Skip to comments.Protestants and Sola Scriptura
Posted on 05/03/2008 4:38:34 PM PDT by NYer
Scripture, our Evangelical friends tell us, is the inerrant Word of God. Quite right, the Catholic replies; but how do you know this to be true?
It's not an easy question for Protestants, because, having jettisoned Tradition and the Church, they have no objective authority for the claims they make for Scripture. There is no list of canonical books anywhere in the Bible, nor does any book (with the exception of St. John's Apocalypse) claim to be inspired. So, how does a "Bible Christian" know the Bible is the Word of God?
If he wants to avoid a train of thought that will lead him into the Catholic Church, he has just one way of responding: With circular arguments pointing to himself (or Luther or the Jimmy Swaggart Ministries or some other party not mentioned in the Bible) as an infallible authority telling him that it is so. Such arguments would have perplexed a first or second century Christian, most of whom never saw a Bible.
Christ founded a teaching Church. So far as we know, he himself never wrote a word (except on sand). Nor did he commission the Apostles to write anything. In due course, some Apostles (and non-Apostles) composed the twenty-seven books which comprise the New Testament. Most of these documents are ad hoc; they are addressed to specific problems that arose in the early Church, and none claim to present the whole of Christian revelation. It's doubtful that St. Paul even suspected that his short letter to Philemon begging pardon for a renegade slave would some day be read as Holy Scripture.
Who, then, decided that it was Scripture? The Catholic Church. And it took several centuries to do so. It was not until the Council of Carthage (397) and a subsequent decree by Pope Innocent I that Christendom had a fixed New Testament canon. Prior to that date, scores of spurious gospels and "apostolic" writings were floating around the Mediterranean basin: the Gospel of Thomas, the "Shepherd" of Hermas, St. Paul's Letter to the Laodiceans, and so forth. Moreover, some texts later judged to be inspired, such as the Letter to the Hebrews, were controverted. It was the Magisterium, guided by the Holy Spirit, which separated the wheat from the chaff.
But, according to Protestants, the Catholic Church was corrupt and idolatrous by the fourth century and so had lost whatever authority it originally had. On what basis, then, do they accept the canon of the New Testament? Luther and Calvin were both fuzzy on the subject. Luther dropped seven books from the Old Testament, the so-called Apocrypha in the Protestant Bible; his pretext for doing so was that orthodox Jews had done it at the synod of Jamnia around 100 A. D.; but that synod was explicitly anti-Christian, and so its decisions about Scripture make an odd benchmark for Christians.
Luther's real motive was to get rid of Second Maccabees, which teaches the doctrine of Purgatory. He also wanted to drop the Letter of James, which he called "an epistle of straw," because it flatly contradicts the idea of salvation by "faith alone" apart from good works. He was restrained by more cautious Reformers. Instead, he mistranslated numerous New Testament passages, most notoriously Romans 3:28, to buttress his polemical position.
The Protestant teaching that the Bible is the sole spiritual authority--sola scriptura --is nowhere to be found in the Bible. St. Paul wrote to Timothy that Scripture is "useful" (which is an understatemtn), but neither he nor anyone else in the early Church taught sola scriptura. And, in fact, nobody believed it until the Reformation. Newman called the idea that God would let fifteen hundred years pass before revealing that the bible was the sole teaching authority for Christians an "intolerable paradox."
Newman also wrote: "It is antecedently unreasonable to Bsuppose that a book so complex, so unsystematic, in parts so obscure, the outcome of so many minds, times, and places, should be given us from above without the safeguard of some authority; as if it could possibly, from the nature of the case, interpret itself...." And, indeed, once they had set aside the teaching authority of the Church, the Reformers began to argue about key Scriptural passages. Luther and Zwingli, for example, disagreed vehemently about what Christ meant by the words, "This is my Body."
St. Augustine, usually Luther's guide and mentor, ought to have the last word about sola scriptura: "But for the authority of the Church, I would not believe the Gospel."
Saturday night ‘food for thought’ ping!
This what the second or third such epistle in the last couple of days?
Say what you want. No where in the Bible, whatever version you have, does it say obey the Pope. No, my salvation rests solely on Jesus Christ no matter what any human may say.
by what right "ought" Augustine have the last word? Now, no "circular arguments pointing to himself (NYer or some other party not mentioned in the Bible) as an infallible authority telling him that it is so."
or worship Mary for that matter?
I agree with you. All the proof I need is that in his epistles, Paul claims to have argued with Peter and seemed proud that he apparently won; clearly Peter in those early days wasn’t the sole authority. And I always think that they saw things a lot more clearly in the early days than we do now from a “distance” of 2000 years.
“my salvation rests solely on Jesus Christ no matter what any human may say.”
I thought that the other thread today http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2010419/posts was much more interesting because of the way the reformation protestant author painted himself into a corner by emphasizing the sola scriptura tradition of the reformation.
Also note that John 16:12-15 tells us that Jesus' Holy Spirit opens our minds to scriptural truths today, just as Jesus had done with his disciples.
The bottom line is that Protestants, Catholics and anybody else can memorize the Holy Bible. But if you resist the power of Jesus' Holy Spirit to open your mind to who Jesus is and to understand scriptural truths, then you are no better off than 1 Corinthians 1:18-19.
"And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew xvi, 19).
"The prime minister or chief steward of the house of David had successors. He is described as being "over the household" and "in charge of the palace" (Isa 22:15; 36:3; 1 Kings 4:6; 18:3; 2 Kings 10:5; 15:5; 18:18); as for his authority "what he shall open, no one shall shut...and what he shall shut, no one shall open" (Isa 22:22; Matt 16:19; Rev 3:7). The prime minister had an incredible amount of authority, what can only be called a supreme or plenary authority beside that of the King. This is the language of the "keys," "binding," and "loosing" that Jesus was using in Matthew 16:19. Peter was given the "keys" just as the prime minister had the "key to the house of David" (Isa 22:22). And this is important in seeing the parallel to Matthew 16:19 -- the prime minister was an office of dynastic succession (Isa 22:19,22). In other words, when the prime minister or chief steward died, another one would be selected to fill the office and take his place. Jesus recognizes the office of prime minister or chief steward ("manager" NIV) in his parables, as one who has been placed in charge and set over the household (Matt 24:45ff; 20:8; Luke 12:42; 16:1ff; cf. Gen 41:40ff; 43:19; 44:4; 45:8ff).
Peter was appointed the "chief steward" of Christ's kingdom by Christ himself. Christ was the kingly successor of David.
I think someone said it doesn’t mention the Trinity either. Forget how others worship. God loves them all.
That's false. The apostles said to stick to what they said and wrote. Since we can not hear them speak anymore, we have to stick with what they wrote. QED
I know the Catholic Church tries to say that we need to listen to their words, but I follow an apostolic church not the Catholic Church.
No where in the Bible does the idea of apostolic succession appear. The apostles said there weren't any secret teachings and they specifically said to teach what they taught in public.
The Bible says that we will not be orphans because of the Holy Spirit. Easy to understand. Listen to the apostles and we're not alone because of the Holy Spirit.
Besides, the Catholic Church's authority does not go back to Peter, but back to Clement, the fourth Pope. He wrote a letter and no one complained. Later Popes used Clement as case law. That's when this whole mess started. Interestingly enough, Clement's letter talks about salvation through faith alone. Even more interesting, Clement's letter talks about the phoenix as if it were real.
Just curious...why did they appoint someone to fill the place of Judas? Why is Paul's name Saul until he recieves the laying on of hands?
Cain and Abel foreshadow all religious conflict. Cain killed Abel. The Papacy, like the Pharisees before them (who killed the prophets), Matt. 23, killed those who chose the scriptures over the Pope. The Papacy persecuted and killed thousands upon thousands.
The Pharisees were the Cain of the OT, the Papacy the Cain of Church history. It doesn’t take a masters degree to figure out who best represents Cain.
FYI, "QED" is not the abbreviation for "begging the question."
logic is not the strong suit of the evengelical. well, I take that back. It actually takes a herculean torture of logic to remove the Church from the Faith.