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Can traditions contradict God's completed Word?
The Mountain Retreat ^ | 1998 | Tony Warren

Posted on 08/14/2006 11:19:14 AM PDT by Gamecock

Is the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura
Really Biblical?

by Tony Warren

    Sola Scriptura is a latin phrase which was coined by the Reformed Church during the 1500's. It means 'scripture solely' or, 'scripture alone.' By these words the faithful Christians of this era were standing up for the Biblical principle that the Holy Scriptures were God's inspired Word, and as such were the sole infallible rule of faith. By definition the Word of God had to be the ultimate authority for the Church, and not (as some had supposed) the Roman catholic church, it's pope, and magisterium. Since the position of the Roman church was mutually exclusive to that of those faithful Christians who protested it (and thus were labled, protestants), both obviously could not be correct. If the faithful Christian Church was going to stand on God's Word as the ultimate or supreme authority, then there would have to be a 'reforming' of that Church. A restoring of faith in the laws of God which the Church had fallen away from. Much like when a criminal reforms himself to now obey the laws which were always there, but which he had previously neglected. Likewise, these faithful Christians understood that they had erred and must return to the former obedience and reliance upon God's law. A good analogy is in the Old Testament when the Priest Hilkiah brought the law of God (that had been previously neglected) to the faithful King Josiah and He, reading God's law, understood this principle of being reformed from breaking the law.

    2nd Kings 22:10-13

Likewise these faithful Reformers read God's law and understood that their fathers had not harkened unto the Words of the Book. Thus, on October 31, 1517, for all intents and purposes the Reformation began when a German Monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Roman Catholic Church door in Wittenberg Germany. The faithful would no longer forsake the laws of God's book in favor of tradition, and would return to the Biblical precepts of not leaning unto their own understanding or that of their Church leaders, but upon the Scriptures alone (Sola Scriptura) as their ultimate authority.

Actually, calling it 'Sola Scriptura' might be contrued as a bit of a misnomer, because it is not a doctrine which teaches that we believe that there are not other authorities, nor that they have no value or place. Rather, it means that all other authorities must be subordinate to the Word of God. Thus the phrase 'Sola scriptura' implies several things. First, that the scriptures are a direct revelation from God, and as such are His authoritative Word. It is also a term which illustrates that the scriptures are all that is necessary for Christian faith and practice today. Not only that the scriptures are sufficient, but that they also are the ultimate and final court of appeal on all doctrinal matters. Because however good and faithful Church fathers may be in giving guidance, all the fathers, pastors, teachers, popes, and councils, are still fallible. The only infallible 'source' for truth is God. And besides God Himself, only His Holy Words (the Scriptures alone) are infallible.

The Reformation doctrine of Sola Scriptura ultimately pointed to a most basic concern of the faithful Church of that day, which was expressed in their cry of Soli Deo Gloria, or, 'to God alone be the Glory.' This expresses the true Christian perspective that God should receive all the Glory, and that this is done by man keeping His Word as their supreme authority. The infallible head of the Church is Christ, and not a fallible man. And so the Authority of the Church must likewise be His infallible Word, and not the words of men. No matter how faithful they might appear, they are still the word of men and thus subordinate to God's word. What is called Sola Scriptura both was, and is, essential to true Christianity. For it is the difference between God's traditions and ordinances, and man's traditions and ordinances.

What some call the oral traditions of the Church are subject to change, development, degeneration, and deviation. There is absolutely no guarantee given by God or by Scripture (His Word) that such an oral tradition would be either preserved, or needed. Indeed, 2nd Timothy chapter 3 strongly implies such was not needed.

    2nd Timothy 3:16-17

The Old Testament 'scriptures' thoroughly furnished man of that day unto all good works, and Christ continually referenced it to prove truths. Jesus and others read and quoted Scripture (never any oral traditions, except to condemn them). That's not an insignificant fact. Likewise, when Satan tested Jesus, the Lord made reference to 'the authority of scripture' to prove the devil wrong.

    Matthew 4:3-4

What proceeds out of the mouth of God is His Holy, and this is 'written in the Bible.' That is what Jesus says man lives by, and it is what we are to live by. The Word of God, and not the words of men. No matter how faithful Christians may appear, their word is subordinate to God's Word. Jesus could have answered Satan any way that He wanted, for He is God and an original and perfect answer He could have spoken afresh at any moment. But instead, Christ pointed to what was already written in the scriptures as the reply to the adversary. i.e., that was the perfect answer! What God had inspired to be written, not the oral tradition of the day, but what had proceedeth from God's mouth and had been written in His Holy book. And this deferral to what was written in the scriptures is a lesson for all faithful Christians in what authority we should seek to prove Biblical truths. And Jesus did this not only in answering un-biblical assertions, but also when presented with scripture that was taken out of context. Jesus again defers 'to other scriptures' which qualifies the scripture in question. For example:

    Matthew 4:5-11

In other words, Jesus replies to scripture taken out of context with an additional scripture which clarifies it (not denies it). In doing this, He makes sure we see the meaning of that first scripture was that, 'Yes, God will watch over us, but that doesn't mean that we can test/tempt the Lord God.' This is just another pertinent example God illustrating the authority of Scripture, even in the face of those who present other scriptures taken out of context. The Perfect answer by Christ to combat erroneous understanding of scripture, was for Him to quote 'additional Scripture' which shed more light on it's true meaning. i.e., scripture was 'still authoritative' over whatever scripture that anyone would attempt to misuse or misapply.

    Matthew 4:8

Again, Jesus presents scripture, God's Word, to counter Satan's ideas and visions of glory. He says, 'It is Written!' In other words, Jesus says God's Word declares thus and thus. He never says, the Priests say, or our leaders say, or oral tradition says. Jesus, our example, says, 'it is written.' This is a representative sample or model of the posture we are to take in order to try or test the Spirits to see whether they be of God. We compare their words to God's Word, countering their tradition with the authority of God's Word. The same can be said about any debate of the doctrines of the Church. The correct principle in faithful Hermeneutics is to always defer to sound and ordered exegesis of scripture, and not to traditions or the heads of the Church. This is precisely as Jesus demonstrated in His debates with the religious leaders of His day. He appealed to the Scriptures, not to these congregational leaders, traditions, or any ecclesiastical body. The authority He appealed to, was scripture.

    Matthew 21:42

Where was it written? It was written in the Scriptures, the authority which furnished them unto all good works whereby they should have searched, and known of Christ. Likewise, when the New Testament was added, it Biblically follows that same principle of thoroughly furnishing us unto all Good works continues in this addition to God's Word. We should understand that once completed, the New Testament scriptures (like the old was) is the guidebook of truth. It is now a 'completed Work,' not a work in progress. It is not an incomplete book. We can't add to it or take away from it by oral tradition, revelation or divine inspiration. The bible (N.T. and O.T.) is now one cohesive whole which is complete and thoroughly furnishing us. And this is the truth which the doctrine of Sola Scriptura so humbly instructs the Church in. That God's Bible is complete, and thus is not subject to addition or subtraction. It is God's Word alone.

There are some Roman catholic church apologists that declare this doctrine was not even heard of until 'the reformation' of the 16th century. This of course is an inaccurate and self serving claim, which can be proven false quite easily (even apart from scripture). Read this quote from the 5th century, 1100 years before the Reformation and see if you can guess who wrote it:

This Mediator (Jesus Christ), having spoken what He judged sufficient first by the prophets, then by His own lips, and afterwards by the apostles, has besides produced the Scripture which is called canonical, which has Paramount Authority, and to which we yield assent in all matters of which we ought not to be ignorant, and yet cannot know of ourselves.

Do you know who authored this affirmation of the principle of Sola Scriptura, the doctrine of ultimate or paramount authority of the scriptures? The author is saint Augustine of Hippo. It's a quote taken directly from his book 'City of God' (book 11, Chapter 3). This unambiguous declaration by Augustine is about as definitive a statement for Sola Scriptura as any Protestant declaration I've read. So this argument, by Biblical and historical proofs, fails miserably. The Word of God both is, and was the Supreme authority of the Church. The phrase Sola scriptura is a latin term, but obviously that doesn't mean that what it delineates was not Church doctrine from the beginning. The faithful fathers, Christ Himself, and the Apostles, all deferred to authority of scripture.

Can traditions contradict God's completed Word?

Can the scriptures contradict what some allege is 'oral apostolic tradition,' and yet that tradition still be of God? The answer of course is a resounding, No! God is not the author of confusion. The undeniable fact is, two infallible God-breathed sources cannot contradict each other. Else, at least one of them is not infallible. That is a fact. Yet God's Word and Roman catholic church traditions constantly contradict each other. This should alert any faithful student of scripture that one is neither infallible, nor of God. And these are just a few of the myriad of examples..

  1. The Word of God teaches that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:4,20), and that all sin is purged and we were purified in Christ, by the cross. Roman catholic traditions teach that sin can be purged later, in a place called Purgatory (place of purifying). This is Heresy!
  2. The Word of God teaches that the office of bishop and presbyter are the same office (Titus 1) but Roman tradition says they are different offices.
  3. The Scriptures of God teaches that Christ offered His sacrifice once for all (Hebrews 7:27, 9:28, 10:10), while Roman catholic tradition corrects this, claiming that the Priest sacrifices Christ on the altar at mass.
  4. The Word of God teaches that we should not use vain repetitions in prayers (Matthew 6:7) thinking that we will be heard for our much speaking, while the Roman catholic traditions teach repeating Hail Mary in prayer as penitence 'as if' God indeed will hear us for our much repetition.
  5. The Word of God teach that all have sinned except Jesus (Romans 3:10-12, Hebrews 4:15), while Roman catholic traditions claim that's not true, as Mary was also sinless.
  6. The Holy scriptures teaches that all Christians are Saints and Priests (Ephesians 1:1; 1 Peter 2:9), but Roman Catholic tradition has made Saints and Priests special cases and offices within the Christian community, dealt out by their Church leadership.
  7. The Word of God says that we are not to bow down to statues (Exodus 20:4-5), but the Roman catholic tradition makes no such claim, nor rebukes Christians for this practice.
  8. The Word of God says that Jesus is the only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5), but Roman catholic tradition claims Mary is co-mediator with Christ.
  9. The Word of God says that Jesus Christ is the Rock upon which the Church rests, the foundation stone, and the Head of the Church (Luke 6:48, 1st Peter 2:7-8, Matthew 16:18), But Roman catholic tradition claims that the foundation Rock of the Church is Pope Peter, and that the pontiff is the head of the Church, an aberration which in effect makes God's Church, a two headed Church, with multiple authorities and starting foundation.
  10. The Word of God says that all Christians can and should know that they have eternal life (1 John 5:13), but Roman catholic tradition says that all Christians cannot and should not know that they have eternal life.

The Reformers understood clearly that the words of our Saviour Jesus Christ to the Pharisees, applied equally to those of their day:

"..thus you have made the commandment of God of non effect by your traditions!" -Matthew 15:6

Comparing these traditions with God's Word, sadly we also understand that this practice of unrighteousness continues today. You simply cannot have tradition and scripture contradicting each other, while claiming both are the infallible teachings of God. It is blatant confusion. Any oral traditions passed down in the church is subject to the written Word of God, as it has always been. As it was for the Scribes and Pharisees. To deny this is tortuous of scripture and of authority.

Moreover, if there was an ongoing oral tradition (which there is not), it still would require a standard point of reference to check itself against, such as God speaking from the Mountain, or the scriptures. True Christians (under God's direction), realize the danger of Church tradition becoming corrupted by fallible men (as had been the case with the Pharisees, and throughout Biblical history), and so faithfulness requires an infallible scriptural check book. Christians led by the Spirit of God understood the need for a supreme final authoritative checkpoint to which every person must be subject. Thus the importance of maintaining the Apostles' and God's authoritative Word became of very great concern to them, even as it had previously with the scribes maintaining the Old Testament books. If we were to totally ignore the facts of history, that there was no Roman church nor Pope making the claims they now do during the first three or four centuries (as the foremost Church historians overwhelmingly attest), then we might fathom this. And if we were to wrongly assume there was such a Church headed by an infallible pope as the Roman church does, then this would not even begin to explain the importance believers placed on maintaining the texts of the New Testament. For indeed there would have been no need to maintain them at all. One would only need to consult the infallible Pope, who, being under God's guidance would know the truth more certainly and accurately than the Apostle's written word. In 2nd Peter 1:19, where Peter said, 'we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it,' that would be worthless.

But of course, true Christians do realize that doctrine and oral tradition are indeed subject to change, development, degeneration, and deviation, and 'therefore' require a standard point of God breathed reference to check itself against. Scripture supplied and continues to supply this check. By this only we can try (test) the spirits to know whether they be of God or not (1st John 4:1). How would we do this without the authority of scripture? How would have the Priest Hilkiah? Tradition which proclaims what is non-scriptural cannot have absolute authority; It may have the authority of age, antiquity, or large consent, but it does not have ultimate compulsion or necessity. In short, there is absolutely no proof whatsoever that any church, any tradition, any pope or minister, is equal to Scripture. Therefore, scripture is the final authority which we try the spirits with.

Can Tradition be on a Par with God's Word?

    Since the Bible 'is' the Word of God (as even Roman catholics whole heartily agree), then it's only rational, Biblical, and logical to profess that any other authority, cannot either contradict it, be on a par with it, nor be above it. i.e., there is no authority higher than God (what Word supersedes God's?) and no word on a par with it (what word is as good as God's?) Therefore (again logically, Biblically, and rationally speaking), in order for someone's word to be on a par with God's Word, the one speaking it would have to be God, or at the very least equal to God, or have God speak verbally to him in a voice. The Only other alternative is to be 'quoting' God from His Word. Neither the Pope, a Priest, nor anyone else is equal to God to have his word be on a par with God's Word, nor is God speaking to anyone from the smoke on the mountain or the burning Bush today, or creating new oral scriptures. The Bible is Complete, not incomplete. It needs no further additions, and condemns those who dare to add to it.

This of course is the tangled web in which the Roman church finds itself by placing tradition on a par with God's Word. For unless something is God's Word, then it cannot be equal to God's Word. And simply saying God gave it, is not sufficient for anyone to claim tradition is the Word, just as it wouldn't be for the traditions that the Pharisees held and Jesus condemned, saying, it made the Word of God of non effect.

True, God breathed His Word through the apostles that their words became the 'Word of God,' just as He did Old Testament scripture. But unless God is continuing to write his book (the scriptures) through the Roman church, then that giving of the law through those who penned scripture has ended. If it has not ended, then the Pope must rip out the page of Revelation where God says don't add to His word and throw it away. He must then proclaim the Bible incomplete, and write down every infallible Word that he (supposedly) receives of God, and place it on the pages of the Bible uncondemned for it, as it is the Word of God. ..'if' what he claims is true. If tradition was on a par with God's Word, then it would be God's Word. In fact, then there would 'again' be no oral tradition, as it would join the written Word of God 'as' the Word of God. God's Word is something God wants us to hear and obey. This is the tangled web that is woven by this un-biblical dogma of the old Roman church.

More than that, tradition can become corrupt in the congregation of God (even as it certainly had with the Pharisees in Jesus' day -mark 7:9, and in King Josiah's day), and so common sense dictates that it simply cannot and must not be trusted as the ultimate authority as the Word of God is. The words and doctrines of men are often unjustifiable by scripture, and even contradictory to it. Not surprisingly, scripture bears out the truth that any tradition or ordinance must be subordinate to the Word. Jesus made it quite clear that we simply cannot hold to any traditions which are not subordinate to scripture, and that teaching such doctrines are contrary to the gospel of Christ. Consider wisely:

    Mark 7:6-8

This was no slap on the wrist, it was the worst of judgments upon them for setting aside the Word of God in order that they could keep their traditions. The exact same error of the Roman church today. The error of the religious leaders was that they had put tradition on a par with the written Word of God. In fact, they had made it superior to Scripture, as the commandments were interpreted 'by their tradition,' which makes scripture subject to it instead of vice versa. Christ rebuked them in the strongest of terms illustrating that the tradition of their congregation was subject to the scriptures, and scripture not to their tradition. Any argument which denies this (considering scriptures such as this one), is indefensible. Jesus would not have condemned them for their traditions if the tradition of God's chosen people was on a par with scripture. It made no biblical sense then, and it makes no biblical sense now.

    Proverbs 30:5-6

This is a solemn declaration that every word of God is tried and pure and that we are not to add to His words, lest we be found liars. This law of God is an enduring restriction on God's revelation. Holy men of old who spake as they were inspired of God, wrote scripture. Those scriptures are now finished or complete. This is not an ongoing book. As God's people, under God's care, we have the authority of God's Word. No other supreme authorities, or institution, or object, is so circumscribed. Note that in Ecclesiastes, after reflecting on the vanity of life, the Preacher summarizes our basic duty as to, 'fear God and keep His commandments (Eccl. 12:13). We must not add to God's Word by claiming traditions are God's Word. Those who love God keep His Word alone as the authority.

Understanding this, we therefore know that those who reject the scripture today as the only 'infallible' rule of faith and practice, ultimately are subordinating the Word of God to tradition by making congregational tradition and leadership the interpreter of God's Word. It sets the words of men in the Church (no matter how faithful they may be) on a par with God's Word, and this is a dangerous and un-biblical thing to do. Every individual is ultimately responsible for what he believes, not the Church, not his Priest, and not his leader. Each man is judged for his own sin. We are all responsible to study the Bible, not leave that for others to do for us. And indeed Jesus Himself said,

    John 12:48

No one practicing the Roman church doctrine of Church authority, will be able to stand before God at the judgment and plead, "..the Pope and the Magisterium, or my Priest told me to believe in this or that." There is no such 'excuse' available to man. We are to listen to God's Word rather than their word, and neglecting this, we will be judged for it. We therefore should carefully consider which authority is really infallible, and which we should follow. God's Word (a given), or our church tradition.

    John 10;27

What is the voice of Christ? Is it Church leadership, a Priest, the Magisterium, or is it the Word of God? Certainly this is the crux of the matter. The truth is, it is God's Word alone that should be the final authority in matters of faith, practice, and doctrine of the Church (not the only authority, but the final, supreme and ultimate Authority).

The Lord Jesus Christ, replete with examples, taught us this principle. As when the Pharisees argued with Jesus the points of the law of God concerning the Sabbath. Did Jesus petition tradition to speak concerning it? Did He lean to ecumenical counsels? Did He say check with the High Priest? No, He showed that we are to lean upon the written Word.

    Matthew 12:3-5

Again, when they questioned him about the law of God concerning divorce..

    Matthew 19:4-5

Or as the Sadducees questioned Him concerning doctrines of the resurrection. Did Jesus appeal to congregational heads or tradition? Not at all, He appealed to the written Word.

    Matthew 22:31-32

Or when the man came to Him and asked what they must do to inherit eternal life, did Jesus say, talk to the Church fathers, get Church absolution, or to follow the congregational traditions? No, He once again appealed to him to look to the scriptures.

    Luke 10:26

That is where Jesus 'directed' them to find the answers to these questions. In the scriptures! When the Sadducees in denying the doctrine of the resurrection and trying to trap Jesus tempted him in hopes to snare Him, Jesus could have given them a legitimate and awe inspiring "NEW" answer on the spot without an appeal to written Scripture. It is not curious that He did not, but instead (as usual), appeals to scripture. He tells them:

    Matthew 22:29

Once again, Jesus rejects ecclesiastical tradition of the Sadducees in favor of 'Sola Scriptura.' He says (as the Church says today of error), you are wrong because you don't really know 'the scriptures.' In other words, the scriptures is what they should have known, which would have guided them into the truth. But they didn't know them, and that is why they were in error. It is not in the Congregational leaders and traditions that man will find truth, it is where Jesus appeals. And that is to God's Word.

    Matthew 26:24

God, the Perfect teacher! Yet He is appealing Sola Scriptura to show them that He must do what is written. Even when the Jewish people sought to Kill Christ (-John 5:18, as they thought that they were God's Chosen People and had Eternal life), Jesus once again directed them to the real authority, wherein they would find the truth about the matter.

    John 5:39

Why would Jesus be sending them to a non-authoritative source for truth? Or why would He be sending them to a lessor authority? It is self evident of course that He wouldn't! He sent them to the ultimate authority. He directed them to scriptures for the very same reason that the Bereans (acts 17:11) appealed to scripture. Because it and not the leaders or tradition of their congregation, was the ultimate authority. He is saying search the inspired, divine, infallible Word of God for truth. The faithful of the Protestant Reformation understood this wisdom most evident throughout the teachings of Jesus.

Roman Catholic Objections

Most Roman catholics object to Sola Scriptura from two distinct positions. They argue that:

(#1) The New Testament references to oral "tradition" (II Thess. 2:15; II Tim. 2:2; II Cor. 11:2) illustrate the unbiblicalness of this teaching, and that

(#2) The Scripture nowhere teaches the doctrine.

Isn't it ironic that in both cases 'they appeal to scripture' (though unjustifiably) as the final proof or authority that their traditions are correct? When it suits their purpose, they can always appeal to scripture (as in the keys of the kingdom, Peter the Rock, translations of words describing Mary's other Children, etc.) as the final say, but when it doesn't suit their purpose, curiously, scripture isn't really the final authority on doctrine.

Nevertheless, the first argument is based upon a simplistic and naive understanding of Sola Scriptura in that it presupposes the doctrine means there was never any oral tradition or teaching done. This of course would be ludicrous, as much of the New Testament was oral tradition or teaching of God before it was written down (see the Study on 'Traditions of men vs. Traditions of God'). I have yet to find anyone except catholics themselves who believes Sola Scriptura means what they purport. So this argument is the proverbial "Straw Man" argument. Things revealed to Peter, and which he was inspired of God to say (oral tradition or ordinances) became the written 'Word of God' as they were penned, just as the Old Testament was. But the Bible is complete today. i.e., there is no New Newer Testament book of Pope John, or Pope this or that, as there is a book of Peter, or John, or jude, etc. Because the Word of God is finished, complete, and not to be added to.

In so far as the second argument is concerned, as I've been demonstrating throughout this document, scripture clearly teaches what has been labled 'Sola Scriptura,' from the beginning of it to the end. But it requires the Holy Spirit of God to discern this, just as any doctrine of scripture does. To simply say scripture doesn't teach it, despite the mountain of scriptures supporting it, is to stick ones head in the proverbial sand. With Jesus proving that what He says is true by directing us to the scriptures, it would seem that the Roman church and Pope would likewise direct all to the scriptures. Instead, they claim an infallible authority 'over' the scripture itself, alleging that only they can interpret it. What arrogance and vanity is this?

It would seem to me that given the abundance of examples and illustrations of God, the onus is on the Roman church to 'disprove' the sufficiency of scripture, rather than on the Church to prove it's insufficiency. Because both sides agree scripture 'is' the Word of God, and no other authority is above God. How then is it insufficient? But saying this, the Roman church has a mystery that is a riddle inside an enigma. How is no other authority above God's, while God's Word is subject to church teachings? It makes no sense. How is scripture not sufficient, and yet God declare that there cannot be added anything else to it?

In order to disprove sufficiency of scripture, one would need to show us exactly where oral tradition differs from Scripture. If it doesn't differ, then what is the need of oral tradition, and why does God say scripture thoroughly furnished them unto all good works? And If oral tradition is not found taught in the scriptures (because it presumably differs from), one must then prove that the 'oral revelation' which was not found in scripture, is apostolic and of divine origin. Despite claims of such proof by some, no such proof exists. Therefore, they cannot prove any oral tradition handed down through tradition of a church, is of God. While scripture proves itself, interprets itself, and defines itself, in our comparing it with itself.

The fact is, the reason that the early Churches of the second century were so diligent in collecting and preserving the New Testament writings of Paul, John, Peter, and others in the first place, was to guard against oral teachings which could not be checked for accuracy once the apostles had all died. i.e., it's God himself inspiring them to preserve His Holy Word, as He did with the Old Testament Scriptures before the first advent of Christ. Sola Scriptura does not mean the rejection of every tradition, Sola Scriptura means that any form of tradition must be tested by the higher authority, and that authority can only be God (and thus God's inspired Holy Word, the Bible).

False Dichotomy between Scripture and Traditions of God

The Roman church error in the dogma of Church traditions lies in creating a dichotomy between two things that cannot be separated, and then using that false dichotomy to deny Sola Scriptura.

    1st Corinthians 11:2

    2nd Timothy 1:13     2nd Timothy 2:1-2     2 Tim. 3:14-17

There is simply nothing in these passages to support the idea of a separate oral tradition different from what was written. In order to deny Sola Scriptura, we must make the erroneous 'assumption' that what Paul taught in the presence of many witnesses is different from what he wrote to entire Church. Is such an idea founded in reality? Of course not. It is rationalization of oral tradition, not proof of it.

    1st Thessalonians. 2:13

    2nd Thessalonians 2:15

There is nothing future about this passage at all. Does Paul say to stand firm and hold fast to traditions that 'will be' delivered? Does Paul say to hold on to interpretations and understandings that have not yet developed? No, this oral teaching which he refers to has already been delivered to the entire Church at Thessalonica. ..Now, what does oral refer to? We first note that the context of the passage is the Gospel and its work among the Thessalonians. The traditions Paul speaks of are not traditions about Mary, Purgatory, Repetitions of hail Mary, or Papal Infallibility. Instead, the traditions Paul refers to have to do with a single topic. One that is close to his heart. He is encouraging these believers to stand firm--in what? Was it in oral traditions about subjects not found in the New Testament? No, he is exhorting them to stand firm in what he has orally taught them of what is in the gospel. The Old Testament concealed is the New Testament revealed. There is simply nothing in these passages to support the theory of a separate oral tradition different from what was written or what Paul taught. It says what Paul taught whether by word, or our epistle or letter. Likewise note that in passages like 2nd Peter 3:2, Peter stresses the consistency of his teaching with that of the prophets, and of the other apostles. The unity of the Old Testament with the apostolic writings is illustrated in passages such as 1st Peter 1:10-12, and 2nd Peter 1:19-21.

One example of what is known as Sola Scriptura is made plain in the Abrahamic covenant. God again reveals Himself, apart from a divine expositor, and pledges Himself to fulfill His covenant (Gen. 15). When Abram seeks confirmation of God's Glorious Promises, the Lord confirms His divine Word by His divine Word.

    Hebrews 6:13

No Pontiff or magisterium or sacred tradition is invoked to verify God's Word. That's an important point not to be missed. The supreme authority is the Lord's 'own testimony' to His Word. No further appeal is possible. He didn't swear by the Priests, He swore by Himself. Nothing else could confirm God's own Word but God Alone. Other than Himself, His Holy Word stands alone as the supreme authority. Truly, what other authority is on a par? ..Higher? ..Better? ..from a better platform? ..more Trustworthy? ..infallible? ..the answer is None! Which is why Jesus always directed those with questions and objections to His teachings in the scriptures. Both ancient theology endorses this, as well as the New Testament Church. As in the past, God's people may discern truth by going directly to the scriptures. As God explained in the parable when confronted with the question of how they would believe.

    Luke 16:29

God could have very easily said, they have the Church, the Church leaders, the magisterium, but He appealed to the scriptures as their source for Authority they should listen to. Moses and the Prophets is a synonym for the written scriptures. Christ even tells us why people get into errors in their doctrines. It's not because they search the scriptures to understand what is written, but the exact opposite. Jesus said unto them, "ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God." -Matt. 22:29

And likewise, Christ did not direct anyone to secondary explications or extra-Biblical Hebrew traditions (though plentiful) as authoritative norms, but He directed them continually to examine the Word of God itself. He alternately declares, 'read the scriptures, it is written, search the scriptures, have ye not read, as saith the scriptures, that the scriptures might be fulfilled, as saith Isaiah, etc., etc." And in the New testament, the exhortation to the authority of scripture continues, (Rom. 15:4; Eph. 6:17; II Tim. 3:16; II Pet. 1:19; Rev. 1:3). Scripture commends those who examine the written revelation of God (as open minded, and more noble -Acts 17:11) and illustrates that Christians have the ability to rightly divide and interpret scripture apart from any (supposed) infallible interpreter whether Church or pontiff (II Tim. 2:15; Acts 17:11). Interpretation must come from the Word of God. As a little child humbly, honestly and simplistically asked:

" do we know it's REALLY God's Word, if we don't get it from God's Word?"

And all God's people said, ...A M E N !     Out of the mouth of babes!
For knowing the nature of man, that indeed is a good question. Again, note the manner in which Christ refuted error. It was, 'God said thus, but you say..' (Matt. 15:4-5; 10-11). That was the manner in which He drew a clear, concise contrast between the written Word of God and the traditions of men. Let that be a lesson unto us.

    1st Peter 2:21

We can readily understand the frustration of those who are indoctrinated and thus think Christians should listen to the Roman church instead of God, and how it's annoying to them when we won't bow to that church authority. But there is a very clear warning about making man the authority in the Church in 2nd Thessalonians 2. Man must never sit to 'rule' in the Temple of God 'as if' he was God. Only God can rule (have ultimate authority) over the Church. And God's Word is the Bible. And so really, what's to debate?

The fact is, the only way that man is going to stand with the righteous, overcoming in Christ, is if he has 'kept' the Word of God as truth, and the word of man as error. Belief in the Word of God over man's words of tradition is what separates true believers from false ones. It's what separates those who can and will be deceived, from the Elect who can never be deceived into false Gospels. We know what the truth is because we know 'where' the truth is. It's in the Word from God alone, not in the men who lead the Church. The faithful Church is the witness of God's truth. It bears testimony to God's truth, and that's what makes it the Pillar and ground of this truth. Faithfulness to truth (which is God's Word, not man's word) makes us as a tree planted by the rivers of life. God's Word is true. As it is written,

    Romans 3:3

The truth is in God's Word, not in the words of Pontiff J., or Pastor Brown, or Church tradition 88, or Tony Warren. The Truth is in God's Word. And if we don't read it in God's Word, then it's not God's Word. In determining which word has the authority, let God be true, and every man a Liar.

Let us therefore remember that scripture declares that if we build upon a foundation that is not the Word of God, and will not hear God's Word, then we build on a foundation which will crumble when the winds blow and the rains come (luke 6:47-49). God likens us then to a foolish man. The wise in Christ will build upon God's Word alone as the supreme authority. Sola Scriptura! A firm foundation on the Word of God, which will never fall.

May the Lord who is Gracious and merciful above all, give us the wisdom and understanding to come to the truth of His most Holy Word.

A m e n !


Copyright ©1998 Tony Warren
For other studies free for the Receiving, Visit our web Site
The Mountain Retreat!

Feel free to copy, duplicate, display or distribute this publication to anyone who would like a copy, as long as the above copyright notice remains intact and there are no changes made to the article. This publication can be distributed only in it's original form, unedited, and without cost.

Created 8/3/98 / Last Modified 3/23/02
The Mountain Retreat /

TOPICS: Apologetics; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; Mainline Protestant; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: haloofhatred; protestant; solascriptura
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1 posted on 08/14/2006 11:19:17 AM PDT by Gamecock
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To: P-Marlowe; xzins; blue-duncan; Corin Stormhands; drstevej; OrthodoxPresbyterian; CCWoody; ...

And a few non-members of some loosely bound federation that resembles a ping list, but isn't

2 posted on 08/14/2006 11:23:09 AM PDT by Gamecock ("Jesus came to raise the dead. He did not come to teach the teachable." Robert Farrar Capon)
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To: Gamecock

This oughtta be interesting.

3 posted on 08/14/2006 11:28:32 AM PDT by Terabitten (The only time you can have too much ammunition is when you're swimming.)
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To: Gamecock


All of the scriptural quotes were written by people within the Church. Followed by those who held to the traditions of the Church. Followed by those whom decided the books that you claim to the Bible.

These arguements remind me of liberals today that inheirited the constitution of the US and now want it on their terms...instead of calling it Sola Scriptura it is a biased interpretation.

Christ in Revelation praises two churches, one which is the Messenger of the Church of Smyrna. This is St Polycarp the Bishop of Smyrna, disciple of St John. Maybe you ought to read what the Lord praised (unless you think that the Lord did not know what St John has passed on to St Polycarp...but then we have a different problem).

St Polycarp is teaching that to "not" believe that in reality the very body and blood of the Lord is in the cup is antichrist. Even though it is a mystery to the early church...the disciples of St John understood it's significance (read St Ignatius, also a disciple of St John).

Don't see many Sola Scriptura experts claiming this fact.

Today, GOP and Dems can parse the constitution till it screams and both believe they are right (or left). The same with scripture. The problem is there is one Truth and one final arbitor...The Spirit of Truth promised to the Church and confirmed by Christ on the Island of Patmos (confirmed by giving the 2nd generation messenger an A+).

By the way, St Polycarp also speaks of other matters that Christ confirms that might be of similar interest to someone really seeking Truth (and not just trying to justify themselves with many words).

Who would you trust to interpret the constitution more, those that were there learing from the original writers or those removed by centuries. Sure, the latter may be what you want to hear, but the former is closer to the Truth.

4 posted on 08/14/2006 11:39:02 AM PDT by AMHN (Book Survey: Which is greater "Truth" or "Love"? FReepmail a reply)
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So are you saying that the canon of Scripture is still open?

5 posted on 08/14/2006 11:45:58 AM PDT by Gamecock ("Jesus came to raise the dead. He did not come to teach the teachable." Robert Farrar Capon)
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To: Gamecock; AMHN
So are you saying that the canon of Scripture is still open?

I think what he's saying is that the canon of Scripture is written in code, i.e. unintelligible in and of itself.

6 posted on 08/14/2006 11:49:02 AM PDT by Alex Murphy (Colossians 2:6)
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To: Alex Murphy
WOW! Just like some who use their secret decoder rings to find secret passages!

7 posted on 08/14/2006 11:57:11 AM PDT by Gamecock ("Jesus came to raise the dead. He did not come to teach the teachable." Robert Farrar Capon)
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Sorry, by convention I should have pinged you to the above.

8 posted on 08/14/2006 11:58:02 AM PDT by Gamecock ("Jesus came to raise the dead. He did not come to teach the teachable." Robert Farrar Capon)
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To: Gamecock
The money quote:
Is such an idea founded in reality? Of course not. It is rationalization of oral tradition, not proof of it.
As far as I'm concerned, "of course not" is not a dispositive argument. In fact, it's not an argument at all. This is not an argument, it's a statement of a position and some of its implications.

The argument in this article is circular (and verbose: the existence of a lot of verses about reading accomplishes nothing logically)and based on suppositions outside of Scripture.

I am not criticizing the proposition, just the argument.

9 posted on 08/14/2006 12:11:10 PM PDT by Mad Dawg (Reality is not optional.)
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To: Gamecock
WOW! Just like some who use their secret decoder rings to find secret passages!

Did you know that Jesus issued one of these to each of the apostles - but only Peter was issued the code key?

10 posted on 08/14/2006 12:18:57 PM PDT by Alex Murphy (Colossians 2:6)
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To: Alex Murphy

Did I mention that I am flying to Rome on the 31st?

11 posted on 08/14/2006 12:21:05 PM PDT by Gamecock ("Jesus came to raise the dead. He did not come to teach the teachable." Robert Farrar Capon)
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To: Gamecock


12 posted on 08/14/2006 12:25:14 PM PDT by LiteKeeper (Beware the secularization of America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: Gamecock; Alex Murphy; P-Marlowe; xzins; Corin Stormhands

Now I know what you guys are doing. You are posting the longest, most involved threads and pinging the no-list neeners to keep us busy and away from productive fun.

13 posted on 08/14/2006 12:46:20 PM PDT by blue-duncan
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All of the scriptural quotes were written by people within the Church. Followed by those who held to the traditions of the Church. Followed by those whom decided the books that you claim to the Bible.

Those quotes were written by Christians. The books of the New Testament were already in circulation before the end of the first century. The Holy Spirit decided canon, and the the church simply recognized what was already in place.
14 posted on 08/14/2006 12:46:23 PM PDT by GarySpFc (Jesus on Immigration, John 10:1)
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To: blue-duncan

Not exactly

15 posted on 08/14/2006 12:52:32 PM PDT by Gamecock ("Jesus came to raise the dead. He did not come to teach the teachable." Robert Farrar Capon)
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To: GarySpFc

There were dozens of supposedly "inspired" books in circulation declared non-canonical by Pope Boniface. That was the whole point of declaring a canon. In a sense, it was already "in place" (it was "in place" from before the beginning of time), but human beings did the discerning by aid of the Holy Spirit, among many more texts than appear in the Bible as we know it.

16 posted on 08/14/2006 12:52:48 PM PDT by Rutles4Ever
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To: Rutles4Ever

That is why we have two different canons for the Bible.

17 posted on 08/14/2006 1:00:19 PM PDT by GarySpFc (Jesus on Immigration, John 10:1)
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To: Gamecock

"So are you saying that the canon of Scripture is still open?"

I'm not making any claim for or against that (I've left that to the Ecumenical councils of the 1st 1000 years). What I am saying is the when modern thought conflicts with earlier traditions I must choose the earlier chosen by the entirety of the Church pre-denominational (all 5 Patriarchs [Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem], synods, and Bishops).

If Christ promised to send the Spirit of Truth to guide the Church in all Truth then I must by faith believe Christ. For a 1000 years before the great schism, and continuing since then in the Orthodox Church, an unbroken line of the fullness of the Truth has lived.

A very interesting point to consider: The 1st Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 AD was conviened to answer a simple question raised by Arius concerning the Divinity of Christ. What is interesting is how they proceeded. The 318 Bishops where not asked to interpret scripture or perform and exegesis of verses. Instead that where asked to express what had been handed down to them via their predicessors (tradition). They had to do this because the scriptures as you hold them today did not exist. What you think is scripture was part of many other books that the Church had to consider. Grant it by 325 AD the Church had a pretty good idea which were going to be included and which ones not. But it was not until many centuries later that the cannon as you see it today was accepted at an Ecumenical level.

Interesting how it lined up perfectly with scripture and was easily defended by scripture. Not because they were all Saints, but in spite of the human element, the Spirit of Truth was present.

I would add this final comment. The modern bible, although very very close is completely inaccurate over some key passages (when lined up with the original Greek). The bias that have found their way into modern scripture has significantly changed many iota's and many tittle's. Outside of Orthodoxy, I can't find a true version absent of bias. A person may say I'm bias, which may be true, but then I have to ask...but what about writings that confirm the original language from the early centuries?

Although my personal opinion, I believe that the same Ecumenical Councils would reject these modern translations as another gospel as they did other minor variations from the Truth.

Although modern translations can guide you close to Truth, humility is what is required to cross the finish line. Pride is the mother of Sola Scripture and ultimately, it will deceive.

18 posted on 08/14/2006 1:04:55 PM PDT by AMHN (Book Survey: Which is greater "Truth" or "Love"? FReepmail a reply)
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To: GarySpFc

"Those quotes were written by Christians. The books of the New Testament were already in circulation before the end of the first century. The Holy Spirit decided canon, and the the church simply recognized what was already in place."

Yes. The books of the NT were already in circulation before the end of the 1st were hundreds of other gospels and writings such as the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Thomas, etc...

Yes. The Holy Spirit did decide on Canon...through the undivided, pre-denominational Church of faithful. The same Church that has been faithful to all that the Holy Spirit did for 2000 years since Christ. It didn't just fall from the sky or appear out of thin air. God works through the faithful. The same Holy Spirit present when books were being decided did not just come and go as other issues were being decided (at the same moments and same meetings).

They recognized the Truth because they were guided by the Spirit of Truth...again not just about the canon of books.

Why were the most important issues facing the Church decided by the Church, visible, and still are today? Maybe because the Holy Spirit was present? I think so!

Look how the Apostle came together in Acts and found the it was good to both them and the Holy did "they" know that when even St Peter was wrong "alone". Because the Holy Spirit works through the Church, the body of Christ, and not the individual per se (not to be misinterpreted as the individual not having the Holy Spirit, but that the individual has a higher probability of following their own passions and not the Truth than does two or more. But even in todays world it is easy for many influenced by a lifetime of unTruth to miss the Truth of the Holy Spirit and is why we must be humble to the early Church).

19 posted on 08/14/2006 1:22:09 PM PDT by AMHN (Book Survey: Which is greater "Truth" or "Love"? FReepmail a reply)
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Yes. The books of the NT were already in circulation before the end of the 1st were hundreds of other gospels and writings such as the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Thomas, etc...

Wrong! The Gospel of Thomas Greek manuscript fragments have been dated to 200AD and the Coptic version to 340AD. The Gospel of Judas has been dated 130 to 170AD. These are much later than the original New Testament books.
20 posted on 08/14/2006 1:32:47 PM PDT by GarySpFc (Jesus on Immigration, John 10:1)
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