Church = Foundation of the Truth (1 Tim 3:15) (vs. L. Banzoli)

Church = Foundation of the Truth (1 Tim 3:15) (vs. L. Banzoli) February 9, 2023

Lucas Banzoli is a very active Brazilian anti-Catholic polemicist, who holds to basically a Seventh-Day Adventist theology, whereby there is no such thing as a soul that consciously exists outside of a body, and no hell (soul sleep and annihilationism). This leads him to a Christology which is deficient and heterodox in terms of Christ’s human nature after His death. He has a Master’s degree in theology, a degree and postgraduate work in history, a license in letters, and is a history teacher, author of 27 self-published books, as well as blogmaster (active on and off) for six blogs. He has many videos on YouTube.

This is my 58th refutation of Banzoli’s writings. For almost half a year (5-25-22 to 11-12-22) he didn’t write one single word in reply, because my articles were deemed to be “without exception poor, superficial and weak . . . only a severely cognitively impaired person would be inclined to take” them “seriously.” Despite this childish rationalizing, he found my refutations so “entertaining” that he bravely decided to “make a point of rebutting” them “one by one”; this effort being his “new favorite sport.”

He has now replied to me 15 times (the last one dated 2-9-23). I disposed of the main themes of his slanderous insults in several Facebook posts under his name on my Anti-Catholicism page. I plan (by God’s grace) to ignore the insults henceforth, and heartily thank him for these innumerable blessings and extra rewards in heaven (Matthew 5:11-12).

Google Translate is utilized to render Lucas’ Portugese into English. Occasionally I slightly modify clearly inadequate translations, so that his words will read more smoothly and meaningfully in English. His words will be in blue. Words from past replies of mine to him will be in green.

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This is my reply to a portion of Lucas Banzoli’s article, “1ª Timóteo 3:15 ensina que a Igreja Romana é infalível? Refutando o conceito de “Igreja” de Dave Armstrong”  [Does 1 Timothy 3:15 teach that the Roman Church is infallible? Refuting Dave Armstrong’s Concept of the “Church”] (12-26-22), which purports to be a “reply” to my article, “1 Timothy 3:15 = Infallible Church (vs. Lucas Banzoli)” (6-3-22). As usual, Banzoli comprehends almost none of my argumentation, and so — true to form — he belittles what he is unable and/or unwilling to understand, throughout his pathetic screed.

I will concentrate on one aspect of this debate: the Church as the “foundation of the truth.” He didn’t respond at all to my best argument in this regard, which is why I will mostly repeat it here, but it’s well worth nailing down and reiterating this crucial point. Repetition (as long as rational argument is part and parcel of it) is a great teacher. I have added bolding below, for “foundation” as he uses the word; italics are his own throughout:

After distorting as many biblical texts as usual and machine-gunning passages out of context, Dave proceeds to distort the Greek as well. . . . neither of the two Greek words used in 1 Timothy 3:15 mean “foundation,” . . . 

Even if “foundation” were one of the possible meanings of hedraióma, this would not imply that it was the meaning in 1st Timothy 3:15 . . . 

[I]t would not make the slightest sense that Paul would say that the church (that is, Christians) are the “foundation” of the truth, . . . 

To say that an institution like this is the very foundation of truth, . . . is a crime against humanity. . . . 

[I]f the Church is not the “foundation” of the truth, as if the truth were dependent on the Church, what is it anyway? It is the “pillar” or “pillar” of truth, built upon the truth, not the truth in it. . . . 

Dave . . . fails miserably to prove . . . that the text speaks of being the “foundation” of the truth, and not a “pillar” or support to it. . . . he completely reverses the meaning and purpose of the Pauline text, turning a plain and simple message about Christians being truth-keepers into a burlesque message about a Roman institution being infallible and above all. . . . 

[E]xegesis is not done by joining disconnected verses at will. With that same logic, we could take any other text where the word “foundation” appears and relate it to 1st Timothy 3:15, which would obviously be stupid as well as begging the question (for wanting to inculcate this meaning into the text rather than to extract it from it). . . . 

[T]he foundation itself can be none other than Jesus, who is the very “way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6), sharing no space with anyone else. . . . 

1st Timothy 3:15 does not speak of “foundation” . . . 

[B]oth Peter and James and John are called pillars (exactly what I argue based on 1 Timothy 3:15), not foundation (as Dave believes, removing Jesus from his post as sole foundation). As any child knows, and maybe even a baby, a pillar is not the foundation, but it is on the foundation (because the foundation is Christ, not themselves). . . . 

Banzoli goes round and round, almost drowning in his own voluminous, ever-present verbal diarrhea. What he never did throughout his entire ridiculous rant, was address one of my central, and most effective arguments. How is it that we best determine what word (translation of a Hebrew or Greek word) is proper in any specific Bible passage? Well, a great and relatively easy way to do that is to consult the many hundreds of linguists and Bible scholars who take part in the translation process of new versions of the Bible. I made this argument, but he utterly ignored it (I don’t blame him; he operates with the mentality of “if you can’t overcome an argument, just pretend that it doesn’t exist!”).

47 scholars translated the famous King James Version (KJV, 1611). The RSV, the most well-known revision of the KJV, and the Bible that I use, was translated by 32 scholars in conjunction with representatives from fifty denominations. The New International Version (NIV) was produced by fifteen scholars. The New American Standard Bible (NASB) — the version I used when I first read the Bible — was produced by more than twenty linguists. Etc., etc.

These people know what they’re doing. They’re actually scholars, not merely amateur ranters and ravers and anti-Catholic polemicists like Banzoli, who can’t even manage to get a book published by an actual publisher outside of himself, and so is consigned to self-publishing only.

Lucas falsely claimed in his original paper on the topic (not this latest one) that none of them [Bible translations] has the sense of ‘foundation’ (as some adulterated Catholic translations render it)”. I regret to inform him (but I’m happy to inform my readers) that this is a glaring falsehood, and it is proven not just by Catholic translations (in English), but by (overwhelmingly) non-Catholic Bibles, which translate hedraíōma as follows (Catholic Bibles in green) — including 24 of them that chose the rendering of foundation or foundation-stone:

foundation (NIV, NLT, Amplified, CSB, Holman, CEV, ISV, LSV, NAB, Young’s Literal, Berean Study, Lamsa, EHV, EXB, GW, Phillips, MEV, NOG, NTE, TLV, Goodspeed, Knox, Williams)

foundation-stone (Weymouth)

buttress (ESV, Mounce, Barclay)

ground (KJV, NKJV, ASV, Douay-Rheims, WEB, AKJV, ERV, Webster, Geneva, Bishop’s Bible, Coverdale, Tyndale, BRG, Good News, NMB, RGT)

bulwark (NET, NRSV, NCB, RSV, NEB, REB, Moffatt, Kleist & Lilly)

base (Darby, Smith’s Literal, Literal Emphasis, JUB)

[see web pages with most of these translations written out: one / two]

So much for Lucas’ groundless argument (no pun intended) . . .

All of this was utterly ignored in Banzoli’s purported “reply.” He had desperately written in his original article:

Therefore, the meaning of the text is not that the truth is subject or dependent on the Church, but the opposite. As the pillar is dependent on the foundation, the Church is dependent on the truth. The foundation (truth) comes first, and the pillar (Church) comes later. The Church, therefore, has the role of announcing this truth, not manipulating that truth, as if whatever the Church said was true for the sole reason that the Church said it.

The text says the exact opposite of what Lucas argues, as shown above (from actual scholars). Far from the Church being “dependent on the truth”, The Bible says it is the foundation or ground or base of the truth: exactly what we Catholics are saying. It doesn’t follow that the Bible is not that (either/or reasoning). But the Church is, along with or alongside the Bible: precisely as in the Catholic rule of faith. This doesn’t make the Church inspired; only infallible. And that is quite enough to destroy sola Scriptura as a supposed biblical principle and rule of faith.

The heart of the Catholic argument is not the word stulos, but the word hedraíōma, as shown. First Lucas defines it wrongly, and then ignores it as if it isn’t there. But the meaning is crystal-clear; couldn’t be more clear than it is!

. . . the Church, which is not a “foundation” of the truth, but a pillar, . . . The Bible is not really the pillar of truth, because it is much more than a pillar. It is not like a pillar (which depends on something), but the foundation, the truth itself.

The Church also is the foundation (or ground or base or bulwark) of “the truth”: as shown above. Lucas is foolishly denying what ought to be right in front of his face. I know it’s difficult to have one’s cherished (but false) belief crushed. But we all have to be strong enough to endure correction from the Bible. We can’t fight against it. That won’t do us any good at all.

For those who haven’t yet read it, here is my most concise presentation of the “Catholic argument” from 1 Timothy 3:15, from my book, 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura (Catholic Answers Press, 2012, pp. 104-107, #82):

Pillars and foundations support things and prevent them from collapsing. To be a “bulwark” of the truth, means to be a “safety net” against truth turning into falsity. If the Church could err, it could not be what Scripture says it is. God’s truth would be the house built on a foundation of sand in Jesus’ parable. For this passage of Scripture to be true, the Church could not err — it must be infallible. A similar passage may cast further light on 1 Timothy 3:15:

Ephesians 2:19-21 . . . you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, [20] built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, [21] in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord;

1 Timothy 3:15 defines “household of God” as “the church of the living God.” Therefore, we know that Ephesians 2:19-21 is also referring to the Church, even though that word is not present. Here the Church’s own “foundation” is “the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.” The foundation of the Church itself is Jesus and apostles and prophets.

Prophets spoke “in the name of the Lord” (1 Chron 21:19; 2 Chron 33:18; Jer 26:9), and commonly introduced their utterances with “thus says the Lord” (Is 10:24; Jer 4:3; 26:4; Ezek 13:8; Amos 3:11-12; and many more). They spoke the “word of the Lord” (Is 1:10; 38:4; Jer 1:2; 13:3, 8; 14:1; Ezek 13:1-2; Hos 1:1; Joel 1:1; Jon 1:1; Mic 1:1, et cetera). These communications cannot contain any untruths insofar as they truly originate from God, with the prophet serving as a spokesman or intermediary of God (Jer 2:2; 26:8; Ezek 11:5; Zech 1:6; and many more). Likewise, apostles proclaimed truth unmixed with error (1 Cor 2:7-13; 1 Tim 2:7; 2 Tim 1:11-14; 2 Pet 1:12-21).

Does this foundation have any faults or cracks? Since Jesus is the cornerstone, he can hardly be a faulty foundation. Neither can the apostles or prophets err when teaching the inspired gospel message or proclaiming God’s word. In the way that apostles and prophets are infallible, so is the Church set up by our Lord Jesus Christ. We ourselves (all Christians) are incorporated into the Church (following the metaphor), on top of the foundation.

1 Peter 2:4-9 Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; [5] and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. [6] For it stands in scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and he who believes in him will not be put to shame.” [7] To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe, “The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner,” [8] and “A stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall”; for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. [9] But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (cf. Isa 28:16)

Jesus is without fault or untruth, and he is the cornerstone of the Church. The Church is also more than once even identified with Jesus himself, by being called his “Body” (Acts 9:5 cf. with 22:4 and 26:11; 1 Cor 12:27; Eph 1:22-23; 4:12; 5:23, 30; Col 1:24). That the Church is so intimately connected with Jesus, who is infallible, is itself a strong argument that the Church is also infallible and without error.

Therefore, the Church is built on the foundation of Jesus (perfect in all knowledge), and the prophets and apostles (who spoke infallible truth, often recorded in inspired, infallible Scripture). Moreover, it is the very “Body of Christ.” It stands to reason that the Church herself is infallible, by the same token. In the Bible, nowhere is truth presented as anything less than pure truth, unmixed with error. That was certainly how Paul conceived his own “tradition” that he received and passed down.

Knowing what truth is, how can its own foundation or pillar be something less than total truth (since truth itself contains no falsehoods, untruths, lies, or errors)? It cannot. It is impossible. It is a straightforward matter of logic and plain observation. A stream cannot rise above its source. What is built upon a foundation cannot be greater than the foundation. If it were, the whole structure would collapse.

If an elephant stood on the shoulders of a man as its foundation, that foundation would collapse. The base of a skyscraper has to hold the weight above it. The foundations of a suspension bridge over a river have to be strong enough to support that bridge.

Therefore, we must conclude that if the Church is the foundation of truth, the Church must be infallible, since truth is infallible, and the foundation cannot be lesser than that which is built upon it. And since there is another infallible authority apart from Scripture, sola scriptura must be false.

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Summary: 1 Timothy 3:15 proves that the Church = foundation of the truth, and is infallible and indefectible (also disproving sola Scriptura). Banzoli futilely ignores it.

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