El catolico parece haber ganado el debate, mas yo tengo nuevsas respuestas que las dare una vez acabe mi tesis, pero por ahora signa beneficiandose de los aportes catolicos y aportes evangelicos.
Sola Scriptura Debate: Julie Staples vs. Apolonio Latar
Apolonio Latar: Opening Statement
Denying the Resolution
"The Bible is the only infallible rule of faith."
I would like to thank Julie Staples for having this debate with me. The burden of proof lies on Julie. She has to prove that Sola Scriptura is true. I don’t have to really prove anything even though I can. Actually, I don’t think we should even talk about the Catholic Church since we do not practice or believe in Sola Scriptura.
First, the question that every Protestant has heard, which is, where in the Bible does it teach Sola Scriptura? If Scripture does not teach Sola Scriptura, then every Bible Christian should reject it. The Bible however, teaches otherwise.
The Church, the Kingdom of God
Jesus did not promise new Scripture. He promised a Church. A Church that is very visible. As Catholic apologist Phil Porvaznik writes,
“The English word "church" is derived ultimately through the Gothic, from the Greek for "thing or place pertaining to the Lord." The words for church in the Romance languages (French, Italian, etc) come from the Latin ecclesia, an exact transliteration of the Greek and NT term ekklesia. In the Septuagint (the Greek OT) this word is used some 85 times to translate the Hebrew term qahal (or kahal) which meant in most cases a religious assembly. In the NT ekklesia is found 61 times in Paul's writings (including Hebrews), 23 in Acts, 20 in Revelation, and 11 in the remaining books (source: New Catholic Encyclopedia on "Church," volume 3, page 678). By calling itself the "Church" the first community of Christians recognized themselves as the new qahal, the new People of God (1 Peter 2:9f; cf. Exod 19), the heirs to that original visible Jewish assembly.” (http://www.philvaz.com/philvaz/debates/debate23.htm)
We read in the Bible:
"In the lifetime of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people; rather, it shall break pieces all these kingdoms and put an end to them, and it shall stand forever." (Daniel 2:44)
The kingdom in Daniel 2:44 has been classically identified with the stone of Daniel 2:34-35. More precisely, the "rock" of Matt 16:18 has been identified with that stone from Daniel. The stone -- the Messiah -- crushes this image of iron. Jesus sets up a new kingdom not of this world (John 18:36). The divided kingdom implies the division between the western and eastern empires when Imperial Rome was divided. We see that God will create a KINGDOM. This means that there will be a head, which is the King, who is Jesus. This is striking since in Matthew 16, Jesus talks about building a Church, and then He gives the keys of the kingdom to Peter. This means that the Church IS the kingdom -- a kingdom that is visible (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43, 47-50). A kingdom is known by its head. Jesus, being the invisible Head, then makes Peter the visible head of the kingdom so that men will know the kingdom.
Bind and Loose and the Keys of the Kingdom
Now that we know that Jesus established a visible Church, we also know what kind of Church this will be. It is an authoritative Church. This Church has the power to bind and loose (Matthew 16:19; 18:18; John 20:21-23). Modern Protestant scholars do not deny this -- they even explain these verses in ways that the Catholic Church and Catholic apologists do today. Notice especially the connection made to Peter as the new "chief steward" (Isaiah 22:15-25) of the kingdom of heaven (the Church) upon earth.
For example, M. Eugene Boring (Disciples of Christ), commenting on the "keys of the kingdom of heaven," "binding" and "loosing" from Matthew 16:19 --
"The 'kingdom of heaven' is represented by authoritative teaching, the promulgation of authoritative Halakha that lets heaven's power rule in earthly things...Peter's role as holder of the keys is fulfilled now, on earth, as chief teacher of the church....The keeper of the keys has authority within the house as administrator and teacher (cf. Isa 22:20-25, which may have influenced Matthew here). The language of binding and loosing is rabbinic terminology for authoritative teaching, for having the authority to interpret the Torah and apply it to particular cases, declaring what is permitted and what is not permitted. Jesus, who has taught with authority (7:29) and has given his authority to his disciples (10:1, 8), here gives the primary disciple [Peter] the authority to teach in his name -- to make authoritative decisions pertaining to Christian life as he applies the teaching of Jesus to concrete situations in the life of the church." (Boring in The New Interpreter's Bible [Abingdon Press, 1995], volume 8, page 346)
Francis Wright Beare (Presbyterian/Reformed) --
"The 'keys' are probably not to be understood as entrance keys, as if to suggest that Peter is authorized to admit or to refuse admission, but rather to the bundle of keys carried by the chief steward, for the opening of rooms and storechambers within the house -- symbols of responsibilities to be exercised within the house of God (cf. Mt 24:45, etc.). 'Bind' and 'loose" are technical terms of the rabbinic vocabulary, denoting the authoritative declaration that an action or course of conduct is permitted or forbidden by the Law of Moses." (Beare in The Gospel According to Matthew [Harper and Row, 1981], page 355-356)
Eduard Schweizer (Presbyterian/Reformed) --
"In Jewish interpretation, the key of David refers to the teachers of the Law (exiled in Babylon); according to Matthew 23:13, the 'keys of the Kingdom of heaven' are in the hands of the teachers of the Law. A contrast is here drawn between them and Peter. He is thus not the gatekeeper of heaven, but the steward of the Kingdom of heaven upon earth. His function is described in more detail as 'binding and loosing' ....the saying must from the very outset have referred to an authority like that of the teachers of the Law. In this context, 'binding" and 'loosing' refer to the magisterium to declare a commandment binding or not binding....For Matthew, however, there is only one correct interpretation of the Law, that of Jesus. This is accessible to the community through the tradition of Peter...Probably we are dealing here mostly with teaching authority, and always with the understanding that God must ratify what Petrine tradition declares permitted or forbidden in the community." (Schweizer in The Good News According to Matthew [John Knox Press, 1975], page 343)
R.T. France (Anglican/Protestant Evangelical) --
"The terms [binding and loosing] thus refer to a teaching function, and more specifically one of making halakhic pronouncements [i.e. relative to laws not written down in the Jewish Scriptures but based on an oral interpretation of them] which are to be 'binding' on the people of God. In that case Peter's 'power of the keys' declared in [Matthew] 16:19 is not so much that of the doorkeeper... but that of the steward (as in Is. 22:22, generally regarded as the Old Testament background to the metaphor of keys here), whose keys of office enable him to regulate the affairs of the household." (R.T. France, as cited in Jesus, Peter, and the Keys by Butler/Dahlgren/Hess, page 54)
William F. Albright and C.S. Mann are quite certain when they comment on Matthew 16:19 --
"Isaiah 22:15ff undoubtedly lies behind this saying. The keys are the symbol of authority, and Roland de Vaux [Ancient Israel, tr. by John McHugh, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1961] rightly sees here the same authority as that vested in the vizier, the master of the house, the chamberlain, of the royal household in ancient Israel. Eliakim is described as having the same authority in Isaiah; it was Hilkiah's position until he was ousted, and Jotham as regent is also described as 'over the household' [2 Kings 15:5]....It is of considerable importance that in other contexts, when the disciplinary affairs of the community are being discussed [cf. Matt 18:18; John 20:23] the symbol of the keys is absent, since the sayings apply in those instances to a wider circle....The role of Peter as steward of the Kingdom is further explained as being the exercise of administrative authority, as was the case of the OT chamberlain who held the 'keys.' The clauses 'on earth,' 'in heaven', have reference to the permanent character of the steward's work." (Albright/Mann, The Anchor Bible: Matthew, page 196-197)
The Evangelical New Bible Commentary states on Isaiah 22 --
"Eliakim stands in strong contrast to Shebna, over whom he seems to have been promoted when they reappear in 36:3...Godward he is called my servant (20)...manward he will be a father to his community (21)...The key...of David (22) comes in this context of accountability. A key was a substantial object, tucked in the girdle or slung over the shoulder; but the opening words of v. 22...emphasize the God-given responsibility that went with it, to be used in the king's interests. The 'shutting' and 'opening' means the power to make decisions which no one under the king could override. This is the background of the commission to Peter (cf. Mt 16:19) and to the church (cf. Mt 18:18).... Ultimate authority, however, is claimed, in these terms, for Christ himself (cf. Rev 3:7-8)." (NBC [Intervarsity, 1994], page 647)
Evangelical scholar F.F. Bruce comments --
"And what about the 'keys of the kingdom' ? The keys of a royal or noble establishment were entrusted to the chief steward or majordomo; he carried them on his shoulder in earlier times, and there they served as a badge of the authority entrusted to him. About 700 B.C. an oracle from God announced that this authority in the royal palace in Jerusalem was to be conferred on a man called Eliakim ....(Isaiah 22:22). So in the new community which Jesus was about to build, Peter would be, so to speak, chief steward." (Bruce, The Hard Sayings of Jesus [Intervarsity, 1983], 143-144, as cited in Butler/Dahlgren/Hess, page 41)
Joachim Jeremias in an extended passage from Kittel's Greek standard --
"...the key of David is now (3:7) the key which Christ has in His hands as the promised shoot of David. This is the key to God's eternal palace. The meaning of the description is that Christ has unlimited sovereignty over the future world. He alone controls grace and judgment. He decides irrevocably whether a man will have access to the salvation of the last age or whether it will be witheld from him...Materially, then, the keys of the kingdom of God are not different from the key of David...This is confirmed by the fact that in Mt. 16:19, as in Rev. 3:7, Jesus is the One who controls them. But in what sense is the power of the keys given to Peter? ....the handing over of the keys is not just future. It is regarded as taking place now... There are numerous instances to show that in biblical and later Jewish usage handing over the keys implies full authorisation. He who has the keys hasfull authority. Thus, when Eliakim is given the keys of the palace he is appointed the royal steward (Is. 22:22, cf. 15). When Jesus is said to hold the keys of death and Hades (Rev. 1:18) or the key of David (3:7), this means that He is, not the doorkeeper, but the Lord of the world of the dead and the palace of God...Hence handing over the keys implies appointment to full authority. He who has the keys has on the one side control, e.g., over the council chamber or treasury, cf. Mt. 13:52, and on the other the power to allow or forbid entry, cf. Rev. 3:7...Mt. 23:13 leads us a step further. This passage is particularly important for an understanding of Mt. 16:19 because it is the only one in the NT which presupposes an image not found elsewhere, namely, that of the keys of the kingdom (royal dominion) of God...Mt. 23:13 shows us that the scribes of the time of Jesus claimed to possess the power of the keys in respect of this kingdom...They exercised this by declaring the will of God in Holy Scripture in the form of preaching, teaching and judging. Thereby they opened up for the congregation a way into this kingdom...by acting as spiritual leaders of the congregation....As Lord of the Messianic community He thus transferred the keys of God's royal dominion, i.e. the full authority of proclamation, to Peter...In Rabb. lit. binding and loosing are almost always used in respect of halahkic decisions...The scribe binds (declares to be forbidden) and looses (declares to be permitted)...In Mt. 16:19, then, we are to regard the authority to bind and to loose as judicial. It is the authority to pronounce judgment on unbelievers and to promise forgiveness to believers." (Jeremias from Kittel/Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, volume 3, page 748-751)
We see in the NT Scriptures that the Apostles passed their authority on. One example is Paul passing his teaching authority to Timothy (1 Tim 1:3; 3:2; 4:11-16; 5:17; 6:2ff; 2 Tim 1:13-14). Timothy will also pass on his authority (2 Tim 2:2). Where in the Bible does it say that the Apostles passed their authority ONLY to their letters? Scripture Alone? Sola Scriptura wasn’t the intent of Jesus at all. The original apostolic Church didn’t practice Sola Scriptura either. Protestant apologist James R. White frankly admits this in his online article on the Bereans and Sola Scriptura:
"...the doctrine [of sola scriptura] speaks of a rule of faith that exists. What do I mean by this? ...You will never find anyone saying, 'During times of enscripturation -- that is, when new revelation was being given -- sola scriptura was operational.' Protestants do not assert that sola scriptura is a valid concept during times of revelation. How could it be, since the rule of faith to which it points was at that very time coming into being? One must have an existing rule of faith to say it is 'sufficient.' It is a canard to point to times of revelation and say, 'See, sola scriptura doesn't work there!' Of course it doesn't. Who said it did?" (article "The Bereans Rejected Sola Scriptura?" by James White from http://www.aomin.org)
What is Julie going to do with this admission from James White? If Sola Scriptura was not a "valid concept" while the apostles were alive (or the OT prophets, see 2 Chron 29:25), then it was certainly not practiced by Jesus or His apostles. James White admits it was not true in the first century. When did Sola Scriptura become true and valid? Immediately upon the death of the apostles? What kind of logic is that? Did Sola Scriptura become true and valid when the NT books were finally canonized by the Catholic Church in the fourth century AD? Where is the proof it became true and valid then or at any time in the history of the Church?
The early believers in the first century didn’t believe that Jesus resurrected because the Gospel of Luke says so, but they believed this because the Apostles and eyewitnesses taught it and handed on that belief (1 Cor 15:1-8; 2 Peter 1:16). They knew the Gospels before they were ever written. The early Christians followed the "apostles' teaching" and apostolic tradition as the "Word of God" (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor 11:2; 1 Thess 2:13; 2 Thess 2:15; 3:6) before any of it was written down. One would not argue with the Apostles because someone interpreted one of their letters differently. If I said that circumcision is necessary for salvation, am I in error? Of course I am. Why? Because the Apostles infallibly declared that circumcision isn’t necessary (Acts 15). Is it infallible because it is written in the Acts of the Apostles? No. It is infallible because the Apostles declared it, and whatever they bind and loose has been bound and loosed by God in heaven (Matthew 16:19; 18:18). That teaching has been passed down to us today.
An important point to keep in mind: The New Testament didn’t give birth to the Church, the Church gave birth to the New Testament. I don't believe Julie can dispute that.
Another example of the early Church's authority is the case of Ptolemy, Barnabas, and Marcion. Marcion of Pontus believed an inferior god in the Old Testament who was so ignorant, the god could not find Adam (Gen 3:9). Barnabas believed that the Jews lost the covenant immediately after Moses received it when the Jews worshipped the golden calf. Ptolemy believed in three lawgivers: God Himself, Moses, and the elders of the people. The Church then made some big decisions.
"The Church excommunicated Marcion and condemned Marcionism. Barnabas found no disciples. Ptolemy's principles were rejected. Generally, the early Church did not define its teachings on its own initiative. Instead, it defined them by reacting. Only when someone announced, "I've got it all figured out," did the Church take a long look at the solution, measure it against its sense of the faith, and often enough say, "No, you don't; that's not in line with our faith." Thus, in rejecting Marcion as a heretic, in not following Barnabas, and in not accepting Ptolemy's principles, the Church made some important affirmations." (The Bible, the Church, and Authority by Joseph T. Lienhard, page 19)
We still have these kinds of problems today. A good example is contraception. Is contraception a sin? Is slavery a sin? Is modern "MTV type" dancing appropriate? Those are tough questions to answer. And we HAVE to know the truth on these issues. If we don’t, then Christianity would fall into religious relativism and subjectivism.
One mistake that Protestant apologists make is that they think that tradition is a totally separate revelation. They keep on asking what "other revelation" is not contained in Scripture. There are a lot of things that are implicitly mentioned in Scripture but we need tradition for the fullness of the Christian faith and to keep the Gospel correct, orthodox and balanced. As St. Athanasius has said,
"The blessed Apostle approves of the Corinthians because, he says, 'ye remember me in all things, and keep the traditions as I delivered them to you' (1 Cor 11:2); but they [the Arian heretics], as entertaining such views of their predecessors, will have the daring to say just the reverse to their flocks: 'We praise you not for remembering your fathers, but rather we make much of you, when you hold not their traditions.' And let them go on to accuse their own unfortunate birth, and say, 'We are sprung not of religious men but of heretics.' For such language, as I said before, is consistent in those who barter their Fathers' fame and their own salvation for Arianism, and fear not the words of the divine proverb, 'There is a generation that curseth their father' (Prov. xxx. 11; Ex. xxi. 17), and the threat lying in the Law against such. They then, from zeal for the heresy, are of this obstinate temper; you, however, be not troubled at it, nor take their audacity for truth. For they dissent from each other, and, whereas they have revolted from their Fathers, are not of one and the same mind, but float about with various and discordant changes. And, as quarrelling with the Council of Nicaea, they have held many Councils themselves, and have published a faith in each of them, and have stood to none, nay, they will never do otherwise, for perversely seeking, they will never find that Wisdom which they hate. I have accordingly subjoined portions both of Arius's writings and of whatever else I could collect, of their publications in different Councils; whereby you will learn to your surprise with what object they stand out against an Ecumenical Council and their own Fathers without blushing." (Councils of Ariminum and Seleucia 14)
"Therefore let them [the Arians] tell us, from what teacher or by what tradition they derived these notions concerning the Saviour? "We have read," they will say, "in the Proverbs, 'The Lord created me a beginning of His ways unto His works;'" this Eusebius and his fellows used to insist on, and you write me word, that the present men also, though overthrown and confuted by an abundance of arguments, still were putting about in every quarter this passage, and saying that the Son was one of the creatures, and reckoning Him with things originated. But they seem to me to have a wrong understanding of this passage also; for it has a religious and very orthodox sense, which had they understood, they would not have blasphemed the Lord of glory." (De Decretis 13)
"Had Christ's enemies thus dwelt on these thoughts, and recognised the ecclesiastical scope as an anchor for the faith, they would not have made shipwreck of the faith, nor been so shameless as to resist those who would fain recover them from their fall, and to deem those as enemies who are admonishing them to be religious." (Discourses Against the Arians 3.58)
In summary, the heretics were the ones who rejected the Church's tradition, the Church's interpretation of Scripture, and the Church's faith. That is NOT Sola Scriptura as taught by St. Athanasius.
Athanasius also wrote about the authority of the Catholic Church to make binding decisions as the true Catholic faith to be believed by all Christians:
"See, we are proving that this view has been transmitted from father to father; but ye, O modern Jews and disciples of Caiaphas, how many fathers can ye assign to your phrases? Not one of the understanding and wise; for all abhor you, but the devil alone; none but he is your father in this apostasy, who both in the beginning sowed you with the seed of this irreligion,and now persuades you to slander the Ecumenical Council, for committing to writing, not your doctrines, but that which from the beginning those who were eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word have handed down to us. For the faith which the Council has confessed in writing, that is the faith of the Catholic Church; to assert this, the blessed Fathers so expressed themselves while condemning the Arian heresy; and this is a chief reason why these apply themselves to calumniate the Council. For it is not the terms which trouble them, but that those terms prove them to be heretics, and presumptuous beyond other heresies." (De Decretis 27)
Now, I don’t want to debate the early Church Fathers because they are really irrelevant for Julie. She doesn’t think that the writings of the Fathers are authoritative or reliable for doctrine, so it doesn’t matter if she quotes them. What I want her to prove however is that Sola Scriptura is biblical and logical. I hope Julie does not try to shift the burden of proof.
There are some things however, that we Catholics consider as tradition that are not mentioned in the Bible. One is the titles of Jesus and Mary. Mary has been called the “New Eve” from the very beginning and Jesus has been called “The Divine Physician”. Also, the form of Worship, which is the Liturgy. Another would be infant baptism (which is implied in the household baptisms seen in the Acts of the Apostles). Another would be prayers for the dead (as seen in 2 Maccabees 12). Another would be the canon of the New Testament itself. All of these were passed on, developed and finally decided upon by the Catholic Church. These are some of the apostolic doctrines and practices that we see in the early Church Fathers.
But back to our main question: Is "Scripture Alone" taught in the Bible? Was it passed down from the apostles? I want Julie to prove that Sola Scriptura is taught in the Bible. That is the only authority she accepts, so she must prove it from there. Now, I know that (as the Catholic Church teaches) the Bible is authoritative, inspired, and such, but is it (as the resolution for this debate states) the only infallible rule of faith? And who actually defines Sola Scriptura? And who interprets Scripture? Do the bishops interpret scripture? Can just anyone interpret Scripture authoritatively? Or do Christians have to submit to the bishops’ interpretation of the Bible and Word of God (Hebrews 13:7,17) ?
The verse that Julie might give is the famous one from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 --
“All scripture is inspired and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, in order that the man of God may be fit, fully equipped for every good work.”
First, that passage does not say that Scripture is "sufficient." Second, a Catholic believes that Scripture is inspired and profitable. Third, Paul used the word "alone" many times, and this would be the best place to put it if he was teaching Sola Scriptura. There are things that Christians have to know when they read the letter to Timothy. First, we have to know that Paul is instructing Timothy. Second, did Timothy consider this letter as Scripture? Actually, Timothy is submitting to the authority of Paul. Since Paul taught him, Timothy has to submit. Timothy recognized the authority of Paul. I would like to continue this when Julie actually gives me a biblical verse for Sola Scriptura.
Catholics believe that revelation ceased after the last apostle died. The question is, were the apostolic traditions still authoritative? Christians used tradition as their authority more than Scripture for decades after the Gospels were written.
"In the period of Apostolic Fathers, it is still the words of Jesus, rather than any written Gospel, that are authoritative. When the Apostolic Fathers quote the Scriptures (and not all of them do), they almost invariably mean the Old Testament. They do not have a New Testament. But they quote the words of Jesus as authoritative seventeen times. A few passages will show an important pattern evolving. In a few cases the Apostolic Fathers quote one of the Gospels verbatim. Polycarp of Smyrna writes: “…even as the Lord said, ‘The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,’” quoting Matthew 26:41 exactly. A good example is from the First Epistle of Clement, written in Rome around A.D. 96: "Especially let us recall the words of the Lord Jesus, which he uttered to teach considerateness and patience. For this is what he said: “Show Mercy, that you may be shown mercy. Forgive, that you may be forgiven. As you behave to others, so they will behave to you. As you give, so will you get. As you judge, so will you be judged. As you show kindness, so will you receive kindness. The measure you give will be the measure you get.” Although the words may sound familiar, no single sentence in the passage is an exact quotation from the New Testament." (The Bible, the Church, and Authority by Joseph T. Lienhard, page 31-32)
As we can see, they didn’t have the full Gospel if they followed Sola Scriptura. They had apostolic tradition as well. Christians didn’t even have the canon right (the 27 book NT we accept today) until the fourth century AD. So if they practiced Sola Scriptura, it means that they didn’t have the full "infallible rule of faith" yet (according to Julie). Many Protestants imply by their use of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that Jesus, the Apostles, and the first generation of Christians practiced Sola Scriptura. But the question is, when did the practice of Sola Scriptura (Scripture ALONE) begin? Christiansalways had apostolic tradition to follow (1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 2:15) and the Church to guide them as the "pillar and foundation of the truth" (Matt 16:18f; 1 Tim 3:15). It was never "Scripture alone" by private interpretation.
Practical Problems of Sola Scriptura
There are many problems with Sola Scriptura. First, who defines and interprets Sola Scriptura? Whose interpretation of Scripture is correct? You might ask, whose interpretation of the Church’s interpretation of Scripture is correct? The answer is that our explanation of dogma may differ, so long as our explanation does not contradict the dogma itself. The dogmas are clearly stated and defined in the canons and decrees of the Creeds, Councils and Popes. A source like Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma will give you the Catholic teaching (what is "De Fide"). There is no such source in Protestantism.
Theologians CAN disagree on theology, when it is not defined. But, they cannot disagree on the orthodox infallible doctrine or dogma. The problem is that Protestants disagree on what is "orthodox teaching." They also do not and cannot KNOW. We Catholics can KNOW what the orthodox teachings are. In Protestantism, who has the authority to interpret Scripture? If two Christians are having an argument on doctrine, who has the authority to settle the dispute?
As Catholic apologist Mark Bonocore has suggested:
(1) EITHER the Divine plan contained in the Bible is objectively UNknowable, OR ...
(2) It's only knowable to a select few -- intellectuals, who claim to know Scripture so well that they can point out who is correct and who is in error.
If #1 is the case, then Julie is not a Christian, but a liberal relativist. If #2 is correct, then Julie is a Gnostic, on par with every New Age guru on the West Coast. So, which is it, Julie?
Also, if the early Church practiced Sola Scriptura, which early Church Father do you consider a Christian? To those who believed in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, Baptismal Regeneration, Infant Baptism, the Mother of God, Perpetual Virginity of Mary, etc? Is Luther a Christian because he believed in the Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity of Mary, and Mother of God? If he is, why can’t a Catholic believe in those? What did Luther lack? What did the early Church Fathers lack? Which early Church Father is an "orthodox Christian" ? How is that defined? What form of worship should Christians use? Is it a subjective issue? Can we pick and choose? Did the early Church Fathers go to hell when they prayed to and showed a great devotion for Mary and the other Saints? If the early Church Fathers are Christians while worshipping as Catholics do, why can’t Catholics believe and do the same today?
What the Catholic Church Teaches About Scripture
Here I will quote a few paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church so we are clear on this.
101. In order to reveal himself to men, in the condescension of his goodness God speaks to them in human words: "Indeed the words of God, expressed in the words of men, are in every way like human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men."
102. Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, his one Utterance in whom he expresses himself completely...
103. For this reason, the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord's Body. She never ceases to present to the faithful the bread of life, taken from the one table of God's Word and Christ's Body.
104. In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, "but as what it really is, the word of God." "In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them."
105. God is the author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit." "For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself."
106. God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. "To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more."
107. The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures."
108. Still, the Christian faith is not a "religion of the book." Christianity is the religion of the "Word" of God, a word which is "not a written and mute word, but the Word is incarnate and living." If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, "open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures." ...
111. But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. "Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written." ...
113. Read the Scripture within "the living Tradition of the whole Church". According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God's Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture...
120. It was by the apostolic Tradition that the Church discerned which writings are to be included in the list of the sacred books. This complete list is called the canon of Scripture. It includes 46 books for the Old Testament (45 if we count Jeremiah and Lamentations as one) and 27 for the New...
131. "And such is the force and power of the Word of God that it can serve the Church as her support and vigor, and the children of the Church as strength for their faith, food for the soul, and a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life." Hence "access to Sacred Scripture ought to be open wide to the Christian faithful."
132. "Therefore, the study of the sacred page should be the very soul of sacred theology. The ministry of the Word, too -- pastoral preaching, catechetics and all forms of Christian instruction, among which the liturgical homily should hold pride of place -- is healthily nourished and thrives in holiness through the Word of Scripture."
133. The Church "forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. "Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ." (from St. Jerome).
134. All Sacred Scripture is but one book, and this one book is Christ, "because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ" (Hugh of St. Victor).
135. "The Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God and, because they are inspired, they are truly the Word of God" (DV 24).
136. God is the author of Sacred Scripture because he inspired its human authors; he acts in them and by means of them. He thus gives assurance that their writings teach without error his saving truth (cf. DV 11) ....
141. "The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she venerated the Body of the Lord" (DV 21): both nourish and govern the whole Christian life. "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Ps 119:105; cf. Is 50:4).
The burden of proof lies on Julie. That means she has to PROVE that Sola Scriptura is true. I hope that Julie does not try the “shifting the burden” trick. I can tell you right now that if Julie tries to shift the burden, I will not respond to it. She has to prove Sola Scriptura. The burden of proof is always on the affirmative in a debate.
Julie Staples: Opening Statement
Affirming the Resolution
"The Bible is the only infallible rule of faith."
We come together, in this e-mail debate, to discuss the subject of the Scriptures and their role in the church today. Are they sufficient to serve as the infallible rule of faith for matters of doctrine and practice alone, or do they need Tradition as a supplement? Some would be quick to write this important discussion off as a fight over nuances, a theological matter without consequence to anyone who is not a theologian. However, before we are so quick to dismiss this debate as irrelevant we will examine the ramifications of one's approach to God's holy Word. If we affirm that Scripture is sufficient alone, then this means it would become our highest authority, and all church institutions and believers must be subject to it. This stance elevates the written word of God above anything else vying for prominence, and binds only that which Scripture addresses onto the conscience of the believer. Conversely, the position of the insufficiency of Scripture, and need of an equal in the form of Apostolic Tradition then puts those things which "Tradition" dictates as binding upon the believer. It then puts all things as subject to a dual "Sacred Deposit" outlined before us by a teaching Magisterium. How is this vital? If we believe the Bible is sufficient on its own, and are led astray, the consequences of following this decision affects the very Gospel itself, ". . . the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" as the apostle Paul describes it in Romans 1:16 . Could we then be led away by a gospel of man's invention? On the other hand, subject ourselves to a magisterial authority, to a "Sacred Deposit" which includes an oral tradition, and we could be led to believe gospel totally contrary to Scripture simply because a body with an empty claim to authority has laid it down. Dear readers, pay attention to what is spoken in this discourse, and do so with gravity.
My position is that the divinely inspired Bible is the only infallible regula fidei of the church of Jesus Christ. I will throughout this debate, show what is meant when we say, "Sola Scriptura", offer a defense of this doctrine, and demonstrate what the position is of my opponent and how it falls short of the example set before us by Christ and the apostles. I will answer the counter arguments, showing that the rebuttals offered by Rome's apologists are spurious and littered with fallacy. Finally, I will summarize this issue once again, but with the viewpoint of a believer in Scripture alone.
What is Sola Scriptura?
Foundational to the presentation of my argument is the definition of what we mean when we say, "Sola Scriptura". Indeed, the concept has been poorly represented in many circumstances, leading to some of the wildest forms of sophistry I have ever heard. I implore both my opponent and any reader not to be caught up in misconceptions or red herrings, but rather deal with Sola Scriptura in its true intent.
Sola Scriptura states that the Scriptures are sufficient to serve alone as the church's rule of faith on matters of doctrine and practice. It is the final authority on all matters that it addresses and without need of a supplement, and only those things that it addresses are to be binding upon the believer. It affirms the universal priesthood of the believer, and the believer's right to privately interpret Scripture. However, while it affirms private interpretation, this not giving allowance to the Christian who would go against the admonishment of Peter and, "distort . . . the Scriptures, to their own destruction." (2 Pet.3:16). Rather, it exhorts the Christian to remain subservient to the Holy Spirit and under the guidance and counsel of his church. Finally, Sola Scriptura affirms the perspicuity of Scripture. This is to say that the subject matter of the Bible is discernible and those things which are needed to know in order to be saved are clear (Jn. 20:31), without denying that some passages are harder to understand, as Peter admits in 2 Pet. 3:16. Tim Enloe writes:
"The few acknowledged obscure places do not mean that the actual things of Scripture (e.g, the ideas of Christ's deity, the Trinity, salvation by grace, etc.) are unclear--indeed, to say such is to impiously charge God with the darkness and blindness of the human heart--and the obscure places are offset by more clear places that discuss the same things. There are two ways of speaking of the perspicuity of Scripture: an internal way and an external way. The former involves the heart comprehension of a man, and is limited to those who have the Spirit of God within them. The latter involves "just the text" of Scripture, about which there can be no substantial doubt as to the meaning."
Hence, the point is also made that the ministry of the Holy Spirit in guiding and enlightening the believer who reads the Word is a vital tenant of Sola Scriptura. Nowhere does the doctrine state that a man with a Bible and nothing else has all he needs. Rather, we affirm what the Westminster Confession of Faith describes:
"VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.
"VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them."
This brings us to the next integral step of our definition of Sola Scriptura, the list of those things that it does not affirm. It does not claim the Bible contains all general knowledge, or even that it contains all religious knowledge. "But the Bible does not have to be exhaustive to function as the sole rule of faith for the Church. We do not need to know the color of Thomas' eyes. We do not need to know the menu of each meal of the Apostolic band for the Scriptures to function as the sole rule of faith for the Church." Furthermore, it does not deny the authority of the Church to teach the Word of God. Paul calls the Church, in 1 Tim. 3:15 ". . . the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth . . ." and indeed she upholds the truth, while remaining submissive to the voice of her Lord, the written word of God. Furthermore, Sola Scriptura does not rule out tradition, but rather states that all forms of tradition are not equal to Scripture. Instead, tradition is to be subservient to Scripture. Finally, espousal of Sola Scriptura does not deny that God's Word was at one time spoken, proclaimed by the apostles in their teaching ministry. "Rather, it refers to the Scriptures as serving the Church as God's final and full revelation"
Having defined what the doctrine of Sola Scriptura teaches, we will now examine how Scripture is sufficient alone and without need of any supplement.
The Evidence for Sola Scriptura
Now, on what grounds do we claim the sufficiency of Sola Scriptura? In order to answer this question, we will first briefly examine the forms of God's revelation.
Adherents to Sola Scriptura do indeed affirm that God has revealed Himself to us in various forms at various times. The author of Hebrews states, "Heb 1:1-2 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways; . . ." If we read further, we see the culmination of His revelation coming to light in the person of Jesus Christ, ". . . in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. " We profess the Scriptures to being God's final form of special revelation to His Church, as it carries with it God's inspiration. While God's creation attests to the glory and existence of its Master, it is in God's written word that we find all that God has chosen to reveal to man in order to be saved and all He has sought fit to reveal about Himself.
Keeping in mind, therefore, that the Scriptures are God's special revelation, we say thus it is inspired. Paul gives us our clearest indication of the inspiration and sufficiency of Scripture in his second letter to Timothy: "2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 2Ti 3:17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."
The word for "inspired" here is the Greek "theopneustos", which means, "God-breathed". Literally, the passive tense indicates God breathed into Scripture. Furthermore, it is because of this that Scripture is fully sufficient, as Paul indicates. He goes onto stating that their inspiration then makes Scripture "profitable" for the functions of the Church (teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness) and therefore in verse 17, makes the man of God equipped for every good work. The word adequate puts the final seal onto inspiration and sufficiency. The Greek word used is "artios" which is translated by Strongs as "complete, perfect", and by Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker as "complete, capable, proficient". The God-breathed Scriptures are profitable due to their inspiration, and therefore "adequate, complete" etc. Dr. James White adds:
"I pause long enough to note that Paul asserts that the man of God can be complete, capable, proficient, and qualified, because God's inspired Scriptures are always available to him. If another source of authority was necessary, surely Paul would have directed us to it in order that we might be complete, but he does not!"
However, this verse, while one of the clearest statements, is not alone. Peter affirms the inspiration of Scripture in 2 Pet. 1:20-21. Furthermore, the Lord Jesus, in Mt. 22:31-32 brings the Sadducees to Scripture, and continues to plead from the Scriptures in countless other times in the Gospels. The phrase "it is written" occurs in 28 verses in the Gospel accounts alone (NASB version), yet the phrase "tradition tells us" or any related concept is noticeably absent. The Bible states that the apostles preached in the temples and on the streets with the Word of God, and in Acts we see the Bereans being the ones exulted for their studiousness in searching the Scriptures. The example set before us by Our Lord and the apostles is that of the sufficiency of Scripture. Furthermore, there are countless quotes from the early church fathers demonstrating that they upheld the sufficiency of Scripture and exalted Scripture to being the church's highest authority.
The Roman Catholic would be quick to point out those verses that discuss tradition to rebut the ideal of scriptural sufficiency, but such claims are spurious (we shall examine this later). In addition, the Roman Catholic apologist finds himself facing other hurdles with the ambiguity of the word "Tradition" and the quandaries their apologetic sets up when pleading to the need for an infallible interpreter.
Roman Catholicism and Tradition
Before we go into the problems with my opponent's position, it's important to note that the Roman Catholic does not completely argue against the sufficiency of Scripture. There is a prevailing opinion that exists within modern Roman Catholic apologetics called "material sufficiency". This means that while all a Christian must believe is in Scripture, explicitly or implicitly, it is not formally sufficient, needing to be supplemented by Catholic Tradition in order to be understood and properly interpreted. This is not much different from their other prevailing viewpoint on the sufficiency of Scripture, "partim, partim", which states that part of God's special revelation is found in Scripture, and part is in Tradition. Namely, this viewpoint believes that oral tradition is a separate revelation, claims that the Bible is materially insufficient (there are some doctrines which are not found at all in Scripture and need Tradition), and was espoused by Trent . This is where the issue lies: In both partim partim and material sufficiency, Rome adds Tradition as a vital component and pleads that an infallible interpreter is needed in order to analyze the Scriptures. This asserts, basically, that the Scriptures are not clear without these elements; hence both viewpoints deny the ability of the Scriptures to serve as the sole infallible rule of faith.
One has to ask themselves, however, if RC Tradition equals the level of inspiration and certainty that is set before us by the Scriptures. If God is the author of both Scripture and Tradition, then they both will bear with it the same signature. So, it is not unreasonable to expect the same level of inspiration. But upon examination of Roman Catholic dogma, we do not see the same solidity and clarity as is given to us in Scripture. David King writes:
"The Church of Rome claims that she possesses an authoritative, extrabiblical oral tradition originating with the apostles themselves. However, though repeatedly declared in Roman Catholic documents, this theory is an unsubstantiated claim and nothing more. No Roman apologist has ever been able to define or produce the doctrinal content of this oral tradition. All that is ever asserted is that content for these traditions does exist, but the inability to establish an historical, objective link for these traditions, traceable to the apostles, proves the spurious nature of such claims."
The fact is: the Roman Catholic concept of Tradition is never defined confidently by Rome or Rome's proponents. Rather, Tradition is a very nebulous term, shape-shifting into whatever form is needed at the time by a Roman Catholic apologist. Robert Godfrey expounds on this:
"Our Roman opponents, while making much of tradition, will never really define tradition or tell you what its content is. Tradition is a word that can be used in a variety of ways. It can refer to a school of understanding the Scriptures, such as the Lutheran tradition. It can refer to traditions - supposively from the apostles - that are not in the Bible. It can refer to developing traditions in the history of the church that are clearly not ancient in origin. Usually, in [the writings of] the ancient fathers of the church, the word 'tradition' refers to the standard interpretation of the Bible among them. And we Protestants value such tradition."
Usually, we find that only a general appeal to tradition is employed by the Roman Catholic. Their appeal never goes beyond this, however and leaves us to wonder if there exists an extrabiblical Pauline or Johannine form of tradition. One would think the defining doctrines of such a tradition would have been preserved and could be easily outlined; in other words that I would be able to verifiably link the Marian dogmas to the Pauline, extrabiblical tradition, etc . This puts the Roman Catholic at a bit of a quandary; as if they cannot succinctly define tradition there's no way of knowing whether one is being true to that tradition. Hence, the conclusion can be drawn that "Tradition" lacks a verifiable heritage with the apostles. How then can the Roman Catholic be certain it is an inspired rule of faith?
Now, the Roman Catholic does claim to have scriptural merit for Tradition, but the scriptural citations are, once again, citations of tradition in a general form. Upon examination of these Scripture verses we see the "evidence" spoken of is hardly indicative of Roman Catholicism's "Tradition". The most commonly cited verse in defense of "Tradition" is 2 Thes. 2:15, which states, "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us." However, their exegesis of this verse fails on many levels. First of all, there is no proof that these "traditions" were extrabiblical. It is very possible that what Paul is referencing is something that he writes elsewhere in this epistle, or in one of his other letters. What of the transmission by "word of mouth"? Paul had preached there in his ministry; and elsewhere in Scripture the oral proclamations of Paul have been said to be the oral pronouncement of the Gospel, nothing more. A second possible exegesis could be that any of these traditions which existed then no longer are in practice; however upon examining the context this is somewhat unlikely. What can be said with confidence is that Paul gives no proof for what Rome claims in any way, shape, or form. To say otherwise would be to read far more into the text than is implied. Paul gives no indication, not even implicitly, that those things which were spoken to the church at Thessalonica involved anything like the assumption of Mary, or papal infallibility, etc.
The other verses which are cited by Roman Catholics in support for "Tradition" often go in this same vein, a general reference or plea to something "spoken" or to a "tradition" which has to be deceitfully read into, eisegeted, in order to form the conclusion that Rome does. If not this, then the verse Rome's apologist cites just demonstrates that he either does not understand the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, or is being deliberately dishonest in their attempt to defend Rome.
As a final point, the "infallible Magisterium" said to be needed to determine the truth of Scripture gives no infallible certainty and instead relies upon such blatant circular reasoning to assert its claim to interpretation. In Roman Catholicism, the Magisterium is the "keeper" of the Sacred Deposit of Scripture and Tradition, the interpreter of it; but no larger logical fallacy has been promulgated than the one that Rome uses to assert her authority. The Roman Catholic Church authority is authoritative because their exegesis of Scripture states that it is. Church history, likewise, affirms Roman Catholic doctrine when examined by Rome herself. Therefore, the authority in question has interpreted the text and consequently dubbed itself the "infallible interpreter"! How convenient! Rome derives her authority from herself.
Likewise fallacious is the claim that the Bible needs an infallible interpreter in the first place to be understood. This concept defeats itself, for even the pronouncements of the Church need to be interpreted by fallible people. If Scripture itself is unclear, what makes the Magisterial decrees any clearer? Indeed, there exists constant fighting amongst Roman Catholics on different interpretations of the magisterial decrees. Are Protestants heretics or separated brethren? Are the decrees of Vatican II infallible church teachings? Is Pope John Paul II truly the pope? What about the Novus Ordo mass? All of these are very serious questions with a lot at stake. Yet has Rome not spoken? The Roman Catholic may argue that the Holy Spirit guides the pronouncements of the Magisterium, but who is to say that the Holy Spirit cannot, or is powerless, to guide the church of Jesus Christ through the inspired word of God alone? While Tradition is nebulous and the concept of an infallible interpreter self-defeating and without Biblical decree, what stands before us in truth and certainty? Scripture. What is the only infallible rule of faith, the only rule which clearly carries the weight of inspiration behind it? Scripture.
Dr. James White accurately observes the fallacy of Rome's claim that we need an infallible interpreter:
". . . The argument put forth is even more pernicious because it attacks the sufficiency of Scripture itself. It implies that the Holy Spirit did such a poor job of inspiring and producing Scripture that although the Psalmist thought God's Word was a lamp to his feet and a light to his path, he (the Psalmist) was in fact quite deluded, and was treading dangerous ground. Instead of the glorious words of God spoken of in Psalm 119, we are told that such basic truths as the nature of God, including the deity of Christ or the personality of the Holy Spirit, cannot be derived solely from Scripture but require external witnesses. . . . . . Are we to believe that the Bible is so unclear and self-contradicting that we cannot arrive at the truth through an honest, whole-hearted effort at examining its evidence?"
In the final analysis, Scripture is the only infallible regula fidei of the church of Jesus Christ and certain rule of faith.
Objections to Sola Scriptura
Now, obviously, there are always objections to a worldview, and Rome would be foolish to not to challenge the claims of Sola Scriptura, for as the power of Tradition and a Magisterial authority goes, likewise goes with it many of its dogmas which are utterly reliant on an interpretive body and a "Tradition" to give it merit. While space does not permit me to address every potential argument, I will address a couple of the more prominent ones. No doubt that by the time this debate finds its completion, we will have addressed these and a few more.
The Roman Catholic apologist now turns to the Protestant and states, "Sola Scriptura leads to doctrinal anarchy, which is further reason why you need an infallible authority. Look at all of these Protestant denominations, 30,000 of them the last time I checked. How do you know you're in the correct church?"
The first thing to be stated is that this figure is highly exaggerated by Rome's defenders. Indeed, when pressed to cite where they got such a figure, most will not be able to tell you, instead relying upon a mere assertion that this is "just the way it is". Dr. Eric Svendsen, a Protestant apologist, has located the source of this figure, in World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World A.D. 1900 - 2000 (Edited by David Barrett). Barrett's findings, however, hardly proves the Roman Catholic's position.
"First, Barrett, writing in 1982, does indeed cite a figure of 20,780 denominations in 1980, and projects that there would be as many as 22,190 denominations by 1985. This represents an increase of approximately 270 new denominations each year (Barrett, 17). What the Roman Catholic who cites this figure does not tell us (most likely because he does not know) is that most of these denominations are non-Protestant."
He goes on to state that, according to Barrett's figure, Protestants account for 8,196 of these denominations, a far cry from 30,000, and Roman Catholicism accounts for 223 denominations. So much for unity in Rome.
Secondly, the argument on the part of the Roman Catholic is dishonest for it often attempts to lump together churches in its examination which do not belong together. Tim Enloe speaks of this in an argument to John Pacheco.
"The reader needs to bear in mind that the term "Protestant". . . refers only to those denominations that adhere to the central doctrines of the Reformation--which are usually summed up in terms of five broad themes: Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria. It excludes denominations that do not believe in such critical Reformation principles as the bondage of the human will to sin, monergistic regeneration, and the complete sovereignty of God in salvation. In other words, all denominations that can be classified as "liberal" or "Arminian" are excluded from the definition of "Protestant". This is as it should be, for despite their differences all the Reformers agreed upon at least the above items and all who wish to claim the terms that were originally used to describe them ("Evangelical" / "Protestant") must be willing to let those terms mean what they meant then. There is no profit--or honesty--in portraying "Protestantism" as a hodge-podge of Reformation and non-Reformation doctrines."
In true Protestant churches which affirm Sola Scriptura, there exists debate and discussion in matters of which have no consequence, but in the essential points of doctrine, the ones which affect the Gospel, there is unity. To turn the tables on the Roman Catholic, let us look at two other "Churches" which affirm an infallible teaching authority: the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. Both claim that their "magisterial authority" is needed to properly understand Scripture and that Scripture cannot be understood without it. The Roman Catholic will now cry foul! How dare we lump them in the same category with people who have such differing beliefs! After all, the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses don't even believe in the trinity like we do. Hence our point is made.
Finally, the question is now posed to the Roman Catholic, to tell us how he came to the conclusion that the Roman Catholic Church is the true church; and while the Roman Catholic so strongly fights against private interpretation he cannot answer this question without participating in it. Thus, the Roman Catholic apologist is guilty of the same thing that they charge against the Protestant. Dr. Eric Svendsen states:
"The final arbiter, for every single human being, is - must be - private judgment and reliance on one's own fallible reasoning faculties. If someone decides to use those fallible reasoning faculties to arrive at Rome, he cannot then claim that these same reasoning faculties are illegitimate for everyone else who does not arrive at Rome - nor can he claim objective "safety" or "certitude" just because he thinks he made the right decision. Remember, the decision to trust Rome is itself a fallible decision."
Now the Roman Catholic may look to expose the evidence for Sola Scriptura itself. Turning to 2 Tim. 3:16-17, he lays on the "Newman Rebuttal" saying, "Your pet verses betray you, you know. You say that 2 Tim 3:16-17 prove the sufficiency of Scripture, but they say too much, as at the time all Paul could have referred to was the Old Testament." Basically, this argument is a reference to the canon of Scripture, and states that the Protestant's plea for Sola Scriptura is moot because the Scriptures were not even finished yet. However, this argument does not take into account why we state that the Scriptures are sufficient. Paul makes it clear that they are sufficient because of what they are: inspired, infallible, God-breathed, etc. Scripture can equip the man of God for every good work because it is theopneustos. This argument is probably an attempt to cover-up what is noticeably absent from this text: that fact that Paul does not cite another infallible rule of faith as having the same capabilities and authority as Scripture. To wit, the Roman Catholic claims to Tradition and an infallible authority are fallacious and cannot be proven. This further evidence from Paul gives us the added confidence to say that the Scriptures stand in a league all in their own.
As a related issue, the Roman Catholic will state that the "Church" gave us the Scriptures and the "Church" defined the canon. These claims are absolutely incorrect. The men who assembled the volume of Scriptures known as the Bible, and who laid down the canon did so not due to an infallible move by an infallible church, but rather recognized the canon due to its inspiration. The fact can be stated once again; the sufficiency of Scripture has nothing to do with having the full and "Golden" index of Scripture (an infallible table of contents). Scripture stands where it is because of the power and weight which accompanies being the God-breathed special revelation of the Lord. It stands alone because it is without equal.
In closing, I wish to summarize now my earlier statement about the dangers of embracing the system of an infallible authority and interpreter. If the reader will remember, I exhorted you to the importance of such an issue and its gravity. The Roman Catholic claims are spurious, and as a result of their claims to Tradition, they have bound upon the believer things which Scripture itself does not. The Bible, due to its inspiration, and due to the fact that it has no equal, is our sole infallible rule of faith.
Many people have become enamored with Rome due to these fallacious claims. The pageantry and the authority she claims are alluring. But her promises are empty, her power is self-determined, an empty boast, and her Tradition is without foundation. Nowhere are we admonished to turn to the type of "Tradition" which Rome espouses, or to turn to an "infallible authority". Rather, we are admonished to seek and learn, to be diligent in our study of the Scriptures, to be submissive to the Spirit, to love the truth, and to love the Lord so that we may be equipped for His service. I pray any who reads this debate gives this matter care and attention so as to learn the truth of Sola Scriptura.
All Scripture cited is taken from the New American Standard version of the Bible.
Endnotes and Sources
Enloe, Tim. "The Perspicuity ("Clearness") of Scripture - A Reply to Dave Armstrong" (2000) Retrieved February 21, 2002 from the World Wide Web: http://www.graceunknown.com/Apologia...rspicuity.html
Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 1.
This discussion into those things which Sola Scriptura does not espouse is taken from Dr. James R. White's book, "The Roman Catholic Controversy" (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1996 pp.56-59)
White, James R. "Does the Bible Teach Sola Scriptura?" Debate between James White and Patrick Madrid held September 28, 1993 in Chula Vista, California, from his opening statement. (Online) http://www.aomin.org/SANTRAN.html
White, James R. "The Roman Catholic Controversy" (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1996 pp.65-66)
Space does not permit these patristic quotes to be discussed, but more on this can be read in "Holy Scripture, the Ground and Pillar of Our Faith" Volume 3, by David King and William Webster.
See Decree Concerning the Canonical Scriptures (Fourth Session)
King, David "Holy Scripture, the Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Volume 1" (Battle Ground, WA: Christian Resources, 2001 p.55)
Godfrey, Robert "What Do We Mean By Sola Scriptura?" in Sola Scriptura! The Protestant Position on the Bible , ed. Don Kistler (Morgan: Soli Deo Gloria, 1995), p.10; cited in David King; Holy Scripture, Volume I; Christian Resources, 2001 p.56
I rebut the exegesis employed by Rome in several other verses at: http://www.reachingforchrist.org/fal...heatsheet.html
White, James R. "The Roman Catholic Controversy" (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1996 pp.91-92)
Svendsen, Eric "30,000 Protestant Denominations?" (2001) Retrieved December 22, 2001 from the World Wide Web: http://www.ntrmin.org/30000denominations.htm
Enloe, Tim "The "Black Hole" of Protestant Epistemology?" Retrieved February 21, 2002 from the World Wide Web.
Svendsen, Eric "The Roman Catholic Challenge: Question #1" from "The Roman Catholic Corner". http://www.ntrmin.org
Apolonio Latar: First Rebuttal
Denying the Resolution:
"The Bible is the Only Infallible Rule of Faith."
Julie Staples: First Rebuttal
Julie has stated, "Furthermore, [Sola Scriptura] does not deny the authority of the Church to teach the Word of God."
I am glad that Julie has stated this fact. And I agree with her completely. Now that we agree that the Church has authority to teach, the question remains if the Church teaches the true Gospel. With the guide of the Holy Spirit, the Church will "guide us to ALL TRUTH" (John 14:16f; 16:13). My logic goes like this:
(1) The Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth (cf. 1 Tim 3:15);
(2) The Church teaches Scripture;
(3) Therefore, when the Church teaches Scripture, what she teaches is true.
When the Church teaches Scripture, she must interpret them. We know that the Church teaches with Jesus' authority (cf. Matt 28:18-20; 18:17f; Luke 10:16). And Jesus' authority is infallible. Therefore the Church is infallible.
One example of this is the canon of Scripture, that is, the list of books in the Bible. As Peter Kreeft has said,
"A fallible cause cannot produce an infallible effect. But the Church is the efficient cause of Scripture. She wrote it. She is also its formal cause: she defined its canon. Thus, if the Church is only fallible, her canon of Scripture is only fallible, and we do not know infallibly which books are Scripture, that is infallible."
We also have to know that the early Church did not have the correct canon until the 4th century AD. That means that she did not have the full Gospel in written form, meaning that they HAD to rely on tradition. Julie therefore MUST either believe that they relied on tradition for the full Gospel, or believe in the development of doctrine, or she can believe in both. Julie also said,
"We profess the Scriptures to being God's final form of special revelation to His Church, as it carries with it God's inspiration."
However, where in the Bible does it teach that?
Does Scripture Teach Sola Scriptura?
One of the verses that Julie pointed out was 2 Timothy 3:16-17. We Catholics agree that Scripture is God-breathed. We have no problem with that. Julie said, "Scripture is fully sufficient." Actually, nowhere in Scripture does it have the statement "the Scriptures are sufficient." Sufficiency in 2 Timothy is a reference to the man of God.
Julie also pointed out that the Greek word artios means complete or perfect. However, when seen in context, artios does not mean complete or perfect in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The Greek wordartios is only used once [here in the NT]. It is used as a temporal adverb in 2 Samuel 15:34 [OT Greek LXX].
Colin Brown has written,
"artios here [in 2 Timothy 3:17] does not imply perfection, as was originally thought, doubtless because of the variant reading teleios, perfect, in Codex D. Rather it refers to the state of being equipped for a delegated task. So too, in Eph. 4:12 katartismos refers to the preparation of the church for becoming perfect, but not to this perfection itself, as can be seen from the use of teleios (complete, mature: à Goal), helikia (stature, à Age, Stature), and pleroma (à fullness) in v. 13 (cf. also 1 Cor 1:10). The terms artios and katartismos thus have not so much qualitative meaning as a functional one." (Dictionary of New Testament Theology, page 349).
Actually, if St. Paul wanted to say Scripture is self-sufficient, he could have used the much stronger Greek word autarkeia. This was used in 2 Corinthians 9:8 where it says grace is self-sufficient.
I can also misinterpret passages that have the words perfect and complete. Such as "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete [or fully assured, Greek plerophoreo] in all the will of God" (Col 4:12 KJV; also James 1:4). Now, does that mean that prayer is the only thing we need? Julie will say NO of course, since we also need faith (Heb 11:6). Julie needs to prove from Scripture that Sola Scriptura is taught.
"Peter affirms the inspiration of Scripture in 2 Pet. 1:20-21. Furthermore, the Lord Jesus, in Mt. 22:31-32 brings the Sadducees to Scripture, and continues to plead from the Scriptures in countless other times in the Gospels. The phrase "it is written" occurs in 28 verses in the Gospel accounts alone (NASB version), yet the phrase "tradition tells us" or any related concept is noticeably absent. The Bible states that the apostles preached in the temples and on the streets with the Word of God, and in Acts we see the Bereans being the ones exalted for their studiousness in searching the Scriptures. The example set before us by Our Lord and the apostles is that of the sufficiency of Scripture. Furthermore, there are countless quotes from the early church fathers demonstrating that they upheld the sufficiency of Scripture and exalted Scripture to being the church's highest authority."
As for Matthew 22:31-32, Catholics agree absolutely with Jesus Christ. We should bring all people to Scripture. However, it is illogical to conclude that this means we should follow the BibleONLY. It is also illogical to think that since Jesus quotes Scripture, it means that Jesus is instructing us to go to Scripture alone. I would like to issue this challenge: Where in the Bible does Jesus command the Apostles or anyone to follow Sola Scriptura? Sure He tells us that Scripture is sufficient. But that doesn't mean Sola Scriptura.
Also, in the next chapter, Jesus told the people, "Therefore, do and observe ALL THINGS whatsoever THEY tell you, but do not follow their example" (Matthew 23:3). This shows that Jesus told them to recognize people with authority.
So far, we can see the logic of what Julie has written: "Scripture is sufficient; therefore we should follow Sola Scriptura." Of course, but this doesn't make sense.
Julie also says that the phrase "tradition tells us" is nowhere written in the Bible. Well, the phrase "Scripture is sufficient" isn't in the Bible either. Julie also said that the early Church Fathers demonstrated that they upheld the sufficiency of Scripture (no objections), and exalted Scripture to being the Church's highest authority. If this is so, then why did the early Church Fathers teach the people to listen to their Bishops or teachers? Why didn't the early Church Fathers tell the lay people to go to the Bible and follow it only? Instead, they taught them to be subject to the teachers or people who had the authority to interpret Scripture (cf. Heb 13:7,17). So in other words, they instructed them to listen to two authorities: Scripture and the teacher (or the Church).
For example, St. Athanasius repeatedly says:
"...for from what sources have they got together these words? or from whom have they received what they venture to say? Not any one man can they specify who has supplied it." (Discourse Against the Arians 1.10)
"...who heard, in his first catechising [i.e. instruction in the faith] that God has a Son and has made all things by His proper Word, but understood it in that sense in which we now mean it?" (Discourse Against the Arians 2.34)
"For where at all have they found in divine Scripture, or from whom have they heard, that there is another Word and another Wisdom besides this Son, that they should frame to themselves such a doctrine?" (Discourse Against the Arians 2.39)
"However here too they [the Arians] introduce their private fictions, and contend that the Son and the Father are not in such wise 'one,' or 'like,' as the Church preaches, but, as they themselves would have it." (Discourse Against the Arians 3.10)
"And what is strange indeed, Eusebius of Caesarea in Palestine, who had denied the day before, but afterwards subscribed, sent to his Church a letter, saying that this was the Church's faith, and the tradition of the Fathers; and made a public profession that they were before in error, and were rashly contending against the truth." (De Decretis 3)
"For, what our Fathers have delivered, this is truly doctrine; and this is truly the token of doctors, to confess the same thing with each other, and to vary neither from themselves nor from their fathers..." (De Decretis 4)
"But let the Faith confessed by the Fathers at Nicaea alone hold good among you, at which all the fathers, including those of the men who now are fighting against it, were present, as we said above, and signed: in order that of us too the Apostle may say, 'Now I praise you that ye remember me in all things, and as I handed the traditions to you, so ye hold them fast.'" (To the Bishops of Africa 10)
In a couple of places, Athanasius even says the Scriptures are "sufficient" but is quick to add the necessity of the orthodox teacher for the correct INTERPRETATION of the Scriptures (the "divine oracles"):
"...come let us as we may be able set forth a few points of the faith of Christ: able though you are to find it out from the divine oracles, but yet generously desiring to hear from others as well. For although the sacred and inspired Scriptures are sufficient to declare the truth -- while there are other works of our blessed teachers compiled for this purpose, if he meet with which a man will gain some knowledge of the interpretation of the Scriptures, and be able to learn what he wishes to know -- still, as we have not at present in our hands the compositions of our teachers, we must communicate in writing to you what we learned from them, the faith..." (Contra Gentes 1)
The Canon of Scripture Again
Julie has stated,
"As a related issue, the Roman Catholic will state that the 'Church' gave us the Scriptures and the 'Church' defined the canon. These claims are absolutely incorrect. The men who assembled the volume of Scriptures known as the Bible, and who laid down the canon did so not due to an infallible move by an infallible church, but rather recognized the canon due to its inspiration. The fact can be stated once again; the sufficiency of Scripture has nothing to do with having the full and 'Golden' index of Scripture (an infallible table of contents). Scripture stands where it is because of the power and weight which accompanies being the God-breathed special revelation of the Lord. It stands alone because it is without equal."
That statement is not true. The Church recognized the canon BY THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. The Holy Spirit IS INFALLIBLE. Therefore the decision of the Church isINFALLIBLE. My logic goes:
(1) The Holy Spirit is infallible;
(2) The Holy Spirit inspired the Church to make the decision of the canon;
(3) Therefore the Church was infallible in making the decision of the canon.
The canon did not happen by "chance." The canon has a cause.
(1) God is the primary cause;
(2) God worked through the Church to make the canon;
(3) Therefore the Church was the secondary cause of the canon;
(4) If the Church was the cause, then the canon is an effect;
(5) If an effect is infallible, then its causes must be infallible;
(6) Therefore the Church is infallible.
We see now that the Bible is not the only infallible authority because Scripture does not tell us what Scripture is. Scripture was made (canonized) by the authority of the Catholic Church.
Going back to what Julie said,
"The men who assembled the volume of Scriptures known as the Bible, and who laid down the canon did so not due to an infallible move by an infallible church, but rather recognized the canon due to its inspiration."
This is a great statement. However, HOW did they recognize the canon? HOW did they recognize its nature? Julie has to answer these before she can make that statement.
Sola Scriptura Problems
The main problem with Sola Scriptura is that it leads to religious relativism. We cannot even know what is the objective truth on doctrine in Protestantism. Now, I am not talking about disobedient people who do not listen to their pastors or elders, but I am talking about a defined doctrine. For example, if two people are debating on the two wills of Jesus Christ, who has the final authority to solve the problem? Let us say that the Catholic Church is a false church. Then what? Where is the Church? Can Julie provide me a church that has preserved all the Traditions handed from the Apostles? Can she show me a church that has the Truth? Can Julie provide me an official doctrine of Protestantism? Again, I am not talking about disobedient people or opinions, but official doctrine.
What is the final authority between disputes? The early Christians' answer would be the CHURCH. It was the creeds of the Church that told the people what the orthodox teachings were. Once again, as St. Athanasius has said,
"Hold fast, every one, the faith we have received from the Fathers, which they assembled at Nicaea…And however they (the Arians) may write phrases out of Scripture, endure not their writings; however they may speak the language of orthodox, yet attend not to what they say; for they speak not with an upright mind, but putting on such language like sheep's clothing, in their hearts they think with Arius, after the manner of the devil, who is the author of all heresies. For he too made use of the words of Scripture, but was put silence by our Savior…Had these expositions of theirs (the Arians) proceeded from the orthodox, from such as the Great Confessor Hosius…Bishop of the East, or Julius and Liberius of Rome…Basil (and a host of other Fathers)…there would have been nothing to respect their statements, for the character of apostolic men is sincere and incapable of fraud." (To the Bishops of Egypt, 8)
This quote again shows that Athanasius did not believe in Sola Scriptura. It shows that the creed of Nicaea DEFINED what the orthodox teaching is. The main question remains when a controversial issue comes up: who or what is the final authority?
Julie might say "Scripture is the final authority." In a sense, that is true. But we should know that most of the theological arguments (even from heretics) are made from Scripture. Unless God does not want us to know the truth, there has to be a final authority, which is the Church: Just as the Church declared that the Gentiles did not have to be circumcised to enter the new covenant (Acts 15). Where in the Old Testament does it say that the Gentiles don't have to be circumcised? In this first Council, James quotes Amos 9:11-12 --
"After this I shall return and rebuild the fallen hut of David; from its ruins I shall rebuild it and raise it up again, so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord, even all the Gentiles on whom my name is invoked. Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things, known from my old." (Acts 15:16-17)
Now, could a Jew back then argue with James? Of course. There are many more OT verses that commanded the people to be circumcised. Also, if you look at it skeptically, Amos 9:11-12 doesn't say that Gentiles shouldn't be circumcised. A Jew who would have argued with James and the Council of Jerusalem would be like a Protestant today who would argue with a Pope or one of the Ecumenical Councils. Scripture tells us to go to the Church (Matthew 18:17).
Also, how can people throughout the history of Christianity even practice Sola Scriptura when most of them were illiterate? A little documentation on the literacy rates, and how indebted the Christian people were to Catholic bishops, priests, and monks.
"Jerome wrote in something between the Ciceronian Latin of intellectuals and the Vulgar language of the streets (the language that eventually became vernacular French, Spanish, and Italian). His 'Vulgate' (popular version) was entirely correct and grammatical, in no way offensive to scholars, yet it could be read and understood by the masses if the masses were literate at all. (It was not Jerome's fault that the schools of the empire failed in the fifth century and that there were no literate masses to profit from his work until the 11th or 12th century." (The Civilization of the Middle Ages by Norman F. Cantor [Harper Collins Publishers, 1993], page 70)
"From the sixth to the tenth centuries, during the times of cultural and economic stagnation that followed the fall of Rome, the monks held the Western world together. They provided most of the great missionaries. Reasonably secure, they preserved the ancient culture in their libraries, copying old books, making new ones, conducting almost the only schools. Monastery walls sheltered men with the impulse to escape the world, to seek virtue, to reflect on man's soul and his destiny. The monasteries were often compared to little paradise, refuges in an evil wilderness." (The Middle Ages by Morris Bishop [Houghton Mifflin, 1968, 1987], page 12)
"During much of the Dark Ages, monasteries were Western Europe's only centers of scholarship. In this eleventh-century German illustration two industrious monks are busy at work, copying manuscripts at their desks beneath a cloister's arches." (Bishop, caption under picture, page 29)
"But how, it may be asked, could the people who were unable to read (and they were admittedly a large number) become acquainted with the Bible? The answer is simple.They were taught by the monk and priest, both in church and school, through sermon and instruction. They were taught by sacred plays or dramas, which represented visibly to them the principal facts of sacred history, like the Passion Play...They were taught through paintings and statuary and frescoes in the churches, which portrayed before their eyes the doctrines of the Faith and the truths of Scripture: and hence it is that in Catholic countries the walls of churches and monasteries and convents, and even cemeteries, are covered with pictures representing Scriptural scenes." (Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church by Henry G. Graham [Tan Books, orig 1911, 1977], page 85)
"The Catholic Church, then, had to do the best she could in the circumstances; and I submit she did all that any organisation on earth could possibly have done for the spread of Scripture knowledge among her children. Vast numbers could not read; I admit it; the Church was not to blame for that. Latin was the universal tongue, and you had to be rather scholarly to read it. But I protest against the outrageous notion that a man cannot know the Bible unless he can read it. Can he not see it represented before his eyes? Can he not hear it read?....I am contending for the genuine, real, practical working knowledge of the Bible among the generality of Catholics in the Middle Ages: and, whether they could read or not, I do not hesitate to assert that, with few exceptions, they had a personal and intelligent knowledge and a vivid realisation of the most necessary facts in the Sacred Scripture and in the life of Our Divine Lord to an extent which is simply not to be found among the millions of our nominal Christians in these islands today. Whatever ignorance there was -- this at least all impartial scholars must concede -- the Church was in no way to blame for it." (Graham, page 86, 87)
So what were the authorities for the illiterate believer? The Catholic Church.
We have to note to the readers that Sacred Tradition does not mean a "separate revelation." It means Tradition is a different transmission but the same Gospel. Julie has already quoted 2 Thess. 2:15, which states,
"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us."
Well, when did this command cease? Where does it say when public Revelation has been written down, go by the written Word alone? Where does it say that Sola Scriptura is not the rule of faith "during times of enscripturation" ? (cf. James White's admission in my opening statement). Why should the Scriptures be held any different while Revelation is being inscripturated? It doesn't make sense if the Gospel of Matthew isn't the only infallible rule of faith when Revelation did not cease yet, then when it ceased, it magically became the only infallible rule of faith. This means that Matthew was held differently then.
The fact is that Tradition is important and necessary. It was handy when the Church was dealing with heretics such as Arius. For example, the thought of the Trinity might be illogical. How can there be three Persons in one God? You are talking about three distinct Persons in one substance. That is illogical to the human mind. But we know that Scripture mentions that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. From the early Fathers we get the full meaning of what Scripture says. That is where we got the Trinity.
I'll quote from an Evangelical Protestant scholar, F.F. Bruce, in his standard work on The Canon of Scripture (InterVarsity, 1988) :
"Some New Testament documents were evidently designed from the outset to be written compositions, NOT substitutes for the spoken word. But in the lifetime of the apostles and their colleagues THEIR SPOKEN WORDS AND THEIR WRITTEN WORDS WERE EQUALLY AUTHORITATIVE.... The teaching and example of the Lord and his apostles,WHETHER CONVEYED BY WORD OF MOUTH OR IN WRITING, had axiomatic authority for [the earliest Christians]...." (page 118, 255, emphasis added).
"It is very possible that what Paul is referencing is something that he writes elsewhere in this epistle, or in one of his other letters. What of the transmission by 'word of mouth'? Paul had preached there in his ministry; and elsewhere in Scripture the oral proclamations of Paul have been said to be the oral pronouncement of the Gospel, nothing more."
Well, there IS more. Second Timothy 2:2 says, "And what you heard from me THROUGH MANY WITNESSES entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well." What does this mean? This means that Tradition has been passed to other people and they should be subject to what they say as well. I don't have to prove Tradition is another authority however. Julie must prove that Sola Scriptura is true, that the Bible teaches the concept.
The Old Testament church never taught Sola Scriptura either. Actually, the Old Testament teaches something different. It teaches that there are other authorities.
"If any case arises requiring decision between one kind of homicide and another, one kind of legal right and another, or one kind of assault and another, any case within your towns which is too difficult for you, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the Lord your God will choose, and coming to Levitical priests, and to the judge who is in office in those days, you SHALL CONSULT THEM, and THE DECLARE TO YOU THE DECISION. THEN YOU SHALL DO ACCORDING TO WHAT THEY DECLARE to you from that place which the Lord will choose; and you shall be careful to do according to all that they direct you; according to the instructions which they give you, and according to the decision which they pronounce for you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the verdict which they declare you, either to the right hand or to the left. The man who acts presumptuously, by not obeying the priest who stands to minister there before the Lord your God, or the judge, that man shall die." (Deuteronomy 17:8-12)
"King Hezekiah then stationed the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with harps, and with lyres, according to the command of David and of Gad the king's seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for the command was from the Lord through his prophets." (2 Chronicles 29:25)
"Prepare yourself by your fathers' households in your divisions (by tribe), according to the writings of David the king of Israel and according to the writing of his son Solomon." (2 Chronicles 35:4)
Neither Jesus nor the Apostles ever teach Sola Scriptura. It is a man-made tradition. Jesus warned us not to nullify the word of God by the tradition that man has handed down (Matt 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13). Julie can try to refute Tradition and Church authority as much as she wants, but as we know that would not make her the winner of the debate.
My final logic would be: the Bible does not teach Sola Scriptura; therefore a person who follows Sola Scriptura must reject it because the Bible does not teach it. The Apostles were infallible in teaching doctrine. Now, for some reason, after the Apostles died, the infallibility ceased. Is this logical?
Affirming the Resolution:
"The Bible is the Only Infallible Rule of Faith."
Rebuttal 1: Julie Staples
My opponent’s opening statement gives us many points to chew on. Regrettably, they exemplify the types of misrepresentations that many a Roman Catholic apologist has presented about the Sola Scriptura position; and demonstrate the flimsy apologetic Rome has for its own views. Below, I have excerpted some of my opponent Apolonio’s comments and answered them accordingly.
Rebuttal: The Church, the Kingdom of God
“Jesus did not promise new Scripture. He promised a Church.” - Apolonio
My opponent’s first assertion is that Jesus Himself did not promise new Scripture, which isn’t an old argument. Indeed, the inscripturation of the New Testament has been a matter by which the Roman Catholic apologist has tried to point to the supremacy of the church. The Church, it is said, was the original intent of Christ. The writing of canonical Scripture by the Church was just one of the methods by which the Apostles left us their voice. This then leaves us to wonder, was inscripturation intimated at by Christ and was it assumed by the Apostles that a written record should be left?
One of the first allusions we see towards inscripturation comes in Jn.14:26: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” We also read: "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (Jn.16:12-13) When we examine these passages of Scripture we see intimation towards a further action of the apostles under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. However, these verses remain implicit by themselves and could potentially have another meaning. Dr Eric Svendsen writes:
“A number of things may be said in response to this. First, while it is by no means certain that Jesus has in mind here the inscripturation of the New Testament, neither can that possibility be ruled out of hand. For, although we cannot start with this passage, if we can first determine elsewhere that the apostles understood Jesus to want a written record of certain teachings and events, there can then be no objection to the notion that John understood Jesus’ words here in precisely the same way.”
Indeed, as Dr. Svendsen shows later in the chapter, there are verses which intimate upon an idea of inscripturation. One such statement is found in Mark 14:9, "Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her." Seeming as though the recount of this woman is not contained in any other form but Scripture, what other way do we have of knowing her story? Or in Mat 24:35, where Jesus tells us, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” What concrete account of His words do we have but in Scripture? Tradition is not outlined and defined by the Roman Catholic Church, so any assertion that Tradition would contain them cannot be backed up. Scripture, however, tells us the words of Jesus.
Also, we have the acknowledgement by the apostles that their own writings and the writings of others that they are indeed Scripture. Paul writes in his letter to Timothy, “For the Scripture says, "YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING," and "The laborer is worthy of his wages."” (1Ti 5:18 ) What is significant about this is the fact that Paul is quoting Luke’s Gospel as Scripture as soon as the early 60’s AD. The latter quote, “The laborer is worthy of his wages” comes to us from Luke 10:7. Peter declares Paul’s writings as Scripture in 2 Pet. 3:15-16 when he states, “and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. “
Finally, the point must be made that if the Scriptures are theopneustos (God-breathed) as Paul tells Timothy in 2 Tim. 3:16-17, that with the confession of new Scripture from Paul and Peter comes the implicit assertion that these Scriptures would likewise be inspired. That in and of itself tells us that Jesus, as God the Son and second person of the Trinity would have foreknown and decreed further Scripture. That is, unless my opponent is willing to state Scripture to being a divine accident.
“He promised a Church. A Church that is very visible.” - Apolonio
When my opponent makes this premise coupled with the previous assertion that Christ did not command new Scripture, the inference made is that Church is above Scripture. However, nowhere does Christ or his Apostles decree the Church to be above the Scriptures or the production agent who gave us the Scriptures. They are “the pillar and support of the truth” (1Tim.3:15), that is that they uphold it and support it. However, the Scriptures define who the church is, what her manner of practice should be, what the Truth is that she should uphold, and how she should contend for the faith. This is because it is the sole source of God’s special revelation for His people today. Dr. Greg Bahnsen writes,
“The grandest expression of God's Word was found in the very person of Jesus Christ, who is called "the Word of God" (John 1:1; Rev. 19:13). Again, what we know of Christ is dependent upon the written word of the gospels by men like Matthew and Luke.”
Keeping this in mind, if what we know about our Lord is solely contained in Scripture, and if the Church itself cannot be known apart from her master, then in what other form can the church find its identity? Furthermore, Paul tells us that Scripture is our sufficient rule for “teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” (2 Tim.3:16) which are the functions of the body of Christ. We can rely upon Scripture because the Lord has promised us it would make us “....so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
For the Church to obey her master, be subservient to Him, and identify themselves as His, they must study His Scriptures. In these alone exist the voice of the Lord to His people.
Now, my opponent makes a statement here and elsewhere about the “visibility” of the church, but the premise of this debate is not the nature of the church or what is meant by church visibility, but rather what the infallible rule of faith is for the church. The statement that Christ inaugurated a visible church is irrelevant to our current discussion.
Rebuttal: Bind and Loose and the Keys of the Kingdom
“Now that we know that Jesus established a visible Church, we also know what kind of Church this will be. It is an authoritative Church. This Church has the power to bind and loose (Matthew 16:19; 18:18; John 20:21-23).” - Apolonio
Because we are not debating about papal infallibility, I will refrain from an in-depth exegesis of the passages my opponent offers. In brief, these passages are subjected to atrocious eisegesis by the Roman Catholic apologist. No where in those passages can authority be taken the next step into papacy and infallibility, it just is not implied. The fact is that Christ gave Peter authority as an apostle. But it does not follow, and is a gigantic leap of logic, to then state Peter became the first pope. Furthermore, when did the Pope become another rule of faith in Roman Catholicism?
I ask my opponent to please keep in mind the premise of this debate, which is not the nature of the visible church or the infallibility of the Pope, but rather the assertion on my part that the Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith for the Church of Jesus Christ. In order for my opponent to refute my position that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith, he must demonstrate another rule of faith equal to Scripture in reliability and inspiration.
“Modern Protestant scholars do not deny this -- they even explain these verses in ways that the Catholic Church and Catholic apologists do today. Notice especially the connection made to Peter as the new "chief steward" (Isaiah 22:15-25) of the kingdom of heaven (the Church) upon earth.” - Apolonio
The trustworthiness of the quotations my opponent cites is very questionable. As was the crime of Scott Butler when he wrote “Jesus, Peter, and the Keys”, many excerpts are taken out of context and misinterpreted. Dr. James White notes:
“Jesus, Peter & the Keys attempts to present a "scholarly" air through the citation of numerous Protestant sources. The problem is, most of these citations do not fully appreciate the issues at hand, and do not fairly acknowledge the full positions of the scholars cited. Important points are often based upon a very strained and stretched exegesis of the text....”
Once again, I am left to comment that, unless my opponent wishes to state that the Pope is a rule of faith for the Roman Catholic Church, then the point my opponent makes on Papal infallibility is moot.
“Where in the Bible does it say that the Apostles passed their authority ONLY to their letters?” - Apolonio
Scripture was not seen by them (and is not seen by the Protestant) as a passing of their apostolic authority, but rather a duty of it. Christ had given the apostles the authority to stand as His representatives in declaring His word. Therefore, the work of the apostles in their letters was their written proclamation of the Gospel entrusted to them. What we who espouse Sola Scriptura state is that once the apostles had died, that the pronouncement of the Gospel was still preserved in the epistles they composed. This rule of faith contained the weight of inspiration alone from that point forth, and God’s special form of self-revelation was contained solely in the words of Scripture.
The authority given to the apostles was not needed to be passed on, as a written record of what they proclaimed now existed. This is not to say the post-apostolic church had no authority anymore. But that special form of apostolic authority had expired. The authority we find today is in the Holy Spirit, and in the Word of God.
“Sola Scriptura wasn’t the intent of Jesus at all. The original apostolic Church didn’t practice Sola Scriptura either. Protestant apologist James R. White frankly admits this in his online article on the Bereans and Sola Scriptura ....” - Apolonio
The fallacy of my opponent is to cite that, merely because the apostolic church did not practice Sola Scriptura that therefore Sola Scriptura is a false premise. However, as Dr. White astutely mentions in the quote my opponent cites:
“'During times of enscripturation -- that is, when new revelation was being given -- sola scriptura was operational.' Protestants do not assert that sola scriptura is a valid concept during times of revelation. How could it be, since the rule of faith to which it points was at that very time coming into being? One must have an existing rule of faith to say it is 'sufficient.'”
The apostolic authority to speak as the voice of Christ to His church became inscriptuated. However, during the process of inscripturation the voice of Christ still resided in the oral teachings of the apostles; like I said in my opening statement, Sola Scriptura does not deny the Word of God was at one time spoken. The fact, however, that the Church of the early-to-mid 1st century did not practice Sola Scriptura is merely a matter of common sense and by far does not debunk it. Once the final words of the apostles were penned, and their oral testimony was silenced through death, then the message they were given authority to proclaim resided in their Gospels and epistles. The Roman Catholic church itself recognizes a closure of canon and a cessation of further revelation at a certain point. Is the Magisterium that my opponent pledges his allegiance to somehow mistaken? Is their belief that the sacred deposit is contained in Scripture and Tradition false? To turn the arguments of my opponent around on itself, if we acknowledge that the 1st century church did not yet have a full rule of faith in Scripture while Scripture was being written, then His Church is not practicing as the early church did either, as it acknowledges a closure of canon and a full Scripture as a rule of faith.
The sufficiency of Scripture resides in its nature as the inspired Word of God. The validity of the practice of Sola Scriptura resides in the fact that no other “rule of faith” carries with it the weight of inspiration. Again I state that the only way my point that Scripture is the sole infallible rule of faith can be debunked is for my opponent to demonstrate to me another rule of faith which has the weight of inspiration. Otherwise my assertion stands.
“They knew the Gospels before they were ever written. The early Christians followed the "apostles' teaching" and apostolic tradition as the "Word of God" (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor 11:2; 1 Thess 2:13; 2 Thess 2:15; 3:6) before any of it was written down.” - Apolonio
This is another commonly cited rebuttal to Sola Scriptura. Here, it is said, is proof that the early church followed apostolic tradition. However, to reiterate what I said in my opening statement, that the statements made by the apostles about things spoken, or traditions to be held firm to, do not necessarily indicate they are extra biblical. It is very likely that they were preaching the very same things that they were also writing to the churches in their epistles. Furthermore, there is no evidence that, even if it was not transcribed into Scripture, these oral pronouncements exist today. One cannot link back to the Pauline tradition and outline what doctrines his oral tradition promulgated as it never has been authoritatively defined and defended. Tradition remains an ever-morphing idea in the Roman Catholic apologetic.
“A good example is contraception. Is contraception a sin? Is slavery a sin? Is modern "MTV type" dancing appropriate? Those are tough questions to answer. And we HAVE to know the truth on these issues. If we don’t, then Christianity would fall into religious relativism and subjectivism.” - Apolonio
Another common rebuttal, to which the answer is that this is a Roman Catholic burden and not the Protestant, as our beliefs are not contingent upon the answers to such things. In those things which the Bible speaks on, it is the final word, but those things which it does not address are not binding upon the believer. This is not to say that, therefore, a Protestant does not care for morality and moral behavior and indeed the Scriptures do speak on behavior which is becoming of a believer in Christ Jesus. However, the answers to these questions do not affect the Gospel. In short, those things which the Bible is silent on should be surveyed with wisdom and Biblical judgment but nothing which the Bible does not make as binding upon the believer should be bound onto the believer’s conscience. The Roman Catholic may think such issues are related to the Gospel, but it is his to prove and not the Protestant’s.
Rebuttal: Sacred Tradition
“Now, I don’t want to debate the early Church Fathers because they are really irrelevant for Julie. She doesn’t think that the writings of the Fathers are authoritative or reliable for doctrine, so it doesn’t matter if she quotes them. What I want her to prove however is that Sola Scriptura is biblical and logical. I hope Julie does not try to shift the burden of proof.” - Apolonio
Such again shows that Rome’s apologists refuse to listen to what has been said to them now for centuries. To quote the Fathers is not to deify them: that's the Roman burden. We can read what the Fathers write respectfully, but their word is not the final word, unless my opponent wishes to state that the writings of the Early Church Fathers are infallible. Further, one wonders if my opponent believes everything written in the patristic sources? Of course he doesn't. He believes only what Rome agrees with, and nothing more.
“And who actually defines Sola Scriptura? And who interprets Scripture? Do the bishops interpret scripture? Can just anyone interpret Scripture authoritatively?”
Once again, the Roman Catholic fallacy which states one must have an infallible human authority in order to ascertain Scripture, that Scripture is so unclear as not to be understood by itself. The Holy Spirit is the one who gives discernment to the believer; the Protestant does not claim at all that a person with a Bible and nothing else has all that they need. Furthermore, we state that, as I pointed out in my opening statement, the believer is to remain subservient to Scripture, submissive to the voice of his Lord through The Word of God.
“First, that passage does not say that Scripture is "sufficient." Second, a Catholic believes that Scripture is inspired and profitable. Third, Paul used the word "alone" many times, and this would be the best place to put it if he was teaching Sola Scriptura.” - Apolonio
My opponent tries to critique the exegesis of 2 Tim. 3:16-17 that we as proponents of Sola Scriptura offer, but he fails to do so in a scholarly manner. The first point I can make is looking at those things which Paul states Scripture is profitable for: “....teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”. What other functions are needed for the Scripture to be sufficient? Secondly, the statement that Paul makes that the Scriptures are able to make the man of God “....adequate, equipped for every good work” tells us this: if it equips the believer for every good work, how can it be inferred that it lacks in any manner? Lastly, while Paul does not state the word “alone”, he is not required to as he does not give any other rule of faith needed to make the man of God equipped for every good work. The absence of another rule of faith in Paul’s words to Timothy demonstrates that he felt the Scriptures to be sufficient.
Rebuttal: Early History
“Christians always had apostolic tradition to follow (1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 2:15) and the Church to guide them as the "pillar and foundation of the truth" (Matt 16:18f; 1 Tim 3:15). It was never "Scripture alone" by private interpretation”. - Apolonio
Once again the points can be reiterated about “tradition”. I need not repeat it, but add that we have the apostolic tradition outlined to us in Scripture. The burden is on the Roman Catholic to demonstrate that any form of apostolic “tradition” is verifiably in existence to this day. Also, the Church, while a guide and a pillar, is still subservient to the Word of God and not above God’s inspired Scriptures. As for private interpretation, the Sola Scriptura proponent does not make allowance for the “Lone Ranger” Christian, the Christian who would set himself up as his own personal pope. The believer is charged to be under the care and guidance of a local church and to always be submissive to the Scriptures.
Rebuttal: Practical Problems of Sola Scriptura
“First, who defines and interprets Sola Scriptura? Whose interpretation of Scripture is correct? You might ask, whose interpretation of the Church’s interpretation of Scripture is correct? The answer is that our explanation of dogma may differ, so long as our explanation does not contradict the dogma itself.” - Apolonio
The Roman Catholic Church is a shining example of the fact that it doesn’t matter if one claims to have an infallible interpreter, that still there exists stark divisions in the Church of Rome. Is the Protestant a separated brother or anathema? Is Vatican II infallible or is it not? Even to cite something which my opponent brought up, is contraception Biblical or is it not? You will find polar disagreements within Roman Catholic camps on just such an issue. Was Cardinal Law of the Archdiocese of Boston acting on behalf of the Roman Catholic church when he shifted pedophile priests from one unsuspecting parish to another, and when he aided in covering up their deeds?
Furthermore, when we examine the epistemology of the Roman Catholic church against comparable epistemologies, whose infallible interpreter is correct? Salt Lake City’s prophet or Rome’s Magisterium?
The fact that people disagree with one another on Biblical interpretation is not a failure of its sufficiency, or otherwise the argument would backfire on Rome and show Rome’s Magisterium to be equally insufficient. As Dr. James White stated:
“Let’s say James Akin writes the PERFECT textbook on logic. It is completely perspicuous: It is fully illustrated, completely consistent, and it provides answers to all the tough questions in plain, understandable terminology. It covers all the bases. Now, would it follow, then, that every other person who consulted this textbook would agree with every other person who consulted this textbook on matters of logic? Well, of course not....Now the question I have to ask is this: Is there something wrong with Mr. Akin’s textbook if it does not produce complete unanimity on questions logical? Is the problem in the “textbook” or in the people “using” the textbook?”
The so-called “infallible interpreter” of Rome just adds more debate to the fire than Scripture itself does. It is not the fault of Scripture that others find disagreement with it, and does not follow that just because a disagreement arises within the church that the blame goes to a lack of a Magisterium.
“In Protestantism, who has the authority to interpret Scripture? If two Christians are having an argument on doctrine, who has the authority to settle the dispute?” - Apolonio
Or, furthermore, when the Roman Catholic has an argument on doctrine, can they call the Magisterium for a ruling? And will that ruling solves the problem or add fuel to the debate? Once again the point must be noted that a so-called infallible human interpreter has done nothing to alleviate debate amongst Roman Catholics.
“As Catholic apologist Mark Bonocore has suggested: (1) EITHER the Divine plan contained in the Bible is objectively UNknowable, OR . . . (2) It's only knowable to a select few -- intellectuals, who claim to know Scripture so well that they can point out who is correct and who is in error. If #1 is the case, then Julie is not a Christian, but a liberal relativist. If #2 is correct, then Julie is a Gnostic, on par with every New Age guru on the West Coast. So, which is it, Julie?” - Apolonio
Mr. Bonocore sets up a false premise, and only allows for one of two extremes, forsaking the fact that there may exist a different option in his example. The Bible is clear with regards to salvation, or otherwise the apostle John would have been false when he stated “but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31) Peter informs us that there are “some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction”, but he does not say even these hard things are unknowable. Where the problem lies is in the assertion by John, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Those who reside in the darkness cannot see the light.
Furthermore, Bonocore’s premise backfires when we look at the Roman Catholic Magisterium. The pleas Roman Catholics make about the necessity of an infallible human interpreter seems to indicate the second of the two scenarios, that being that Scripture is only knowable to a select few who claim to know Scripture so well that they can point out who is correct and who is in error. Would the Roman Catholic apologist then be willing to charge his own epistemology with Gnosticism?
My opponent fails to demonstrate at all how the church established by Jesus Christ is an infallible authority. In fact, what he has demonstrated, if we are to believe that this is the stance of Rome, is the utter disrespect of Scripture most Roman Catholic apologists have. From the assertion that the inscripturation of the New Testament was not ordered by Jesus, to the eisegesis of Biblical passages in the vain attempt to carve out some semblance of “Petrine primacy”, and various points made along the way, we see the true presupposition of the Roman Catholic apologist: Sola Ecclesia. That is to say that the Church of Rome herself is of primacy and any apologetic presented is done with the intent to prove her and her decrees true despite what the evidence may suggest.
My opponent has also failed, in his statement, to demonstrate what other infallible rule of faith exists for the Church besides Scripture. He gave us several biased assertions with marginal evidence to back them up at best; and in the final analysis all that stands concretely is God’s inspired Scriptures. My opponent seems content to rest on a notion that he does not need to present his case, because the full “burden of proof” lies upon me. However, I have presented scholarly evidence for my claim and refuted the offering of my opponent. Until he proves otherwise, then my point stands.
The Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith.
Apolonio Latar: Second Rebuttal
Denying the Resolution:
"The Bible is the Only Infallible Rule of Faith."
God has blessed me. He has led me in this debate. I also enjoy the discussion with Julie. I enjoy her friendship. However, my opponent has failed to prove that the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith. Julie has said,
"My opponent fails to demonstrate at all how the church established by Jesus Christ is an infallible authority."
My opponent must have skipped some of the things I have written. So I must write some of the things I have said more clearly. I have shown in my opening statement that the Church has the power to bind and loose. Matthew writes, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18). Now, if the binding in heaven is infallible (since God is infallible), so too the binding on earth is infallible. So there, I have shown proof of an infallible authority (which I have shown in the Opening statement and Rebuttal #1). I have shown that many Protestant scholars agree with the Catholic interpretation of Matthew 16:19. What does Julie say?
"The trustworthiness of the quotations my opponent cites is very questionable."
For some reason, Julie does not give proof for her statement. She has not shown how I misquoted the Protestant scholars. So I guess her statement is dead.
Julie also says,
"Or, furthermore, when the Roman Catholic has an argument on doctrine, can they call the Magisterium for a ruling? And will that ruling solve the problem or add fuel to the debate? Once again the point must be noted that a so-called infallible human interpreter has done nothing to alleviate debate amongst Roman Catholics."
To answer the first question, the answer is yes. Will that solve the problem? Of Course. By making a ruling, we would know who is right and who is wrong. For example, if someone said that Infant baptism is invalid and the other denies it, the Church can say, “Infant baptism is valid.” And so when Rome has spoken, the case is closed. Would that add fuel to the debate? Well, every ruling by the Church caused people to leave the Church. We now know which is the true doctrine. However, Protestantism doesn’t have this authority. They cannot even define doctrine.
Again Julie states,
"The Roman Catholic Church is a shining example of the fact that it doesn’t matter if one claims to have an infallible interpreter, that still there exists stark divisions in the Church of Rome. Is the Protestant a separated brother or anathema? Is Vatican II infallible or is it not? Even to cite something which my opponent brought up, is contraception Biblical or is it not? You will find polar disagreements within Roman Catholic camps on just such an issue. Was Cardinal Law of the Archdiocese of Boston acting on behalf of the Roman Catholic church when he shifted pedophile priests from one unsuspecting parish to another, and when he aided in covering up their deeds?"
Did we ever deny that Catholics do not disagree? I have already explained how the disagreements on theology and doctrine are different. And if there is a dispute on doctrine, the Church can give a final word who is right and who is wrong. What about Protestantism? Nothing. It is subjectivism.
I have asked, “A good example is contraception. Is contraception a sin? Is slavery a sin? Is modern "MTV type" dancing appropriate? Those are tough questions to answer. And we HAVE to know the truth on these issues. If we don’t, then Christianity would fall into religious relativism and subjectivism.”
"In short, those things which the Bible is silent on should be surveyed with wisdom and Biblical judgment but nothing which the Bible does not make as binding upon the believer should be bound onto the believer’s conscience. The Roman Catholic may think such issues are related to the Gospel, but it is his to prove and not the Protestant’s."
Did you read those words? She said, “those things which the Bible is silent on should be surveyed with wisdom and Biblical judgment but nothing which the Bible does not make as binding upon the believer should be bound onto the believer’s conscience.” Let me give the examples of slavery, abortion, and birth control. Now, is it a sin to have a slave, have an abortion, or birth control? According to Julie, it depends on the believer’s conscience.
This is exactly the problem of Sola Scriptura. It leads to subjectivism. In fact, it even leads to moral relativism. For those who do not know what subjectivism is, it means that truth depends on the person, and there is no objective truth. So in a case of things such as slavery, abortion, or birth control, we cannot know if it is a sin to have those, since it is up to each believer’s conscience. In other words, in a case of morality, if it is not mentioned in the Bible (e.g. Birth control, abortion, etc), it is up to the individual to decide if it is right or wrong.
Where in the Bible does it say that? Where did Julie come up with that idea? If that is truly her case, then Julie is a moral relativist. This is why you should reject Sola Scriptura. It even leads people to believe in moral relativism. Julie’s answers have been unbiblical and thus, what is her authority for saying it?
Julie again states,
"However, to reiterate what I said in my opening statement, that the statements made by the apostles about things spoken, or traditions to be held firm to, do not necessarily indicate they are extra biblical. It is very likely that they were preaching the very same things that they were also writing to the churches in their epistles."
We do not believe they are extra biblical either. We believe that it is the same Gospel but a different form of transmission. Julie has misled the audience saying that Catholics believe that Tradition speaks of a different Gospel. Since my opponent keeps on asking me to give another infallible rule of faith (which I have given), I will give an example. We Christians ought to believe in the Bible. We believe that the Bible is the Word of God. However, the Bible does not teach us which books belong in the Bible. It was from Tradition and Church authority that we know that Scripture is inspired. So in other words, we are submitting to an infallible rule of faith by Church Tradition when we believe that the Scriptures are inspired.
"Mr. Bonocore sets up a false premise, and only allows for one of two extremes, forsaking the fact that there may exist a different option in his example. The Bible is clear with regards to salvation, or otherwise the apostle John would have been false when he stated “but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)"
It’s funny how Julie would say that the Bible is clear in regards of salvation. Then why is it that Lutherans, Reformed Protestants, and other Evangelicals disagree on salvation? This issue is a doctrinal issue. They disagree on the nature of “faith” and “justification.” How do we know which is right? In Catholicism, the Church tells us which is the true interpretation. In Protestantism, it is subjectivism. In other words, with Catholicism, you can know the OBJECTIVE TRUTH.
Then Julie adds,
"Peter informs us that there are “some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction”, but he does not say even these hard things are unknowable."
Quoting Mark Bonocore, “We Catholics do not say that these things are unknowable either. We merely say that they are not knowable by "Scripture alone" apart from any Traditional understanding via the living Church established by Christ Himself --the Church that 1 Tim 3:15 calls "the pillar and foundation of Truth.”
Again Julie says,
"Where the problem lies is in the assertion by John, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Those who reside in the darkness cannot see the light."
Name ONE ancient Protestant who was “in the light.” Name one that you can agree with completely like you can agree with your fellow Protestants today.
Julie goes on,
"Furthermore, Bonocore’s premise backfires when we look at the Roman Catholic Magisterium. The pleas Roman Catholics make about the necessity of an infallible human interpreter seems to indicate the second of the two scenarios, that being that Scripture is only knowable to a select few who claim to know Scripture so well that they can point out who is correct and who is in error."
Quoting Mark Bonocore, “I see. Then Christ Himself was wrong when He commissioned Peter, telling him "Whatsoever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven; and whatsoever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven." What's more, we Catholics do not claim that the Pope is an infallible human interpreter of Scripture. Rather, the Holy Spirit is the infallible interpreter. He (the Holy Spirit) merely preserves the Pope from formally teaching error when making universal doctrinal pronouncements for the Church. We do not believe that the Pope is personally infallible every time he reads the Bible; and anyone who thinks that is what we believe is soundly ignorant of our Catholic position. Rather, we Catholics merely believe that one cannot properly interpret Scripture apart from, or outside of the living Tradition of, the Catholic Church. If a verse of Scripture meant something in the 2nd Century, then it cannot mean something entirely different in the 16th or the 21st Century. Or would you disagree?”
Mark Bonocore is correct. Julie has added another doctrine. Since Julie cannot prove that Jesus nor the Apostles practiced Sola Scriptura, she makes the theory of Sola Scriptura true AFTER the times of the Apostles and inscripturation.
Quoting Robert Sungenis,
"Evangelical James White admits: “Protestants do not assert that Sola Scriptura is a valid concept during times of revelation. How could it be, since the rule of faith to which it points was at the very time coming into being.” (“A Review and Rebuttal of Steve Ray’s Article Why the Bereans Rejected Sola Scriptura,” 1997, on the website of Alpha and Omega Ministries). By this admission, White has unwittingly proven that Scripture does not teach Sola Scriptura, for if it cannot be a “valid concept during times of revelation,” how can Scripture teach a doctrine since Scripture was written precisely when divine oral revelation was still being produced? Scripture cannot contradict itself. Since both the 1st century Christian and the 21st century Christian cannot extract differing interpretations from the same verse, thus, whatever was true about Scripture then must also be true today. If the first Christians did not, and could not, extract Sola Scriptura from Scripture because oral revelation still existent, then obviously those verses could not, in principle, be teaching Sola Scriptura, and thus we cannot interpret them as teaching it either." (Not by Scripture Alone, page 128)
It is also tough for Julie to defend her case because that means she must prove that the early Christians were aware of this when John died (who is traditionally -- no pun intended -- the last Apostle to die).
"Keeping this in mind, if what we know about our Lord is solely contained in Scripture, and if the Church itself cannot be known apart from her master, then in what other form can the church find its identity?"
Since Julie says that what we know about our Lord is solely contained in Scripture, I would challenge her to give me a verse in Scripture where it says Jesus has two wills.
"However, nowhere does Christ or his Apostles decree the Church to be above the Scriptures or the production agent who gave us the Scriptures. They are “the pillar and support of the truth” (1Tim.3:15), that is that they uphold it and support it. However, the Scriptures define who the church is, what her manner of practice should be, what the Truth is that she should uphold, and how she should contend for the faith."
How can the Church be the pillar and support of truth if she cannot know OBJECTIVE Truth? I have already proven that Sola Scriptura leads to subjectivism. If Julie truly believes 1 Timothy 3:15, then she must reject Sola Scriptura. It is the Church that binds and looses. Note that Matthew 16:19, 18:18 does not say “Whatever Scripture binds,” but it says, “Whatever YOU bind.” In other words, it is the Church that binds.
Then she says,
"Furthermore, Paul tells us that Scripture is our sufficient rule for “teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” (2 Tim.3:16) which are the functions of the body of Christ. We can rely upon Scripture because the Lord has promised us it would make us “. . . so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”"
We Catholics agree. However, we don’t believe that Scripture ALONE is sufficient. Also note that it doesn’t say that Scripture is self-sufficient (Greek autarkeia).
Julie also says,
"In order for my opponent to refute my position that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith, he must demonstrate another rule of faith equal to Scripture in reliability and inspiration."
The problem with this statement is that Julie has not proven that Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith. Julie has to prove that tradition is not an infallible rule of faith. Julie has to prove that the Church is not an infallible rule of faith. I do not have to prove anything since the burden of proof in a debate is always on the affirmative.
Julie again says,
"The Roman Catholic church itself recognizes a closure of canon and a cessation of further revelation at a certain point. Is the Magisterium that my opponent pledges his allegiance to somehow mistaken? Is their belief that the sacred deposit is contained in Scripture and Tradition false? To turn the arguments of my opponent around on itself, if we acknowledge that the 1st century church did not yet have a full rule of faith in Scripture while Scripture was being written, then His Church is not practicing as the early church did either, as it acknowledges a closure of canon and a full Scripture as a rule of faith."
We Catholics believe that Scripture is a rule of faith. However, we know that Scripture is inspired and a rule of faith because TRADITION SAYS SO. We know that Scripture is inspired because of the evidence of Tradition. We Catholics believe in a closed canon. That does not prove anything. Julie’s logic is: (1) Scripture is the Word of God; (2) The Canon is closed; (3) Therefore we must practice Sola Scriptura.
This is illogical. I ask her once again, to prove that Sola Scriptura is true.
She has said,
"The sufficiency of Scripture resides in its nature as the inspired Word of God. The validity of the practice of Sola Scriptura resides in the fact that no other “rule of faith” carries with it the weight of inspiration. Again I state that the only way my point that Scripture is the sole infallible rule of faith can be debunked is for my opponent to demonstrate to me another rule of faith which has the weight of inspiration. Otherwise my assertion stands."
How does Julie know that Scripture is inspired? Julie is trying to prove a universal negative. This is like saying, “God does not exist because the theist has not proven that God exists.” Well, has the atheist proven that God does not exist? The atheist’s "logic" is as illogical as Julie’s is. So far, Julie’s main argument has been, “Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith because my opponent has not given proof that it isn’t.” This is like the attempt to prove a universal negative. For those who do not know what a universal negative is, I shall give you an example. There are 2 people who sell products. One person sells product A and the other sells product B. The person who sells product A tries to make people not buy product B. And so the person says, “Product B is not good.” However, the person has not proven that Product A is good either. Let me give a dialogue,
Person with Product A: “Product B is not good!”
Buyer: “Prove to me Product A is good.”
Person with Product A: “Because Product B is not good!”
Buyer: “Ok, but prove to me that Product A is good.”
Person with Product A: “Because the other person has not proven that Product B is good!”
As we can see, the person with Product A is illogical. He has not proven that Product A is good, but has stated Product B is not good. Since Julie is trying to shift the burden of proof, let me give the burden of proof back to her. Prove to me that Tradition IS NOT an infallible rule of faith. Prove to me that Church authority is NOT infallible. She has the burden of proof. She is the one that claims Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith. She claims that Tradition and Church authority is not infallible. However, she HAS TO PROVE THAT.
Again Julie states,
"Lastly, while Paul does not state the word “alone,” he is not required to as he does not give any other rule of faith needed to make the man of God equipped for every good work. The absence of another rule of faith in Paul’s words to Timothy demonstrates that he felt the Scriptures to be sufficient."
Here, Julie is talking about 2 Timothy 3:16-17. This is irrelevant since if 2 Timothy 3:16-17 did not teach Sola Scriptura during times of inscripturation (if it did, Timothy would have practiced it) then it does not teach Sola Scriptura today. In fact, Paul DOES give another rule of faith. It is mentioned in 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.”
In other words, what they heard from Paul is a rule of faith. Hence, he is giving a rule of faith that says Tradition is a rule of faith. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 says to keep ALL TRADITIONS. Now, when did this command cease? Where does it say, "after the inscripturation," this command ceases?
So far in this debate, I have proven that Sola Scriptura is unbiblical, unhistorical, and it leads to subjectivism.
(1) I have shown that Sola Scriptura cannot be biblical since what the Bible says doesn’t change, and Julie says that neither Jesus nor the Apostles nor the 1st century believers practiced Sola Scriptura; this implies that it could not have been taught since the early Christians would have practiced it during inscripturation.
(2) It is unhistorical just as I have pointed out that early Church Fathers followed the Church’s teachings and Tradition as a rule of faith.
(3) It leads to subjectivism, which is unscriptural since the Bible says that you shall know ALL TRUTH. The Bible never teaches that “whatever Scripture does not bind, is bound upon the believer’s conscience.” Not only does it lead to religious subjectivism, but moral relativism as well.
Julie has not proven: (1) Sola Scriptura; (2) That Tradition is NOT an infallible rule of faith; (3) the Church is not infallible.
She has to prove Scripture is the only rule of faith before she asserts that there is no other rule of faith. That she did not do. Not to mention that Julie has admitted that Sola Scriptura became valid only AFTER the times of the apostles and inscripturation.
Julie Staples: Second Rebuttal
Affirming the Resolution:
"The Bible is the Only Infallible Rule of Faith."
Rebuttal 2: Julie Staples
In my opponent's first rebuttal, we see several points of rebuttal coming to the forefront. First and foremost, is the challenge that Sola Scriptura is not Biblical or historical. One of my opponent's clearest charges is found in his concluding comments: "Neither Jesus nor the apostles ever teach sola Scriptura." Also, the assertions are made of the supremacy of the Roman Church and what he perceives her role and authority to be. In this falls several general objections to the practice of Scripture only, ranging from Protestant divisions to the literacy level in the Middle Ages. I will explore these charges presented and show once again how the Roman Catholic objections to our position hold no water.
Neither Biblical, Nor Historical
First, the set of charges are leveled that Sola Scriptura has no footing in Scripture or in the history of the Church. Thus, as would be implied, the doctrine is "man-made" finding its birth in the Reformation. However nothing could be further from the truth. First, I will answer the objections to my Scriptural citations, and then I shall examine what the role of Scripture was in the early church.
My Opponent Says: "Actually, nowhere in Scripture does it have the statement 'the Scriptures are sufficient.'"
As the reader can note, I cited one of the more explicit passages which suggests otherwise in 2 Tim. 3:16-17. However, my opponent gives us two objections: the definition of the Greek word artios and the exegesis of the passage to state that the completeness argued with the word artios is refuted by other passages in Scripture.
Going on to critique the definitions I cited of artios in 2 Tim. 3:17, my opponent states that it does not mean "perfect or complete" in this passage. However, my opponent's assertion is nothing more than that, an assertion. First he fails to tell us what he believes artios to actually mean. The quotation cited attempts to rebuke the definition of artios as "perfect", which I should note is Strong's definition of it. As I am not qualified to make a ruling on what Colin Brown states, so be it, let us assume that Strong's is wrong and that artios should not be translated to mean perfect. This though does not go on to answer what then artios does mean, and neither does it refute the testimony of three other Greek Lexicons: Vine, who says "fitted, complete"; Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker "complete, capable, proficient", "able to meet all demands"; and Louw and Nida, who says of the phrase 'Fully equipped for every good work' this: "to make someone completely adequate or sufficient for something -- to make adequate, to furnish completely, to cause to be fully qualified, adequacy."
David King writes,
"The root verb artizo (artizo) which means 'to get ready, prepare' is never even used in the New Testament. But its intensified form, exartizo (exartizo), is a much stronger term than artizo and means 'completely or thoroughly equipped.' It appears once in the New Testament, here in 2 Timothy 3:17, in connections with the purpose for which Scripture is profitable, namely, that the man of God may not just be complete (artios), but 'fully equipped' (exhrtismenos) for every good work.'" [i]
Secondly, my opponent contradicts himself. First he states "However, when seen in context, artios does not mean perfect or complete in 2 Timothy 3:16-17" but then later tells us he can "misinterpret passages that have the words perfect and complete." I would have to ask which is it? Does he believe artios to mean complete or doesn't he? And if not, then where is the refutation of the work of such men as Bauer, Gingrich, and Danker, etc.?
Now this leads us then to the usage of artios as "complete" in 2 Tim. 3:16-17 which is indeed the heart of the argument. My opponent cites Col.4:12 in an effort to cast doubt on the assertion that, because the man of God is complete and fully equipped for every good work through the God-breathed Scriptures, this implies Scripture is sufficient alone. His attempt fails, however, as the context of Col. 4:12 is far different. Where 2 Tim. 3:16-17 was teaching Timothy how he could discern doctrine and stand against heresy, Col. 4 12 says,
"Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God." [ii]
The word for "perfect" here is not artios, but rather teleioi, first of all. But furthermore, the context of the passage is not in establishing a rule of faith, but rather in passing along the word that a brother in the faith was praying greatly for them that they would mature in the faith. The usage of the word "perfect" here is a part of Epaphras's prayer and only deliberate misconstruing of this verse, with biased intentions, states otherwise.
My opponent can make all of the hypothetical misrepresentations he wishes. However, his attempt at debunking the argument of artios in 2 Tim. 3:17 fails.
The last charge leveled against the exegesis of 2 Tim. 3:16-17 is Paul's failure to cite autarkeia if his intention was to set up Scriptural sufficiency. However, one has to wonder to themselves what it matters that he did or did not use this word. Paul makes his point crystal clear in this passage. While exhorting Timothy as to what he can rely on to make him "complete, fully equipped for every good work" and while telling Timothy what he can rely upon for "teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness," Paul only cites God-breathed Scripture as the rule of faith by which Timothy can rely. The exclusion of any other rule of faith here, and the lack of Biblical evidence to suggest that "Tradition" is another rule of faith able to make the man of God fully equipped and complete, or perform the duties Scripture can, leave us with Scriptural sufficiency.
The next assertion by my opponent, in attempting to refute the Biblical evidence cited to him, comes in the assertion that Jesus is not teaching Sola Scriptura in Matthew 22:31-32.
My Opponent Says: "Where in the Bible does Jesus command the Apostles or anyone to follow Sola Scriptura? Sure He tells us that Scripture is sufficient. But that doesn't mean Sola Scriptura."
It should first be noted that in no way was I demonstrating that Matthew 22 said, "Scripture alone" explicitly. Rather, the intention of the argument was this: the example of Christ in this passage calls us back to the fact that we are held equally responsible for the way by which we handle Scripture as were the Sadducees. The argumentation of Christ to them and the Pharisees, throughout Scripture, never consisted of "tradition tells us" or "you nullify tradition" but rather is exemplified in this passage whereby He shows us what He held men accountable to: Scripture.
My Opponent Says: "Also, in the next chapter, Jesus told the people, 'Therefore, do and observe ALL THINGS whatsoever THEY tell you, but do not follow their example' (Matthew 23:3). This shows that Jesus told them to recognize people with authority."
The fallacy committed by my opponent here is the assumption that we who recognize Sola Scriptura do not recognize any other authority but Scripture. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, we recognize Scripture as the church's sole infallible rule of faith, and hold all authorities under submission to it. As I discussed in my opening statement, Sola Scriptura does not deny the need for teachers or usurp every human authority.
However, neither does Jesus' recognition of an ecclesiastical authority mean that He was approving of all that authority espoused and taught. As Robert Gundry states,
"So long as sitting in Moses' seat qualifies the speaking of the scribes and Pharisees, 'all things whatever' does not include their interpretative traditions, but emphasizes the totality of the law. 'Therefore' establishes the qualification. They do not practice what they speak while sitting on Moses' seat. Hence their traditions are not in view. Though elsewhere Matthew in concerned with criticizing the scribes' and Pharisees' interpretations of the law, here he is concerned with stressing the necessity of keeping the law itself. As usual, his eye is on antinomians in the church." [iii]
Dr. James White observes the exegetical error of Roman Catholic apologists using this passage: To move from Jesus' refusal to overthrow the form of synagogue worship that was present in His day to a total endorsement of extrascriptural, oral traditions is to make a leap of monumental proportions. [iv]
Now, I will examine the historical evidence which my opponent claims disproves the notion of Scripture alone. Quoting Athanasius, he attempts to show us that the early Church exalted the Church to being the "final authority." Apolonio says: "This quote again shows that Athanasius did not believe in Sola Scriptura. It shows that the creed of Nicaea DEFINED what the orthodox teaching is." Here is the Athanasius quote given to us by my opponent:
"Hold fast, every one, the faith we have received from the Fathers, which they assembled at Nicaea...And however they (the Arians) may write phrases out of Scripture, endure not their writings; however they may speak the language of orthodox, yet attend not to what they say; for they speak not with an upright mind, but putting on such language like sheep's clothing, in their hearts they think with Arius, after the manner of the devil, who is the author of all heresies. For he too made use of the words of Scripture, but was put silence by our Savior..."
I find it fascinating that my opponent cites this as evidence of his position, because Athanasius in no way debunks Sola Scriptura through his words, but nevertheless we shall explore what he says Athanasius is stating. He claims that this is evidence that at least one of the early Church Fathers upheld the church as being the final authority, in the case of this quote, to answer a dispute from heretics. But Athanasius does not give laud and honor to Nicea merely because "the Church was speaking" but because their testimony was that of Scripture. Another quote from Athanasius's letter demonstrates this:
"Such was the corrupt mind of the Arians. But here too the Bishops, beholding their craftiness, collected from the Scriptures the figures of brightness, of the river and the well, and of the relation of the express Image to the Subsistence, and the texts, 'in thy light shall we see light,' and 'I and the Father are one.' And lastly they wrote more plainly, and concisely, that the Son was coessential with the Father; for all the above passages signify this." [v]
Indeed, the thrust of Athanasius's argument in the quote cited by my opponent is that the testimony of Nicea was trustworthy, that one should "hold fast" to it, and that although the Arian opponents cited Scriptural support for their heresy, they commit the same error as Satan did when he cited Scripture to the Lord Jesus. There is nothing here which establishes the supremacy of the testimony of the Church over Scripture. Thus demonstrates, once again, the error that most Roman Catholics commit when it comes to analysis of Church History and Scripture. Rather than allowing the Scriptures or the writings of the early Church Fathers to speak for themselves, they go back into history and Scripture and interpret it in a biased manner, so that in the end "Rome" is given supremacy.
Moving onto a historically-related issue, my opponent now tries to show the problems with Sola Scriptura in relation to the establishment of the canon.
My opponent says: "We also have to know that the early Church did not have the correct canon until the 4th century AD. That means that she did not have the full Gospel in written form, meaning that they HAD to rely on tradition."
First of all, the assertion that the early Church did not have the Gospel in written form is ludicrous and a false misconception altogether. I say this because the Gospel has been in written form ever since the Scriptures were transcribed by the apostles. Secondly, one has to wonder just what it is that they "...HAD to rely on tradition" for, the canon or the Gospel. Lastly, the fact that the early Church looked partially upon the council of those Fathers who had gone before does not mean that the next logical step is, "Therefore they recognized Traditon as we define it and you should too." As Dr. Eric Svendsen has stated, "We can acknowledge the general reliability of the early Church in determining what was accepted and what was not, without ascribing infallibility to it." [vi]
The other statements by my opponent, such as the lists of logic he provides, in support for his viewpoint on the canon are nothing more than broad and unsupported assertions.
The Role of the Church: Final Authority?
My opponent states: "But we should know that most of the theological arguments (even from heretics) are made from Scripture. Unless God does not want us to know the truth, there has to be a final authority, which is the Church...." The Scriptures state the Church to being the pillar and foundation of truth, but do not give it authority over the Scriptures. Rather the Church is subservient to Scripture for, "teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." My opponent misrepresents Protestants when he gives the false dilemma "either the Church of Rome and truth, or no truth at all." The infallible authority given to the Church of Jesus Christ is Scripture.
Furthermore, when the apostle Peter warned of "the untaught and unstable" in 2 Peter 3:16 who distort Paul's letters, "as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction, he did not then state, "So be sure you have an infallible Magisterium to be your final authority." Rather, he tells us:
2Pe 3:17 "You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness."
Nowhere in Scripture is the need for an infallible human interpreter emphasized and nowhere does the concept find precedence in the Bible. The Church is not given to us to be the "final authority," but rather the Church is born and recognized from the very Word which created her. William Whitaker stated:
"There was a time when the word of God was not written, and that the Church existed then: but it does not, therefore, follow that the church was more ancient than all churches. For the doctrine was the same when not written, as it is now when it is written; and that was more ancient than all churches. For the word of God is the seed of the Church. Now the seed is always more ancient than the progeny of which it is the seed." [vii]
My opponent states "What is the final authority between disputes? The early Christians' answer would be the CHURCH. It was the creeds of the Church that told the people what the orthodox teachings were." And from where did those creeds originate? Athanasius, in the quote I cited above, gives accolade to Nicea not for any "claim to infallibility" but for their adherence to the Scriptures. This is yet another assertion made by my opponent which comes without logical premise or compelling evidence. Furthermore, he ignores the writings of Irenaeus, who stated:
"We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith." [viii]
And also said:
"Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings?" [ix]
My opponent states: "When the Church teaches Scripture, she must interpret them. We know that the Church teaches with Jesus' authority (cf. Matt 28:18-20; 18:17f; Luke 10:16). And Jesus authority is infallible. Therefore the Church is infallible."
Once again, Scripture offers no assertion that an infallible human interpreter with the teaching authority of Christ would be instituted. If Scripture is so hard to understand, then why did John say, "but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name." (John 20:31)
"Also, how can people throughout the history of Christianity even practice Sola Scriptura when most of them were illiterate?"
For this reason is why God is faithful to give teachers and evangelists by which to proclaim the word of Truth. This does not usurp Sola Scriptura. But those teachers are held responsible for what they teach by Scripture.
Gal 1:8 "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!" Gal 1:9 "As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!"
The Case for Sola Scriptura -- No Other Infallible Standard
My opponent correctly notes that, "Julie also says that the phrase 'tradition tells us' is nowhere written in the Bible. Well, the phrase 'Scripture is sufficient' isn't in the Bible either." And yes, this exact phrase isn't located in Scripture, but it has been clearly demonstrated the concept existed. No other standard, no other infallible rule of faith is given to the Church for them to adhere to, according to Scripture.
Finally, we approach the argument which my opponent asks me several times within his statement: Is the doctrine of Sola Scriptura scriptural? As David King writes:
"According to the testimony of Scripture, the maxim of 2 Timothy 3:16 that 'all Scripture is God-breathed' places the content of holy Scripture in a unique category. The Bible sanctions no rival to 'it is written,' and actually condemns all adulterated additions to the gospel revealed therein (Gal 1:8-9), placing a curse on anyone who 'preaches any other gospel.' The gospel is fully revealed in holy Scripture and it testifies that its contents are sufficient to make the man of God 'complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.' If the preaching of the gospel is central to the work of the man of God, then according to the testimony of this same apostle it follows that the gospel is fully disclosed in Scripture." [x]
Throughout this statement, and the statements I have made prior to this, the arguments of Rome to their defense, as has been cited by my opponent, have been displayed to having no merit. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura is more than firmly rooted in Scripture, it is the testimony to the power of God, that He breathed into the words of human authors, protected it from destruction, kept it safe from vandalism, used human instruments to recognize and deliver it, and keeps it intact to this day. Where Rome's doctrines have gone this way and that, and while their tradition has been nothing but a morphing ideal with no real foundation, definition, or solidity; Scripture has remained a solid rock.
My opponent's statement fails to demonstrate how Scripture is insufficient, or to establish another rule of faith of equality to Scripture. His words fall like the idle assertions that they are, sadly, and make the case for Sola Scriptura that much more prominent. God has given His Church His voice in Scripture. The authority given to the apostles has been transcribed into the written word. And it truly is "inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."
If the case against Sola Scriptura is going to be shown to have any merit whatsoever, then its equal must be brought forth.
[i] King, David T. "Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Vol.1" (Battle Ground, WA: Christian Resources Inc. 2001) p. 84
[ii] All Scripture comes from the New American Standard translation of the Bible.
[iii] Gundry, Robert, " Matthew: A Commentary on His Literacy and Theological Art" (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), pp. 454-455. Cited in "The Roman Catholic Controversy" p.84-85
[iv] White, James R. "The Roman Catholic Controversy" (Minneapolis,MN. Bethany House Publishers) p. 85
[v] NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS, SERIES II VOLUME IV (ECF - Volume XXVII): Athanasius: Select Works and Letters, "AD AFROS EPISTOLA SYNODICA (WRITTEN ABOUT 369 -- TO THE BISHOPS OF AFRICA, LETTER OF NINETY BISHOPS OF EGYPT AND LIBYA INCLUDING ATHANASIUS)"
[vi] Svendsen, Eric "Evangelical Answers" (Lindenhurst, NY. Reformation Press 1999) p.65
[vii] Whitaker, William. "A Disputation on Holy Scripture Against the Papists, Especially Bellarmine and Stapleton." (Camridge: The University Press, reprinted 1849) pp.331-332 . Cited in "Holy Scripture, the Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Vol.1" p.131
[viii] Cited in: "Holy Scripture, Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Vol. 2" by William Webster, p.24
[ix] Ibid, p.25
[x] King, David T. "Holy Scripture, Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Vol.1" (Battle Ground, WA. Christian Resources Inc. 2001) p. 257
Apolonio: Five Questions for Julie
Denying the Resolution:
"The Bible is the Only Infallible Rule of Faith."
(1) How can a Church that is the pillar and foundation of truth err?
(2) When did the command of 2 Thess. 2:15 cease?
(3) How can churches that did not have all 27 NT Scriptures or did not have any Scriptures come to know all truth? For example, if the church in India or Egypt did not have the Epistle to the Romans, how would they know the doctrine of justification?
(4) How can 2 Timothy 3:16-17 teach Sola Scriptura during times of oral revelation or when revelation has not ceased?
(5) Can you please cite an early Church Father that teaches that Sola Scriptura is only valid after revelation has ceased? Also, please make a comment on Irenaeus when he talks about the rule of faith:
“For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it be not necessary to follow the course of tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the Churches?” (Against the Heresies 3,4,1)
“To which course many barbarians who believe in Christ do assent, having salvation written in their hearts by the Spirit, without paper or ink, and, carefully preserving the ancient tradition, believing in one God…Those who, in the absence of written documents, have believed this faith, are barbarians, so far as regards our language; but regards doctrine, manner, and tenor of life, they are, because of faith, very wise indeed…” (Ibid. 3,4,2)
Julie: Five Questions for Apolonio
Affirming the Resolution:
"The Bible is the Only Infallible Rule of Faith."
(1) Could you give me an example of an Apostolic Tradition, what doctrine it affects, and proof that the tradition comes from Paul or one of the apostles?
(2) Could you give me any evidence that the oral message of Paul differed in any way from the written message?
(3) Could you tell me how you know the Roman Catholic Church is the True Church without engaging in private interpretation?
(4) If an infallible human authority is needed to define doctrine and tradition for God's people, what infallible human authority did the people of the Old Testament have to refer to?
(5) If an infallible list of canon is needed to determine which books are Scripture, how did the people who lived before Christ know books like Isaiah or Ezekiel were Scripture?
Apolonio: Answers to Five Questions
Denying the Resolution:
"The Bible is the Only Infallible Rule of Faith."
See Julie's Questions Here
There are a lot of examples of Apostolic Tradition. The first example is the form of worship, which is the Liturgy. We read from Justin Martyr:
“On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place. The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits. When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered, admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things. Then we all rise together and offer prayers for ourselves . . .and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation. When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss. Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren. He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts. When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: 'Amen.' When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent.” (Apology 1, 65-67)
Nowhere in the NT does it show how the form of worship will be, but it has been through early Church Fathers that we can know how they worshipped. This affects the doctrine of the Mass, which is obvious.
Another Apostolic tradition is apostolic succession. Pope Clement says:
“Our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned, and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry. As for these, then, who were appointed by them, or who were afterwards appointed by other illustrious men with the consent of the whole Church, and who have ministered to the flock of Christ without blame, humbly, peaceably and with dignity, and who have for many years received the commendations of all, we consider it unjust that they be removed from the ministry.” (Letter to Corinthians 44,1)
This statement shows what apostolic succession is. It also shows how apostolic succession went. Another Apostolic Tradition is to follow Apostolic Tradition.
ST. IRENAEUS OF LYONS (c. 180 AD):
“So forceful are these arguments that no one should henceforth seek the truth from ANY OTHER SOURCE since it would be simple to get it from THE CHURCH ....On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the things pertaining to the Church with utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the TRADITION OF TRUTH ..For how should it be if the Apostles themselves had not left us writing? Would it be necessary [in that case] to follow the course of Tradition which they handed down to those whom they committed the Churches?” (Against the Heresies 3:4:1)
“Though none others know we the disposition of our salvation, than those through whom the Gospel came to us, first heralding it, then by the will of God delivering us the Scriptures, which were to be the foundation and pillar of our faith. ...But when the heretics use Scriptures, as if they were wrong and unauthoritative, and we variable, and the truth could not be extracted from them by those who were IGNORANT OF TRADITION. And when we challenge them in turn with that TRADITION, which is FROM THE APOSTLES, which is guarded by the succession of presbyters in the churches, they oppose themselves to TRADITION, saying they are wiser, not only than those presbyters but even than the Apostles! The TRADITION OF THE APOSTLES manifested, on the contrary, in the whole world, is open in every church to all who seeks the truth ...And since it is a long matter in a work like this to enumerate these successions, we will confute them by pointing to the TRADITION of the greatest and most ancient and universally-known Church founded and constituted at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, a TRADITION which she has had and a faith which she proclaims to all men FROM THOSE APOSTLES.” (Against the Heresies 3:3:1-3)
I really do not know what Julie means by “differed.” Oral message is certainly different either by elaboration, or a different message. I do not believe that it was a different message, however, I do believe that Paul elaborated more of the teachings when he preached. One example is the form of worship. One example of writing that shows oral tradition is by the author of Second Clement, which says, For the Lord said, “You will be like lambs among wolves,” But Peter replied by saying, “What if the wolves tear the lambs to pieces?” Jesus said to Peter, “After death the lambs should not fear the wolves, nor should you fear those who kill you and can do nothing more to you. But fear him who, when you are dead, has power over soul and body to cast them into the flames of hell.” (Second Clement, 5, 2-4).
Also, Dr. Lienhard adds,
“In the period of Apostolic Fathers, it is still the words of Jesus, rather than any written Gospel, that are authoritative. When the Apostolic Fathers quote the Scriptures (and not all of them do), they almost invariably mean the Old Testament. They do not have a New Testament. But they quote the words of Jesus as authoritative seventeen times. A few passages will show an important pattern evolving. In a few cases the Apostolic Fathers quote one of the Gospels verbatim. Polycarp of Smyrna writes: “…even as the Lord said, "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak," ” quoting Matthew 26:41 exactly. A good example is from the First Epistle of Clement, written in Rome around A.D. 96: “Especially let us recall the words of the Lord Jesus, which he uttered to teach considerateness and patience. For this is what he said: "Show Mercy, that you may be shown mercy. Forgive, that you may be forgiven. As you behave to others, so they will behave to you. As you give, so will you get. As you judge, so will you be judged. As you show kindness, so will you receive kindness. The measure you give will be the measure you get." ” Although the words may sound familiar, no single sentence in the passage is an exact quotation from the New Testament.” (The Bible, the Church, and Authority by Joseph T. Lienhard, page 31-32)
We see that even though it is different, it doesn’t contradict the essence of the Gospel. In fact, since people in the 2nd and 3rd century didn’t have the complete canon, they must rely on Tradition that has been passed to them.
I do not become the sole arbiter of truth, but submit to which has authority over me, which is the Church. Submitting and conforming to the Truth is NOT private interpretation. I do not claim that “Peter is the Pope in Matthew 16:18” as if I was the judge, but I conformed to what the Church teaches.
I never said that infallible human authority is needed to define doctrine and tradition for God’s people. However, Jesus MADE an infallible Church that defines doctrine. God made the OT Church with authority, and they needed to submit to that authority. Jesus also built a new Church with authority, and we need to submit to that authority. The difference is that the OT Church was never called the pillar and foundation of truth, or God never told the Prophets or the OT Church that whatever they bind was bound in heaven. As Athanasius said,
“But the word of the Lord which came through the Ecumenical Council at Nicaea remains forever.” (Synodal Letter to the Bishops of Africa 2)
“Without prefixing Consulate, month, and day, (the Fathers) wrote concerning Easter, "It seemed good as follows," for it did then seem good that there should be a general compliance; but about the faith they wrote not, "It seemed good," but, "thus believes the Catholic Church"; and thereupon they confessed how they believed, in order to show that their own sentiments were not novel, but Apostolic; and what they wrote down was no discovery of theirs, but is the same as was taught by the Apostles.” (St. Athanasius, Letter on the Councils of Ariminum and Seleucia 5)
Not to mention the great Thomas Aquinas,
“The formal object of faith is Primary Truth as manifested in Holy Scripture and in the teaching of the Church which proceeds from Primary Truth. Hence, he who does not embrace the teaching of the Church as a divine and infallible law does not possess the habit of faith.” (Summa Theologiae II-II, Q.5, A.3)
Another straw man argument that will not prove Sola Scriptura. The Old Testament people of God knew Isaiah or Ezekiel were Scripture by submitting to the authority of the Old Testament Church. However, the Old Testament Church did not make a canon, and the Hebrew canon was in dispute for a long time.
See Julie's Questions Here
Julie: Answers to Five Questions
Affirming the Resolution:
"The Bible is the Only Infallible Rule of Faith."
See Apolonio's Questions Here
My opponent here is assuming two things: The Church has to be infallible (which is no doubt a result of his presupposition that Rome is infallible) and that the verse in question assumes the infallibility of “the pillar and foundation of the truth.” First Timothy 3:15 says: “but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” Nowhere in this verse is an infallible church assumed. One only needs to look at the church of Corinth to see that the church as a body errs at times. This is because while we are a body of believers, we are yet still a body of sinners who are being sanctified.
God has indeed promised us that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church. But instead of this being indicative of an infallible church, this demonstrates to us that it is God who is our protector and rock. We are built on the testimony of the apostles, but are held firm by the one who called us onto Himself and redeemed us in Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2:15 states: “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.” We who espouse Sola Scriptura do not believe such an admonishment has ceased at all. Indeed, we are to stand firm in the faith, and hold to what we are taught from the apostles. However, my opponent assumes that “traditions” here is in reference to his concept of “Apostolic Tradition” and he assumes that any unwritten admonishments by the apostles exist to this day. However, he can neither prove that a tradition finds its root in the apostles, nor can he effectively demonstrate that what Paul is talking about here is the “Roman Catholic concept of Tradition.” We who believe in Sola Scriptura contend that the teachings of the apostles were inscripturated.
It is for this reason that God supplied godly teachers. You are making an assumption, first of all, that one has to have an infallible canon list and a fully completed Bible in order to attain a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Secondly, you are assuming that we who believe in Sola Scriptura have eliminated the need for teachers, or said that godly pastors are spurious. But nothing could be further from the truth. God always has, and always will, raise up workers who are teaching and defending the truth. And God makes His truth very clear in His Word, from page one onward.
The letter of 2nd Timothy is probably Paul’s final letter… written before he was martyred. Paul knew he was about to die for the faith (2 Tim 4:6-8) and was laying down His message to Timothy along with admonishments to him. What matters about 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is not that the canon of Scripture had been completed. It is the fact that Paul is telling Timothy the inspiration and nature of Scripture, the resultant sufficiency of Scripture due to being God-breathed, and the functions of Scripture. Furthermore, what must be noted about this passage is that no other rule of faith is given by Paul which can accomplish the things he states that Scripture can do…
(2 Timothy 3:15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 2 Timothy 3:17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.)
Emphasis mine. Once again… this is derived from its nature as God-breathed, inspired revelation. And Scripture can be fully demonstrated to be God-breathed inspired revelation. Tradition, in the Roman Catholic sense, however, is such a amorphous term that it can hardly be defined by Rome, let alone demonstrated to be as equally theopneustos (God breathed) as Scripture is.
I do not have to establish a wall of defense on my side as to “how many ECF’s are on my side” in order to demonstrate the truth of Sola Scriptura. That is the RC burden, and not mine, as the RC ascribes more weight to the testimony of the Early Church Fathers. I respect their council and their stances, and look at them as godly brothers who went before and paved the way, but they are not the ultimate authorities on what is truth and what is error, as they themselves struggled with these very points. That having been said, if indeed Irenaeus is stating the “Roman Catholic dogma of Tradition,” then I would respectfully disagree with his assertion. However, I suspect that this is not the case, given what Irenaeus has written elsewhere:
“We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith.” (Against Heresies III.1.1)
William Webster explains it best when speaking of these Irenaeus quotes cited by my opponent:
“Irenaeus proposes here a hypothetical situation. The Churches have received the tradition of the truth from the apostles. What, he asks, if they had not left us any writings? Then it would be necessary to follow the teaching, the tradition, of those Churches which have had direct contact with the apostles. The operative phrase here is, “what if the apostles had not left us their writings.” But in point of fact they have left us their writings. And the point he makes is that while the Church does preach and teach orally, the doctrinal content of that preaching and teaching is directly verifiable from the written Scriptures. Irenaeus is not affirming the existence of oral tradition. He is simply presenting a hypothetical situation as a way of combating the Gnostic heretics.” (Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Vol. II, pg 25)
See Apolonio's Questions Here
Apolonio: Rebuttals to Five Answers
Denying the Resolution:
"The Bible is the Only Infallible Rule of Faith."
See Julie's Answers Here
Julie has not answered my question. My question was: HOW can a Church that is the pillar and foundation of truth err? Julie merely states, “Nowhere in the verse is an infallible church assumed.” For some reason, she cannot give a reason to back her statement up. I agree in her statement that God is the protector and rock. However, for some reason, she does not think this is infallibility. If God protects them from erring, isn’t this infallibility? As John Pacheco states,
“…the very nature of ‘truth’ is that it does not contain any error, or else it would not be ‘truth’ at all, but only ‘some truth’ or ‘much truth’ but not the ‘truth’ in its totality. Hence, when St. Paul claims that the Church is the ‘pillar and foundation of truth,’ you have two possible interpretations of this passage, namely, that St. Paul meant the truth in its entirety or only ‘much truth with some error.’”
Of course, Paul meant truth that does not contain any error. Therefore if the Church proclaims the Truth, it is infallible. Therefore when the Church binds, and since God binds as well, and God is infallible, then when the Church binds, it is infallible. I have given Julie the chance to prove me wrong. If she can tell me how a Church that is the pillar and foundation of truth err, then she has her point.
By this admission, she basically has proven that Sola Scriptura is not true. We have to know that this isn’t really a Catholic vs. a Protestant viewpoint debate, but Julie defending Sola Scriptura itself. Disproving the Catholic Church would not make Sola Scriptura true. Julie has admitted that oral traditions have not ceased. If this is so, can she tell me where it is? Since she agrees with me that we have to stand firm to it, then she has to know where it is as well. If Tradition does not exist today, the Holy Spirit would not command us to stand firm to it. Since it exists, and it is the Word of God, then that means there is another transmission of the Gospel, and therefore Sola Scriptura is not true. It cannot be in Scripture since the Holy Spirit commands us not only to stand firm to written tradition, but to oral tradition as well. The Holy Spirit is telling us to stand firm to two rules of faith.
Julie has not answered my question. From her response, I am assuming that a person can know the Truth from their teachers. However, how do the teachers know what has been taught in the books that are missing? The answer is, which Julie cannot admit is from the Traditions that were handed to them. For example, traditionally, Thomas evangelized in India. However, Thomas did not write anything down. How would the Indians know the Gospel? The answer of course, is preserving traditions that were handed to them by Thomas. Oral tradition is what they most had in apostolic times, and it was very reliable, according to Dr. Blomberg (Case for Christ by Lee Strobel). One cannot assume that this type of transmission ended when the Apostles died. Nowhere does it say that all of oral traditions have been written. One example is written by Greg Krehbiel when he points out,
“In 1 Cor. 11:2 and 34, Paul refers to instructions he gave to the Corinthian church about the Eucharist. We have no reason to believe that those instructions were ever written down.”
To say however, that the message was the same is to make up a man made tradition since nowhere does it say that the instructions given to the Corinthians were written down.
Julie has not answered my question. First, all it says about Scripture in the passage is that it is profitable. There is no possible way of getting Sola Scriptura from this verse. For a refutation of Sola Scriptura regarding this passage see http://www.cin.org/users/james/files/2tim316.htm. However, as I have stated, she has not answered my question. She claims that Sola Scriptura was not valid during inscripturation. Robert Sungenis writes:
“....for if it cannot be a "valid concept during times of revelation," how can Scripture teach a doctrine since Scripture was written precisely when divine oral revelation was still being produced? Scripture cannot contradict itself. Since both the 1st century Christian and the 21st century Christian cannot extract differing interpretations from the same verse, thus, whatever was true about Scripture then must also be true today. If the first Christians did not, and could not, extract Sola Scriptura from Scripture because oral revelation was still existent, then obviously those verses could not, in principle, be teaching Sola Scriptura, and thus we cannot interpret them as teaching it either.” (Not by Scripture Alone, page 128)
The reason why I asked which early Church Father taught Sola Scriptura AFTER inscripturation only is because this is another man made tradition that nullifies the Word of God. It was actually just out of curiosity since “Sola Scriptura AFTER inscripturation” sounds new to me.
Julie cites Against Heresies III, 1.1 then quotes William Webster. It’s funny however, how people read into the passage what they want to see than interpreting it in context. Irenaeus says,
“But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, and which is preserved by means of SUCCESSIONS of the presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered unadulterated truth.” (Against Heresies, III, 2.2)
Note how successions are how tradition is preserved, not Scripture, according to this passage. There are a lot more quotes from Irenaeus that speaks of him talking about Tradition as another rule of faith. I don’t think I need to give more quotes that show that the early Church Fathers did not teach Sola Scriptura. Protestant scholars state:
Philip Schaff, Presbyterian/Reformed, History of the Christian Church
"The church view respecting the sources of Christian theology and the rule of faith and practice remains as it was in the previous period, except that it is further developed in particulars. The divine Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as opposed to human writings; AND the ORAL TRADITION or LIVING FAITH of the catholic church from the apostles down, as opposed to the varying opinions of heretical sects -- TOGETHER FORM THE ONE INFALLIBLE SOURCE AND RULE OF FAITH. BOTH are vehicles of the same substance: the saving revelation of God in Christ; with this difference in form and office, that the church tradition determines the canon, furnishes the KEY TO THE TRUE INTERPRETATION of the Scriptures, and guards them against heretical abuse." (volume 3, page 606)
JND Kelly, Anglican, Early Christian Doctrines
"It should be unnecessary to accumulate further evidence. Throughout the whole period Scripture AND tradition ranked as complementary authorities, media different in form but coincident in content. To inquire which counted as superior or more ultimate is to pose the question in misleading and anachronistic terms. If Scripture was abundantly sufficient in principle, tradition was recognized as the SUREST CLUE TO ITS INTERPRETATION, for in TRADITION the Church retained, as a legacy from the apostles which was embedded in all the organs of her institutional life, an UNERRING GRASP of the real purport and MEANING of the revelation to which Scripture AND tradition alike bore witness." (page 47-48)
"Thus in the end the Christian must, like Timothy [cf. 1 Tim 6:20] 'guard the deposit', i.e. the revelation enshrined in its completeness in Holy Scripture and CORRECTLY interpreted in the Church's UNERRING tradition." (page 51)
Jaroslav Pelikan, Lutheran (now Orthodox), The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine
"The catholic response to this claim [of the Gnostics], formulated more fully by Irenaeus than by any other Christian writer, was to appeal to 'that tradition which is derived from the apostles.' Unlike the Gnostic tradition, however, this apostolic tradition had been preserved publicly in the churches that stood in succession with the apostles....Together with the proper interpretation of the Old Testament and the proper canon of the New, this tradition of the church was a decisive criterion of apostolic continuity for the determination of doctrine in the church catholic. Clearly it is an anachronism to superimpose upon the discussions of the second and third centuries categories derived from the controversies over the relation of Scripture and tradition in the sixteenth century, for 'in the ante-Nicene Church...THERE WAS NO NOTION OF SOLA SCRIPTURA, but neither was there a doctrine of traditio sola.'...So palpable was this apostolic tradition that even if the apostles had not left behind the Scriptures to serve as normative evidence of their doctrine, the church would still be in a position to follow 'the structure of the tradition which they handed on to those to whom they committed the church.' This was, in fact, what the church was doing in those barbarian territories where believers did not have access to the written deposit, but still carefully guarded the ancient tradition of the apostles, summarized in the creed -- or, at least, in a very creedlike statement of the content of apostolic tradition....The term 'rule of faith' or 'rule of truth' did not always refer to such creeds and confessions, and seems sometimes to have meant the 'tradition,' sometimes the Scriptures, sometimes the message of the gospel." (volume 1, page 115-117)
"Fundamental to the orthodox consensus was an affirmation of the authority of tradition as that which had been believed 'everywhere, always, by all [ubique, semper, ab omnibus].' The criteria for what constituted the orthodox tradition were 'universality, antiquity, and consensus.' This definition of orthodox Catholic tradition was the work of Vincent of Lerins... To identify orthodox doctrine, one had to identify its locus, which was the catholic church, neither Eastern nor Western, neither Greek nor Latin, but universal throughout the civilized world (oikoumene). This church was the repository of truth, the dispenser of grace, the guarantee of salvation, the matrix of acceptable worship. Only here did God accept sacrifices, only here was there confident intercession for those who were in error, only here were good works fruitful, only here did the powerful bond of love hold men together and 'only from the catholic church does truth shine forth.'...[It was] the tendency of heretics to teach doctrines that were not contained either in Scripture or in tradition. But the church of the four Gospels and the four councils [Nicea, Constantinople, Ephesus, Chalcedon] was faithful to Scripture and to tradition and was universal both in its outreach and in its authority." (volume 1, page 334-335)
See Julie's Answers Here
Julie: Rebuttals to Five Answers
Affirming the Resolution:
"The Bible is the Only Infallible Rule of Faith."
See Apolonio's Answers Here
I shall rebut my opponents responses question by question.
First, I asked Apolonio this question, “Could you give me an example of an Apostolic Tradition, what doctrine it affects, and proof that the tradition comes from Paul or one of the apostles?” My opponent responded by citing quotes from Justin Martyr, Clement, and Irenaeus as evidence of a belief in apostolic tradition.
In the first quote by Justin Martyr, Apolonio offers a “proof” for an unwritten apostolic tradition which was instituted into church practice. This, however, demonstrates that Apolonio did not understand my question.
Apolonio reads into Justin Martyr’s words. Justin is not offering this as a proof of an unwritten Tradition in the Roman Catholic sense, nor is he presenting this practice as an infallible truth. We who espouse Sola Scriptura do not say there is anything wrong with tradition. I, as a Reformed Baptist, have certain liturgical traditions that I observe. Where we part ways with the Roman Catholic is with regards to what role tradition has as a rule of faith and practice. We do not espouse “Tradition” to being equal to Scripture or to being another infallible rule of faith. If Apolonio wishes to cast any doubt on my assertions of Scripture alone, then he must demonstrate the existence of a rule of faith equal to Scripture in inspiration.
My question to Apolonio is for evidence of an unwritten “Tradition” which can be verifiably proven to be from Paul or from Peter, etc. and which specifically outlines a doctrine binding upon the believer which Scripture does not discuss.
The next quote given by Apolonio is from Clement. This quote once again fails to demonstrate a doctrine which is not in Scripture, was transmitted through “Tradition” and can be demonstrated to being apostolic in origin. Furthermore, my opponent’s use of this quote to prove apostolic succession is a historical and interpretive fallacy on his part, but that’s for another debate.
The final quotes given to answer my question comes from Irenaeus. In response to the first paragraph, my answers to Apolonio’s questions give the interpretation of what Irenaeus is arguing. The next couple of paragraphs follow in the same line. But once again, no concrete doctrine which is extra-Scriptural and apostolic is proven. Rather, if we are to accept the Roman Catholic interpretation of Irenaeus, at the very best we have support for the idea of tradition. But that is even questionable.
Secondly, I asked Apolonio, “Could you give me any evidence that the oral message of Paul differed in any way from the written message?” Apolonio’s answer was to demonstrate that what was spoken was probably an expansion upon what was written, not a contradiction. I was not trying to establish a contradiction at all, and perhaps I worded my question poorly. Rather, I was trying to make a point. The Roman Catholic apologist has no proof even of what the oral message of Paul was. It was not concretely laid down in any manner which can be traced back to him. The only authoritative and certain record we have of the teachings of the apostles is found in Scripture.
Thirdly, I asked my opponent, “Could you tell me how you know the Roman Catholic Church is the True Church without engaging in private interpretation?” His response to me was as follows:
“I do not become the sole arbiter of truth, but submit to which has authority over me, which is the Church. Submitting and conforming to the Truth is NOT private interpretation. I do not claim that "Peter is the Pope in Matthew 16:18" as if I was the judge, but I conformed to what the Church teaches.”
What Apolonio demonstrates is that he had to use private judgment in order to ascertain that Rome is the authority under which he should submit. I ask this question to show the fallacy a Roman Catholic commits when he uses this argument against Sola Scriptura, “But you are left with nothing but your private interpretation of Scripture, whereas we have an infallible authority to exegete Scripture for us.” What it comes down to is this: Which authority will we submit ourselves to? The theopneustos (God-breathed) Scriptures, or one “infallible human authority.” And how does the Roman Catholic know that his infallible authority is true, and not Salt Lake City (Mormonisn) or Brooklyn (Watchtower Society)? He must use his private judgment to interpret which he feels is telling the truth. The very thing he throws up in the face of the adherent to Sola Scriptura, he himself is guilty of.
Fourthly, my opponent was asked, “If an infallible human authority is needed to define doctrine and tradition for God's people, what infallible human authority did the people of the Old Testament have to refer to?” Apolonio answers:
“I never said that infallible human authority is needed to define doctrine and tradition for God’s people. However, Jesus MADE an infallible Church that defines doctrine. God made the OT Church with authority, and they needed to submit to that authority. Jesus also built a new Church with authority, and we need to submit to that authority. The difference is that the OT Church was never called the pillar and foundation of truth, or God never told the Prophets or the OT Church that whatever they bind was bound in heaven.”
My point is this, that if an infallible human authority (be it the Church, Magisterium, etc) was required in order to know and discern truth, then why was God’s people who existed pre-Christ left without an infallible human authority or Magisterium? My opponent dances around this issue with unbacked assertions, failing to demonstate that the Old Testament Church possessed exactly what the Roman Catholic apologist asserts the New Testament Church must have.
To answer what my opponent does say, never does Jesus say that his Church will be infallible and never does he assign a Magisterium to act as interpretive head over the Church. Furthermore, my opponent proceeds to engage in Scriptural eisegesis (reading his doctrines into the text of Scripture) when he insinuates that the statements “pillar and foundation” and “bind and loose” are evidence that the New Testament church needs an infallible human authority. The apostolic Church does hold up the Truth, she does support it and defend it. And the testimony it is built on is the testimony of the apostles who were given the authority from Christ to act as his representatives. But it is a non sequitur to state that this supports the entire plethora of Roman Catholic dogmas and practices which come out of this simple testimony of Scripture.
Lastly, I presented this question to Apolonio, “If an infallible list of canon is needed to determine which books are Scripture, how did the people who lived before Christ know books like Isaiah or Ezekiel were Scripture?” My opponent responded:
“Another straw man argument that will not prove Sola Scriptura. The Old Testament people of God knew Isaiah or Ezekiel were Scripture by submitting to the authority of the Old Testament Church. However, the Old Testament Church did not make a canon, and the Hebrew canon was in dispute for a long time.”
I hardly see how this is a straw man argument and neither does my opponent demonstrate how this is a straw man. Rather I am demonstrating the fallacy of the RC apologist who states that, in order to know the canon conclusively, one needs an infallible authority to hand us an infallible list of canon. I suppose that no one knew what Scripture was until the 1500’s AD when the Council of Trent finally put down an “infallible pronouncement” of the canon of Scripture. Furthermore, my opponent equivocates, first saying that the Old Testament church knew Scripture by submitting to the Church’s authority then saying Hebrew canon was in dispute for a long time. This would cast some doubt on the authority of the Old Testament Church, no doubt.
I submit that my opponent’s answers further show the futility of the Roman Catholic position.
See Apolonio's Answers Here
Apolonio: Replies to Rebuttals
Denying the Resolution:
"The Bible is the Only Infallible Rule of Faith."
See Julie's Rebuttals Here
<< Apolonio reads into Justin Martyr’s words. Justin is not offering this as a proof of an unwritten Tradition in the Roman Catholic sense, nor is he presenting this practice as an infallible truth. We who espouse Sola Scriptura do not say there is anything wrong with tradition. I, as a Reformed Baptist, have certain liturgical traditions that I observe. Where we part ways with the Roman Catholic is with regards to what role tradition has as a rule of faith and practice. We do not espouse "Tradition" to being equal to Scripture or to being another infallible rule of faith. If Apolonio wishes to cast any doubt on my assertions of Scripture alone, then he must demonstrate the existence of a rule of faith equal to Scripture in inspiration. >>
First, no one said that Apostolic Tradition has to be "unwritten." Second, where in the Bible does it mention the form of worship? It doesn’t. Why would they do such a thing if it did not come from the Apostles themselves?
<< My question to Apolonio is for evidence of an unwritten "Tradition" which can be verifiably proven to be from Paul or from Peter, etc. and which specifically outlines a doctrine binding upon the believer which Scripture does not discuss. >>
This I did when I quoted Clement. However, Julie disagrees:
<< The next quote given by Apolonio is from Clement. This quote once again fails to demonstrate a doctrine which is not in Scripture, was transmitted through "Tradition" and can be demonstrated to being apostolic in origin. Furthermore, my opponent’s use of this quote to prove apostolic succession is a historical and interpretive fallacy on his part, but that’s for another debate. >>
That is exactly what I did. No one said that Tradition contradicts or is not written in the Bible. I can argue from material sufficiency of Scripture, which means that every doctrine is in Scripture either explicitly or implicitly. No one said that Scripture isn’t qualitatively sufficient, however, it isn’t sufficient in a quantitative sense. These Traditions have been passed from the Apostle to the Councils and such. As Augustine said,
"Those which we keep, not as being written, but as from TRADITION, if observed by the whole of Christendom, are thereby understood to be committed to us BY THE APOSTLES themselves or plenary Councils, and to be retained as instituted." (Ep 118).
Augustine even gives an EXAMPLE of an Apostolic Tradition.
"[T]he custom [of not rebaptizing converts] ...may be supposed to have had its origin in Apostolic Tradition, just as there are many things which are observed by the whole Church, and therefore are fairly held to have been enjoined by the Apostles, which yet are not mentioned in their writings" (On Baptism, Against the Donatists 5:23 [A.D. 400]).
Greg Krehbiel received this list from an Orthodox apologist that gave extra-biblical teachings:
1. The liturgy.
2. The Proscription against praying with heathen, heretics, and apostates.
3. The quotations of Christ found in St. Clement and St. Justin
4. The 85 Apostolic Canons
5. The interpretation of the Scriptures that Christ is God, and not
simply a Divine Creature.
6. The Tradition that the Four Gospels are authentic, and written
by St. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
7. The Tradition that St. Paul's writings are to be accepted, and
not discarded on the grounds that he was an apostate from the law,
and clearly in contradiction with the view of the Law found in
<< Secondly, I asked Apolonio, "Could you give me any evidence that the oral message of Paul differed in any way from the written message?" Apolonio’s answer was to demonstrate that what was spoken was probably an expansion upon what was written, not a contradiction. I was not trying to establish a contradiction at all, and perhaps I worded my question poorly. Rather, I was trying to make a point. The Roman Catholic apologist has no proof even of what the oral message of Paul was. It was not concretely laid down in any manner which can be traced back to him. The only authoritative and certain record we have of the teachings of the apostles is found in Scripture. >>
First, we cannot prove that it was from a specific Apostle. However, we can prove that it was from the Apostles themselves. One example is Infant Baptism. What did Jesus actually mean by "let the children come to me?" Does Scripture tell us that infants can or cannot be baptized? The answer would be no. However, from the early Church Fathers, and the Church, she proclaimed that Infant Baptism is valid and this of course comes from the practice and teachings of the Apostles. As Basil the Great says,
"Of the dogmas and messages preserved in the Church, some we possess from written teaching and others we receive from the Tradition of the Apostles, handed on to us in mystery (i.e., Sacrament; the Liturgy of the Mass). . In respect to piety both are of the same force. No one will contradict any of these, no one, at any rate, who is even moderately versed in matters ecclesiastical. Indeed, were we to try to reject unwritten customs as having no great authority, we would unwittingly injure the Gospel in its vitals; or rather, we would reduce [Christian] message to a mere term." (The Holy Spirit 27:66 [AD 375]).
<< What Apolonio demonstrates is that he had to use private judgment in order to ascertain that Rome is the authority under which he should submit. I ask this question to show the fallacy a Roman Catholic commits when he uses this argument against Sola Scriptura, "But you are left with nothing but your private interpretation of Scripture, whereas we have an infallible authority to exegete Scripture for us." What it comes down to is this: Which authority will we submit ourselves to? The theopneustos (God-breathed) Scriptures, or one "infallible human authority". And how does the Roman Catholic know that his infallible authority is true, and not Salt Lake City (Mormonisn) or Brooklyn (Watchtower Society)? He must use his private judgment to interpret which he feels is telling the truth. The very thing he throws up in the face of the adherent to Sola Scriptura, he himself is guilty of. >>
This shows that Julie DOES NOT KNOW what private judgment is. Private judgment is NOT a mere acceptance of the individual. The Council of Trent on the Decree of Scriptures tells us what they had to say on private judgment:
"Furthermore, to check unbridled spirits, it decrees that no one relying on his own judgment shall, in matters of faith and morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine,distorting the Holy Scriptures in accordance with his own conceptions, presume to interpret them contrary to that sense which holy mother Church, to whom it belongs to judge of their true sense and interpretation, has held and holds, or even contrary to the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, even though such interpretations should never at any time be published."
So private judgment is not about "choosing." It is about the person himself being the ultimate arbiter of truth. It is a person who does not have ANY AUTHORITY declaring a supposed truth contrary to what the Church teaches or going against public revelation with the person’s own opinion. Some articles by Dave Armstrong:
<< My point is this, that if an infallible human authority (be it the Church, Magisterium, etc) was required in order to know and discern truth, then why was God’s people who existed pre-Christ left without an infallible human authority or Magisterium? My opponent dances around this issue with unbacked assertions, failing to demonstate that the Old Testament Church possessed exactly what the Roman Catholic apologist asserts the New Testament Church must have. >>
Again, I never said that an infallible human authority was required in order to know and discern truth. However, Jesus Christ made an infallible Church. Therefore if Christ made an infallible Church, then we as Christians expect to have an infallible human authority to know truth.
I have shown that the Church must be infallible. Julie never showed how a Church that is the pillar and foundation of truth could err. If what the Church does is hold up the Gospel, then when she proclaims what the Gospel says, it must be true. We know that what the Apostles taught was infallible, and they had an infallible authority to pronounce the Gospel (Acts 15). What they taught in Acts 15 was infallible.
Julie claims that this infallibility ceases, yet gives NO PROOF. We know that the Apostles PASSED this authority (1 Tim 1:3; 3:2; 4:11-16; 5:17; 6:2ff; 2 Tim 1:13-14). How can they pass any other authority other than an infallible authority?
I also gave Protestant scholars’ commentary such as M. Eugene Boring, Francis Wright Beare, Eduard Schweizer, R.T. France, William F. Albright and C.S. Mann, F.F. Bruce, Joachim Jeremias, and David Stern. However, Julie "claims" that my citations are misinterpreted, but gave NO proof, except James White’s commentary. Julie claims that she is presenting her case "scholarly," yet gave an anti-Catholic SECONDARY SOURCE.
<< I hardly see how this is a straw man argument and neither does my opponent demonstrate how this is a straw man. Rather I am demonstrating the fallacy of the RC apologist who states that, in order to know the canon conclusively, one needs an infallible authority to hand us an infallible list of canon. I suppose that no one knew what Scripture was until the 1500’s AD when the Council of Trent finally put down an "infallible pronouncement" of the canon of Scripture. Furthermore, my opponent equivocates, first saying that the Old Testament church knew Scripture by submitting to the Church’s authority then saying Hebrew canon was in dispute for a long time. This would cast some doubt on the authority of the Old Testament Church, no doubt. >>
The Old Testament Church not having infallibility does not mean they didn’t have any authority. However, the New Testament Church has infallible authority. And I would also conclude that one DOES need an infallible authority to hand us an infallible list of canon because an infallible effect cannot come from an fallible cause.
However, if she says that the canon is fallible, then that means that she doesn’t know that the 27 NT books are the Word of God. However, if she says that the canon is in itself infallible, since God made that canon, then there is another infallible rule of faith. The canon is both a rule of faith and infallible. Therefore, there is another infallible rule of faith other than the Scriptures.
Since we are talking about the canon, let us turn the tables around. How does Julie actually know what Scripture is when the Scriptures themselves does not give us a list of books? We agree that the Scriptures are self-evident in themselves (or self-authenticating), but that isn’t self-evident to us. She never gave a criterion for the canon or how we can know the nature of Scripture.
Julie mentioned what I believe should be responded to:
<< If Apolonio wishes to cast any doubt on my assertions of Scripture alone, then he must demonstrate the existence of a rule of faith equal to Scripture in inspiration. >>
First of all, Julie has not shown from Scripture that Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith therefore it is self-referentially inconsistent. Second, I don’t have to show another infallible SOURCE OF DOGMA, which I believe Julie is confusing with "rule of faith." As Greg Krehbiel states, "The Nicene Creed would be an infallible interpretation of the infallible source of dogma." Athanasius says,
"Without pre-fixing Consulate, month, and day, they wrote concerning Easter, 'It seemed good as follows,' for it did then seem good that there should be a general compliance; but about the faith they wrote not, 'It seemed good,' but, 'Thus believes the Catholic Church;' and thereupon they confessed how they believed, in order to shew that their own sentiments were not novel, but Apostolical; and what they wrote down was no discovery of theirs, but is the same as was taught by the Apostles." (Councils of Ariminum and Seleucia 5)
"The confession arrived at Nicaea was, we say more, SUFFICIENT, AND ENOUGH BY ITSELF, for the subversion of all irreligious heresy, and for the security and furtherance of the doctrine of the Church." (To the Bishops of Africa, 1)
"For this Synod of Nicaea is in TRUTH a proscription of every heresy." (Ibid, 11)
Does this mean that Nicaea didn’t use Scripture? Let’s say for the sake of the argument that Nicaea used Scripture alone to define doctrine. But that just shows that Scripture is the infallible source of dogma and Nicaea then makes an infallible interpretation. Hence, the interpretation of Nicaea is an infallible rule.
I also pointed out that the early Church did not practice Sola Scriptura because they didn’t have the correct number of books. How can someone practice Sola Scriptura if you don’t have ALL SCRIPTURE? Doesn’t 2 Tim 3:16-17 say that ALL SCRIPTURE, not some, makes the man of God equipped? This was the unanswered question Julie never answered among other questions, which I will give in my concluding statement.
See Julie's Rebuttals Here
Julie: Replies to Rebuttals
Affirming the Resolution:
"The Bible is the Only Infallible Rule of Faith."
See Apolonio's Rebuttals Here
"HOW can a Church that is the pillar and foundation of truth err? Julie merely states, 'Nowhere in the verse is an infallible church assumed'. For some reason, she cannot give a reason to back her statement up. I agree in her statement that God is the protector and rock. However, for some reason, she does not think this is infallibility. If God protects them from erring, isn't this infallibility?"
Once again my opponent is forced to read his presupposition into the verse. He starts off with the conclusion: "Rome is infallible" and then goes backward into the text to prove His point, rather than letting the text speak for itself.
There is nothing which states that the Church would function infallibly or inerrantly. Rather, what is infallible is the Truth of God itself. Now, the last time I checked, we were debating Sola Scriptura, so I'll end our banter on Roman Catholic epistemology with this note: The "infallibility of the Church" is not a Biblically-supported doctrine. The Bible informs us that the gates of hell would not prevail over His Church, He promises her a guide and a comforter, He gives us His Word, and gives her the awesome privilege of being able to hold us His Word up before the nations as the pillar and support of the truth. But while my opponent would love to read his presupposition into the text, Scripture does not promise us an infallible Magisterium, nor does it say that a Church made up of sinners will never stumble. Nevertheless, it does tell us the Church would never be without the Spirit, and would always have the unfailing Truth of God's Word.
My opponent has the burden to demonstrate otherwise, and it is his burden alone.
"Of course, Paul meant truth that does not contain any error. Therefore if the Church proclaims the Truth, it is infallible. Therefore when the Church binds, and since God binds as well, and God is infallible, then when the Church binds, it is infallible."
My opponent's logic is astonishing… and I assure you that is not a compliment.
Nowhere are these statements substantiated in the simple text, but rather they demonstrate the lengths a Roman Catholic will go through to prove their presupposition.
"By this admission, she basically has proven that Sola Scriptura is not true."
I fail to see how I disproved Sola Scriptura. Rather, I affirmed something which is a basic tenant of Scripture Only. The authority and teaching of the apostles did not die, so their command to stand firm in the faith has not ceased. However, while the 1st Century Church had the benefit of the oral teaching of the apostles, death has silenced their voices from the Church we live in, the Church of the 21st Century. But this does not mean that we are without their teaching and authority. They were used of the Spirit in more than oral teaching; they were led to pen their teaching with all authority given unto them by the Lord to stand as His substitutes. We have the Truth of God and His Voice to the Church in the God-breathed Scriptures.
I would only assume that my opponent had a false misconception of what Sola Scriptura believers espouse with regards to apostolic authority. I hope this matter has been clarified now.
"We have to know that this isn't really a Catholic vs. a Protestant viewpoint debate, but Julie defending Sola Scriptura itself. Disproving the Catholic Church would not make Sola Scriptura true."
Exactly correct. I refer the reader and my debate opponent back to my opening statement for the evidence of the sufficiency of Scripture. I as well assert that in order for Sola Scriptura to be disproved, that it must be established that either the Bible is unreliable or that another rule of faith exists which is equal to Scripture in inspiration and able to do all that it claims it can do. (See 2 Tim. 3:16-17) Keeping in mind the arguments and the evidence I have already made in this debate, I submit that my opponent has not displayed another rule of faith which stands to be either superior to or equal to Scripture.
"Julie has admitted that oral traditions have not ceased."
I never said that, and invite others to reread my last statement to see what I did say.
"The answer is, which Julie cannot admit is from the Traditions that were handed to them."
Which my opponent has failed, more than once, to demonstrate. I have asked for the apostolic pedigree of the "Traditions" my opponent defers to, but I have yet to even hear a definitive exposition of what "Tradition" is and how it is equal to Scripture in inspiration. I have yet to see how it can make the man of God equipped for every good work. In fact, what has been demonstrated is how nebulous of a term Tradition is. It takes on whatever form and whatever definition suits the Roman Catholic apologist at the current moment in time.
"One cannot assume that this type of transmission ended when the Apostles died."
As I have said before, the teaching of the Apostles and the Gospel which they were given authority to proclaim has been inscripturated.
No further comments by Julie.
"The reason why I asked which early Church Father taught Sola Scriptura AFTER inscripturation only is because this is another man made tradition that nullifies the Word of God. It was actually just out of curiosity since "Sola Scriptura AFTER inscripturation" sounds new to me."
Which, I might note, would be your private interpretation, Apolonio.
Once, again, my opponent tries to hold me to his burden. We who espouse Sola Scriptura admire and respect what the early Church fathers have written, but we also realize that they have at times contradicted themselves, and have otherwise shown that they are fallible sources. Not that we should ignore what they have written, but rather we should not hold what they have written subject to that which we know is inspired: Scripture. We do not, therefore, have the burden of demonstrating our beliefs conclusively from history as that is not an infallible authority. However, this is not to say that therefore the history of the Church fails to demonstrate any who held to the hermeneutic of Sola Scriptura.
In fact, David King and William Webster show very conclusively that the hermeneutic existed. (Please see their three volume set, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith)
In my closing statement, I will wrap up and summarize all that we have encountered in the debate, and once again demonstrate the case for Sola Scriptura. But let me preface it by saying that whether or not the burden lays on me in this debate, representing the affirmative side, I invite all to read this debate in its entirety to see where the case for Sola Scriptura has been made, and how it has not been contested effectively by my opponent.
I hope that my opponent will demonstrate for us, in his closing comments, just what the case for Scripture plus Tradition is, and give us the evidence I have sought after this entire debate: Where is the evidence that Tradition is equal to Scripture in inspiration, where is the evidence that Tradition is able to do what Paul says Scripture can do in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work), what doctrines does Tradition encompass, and what apostle can we link this Tradition back to and how?
If he fails to do this, and instead accuses me of shifting the burden, then he has only served to allow my words and my evidence to stand. The choice is his. But I would like to think that Rome has a better defense than to hide behind allegations and assertions.
See Apolonio's Rebuttals Here
Apolonio Latar: Closing Statement
Denying the Resolution:
"The Bible is the Only Infallible Rule of Faith."
I would like to thank Julie for having this debate with me. I pray that anyone who reads this will make them closer to Christ because He Himself is the Truth. Hopefully, people will read this with an unbiased mind.
Shifting of the Burden of Proof
From the beginning of this debate, Julie placed the burden of proof on me to give another infallible rule of faith. I did accept that burden even though I didn’t have to. Julie did not give ONE verse of Scripture that teaches that Scripture is the ONLY infallible rule of faith.
Many years ago, Sola Scriptura was a doctrine. Now, it is a "circumstance." Protestant Christians claim that Scripture is an infallible rule of faith, which the Catholic Church believes, and supposedly plays ignorant of another infallible rule of faith. Protestants believe that since they do not know of any other infallible rule of faith, Scripture must be the only infallible rule of faith. However, if Protestants cannot prove that there is no other infallible rule of faith, then they don’t have the right to claim Scripture IS the ONLY rule of faith. It leaves them in a position that is not provable.
Do I really have to give another infallible rule of faith? Not really. I can just show how Scripture TEACHES that there is another infallible rule of faith. However, I will, as I have done, give another. I don’t need to give another infallible SOURCE OF DOGMA, but another infallible RULE OF FAITH.
Verses Julie Gave
The main verse that Julie cites is 2 Timothy 3:16-17. It says,
"All Scripture is inspired and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, in order that the man of God may be fit, fully equipped for every good work."
How can anyone logically get Sola Scriptura from this? Scripture makes the man of God fully equipped for every good work; therefore Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith? It makes no sense. I also gave a verse that refutes this argument.
Epaphras sends you greetings; he is one of you, a slave of Christ (Jesus), always striving for you in his prayers so that you may be perfect and fully assured in all the will of God (Col 4:12).
This verse talks about salvation. Can we conclude that Epaphras’ prayers are all we need since it makes us perfect and fully assured in all the will of God? Does it mean that we don’t need faith growing in love? (Gal 5:6) Does it mean we need no faith at all? (1 Cor 13:2,13; Heb 11:6) This would be absurd just as it is absurd to say that since Scripture makes the man of God fully equipped, it’s the only thing we need. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 talks about the quality of Scripture, not the quantity of God’s revelation.
I also refuted the claim historically on 2 Timothy 3:16-17. I have claimed, that since the early Church did not have the complete canon or correct number of books, they could not have practiced Sola Scriptura; that they relied on TRADITION so that they would know the fullness of the Gospel. How can Scripture make a man of God fully equipped if they don’t have ALL SCRIPTURE? 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says "All Scripture" not "Some Scripture."
Therefore ALL SCRIPTURE is needed to make the man of God fully equipped. I also gave an example of Thomas preaching in India. Thomas never wrote anything down. How did the Indians know what Thomas preached? By standing firm to the oral traditions that they received (2 Thess 2:15).
Another refutation, which Julie NEVER responded to, was that the Word of God does not change. Julie believes that the preaching of the Apostles was written down or inscripturated. However, she NEVER gave a verse that the Word of God preached by the Apostles (1 Thess 2:13) was all inscripturated in Scripture alone. Julie also said that Sola Scriptura was not valid during the times of inscripturation. I quoted Sungenis,
for if it cannot be a "valid concept during times of revelation," how can Scripture teach a doctrine since Scripture was written precisely when divine oral revelation was still being produced? Scripture cannot contradict itself. Since both the 1st century Christian and the 21st century Christian cannot extract differing interpretations from the same verse, thus, whatever was true about Scripture then must also be true today. If the first Christians did not, and could not, extract Sola Scriptura from Scripture because oral revelation still existent, then obviously those verses could not, in principle, be teaching Sola Scriptura, and thus we cannot interpret them as teaching it either. (Not by Scripture Alone, page 128)
Julie IGNORED this and never made a comment on it. If Paul wanted 2 Timothy 3:16-17 to teach Sola Scriptura, Timothy would have practiced it. But Timothy did not, since it was during times of revelation. Either 2 Timothy 3:16-17 teaches Sola Scriptura, or it doesn’t. Since God’s Word does not change, then what was true then is true now. And since Sola Scriptura was not taught in the 1st century (during inscripturation), the verse does not teach Sola Scriptura.
We can conclude that Scripture does NOT teach Sola Scriptura. If Scripture itself does not teach Sola Scriptura, then it is a self-refuting proposition. All the verses Julie has given talks about thequality of Scripture, NOT the quantity of God’s revelation. That is what Sola means. Yet, she has not produced even ONE verse. From this argument alone, I have proven Sola Scriptura to be untrue.
Another way to refute Sola Scriptura is to show that Scripture teaches that there is another infallible rule of faith. That rule of faith is Tradition. Julie agrees that the command of 2 Thessalonians 2:15 has not ceased. If she believes that, how can she believe oral tradition does not exist? The Bible is commanding us to stand firm to two rules of faith. We also find out that oral tradition is the Word of God (1 Thess 2:13). Since the Word of God is infallible, then oral tradition is infallible. If Julie truly follows the Bible, then what oral tradition is she standing firm to? Why would the Holy Spirit command us to stand firm to oral tradition if it doesn’t exist? If oral tradition was all inscripturated, then Paul would have just commanded us to stand firm to written tradition. However, Paul commands us to stand firm to oral tradition.
Julie has asked me to provide an example of Apostolic Tradition. One of the examples I gave was Apostolic Succession. JND Kelly says:
"[W]here in practice was [the] apostolic testimony or tradition to be found? . . . The most obvious answer was that the apostles had committed it orally to the Church, where it had been handed down from generation to generation. . . . Unlike the alleged secret tradition of the Gnostics, it was entirely public and open, having been entrusted by the apostles to their successors, and by these in turn to those who followed them, and was visible in the Church for all who cared to look for it" (Early Christian Doctrines, 37);
"...the identity of the oral tradition with the original revelation is guaranteed by the unbroken succession of bishops in the great sees going back lineally to the apostles. . . . [A]n additional safeguard is supplied by the Holy Spirit, for the message committed was to the Church, and the Church is the home of the Spirit. Indeed, the Church’s bishops are . . . Spirit-endowed men who have been vouchsafed ‘an infallible charism of truth’" (ibid).
As we can see, there was such a thing as apostolic succession. Is apostolic succession unwritten? No. But the successors of St. Peter are. Nowhere in the Bible does it show Linus succeeding Peter. For example, Augustine states:
"If the very order of episcopal succession is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them from Peter himself, to whom, as to one representing the whole Church, the Lord said, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church’ ....[Matt. 16:18]. Peter was succeeded by Linus, Linus by Clement, Clement by Anacletus, Anacletus by Evaristus ...." (Letters 53:1:2 [A.D. 412]).
Why is this relevant? Because if the Bishop of Rome is not the successor of Peter, then he does not have the same infallible authority Peter had. But from Tradition, we can see that the Bishop of Rome is the successor of Peter. That is another Tradition that is not written in Scripture.
Another "unwritten" Tradition is if babies can be baptized. A consensus of the Fathers taught infant baptism. For example, Irenaeus goes on to say:
"For he came to save all by means of himself -- all, I say, who by him are born again to God -- infants, children, adolescents, young men, and old men." (Against Heresies II.22.4)
"And they shall baptize the little children first. And if they can answer for themselves, let them answer. But if they cannot, let their parents answer or someone from their family. And next they shall baptism the grown men; and last the women." (Apostolic Tradition 21.3-5)
Nowhere does the Bible tell us if babies should or should not be baptized. It may be implicit, but from Tradition, it makes it explicit.
Sola Scriptura is Unhistorical
Julie has not given proof for Sola Scriptura in the early Church. Of course, it is because the early church didn’t practice or teach it. I also gave quotes of Protestant scholars that said Sola Scriptura was neither practiced nor taught. Here are some more non-Catholic scholars:
"Meanwhile another position was beginning to take shape and become articulate. Along with the total commitment to the Scriptures as the norm of all doctrine, a new and clear conviction concerning the authority of oral Tradition began to develop. This oral Tradition, handed down from generation to generation and going back through the apostles directly to Christ, in no way conflicted with Scriptures. But it did aid the church in interpreting the Scriptures and particularly summarizing the Christian faith and thus protecting Christians against the aberrations of the Gnostics and other heretics…Thus for all practical purposes we have at the turn of the third century a kind of two-source doctrine of authority in the church, with both the New Testament and the rule of faith thought to be eminently apostolic…Thus two revelatory authorities, identical in content, complemented and authenticated each other. This position was held in a variety of forms from the third century until the time of the reformation, and it continued after that time in the Roman Catholic Church." (Robert Preus, "The View of the Bible held by the Church: Early Church through Luther" in Inerrancy, Norman Geisler, ed., pgs. 359-360)
"By the fourth and fifth centuries the principle of the Bible as the primary norm and authority in the church was well established…And yet there existed a body of tradition outside the Bible which was equally authoritative, because it was considered apostolic and in harmony with the Scriptures…The primary criterion of orthodoxy in the ancient church was that of apostolicity, as reflected in the church’s apostolic liturgy, apostolic succession, apostolic witness (NT), and the Apostles Creed. " (Carl Volz, Faith and Practice in the Early Church, pgs 147-150)
"Scripture, it is true, was sometimes treated as a set of prepositional statements from which the truth could be read off by a process of deductive logic. But Scripture was never the sole court of appeal. The living tradition of the Church included not only the historical facts recorded in Scripture but also the continuing and contemporary experience of Christians." (Maurice Wiles, The Making of Christian Doctrine: A Study in the Principles of Early Doctrinal Development, pg. 160)
The great John Henry Cardinal Newman once said, "To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." He was definitely right. Not only was Sola Scriptura not taught, neither was Sola Fide. I do not have to prove that the Roman Catholic Church was the Church, but prove that Protestantism wasn’t. If the early Church wasn’t Protestant, then that means she never taught Sola Scriptura. This shows that Protestants adapted a man-made tradition that nullifies the Word of God. It is an invention of John Wycliffe. It was never taught in the early Church, and wasn’t taught by Jesus and the Apostles.
Unless Julie believes in apostasy, she has to reject Sola Scriptura. However, if she does believe in apostasy, she has to reject the Bible as well because an apostate Church would have compiled the Bible.
The canon is another unwritten Apostolic Tradition. Nowhere does the Bible tell us what books belong in the Bible. It was from Tradition which we can know which books belong in the Bible. Dr. Bruce M. Metzger says:
"…there was the criterion of conformity to what was called the rule of faith. That is, was the document congruent with the basic Christian tradition that the church recognized as normative?" (in The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel)
This Tradition must be infallible or else Julie would have to accept the theory of R.C. Sproul’s "fallible collection of infallible books." If she accepts that theory, then she doesn’t really know that the Bible is inspired. Actually, she has no idea why the Bible is inspired at all. She might claim that it is "self-authenticating" or is "self-evident." However, that would not do it. I can agree that the inspiration of the Bible is self-evident (or self-authenticating) in itself, but it isn’t self-evident to us. Julie has not given us a criterion for the authenticity of the Bible. Eric Svendsen has said,
"We can accept the general reliability of those who collected the Canon -- and thank them for their contribution, acknowledging that the Holy Spirit gave infallible guidance to them!" (Evangelical Answers formerly Protestant Answers, pg 59, cited in Sungenis)
Some might agree with Eric on this point. However, how does Eric know when the Holy Spirit is giving infallible guidance to the Church or not? Also, if Julie and others believe this theory, that means they are holding on to another infallible rule, which is, the canon. If the canon is infallible, then it is another infallible rule. Also, if I can write down on a piece of paper "Matthew is infallible, Mark is infallible, etc" all the way down to Revelation, then I can say that the canon (the list) is infallible. For if I can say that every individual book is infallible, then I can say the whole (Canon) is infallible. Thus, it’s another infallible rule and an unwritten infallible rule.
John 16:13 says that Jesus will give the Apostles the Holy Spirit so that they may know ALL TRUTH. 1 Timothy 3:15 also said that the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth. I started out this debate showing how Jesus built a new Church, and did not promise new Scripture. Jesus never once said His words should be inscripturated. I showed that Jesus built an infallible Church, and Julie just gave rhetoric to make it look like she refuted it. Julie believes in the authority of the Church. However, if the Church is the final authority just like the early Church Fathers taught, the Church has to be infallible or else the whole Church would fall into heresy. Actually, if it weren’t for the Roman Primacy itself, the whole of Christendom would have fallen into heresy. Augustine’s famous words:
"The epistle begins thus: 'Manicheus, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the providence of God the Father. These are the wholesome words from the perennial and living fountain.' Now, if you please, patiently give heed to my inquiry. I do not believe Manicheus to be an apostle of Christ. Do not, I beg you, be enraged and begin to curse. For you know that it is my rule to believe none of your statements without consideration. Therefore I ask, who is this Manicheus? You will reply, 'An Apostle of Christ.' I do not believe it. Now you are at a loss what to say or do; for you promised to give knowledge of truth, and here you are forcing me to believe what I have no knowledge of. Perhaps you will read the gospel to me, and will attempt to find there a testimony to Manicheus. But should you meet with a person not yet believing in the gospel, how would you reply to him were he to say, I do not believe? For MY PART, I should NOT BELIEVE THE GOSPEL EXCEPT MOVED BY THE AUTHORITY of the Catholic Church. So when those on whose authority I have consented to believe in the gospel tell me not to believe in Manicheus, how can I BUT CONSENT?" (Epis Mani 5,6)
"The Father and the Son are, then, of one and the same substance. This meaning of that "homoousis" that was confirmed against the Arians heretics in the Council of Nicaea by the Catholic fathers with the authority of truth and the truth of authority." (Answer to Maximus 2:14)
"But beyond these (Scriptural) sayings, let us look at the very tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, the Apostles preached, and the Fathers kept. Upon this the Church is founded, and he who should fall away from it should not be a Christian, and should no longer be so called." (Four Letters to Serapion of Thmuis 1:28)
Every orthodox Church Father believes that the decision of the Church is orthodox and is the truth.
Church Fathers on Tradition and Authority of the Church
I have compiled some of the Church Fathers’ teachings on Tradition and authority of the Church.
ST. IRENAEUS OF LYONS (c. 180 AD):
"So forceful are these arguments that no one should henceforth seek the truth from ANY OTHER SOURCE since it would be simple to get it from THE CHURCH ....On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the things pertaining to the Church with utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the TRADITION OF TRUTH ..For how should it be if the Apostles themselves had not left us writing? Would it be necessary [in that case] to follow the course of Tradition which they handed down to those whom they committed the Churches?" (Against the Heresies 3:4:1)
"Though none others know we the disposition of our salvation, than those through whom the Gospel came to us, first heralding it, then by the will of God delivering us the Scriptures, which were to be the foundation and pillar of our faith. ...But when the heretics use Scriptures, as if they were wrong and unauthoritative, and we variable, and the truth could not be extracted from them by those who wereIGNORANT OF TRADITION. And when we challenge them in turn with that TRADITION, which is FROM THE APOSTLES, which is guarded by the succession of presbyters in the churches, they oppose themselves to TRADITION, saying they are wiser, not only than those presbyters but even than the Apostles! The TRADITION OF THE APOSTLES manifested, on the contrary, in the whole world, is open in every church to all who seeks the truth ...And since it is a long matter in a work like this to enumerate these successions, we will confute them by pointing to the TRADITION of the greatest and most ancient and universally-known Church founded and constituted at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, a TRADITION which she has had and a faith which she proclaims to all men FROM THOSE APOSTLES." (Against the Heresies 3:1-3)
"Those, therefore, who desert the preaching of the Church, call in question the knowledge of the holy presbyters....It behooves us, therefore, to avoid their doctrines, and take careful heed lest we suffer any injury from them; but to flee to the Church, and be brought up in her bosom, and be nourished with the Lord's Scriptures." ibid 5,20,2
ST. THEODORET OF CYRUS (c. 393-457)
"This teaching has been handed down to us not only by the Apostles and prophets but also by those who have INTERPRETED their writings, Ignatius, Eustathius, Athanasius, Basil, Gregory...and other lights of the world and before them, by the HOLY FATHERS gathered at Nicaea whose confession of faith we have kept intact, as the inheritance from a Father, while those who dare to VIOLATE THEIR TEACHINGS, we call corrupt and enemies of truth" (Epis 89)
ST. VINCENT OF LERINS (c. 450 AD)
"Here perhaps, someone may ask: Since the canon of the Scripture is complete and more than sufficient in itself, why is it necessary to add to it the authority of ecclesiastical interpretation? As a matter of fact, [we must answer] Holy Scripture, because of its depth, is not universally accepted in one and the same sense. The same text is interpreted differently by different people, so that one may almost gain the impression that it can yield as many different meanings as there are men. Novatian, for example, expounds a passage in one way; Sabellius, in another; Donatus, in another; Arius, and Eunomius, and Macedonius read it differently; so do Photinus, Apollinaris, and Priscillian; in another way, Jovian, Pelagius, and Caelestius; finally still another way, Nestorius....Thus, because of the great distortions caused by various errors, it is, indeed, necessary that the trend of the interpretation of the prophetic and apostolic writings be directed in accordance with the rule of the ecclesiastical and Catholic meaning." Commonitoria 2
ST. ANTHONY OF EGYPT (c. 320):
"Wherefore, keep yourselves all the more untainted by them (the Arians), and observe the TRADITIONS of the fathers, and chiefly the holy faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, which you have learned from the Scripture, and which you have often been put in mind by me." (Athanasius' "Life of Anthony" NPNF Vol IV 2nd Series).
ST. BASIL THE GREAT (c. 329-379):
"Let us now investigate what are our common conceptions concerning the Spirit, as well those which have been gathered by us from Holy Scripture AS WELL those which have been gathered concerning it as those which we have RECEIVED from the UNWRITTEN TRADITION of the Fathers." (On the Holy Spirit 22)
"Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or enjoined which are preserved in the Church some we possess derived from written teaching; others we have delivered to us in a mystery by the Apostles by the TRADITION of the Apostles; and both of these in relation to true religion have the SAME FORCE" (On the Holy Spirit 27)
"The day would fail me, if I went through the mysteries of the Church which are NOT in Scripture. I pass by the others, the very confession of FAITH, in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, from what WRITTEN document have we?" (On the Holy Spirit 67)
"While the UNWRITTEN TRADITIONS are so many and their bearing on 'the mystery of godliness' is so important, can they refuse us a single word which has come down to us from the Fathers; which we found, derived from untutored custom, abiding in unperverted churches; a word for which contributes in no small degree to the completeness of the force of the mystery." (On the Holy Spirit 67)
"In answer to the objection that the doxology in the form 'with the Spirit' has NO written authority, we maintain that if there is not other instance of that which is UNWRITTEN, then this must not be received. But if the GREAT NUMBER of our mysteries are admitted into our constitution WITHOUT written authority, then, in company with many others, let us receive this one. FOR I HOLD IT APOSTOLIC TO ABIDE BY THE UNWRITTEN TRADITIONS. 'I praise you,' it is said, 'that ye remember me in all things, and keep the traditions as I have delivered them to you' [1 Cor 11:2]; and 'Hold fast the traditions which ye have been taught whether by word or our Epistle' [2 Thess 2:15]....One of these traditions is the practice which is now before us, which they who ordained from the beginning, rooted firmly in the churches, delivering it to their SUCCESSORS, and its use through long custom advances pace by pace with time. If as in a court of Law, we were at a loss for documentary evidence, but were able to bring before you a large number of witnesses, would you not give your vote for our aquittal? I think so; for 'at the mouth of two or three witnesses shall the matter be established' [Matt 18:16; Deut 19:15]. And if we could prove clearly to you that a long period of time was in our favour, should we not have seemed to you to urge you with reason that this suit ought not to be brought into court against us? For ancient dogmas inspire a certain sense of awe, venerable as they are with hoary antiquity." (On the Holy Spirit 71)
COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE III (c. 680)
"The holy and Ecumenical Synod further says, this pious and orthodox Creed of the Divine grace would be sufficient for the full knowledge and confirmation of the orthodox faith." (Definition of Faith, Session 18)
ORIGEN (c. 220)
"The Church received from the Apostles the tradition of giving Baptism even to infants." (Commentary on Romans, 5)
"Among the four Gospels, which are the only indisputable ones in the Church of God under heaven, I have learned by tradition." (Fragment in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, 6:25)
"When the heretics show us the canonical Scriptures, in which every Christian believes and trusts, they seem to be saying: ‘Lo, he is in the inner rooms’ (Matt24:6). But we must not believe them, nor leave the original tradition of the Church, nor believe otherwise than we have been taught by the succession in the Church of God." (Homilies on Matthew, Homily 46)
I believe that I have already given a lot of quotes from Athanasius that one would not believe he actually followed the man made tradition of Sola Scriptura. Again, as Cardinal Newman once said, "To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant."
I have shown so many problems with Sola Scriptura that Julie couldn’t give an answer to all of them. I asked Julie how would we know of the truth in the case of morality, and she responded by our conscience. For example, if a Baptist and a Presbyterian are debating on cloning or abortion, they don’t really have a criterion of finding the truth. Julie is suggesting that we should hold to our conscience. However, nowhere does the Bible teach this. The Bible teaches us to go to the Church for disputes (Mattthew 18:17). You really can’t find the objective truth if you practice Sola Scriptura.
Sola Scriptura is unbiblical. Julie hasn’t found a verse that says Scripture is the only (quantitatively) infallible rule of faith. She also has not given an explanation for 2 Thessalonians 2:15 where it commands us to stand firm to two rules of faith. If she believes in that command, she has to show us what oral tradition she has been standing firm to.
I have given examples of "unwritten" Apostolic Tradition. One, like the Mass, is Apostolic. We can only wonder why the Liturgy exists for 2000 years. It is because this is an Apostolic Tradition that ought to be kept. However, Scripture does not tell us the form of worship. Therefore it’s an unwritten Tradition. Other Traditions like infant baptism and the succession from Peter are unwritten also. I have given examples of Traditions that she asked for. She cannot make excuses that I didn’t.
Sola Scriptura is unhistorical. Protestant scholars agree with us that the early Church did not practice Sola Scriptura. They practiced two rules of faith: Scripture and Tradition. Again, Philip Schaff says:
"The church view respecting the sources of Christian theology and the rule of faith and practice remains as it was in the previous period, except that it is further developed in particulars. The divine Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as opposed to human writings; AND the ORAL TRADITION or LIVING FAITH of the catholic church from the apostles down, as opposed to the varying opinions of heretical sects -- TOGETHER FORM THE ONE INFALLIBLE SOURCE AND RULE OF FAITH. BOTH are vehicles of the same substance: the saving revelation of God in Christ; with this difference in form and office, that the church tradition determines the canon, furnishes the KEY TO THE TRUE INTERPRETATION of the Scriptures, and guards them against heretical abuse." (History of the Christian Church, volume 3, page 606)
The canon is another infallible rule. Nowhere does Scripture tell us what Scripture is. I have also given another infallible rule, which is the Nicene Creed. All the Church Fathers believed that the Council of Nicaea was infallible. I challenge Julie to show me where one Church Father said that the Council of Nicaea was not infallible.
Julie also couldn’t explain how a Church that is the pillar and foundation of truth could err. I have shown that the Church is infallible. If the Church is infallible, then what she teaches is true. Thus, another infallible rule. I also gave examples of Church authority in the early Church. They always condemned the heretics and pronounced anathemas on them. I gave an example in my opening statement. However, I think it’s fruitful to write it again.
One example is the case of Ptolemy, Barnabas, and Marcion. Marcion of Pontus believed an inferior god in the Old Testament who was so ignorant, the god could not find Adam (Gen 3:9). Barnabas believed that the Jews lost the covenant immediately after Moses received it when the Jews worshipped the golden calf. Ptolemy believed in three lawgivers: God Himself, Moses, and the elders of the people. The Church then made some big decisions.
"The Church excommunicated Marcion and condemned Marcionism. Barnabas found no disciples. Ptolemy's principles were rejected. Generally, the early Church did not define its teachings on its own initiative. Instead, it defined them by reacting. Only when someone announced, "I've got it all figured out," did the Church take a long look at the solution, measure it against its sense of the faith, and often enough say, "No, you don't; that's not in line with our faith." Thus, in rejecting Marcion as a heretic, in not following Barnabas, and in not accepting Ptolemy's principles, the Church made some important affirmations." (The Bible, the Church, and Authority by Joseph T. Lienhard, pg 19)
All I have proved wrong is the root of Protestantism. I did not however, prove that the Catholic Church is true and all her Traditions are true. However, that was not my purpose. My purpose was to destroy this man-made tradition of Sola Scriptura that nullifies the Word of God (Matt 15:1-9).
We Catholics love the Bible. We exalt it. However, exalting the Bible is not Sola Scriptura.
The Bible came from the Church. The Bible did not produce the Church. It was the Church that gave us the Bible. To end this debate, I would like to quote Thomas Aquinas:
"The formal object of faith is Primary Truth as manifested in Holy Scripture and in the teaching of the Church which proceeds from Primary Truth. Hence, he who does not embrace the teaching of the Church as a divine and infallible law does not possess the habit of faith." (Summa Theologiae II-II, Q.5, A.3)
The Catholic Church has condemned Sola Scriptura. Rome has spoken; the case is closed.
God love you and Mary keep you,
Julie Staples: Closing Statement
Affirming the Resolution:
"The Bible is the Only Infallible Rule of Faith."
To begin with, I would like to thank my opponent for participating in this debate. We're both relatively new at the debate experience and even if I had some issues as to how he presented his arguments, he followed the rules very well and in fact had some grace with me when it came to deadlines.
Secondly, I speak to you again, the reader who happens upon this debate in search of a discussion of the issues. Please make sure that you examine this issue with the gravity that it deserves and consider both the arguments that I present as well as the ones my opponent presented. He and I both cite sources which are worthy of examination, and I encourage you to avail yourself of them. This issue of the role of Scripture affects a great deal with regards to the way we conduct ourselves, and our opinion of it determines our subsequent theology. If the Bible be insufficient, then we will look past its pages for something more. If it be the sole infallible authority, then we will make ourselves submissive to it in all matters that Scripture addresses. If the Bible is insufficient, and we think it's sufficient, then we will miss a part of God's special revelation to man. If Scripture is fully sufficient, and we think it to being insufficient, then we are submitting ourselves to something fallible and corruptible which can and often does lead us from the God-inspired Truth.
Again, I state my conclusion, and the argument I have pled for throughout the course of this debate: Scripture is the sole, infallible rule of faith for all matters of doctrine and practice. It needs neither an infallible interpreter nor a body of ambiguous Tradition to stand in the position that God has given it through His breath of inspiration. No other rule of faith has been presented by my opponent to cast doubt on my assertion.
My Opponent's Failure to Demonstrate Another Rule of Faith
In order for Sola Scriptura to be demonstrated as truth, two things have to be noted: That Scripture is sufficient to serve as the sole infallible rule of faith, and that no other rule of faith exists which has the same inspiration and can perform the same offices as Scripture can. However, I did not see any demonstration from my opponent of another rule of faith.
Now, I note that it was asserted several times that it is my burden to prove Sola Scriptura, not his burden to disprove it. This may or may not be right in the context of this debate. Some could argue one way, some another, but it wasn't discussed in the terms of our debate. However, I would think that it makes for a very dull debate if there is not a counterpoint to the point. My opponent did make some statements and offer rebuttals, but I got the general feeling he didn't feel a need to present his case.
Amongst the arguments that my opponent did cite came a central challenge: His feeling that Sola Scriptura is unbiblical and unhistorical. I shall offer my final comments on these charges.
The Common Objections Cited by My Opponent
Not a Biblical Doctrine:
My opponent's main argument against Sola Scriptura was what he felt to be the absence of Scriptural merit for the practice, indeed stating that the doctrine of Scripture alone is unbiblical. However, what he fails to see is what the whole principle of Scripture alone is in the first place. Sola Scriptura is a hermeneutic method, a way of approaching and interpreting Scripture. I stated from the beginning of the debate what Sola Scriptura is and isn't (and recommend the wonderful treatment on this issue by James R White in The Roman Catholic Controversy and David King in Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Volume I), however it would seem this explanation went relatively unnoticed. I ask the reader to refer back to my opening statement for my definitional presentation.
In this light, my opponent's assertions hold no water, as it is very evident in Scripture that this hermeneutic of Scriptural sufficiency was employed.
The Gospel of Matthew
Studying the New Testament, we find one of the evidences of the Sola Scriptura hermeneutic in the Bible: that of the Gospel of Matthew. Throughout the book, Matthew appeals to the Hebrew Scriptures as evidence that Christ fulfills the Messianic prophecies. These instances include, but are not limited to, such verses as Matthew 2:5-6; 17-18; 3:3.
Mat 2:5 They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 6 'AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.'"
Mat 2:17 Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: 18 "A VOICE
WAS HEARD IN RAMAH, WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING, RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN; AND SHE REFUSED TO BE COMFORTED, BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE."
Mat 3:3 For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, "THE VOICE OF ONE
CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, 'MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!'"
Matthew makes his appeal through Scripture.
Christ and The Sola Scriptura Hermeneutic
Christ also affirms the hermeneutic of Sola Scriptura through his words. His words constantly call those who He admonishes to the authority and words of Scripture, and holds them responsible to know and obey it. "It is written…" appears in such verses as Matthew 4:4, 7, 10; 11:10; 21:13; 26:24, 31; John 6:45; 8:17. In Matthew 15:6 Jesus admonishes the Pharisees for "nullifying the word of God" (NIV) because they have contradicted and cancelled out the message of Scripture for the sake of their Tradition.
In Matthew 22:29, Jesus calls the Sadducees on their lack of Scriptural knowledge.
Mat 22:29 But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. And elsewhere Jesus cites the Scriptures to His followers and to others to reveal to them what must happen, why, and to explain the kingdom of heaven to them.
What must be noted is that Christ never establishes a point nor makes an appeal to those to whom He speaks by referring to any nebulous body of Tradition. Also, he does not state one must refer to a body of infallible interpreters. Christ makes His appeals through Scripture.
Another Scriptural example of the Sola Scriptura hermeneutic is in the Bereans.
Act 17:10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they
arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
Once again, the Sola Scriptura hermeneutic is employed in Scripture. The Bereans search the Scriptures to see if the message Paul and Silas are preaching is the Truth. And not only is this mentioned, but they are also commended for their actions.
The Apostle Paul
The most explicit verse in Scripture for Scriptural sufficiency is found in 2 Timothy, which is one of the Apostle Paul's final writings before being put to death. In it Paul gives us this pearl:
2 Ti 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for
training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
I have explained and defended the exegesis of this passage several times in this debate, so I will refrain from further comment. But this summarizes why Scripture is sufficient (because it is divinely inspired or God-breathed), what Scripture is profitable for (the functions it serves), and how this then makes the man of God adequate ("complete" as the ASV, BBE, ISV, NKJV, and RSV render it or "perfect" as the Douay-Reims and KJV translate it) for every good work.
These examples do not exhaust the case for Sola Scriptura from the Bible, but they are enough to show the high esteem that Scripture has been held to. And the absence of a body of tradition resembling the Roman Catholic concept of Tradition demonstrates the principle of Sola Scriptura is indeed Scriptural.
My opponent and his camp are searching for the words, "You are to use Scripture alone" in the Biblical evidence we cite, and dismissing us when we tell them that there is so much more to this issue. But while we find evidences throughout the Scriptures of a Sola Scriptura hermeneutic, an establishment of the authority of Scripture and assertion of its clarity and sufficiency, we do not find any evidence of the Roman Catholic hermeneutic of Scripture + Tradition interpreted by an infallible human authority. My opponent, it seems, has an uphill battle to demonstrate his hermeneutic from Scripture.
My opponent also contends that the early church did not practice Sola Scriptura. I believe it is often the case that a Roman Catholic apologist who looks back into Church history brings with him his preconceived notions, rather than letting the Fathers speak for themselves. He attempts to establish his point with the mere mention of words, as though people like Irenaeus and Athanasius had Rome in mind when saying the words "catholic" and "tradition". This is largely because the Roman Catholic is reliant upon the words of the Fathers in order to create a case for their antiquity. So they bring their burden, misconstrue the words of our brethren who have gone before us, and they stake a claim on the words of fallible men.
Two things must be stated for the Protestant and his view of the writings of the early Church. First of all, the Protestant should not disrespect or show disdain towards what those who ran the race before us stated. One should study church history, and learn about our predecessors. But, secondly, they should and do put the Fathers in their proper perspective. Men like Irenaeus and Athanasius were godly men. But they were just that: men. Their words hold no inspiration and cannot serve us as a gauge of orthodoxy. Only the words of the Lord can serve this office, for Scripture is what "is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness"
Does this mean we concede the case of history to Rome? Hardly. The hermeneutic of Sola Scriptura is very evident in the writings of the Fathers. They did affirm such things as the sufficiency of Scripture, the perspicuity of Scripture, the authority of Scripture, the self-interpreting nature of Scripture, and the private reading and interpretation of Scripture. (Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Volume III) Here are a few examples:
One Evidence of the Sufficiency of Scripture:
(After reciting the list of canonical books of Scripture: ) 6. These are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these. For concerning these the Lord put to shame the Sadducees, and said, 'Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures.' And He reproved the Jews, saying, 'Search the Scriptures, for these are they that testify of Me.'
~ Athanasius - NPNF2, Vol. IV, Letters of Athanasius I, Festal Letters, Letter 39
One Evidence of the Perspicuity of Scripture:
(Speaking of the heretics When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents but viva voce.
~ Irenaeus - ANF: Vol. I. Against Heresies 3.2.1.
One Evidence of the Self-Interpreting Nature of Scripture:
"Come, now, tell me how that passage (in the Epistle) to the Thessalonians--which, because of its clearness, I should suppose to have been written with a sunbeam--is understood by our heretics, who shun the light of Scripture: "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly." And as if this were not plain enough, it goes on to say: "And may your whole body, and soul, and spirit be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord." [1 Thess 5:23]
~ Tertullian - ANF: Vol. III, On the Resurrection of the Flesh, Chapter 47.
And I could cite many more examples. (Please see Holy Scripture, Volume III by David King and William Webster for more).
When the Fathers are read in their proper context, we see that the Roman Catholic is in more of a pickle than the Protestant would be, as becomes evident when the tables are turned and the Roman Catholic is asked to find the Marian dogmas in the history of the Church.
The Case for Sola Scriptura
Restating the Case for Biblical Sufficiency
Now, bringing all of these concepts to mind, and seeing the arguments that I had presented before (which I encourage you to read the whole debate to study my evidences for these assertions), my case can be summarized as such:
1. Scripture is sufficient because of its inspiration.
2. Scripture is sufficient because of its functions.
3. Scripture alone is sufficient because no other rule of faith exists which has the same level of inspiration as Scripture does, or can perform the same functions that Scripture can do.
4. The authority of the apostles is still with us today, but in the form of the Scriptures which they were commissioned to write, not in a vague concept of Oral Tradition or apostolic succession.
5. Scripture does not allude to or commission an infallible human interpreter. In fact, Jesus held people responsible to know Scripture for themselves.
6. While tradition is mentioned in Scripture, the Roman Catholic concept of Tradition has no Scriptural backing.
7. No tradition is stated to having the same level of inspiration or performing the same things as Scripture is.
8. Tradition in the Roman Catholic sense is so nebulous anyways as to be hard to define. And, in fact, Rome has hesitated to define it concretely.
9. Tradition, in the Roman Catholic sense cannot be tied directly to the Apostles anyway.
10. Evidence for the hermeneutic of Sola Scriptura is very evident in Scripture.
11. Evidence for the hermeneutic of Sola Scriptura is evident in the writings of the early Church as well.
All who read this debate will come to it with an idea in mind. And the propensity we have is to read this presupposition into the evidence, rather than letting the evidence speak for itself.
I implore you to study these arguments brought forth to you honestly, and with an open mind and heart. Because, ultimately, my friend…you will be held responsible for how you handle the truth presented to you.
Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christos, Soli Deo Gloria
El catolico parece haber ganado el debate, mas yo tengo nuevsas respuestas que las dare una vez acabe mi tesis, pero por ahora signa beneficiandose de los aportes catolicos y aportes evangelicos.
En este otro debate James White gano el debate.
Este debate lo perdio otro catolico
Uhm ¿ningun comentario?
Es que pones textos tan largos, que bueno...
Quizá alguien que tenga habilidades de súper aprendizaje pueda chutarse eso tan largo. A los demás nos vendría muy bien que nos la pusieras en fácil, ¿no te parece?
Después de interactuar con los fanfarrones, algo me ha quedado claro: La presunción es proporcional a la carencia.
"La verdad no es lo que nosotros decimos, la verdad no es lo que dicen los otros, la verdad no es lo que podemos o podriamos decirnos juntos los unos y los otros. La Verdad es lo que Dios dice, y nosotros no decimos la verdad sino en la fiel sumisión a Su Palabra que es la Verdad"
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