SOLA scriptura

 


  1. Bullet The Bible does not teach Sola Scriptura (Solely by Scripture).


  1. Bullet The Catholic church teaches Scripture and Tradition are not mutually exclusive.


  1. Bullet Divine revelation is contained in both scripture and tradition.


  1. Bullet The Catholic church teaches that Tradition was passed down orally through her teachings.


Objection #1.  I will not believe anything unless it comes from the Bible.


This is a typical Protestant line particularly in evangelical circles, however it falls far short of what the Bible actually teaches. I must be explained here what Sola Scriptura means. The very word means “Solely from Scripture” implying therefore a rejection of all things that Catholic Tradition teaches us for 2000 years. The origins of the teachings of Sola Scriptura begin with Martin Luther and the reformation. An examination of 2 Thess. 2:15 reads


2:14. Therefore, brethren, stand fast: and hold the traditions, which you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle.


Here the Bible is telling us to hold on to traditions by word of mouth or in writing. Hence there are two sources from which we get our teachings not one source. In 1 Cor. 11:2 we are told  “Now I praise you, brethren, that in all things you are mindful of me and keep my ordinances as I have delivered them to you.”  Again Paul is telling us to hold on to the traditions that he has passed down to them. In John 21:25 the apostle John writes “But there are also many other things which Jesus did which, if they were written every one, the world itself. I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written.


Clearly John is telling us here that there are is much more that Jesus said and did than is recorded in the Bible so the Bible cannot contain it all as to require everything from it. Other scripture verses used to refute Sola Scriptura are 2 Thess. 3:6, 2 Tim. 1:13.


Objection #2  - 2 Tim. 3:16-17 reads “And because from thy infancy thou hast known the holy scriptures which can instruct thee to salvation by the faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice”. Isn’t it obvious that this confirms a belief that everything must come from the Bible?


No it doesn’t for the simple fact that when Paul wrote these words in his letter to Timothy, parts of the New Testament were not written as yet. Scripture here referred to the Old Testament. The completion of the New Testament would not occur until St. Jerome formalized the Canon of scripture in 387AD. Therefore that begs the question to the Protestant which books of the Bible would qualify as scripture. Certainly from the third century onwards a number of “Gospels” claiming to have been written by Jesus disciples and others appeared on the scene so which ones qualify as scripture?


To take this point even further it is a rather understated fact that the Bible does not tell us what should be in the Bible.  Surely if everything is to be found in the Bible then it should say this but Gospels such as the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Barnabus, the Gospel of Peter etc are not listed in the Bible. That is, its Table of Contents should say what should be in the Bible.


A second theme is the Doctrine of the Trinity. The word Trinity is not mentioned in the Bible yet virtually all Christians believe in the Trinity.  In 2 Tim. 3:8 a few verses back the apostle Paul mentions the names Jannes and Mambres who were magicians of Pharao and resisted Moses in the Exodus account, yet these magician names are never mentioned in the Old testament.  Why is that? This shows that knowledge of their place in history was passed down through oral tradition and not through scripture.


Finally there are two interesting points to note. The first is that in 2 Tim. 3:16-17 the apostle Paul does not even mention the word “alone” or “solely” to signify scriptures as the sole conveyor of God’s word. The absence of the word “alone” and the timeline of the writings of the Gospels is proof that the Bible alone was never intended to be God’s only means of communication with mankind.  Secondly, St. Paul received the following words of Christ orally, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) which is in the Bible but not in the Gospels.  This could only have been possible if Paul received Jesus words orally.


Objection #3 - Sola Scriptura is still a practical method of evangelizing. The Bible is still all I need.


The problem with this way of thinking is that while all scriptures are good for teaching and instructing and a good means to bring people to the Lord in reality the results say otherwise in terms of beliefs.  Note before the reformation virtually no Christians believed in Sola Scriptura until Martin Luther and the reformation. To illustrate this point to date there are some 30,000+ Protestant denominations who though they revere Jesus at their center, believe and instruct their flock in different teachings. Some believe in infant baptism, some in adult baptism, some in 2 Sacraments, some in none etc. In other words ones beliefs are all over the map in the Protestant world.  How can this be?  Well the answer lies in essentially Sola Scripture is a private interpretation of the scriptures.  So for example one may read the book of Revelations and arrive at a totally different conclusion from ones neighbor or brother and so it is. Hence for as many people as there are reading the Bible there are as many interpretations. This has lead to the proliferation of the false “Left Behind Series” and incorrect theories such as “Amillenarianism”, and “Pre-millenarianism” to name a few.


Even the father of Sola Scriptura (Martin Luther) expressed this point so eloquently some time after the reformation got underway:


“There are almost as many sects and beliefs as there are heads; this one will not admit Baptism; that one rejects the Sacrament of the altar; another places another world between the present one and the day of judgment; some teach that Jesus Christ is not God. There is not an individual, however clownish he may be, who does not claim to be inspired by the Holy Ghost, and who does not put forth as prophecies his ravings and dreams.”-Martin Luther.


Objection #4 - The Bible tells me that it is the source and pillar of my truth therefore Sola Scriptura must be right.


Nowhere in the Bible does it say that.  Actually in 1 Tim. 3:14-15 we read,


[14] These things I write to thee, hoping that I shall come to thee shortly.

[15] But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.


Here Paul is telling Timothy that he is hoping to come to him shortly but more importantly Paul is telling Timothy that the church is the pillar and ground of truth.  Not the Bible! If one tells himself that it is the Bible, then Paul is saying that it the church. Beside Paul could not have known which books would have constituted the Bible as only God knows that since it was inspired by him.


Objection #5 Surely there must be some record of a belief in Sola Scriptura from the writings of the Early Church Fathers?


Actually there is none but rather the opposite. That is in a belief in divine revelation through the scriptures and tradition.


Irenaeus

"As I said before, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although she is disseminated throughout the whole world, yet guarded it, as if she occupied but one house. She likewise believes these things just as if she had but one soul and one and the same heart; and harmoniously she proclaims them and teaches them and hands them down, as if she possessed but one mouth. For, while the languages of the world are diverse, nevertheless, the authority of the tradition is one and the same" (Against Heresies 1:10:2 [A.D. 189]).


"Papias [A.D. 120], who is now mentioned by us, affirms that he received the sayings of the apostles from those who accompanied them, and he, moreover, asserts that he heard in person Aristion and the presbyter John. Accordingly, he mentions them frequently by name, and in his writings gives their traditions [concerning Jesus]. . . . [There are] other passages of his in which he relates some miraculous deeds, stating that he acquired the knowledge of them from tradition" (fragment in Eusebius, Church History 3:39 [A.D. 312]).


Eusebius of Caesarea Church History 3:39 (AD312)

But Papias himself in the preface to his discourses by no means declares that he was himself a hearer and eye-witness of the holy apostles, but he shows by the words which he uses that he received the doctrines of the faith from those who were their friends. He says: "But I shall not hesitate also to put down for you along with my interpretahis episcopate, was succeeded by Telesphorus, the seventh in succession from the apostles. In the meantime, after the lapse of a year and some months, Eumenes, the sixth in order, succeeded to the leadership of the Alexandrian church, his predecessor having held office eleven years.


Clement of Alexandria

"Well, they preserving the tradition of the blessed doctrine derived directly from the holy apostles, Peter, James, John, and Paul, the sons receiving it from the father (but few were like the fathers), came by God’s will to us also to deposit those ancestral and apostolic seeds. And well I know that they will exult; I do not mean delighted with this tribute, but solely on account of the preservation of the truth, according as they delivered it. For such a sketch as this, will, I think, be agreeable to a soul desirous of preserving from loss the blessed tradition" (Miscellanies 1:1 [A.D. 208]).


Origen

"Although there are many who believe that they themselves hold to the teachings of Christ, there are yet some among them who think differently from their predecessors. The teaching of the Church has indeed been handed down through an order of succession from the apostles and remains in the churches even to the present time. That alone is to be believed as the truth which is in no way at variance with ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition" (The Fundamental Doctrines 1:2 [A.D. 225]).


Other church father writings include Cyprian of Carthage in Letters 75:3 [A.D. 253], Athanasius-On Baptism, Against the Donatists 5:23[31] [A.D. 400] and numerous other fathers.


Objection # 6.  In Matthew 15:3 and Mark 7:9 tradition is condemned therefore Sola Scriptura is valid after all (I think).


Let us consider the passages in question.


15:3. But he answering, said to them: Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for your tradition? For God said:


7:9. And he said to them: Well do you make void the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition.


It is true that tradition is condemned but lets look at which tradition is condemned. In Matthew 15 Jesus is referring to tradition that the scribes made up to circumvent the commandments of God which is justifiability correct since they were violating God’s commandments. In Mark’s Gospel the same thing happens but the Gospel records it as the pharisees and scribes who made up their tradition again to bypass God’s clear laws. It makes sense for mens tradition to be condemned by our Lord if we change them, but that by no means that all tradition is to be condemned as 2 Thess. 2:15 and 1 Cor. 11:2 tells us. In other words it cannot be said that one size fits all when the scriptures say otherwise.


Questions:


Jesus said in the Gospel of  “In my Fathers house are many mansions:.. and I go to prepare a place for you”.  What did Jesus mean by that?


Is there any connection between the 30,000+ Protestant denominations and Sola Scriptura?


Please prove to yourself that there exists documented history that Christians for 1500 years always believed in Sola Scriptura?