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.
We do NOT worship Mary....you are either IGNORANT of that fact or anti-Catholic.
Goota love those Catholic make-it-up-as-we-go-along apologetics!
I thought that Catholics prayed to Mary.
Furthermore the author obviously does NOT understand the Biblical foundations of evangelical soteriology/ecclesiology...
The large measure of good will generated durung the recent US visit by the leader of the RCC is easily dispersed by shallow articles such as these...
Again, just my humble...
Pass the popcorn!
And to our polytheistic Church of Rome friend; the Bible makes it's own claim to inerrency many many times, and I didn't need some pope or a handy collection of saints, (a saint for every ailment), to hand hold me or tell me what to believe. Your dogma is so transparent. And your doctrine of Maryology and praying to this host of saints is implicitly breaking the first two commandments, which makes the teaching of your popes antithetical to Christ's. Therefore by definition they are false prophets and are apostate, no matter how well intentioned they are or how much charisma they have personally.
Okay, I’m IGNORANT. What do you do to Mary and the other Saints? Why do you have to confess to a leader in your church and not directly to God?
Of course, one could ask the Catholic the same question, and receive the same answer. :-)
16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.
21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,
25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
One hopes a person who claims to believe in the Bible at least read what it says! :-)
Point taken - I shouldn’t mince words. :-P But, the original question I was responding to - if that isn’t succession, WHAT is it?
How do you know which books belong to this thing you call "the Bible"?
Show me a tradition that adds to Scripture without contradicting it.
No my saivation is found in Jesus Christ alone and I need pray for forgiveness through no human nor ask any human for "absolution," bow to no Pope nor light candles to no dead humans referred to as "saints" by the church at Rome.
All believers, are Christians and are referred to as "saints" by divine inspiration and need no confirmation from anyone other than our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
All such idol worship and human worship is strictly forbidden and referred to as an aboomination by God.
He alone is my Holy Father.
So does is say that in the bible or is that simply an opinion? Are we better off now that the reformation occurred? Did we solve the corruption of indulgences or are we still building worship palaces on the credit card donations sent to televangelists?
Are Joel Osteen, Jimmy Swaggart, John Shelby Spong, Benny Hinn, Katherine Jefferts Schori, and many others an improvement over some of the Roman Catholic clergy and hierarchy of the 15th century? Is the protestant church (or are the protestant churches) less of a mess than the Catholic church was?
Are more or fewer people in the west (on a percentage basis) among the faithful? Do more or fewer literate people read the bible? Is the Christian faith a greater or a lesser influence on our culture?
Also, after 500 years, why do protestants still define themselves in terms of the Catholic church (or is there something else that they are protesting)?
Personally, I think evangelicals of the Arminian/Weslyan tradition (in which Tradition is respected, though not equal to Scripture) are mostly right, though they generally don't know why they are right. That makes them inept at defending their positions. How Republican of them.
Catholic of the Latin Rite (aka Roman Catholic), I agree. As does the Pope.
These “tele-evangelist’s” that you speak of are only a blimp on the radar. They will one day answer to God for their deception! There are thousands of God-fearing protestant pastors in churches across this land who make huge sacrifices to do what they do. There are also thousands of others throughout the world. There are missionaries who put their lives on the line daily and some who die for their faith. Millions will spend eternity in heaven because of the protestant reformation. On the other hand, millions of Catholics who thought they were saved by the church instead of faith in Christ will split hell wide-open. Their blood will also be on the hands of popes, bishops, and priest who led the masses astray.
There will be a Day of Reckoning!
“Are more or fewer people in the west (on a percentage basis) among the faithful? Do more or fewer literate people read the bible? Is the Christian faith a greater or a lesser influence on our culture?”
I guess it depends on whether “faithful” means going through the motions of saying/listening to some stuff in a foreign language and eating a wafer(and having no clue what they mean), or actually receiving Christ. Wars have been fought over that over issue, so don’t presume to gloss over it on a message board. You give a list of questionable teachers from modern Protestantism, ignoring the recent and past dirty laundry of Roman Catholocism.
I don’t know your level of Latin scholarship, but I took five years, and I literally thank God for the King James Version.
Most Protestants don’t define themselves in terms of the Catholic church. Most don’t even think about it, which is a shame.
You might know less about Protestant theology than many Southern Baptists know about the Catholic church. It’s hard to tell.
The lady we call St. Catherine of Siena argued with the Pope and won.
The Pope is not the sole authority and people argue with him to this day. (There's a difference between "sole" and "final".) As happens, when the argument lasts long enough, when the Pope decides that he has won or lost, if other reasons justify it, he will "define" the conclusion. THEN it's "final". Up until then, it's "in play".
I am not trying to persuade you of any doctrine here. I am trying to help you confine your arguments to what the Church actually teaches rather than something she doesn't teach.
I always thought it sounded like James was the head of the church.
Thank you for explaining that. The Pope’s authority on matters of doctrine is one of the most misunderstood teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. It is often wrongly stated around here. I still disagree with it, but it is good to get the actual separated from the imagined.
I think that you misunderstood the post. I did not mention Billy Graham, Dietrich Bonhoffer, JC Ryle or Barth, just as I did not mention Mother Theresa, Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI. The point that I raised is not whether protestants are bad, but whether the reformation solved anything or simply divided the faithful.
Also, you insinuate that faithful Catholics had "no clue". Certainly there are and were clueless Catholics just as their are clueless Baptists, Methodists, Evangelicals and Presbyterians. However you may want to do a little homework on medieval theology prior to buying into the "dark ages" formulation. For a good overview, I would suggest that you read Dawson's "The Making of Europe".
Most Protestants dont define themselves in terms of the Catholic church. Most dont even think about it, which is a shame. You might know less about Protestant theology than many Southern Baptists know about the Catholic church. Its hard to tell.
I am no expert on every variant of protestantism, but I do live in the South, and have attended a good variety of protestant services and open dish dinners, and am reasonably well read. I am simply referring to the term "protestant" which literally means protesting. If one protests, there is usually an object of the protest. If the term refers to a protest over something other than Catholicism, let me know.
When I read about the “makeup” of the New Testament Church, I find that it bears *absolutely no resemblance whatsoever* to the Roman Catholic Church, with all it pomp, pageantry & *incredible riches!* (eg: 20 RCC Vatican museums are loaded with priceless art, the value of which is unable to be estimated - not to mention the real property worldwide.) The net worth of the Catholic Church is absolutely staggering. Christ warned against the accumulation of riches in this life.
Christ rode into Jerusalem on a lowly donkey and receives his “crown of thorns,” yet the pope of Rome gets carted around on a throne by his servants, with his triple tiara upon his head.
Is there something wrong with this picture?
Just to be fair, almost every piece of art "owned" by the Catholic Church (at least, in the Vatican Museums) actually belongs to the Italian Republic - the Vatican holds it all in trust in perpetuity. And so many of the masterpieces of the world today, not to mention the Scriptures themselves, would not exist except for the care of the Church over the centuries.
And in regards to the real estate - what, the parish churches, the schools, etc? Are you telling me the Church should not have Churches or Schools?
Why do you believe that the televangelists and other "bad" protestants are "a blip" and that on the other hand "millions of Catholics" were victims? Can you cite your statistics? Have you compared actual numbers or are you simply excusing one group and exaggerating the impact of another?
I don’t think I misunderstood your post at all, unless there is some yet to be disclosed tradition that will further illuminate it for me. I did not insinuate that “faithful” Catholics had “no clue.” I question the meaning of “faithful,” in the Dark Ages, and beyond. I don’t think getting dunked or answering an alter call is any different.
I suppose I could answer in kind, and claim that you insinuate that Prostetant theology consists of only open dish dinners (not that you would insinuate such a thing). In fact, I won’t even condescend to assign you a bit of homework.
“well, I take that back. It actually takes a herculean torture of logic to remove the Church from the Faith.”
Really, point out in scripture one reference to either tradition or the “Church” able to make one wise unto salvation.
2Ti 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are well, I take that back. It actually takes a herculean torture of logic to remove the Church from the Faith.through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.