he is a clear thinker, a patient researcher and an engaging writer.

After establishing that it was the Catholic Church that decided which books belonged in the Bible, Salza goes on to show that “using the Bible alone to study and explain Christian truths is not a Catholic approach.” He also recounts how God entrusted his Word to the Church by giving both sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition.

That’s not to say his approach is not ecumenical. “The Bible,” he writes, “is indispensable for explaining Catholic teaching, and the essential point of commonality between Catholics and Protestants.”

Where the common Protestant interpretation of a Catholic doctrine is inaccurate or incomplete, Salza explains, step by step, the actual Church teaching.

Because some Catholic doctrines are derived from the Bible’s deuterocanonical books, Salza points out that these books were important to the Jews of Jesus’ day — and to Our Lord himself. An excellent appendix cites 73 deuterocanonical references in New Testament writings, along with references in the Old Testament books of Exodus, 1 Samuel and 2 Kings.

Lest readers suspect that Salza’s motive is to provide Catholics an arsenal of apologetics ammunition to go out and win debates, he notes that his true hope is that all Christians “grow in a deeper and holier relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ … for knowing and loving Jesus means knowing and loving what Jesus taught us, which comes from his written Word.”

Still, implicit in the book’s very existence is the firm conviction that, as the fathers of the Second Vatican Council put it, the “one true religion continues to exist in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus entrusted the task of spreading it among all people.”

All of us — Catholic or Protestant — who love Jesus will find The Biblical Basis for the Catholic Faith a fine guide to knowing and loving the fullness of truth that can inform our faith and cast heavenly light on our earthly paths.

Ann Applegarth writes from
Roswell, New Mexico.