Monday, August 9, 2010

Sola Scriptura Debate - Opening Essay by Gerry

Sola Scriptura Debate - Affirmative Opening Essay by Gerry

As an Evangelical Christian, I firmly believe that the Bible alone is sufficient to function as the infallible rule of faith and morals. I believe that God’s inspired word is found in no where else but in the Scriptures. This is what we call, Sola Scriptura. Although man may embrace traditions and interpretations, those things are subject to the scrutiny of the Scriptures. For the next series of blog entries, I will prove my stand using the Bible itself.
My opponent Catholic Nick, who is obviously a Roman Catholic, will take the negative stand. As much as I don’t want to tell him how he should argue, but the only way for him to defeat Sola Scriptura is that he should show another source of rule of faith. Let’s take Niagara Falls as an illustration. If I say this is the only source of water then no matter where I go I will not find water anywhere except in Niagara Falls. For Catholic Nick to refute me all he has to do is to point me to another body of water; that is, here is the Red Sea, another source of water, and he has won the debate. I believe that’s the only way since the debate is about Scripture alone – Catholic Nick must prove that the rule of faith and morals is not limited to Scriptures alone.

Before I give the biblical support for Sola Scriptura, I would like to first give some clarifications on this doctrine to avoid misrepresentations:

First, Sola Scriptura does not mean the Bible contains all knowledge. The Bible only teaches what man needs to learn from God most especially on matters of salvation. We don’t need to know what Jesus’ favorite food. We don’t need to know how hot hell is. But we do need to know how can we be saved from sin to avoid going to hell and the Bible is enough to point the way.

Second, Sola Scriptura does not mean rejection of any other good and honorable teachings. However, these other teachings are subject to the scrutiny of the Scriptures alone. Rather, they are subservient to Scriptures.

Third, Sola Scriptura is not a denial of the teaching authority of the church. There is a difference between the source of the water and the means through which the water will flow. God’s word in the Bible can be taught through the church. But do notice that when the church teaches, she makes use of the Scriptures.

Lastly, Sola Scriptura does not deny that the word of God was once spoken even prior to its writing. God did not simply drop a complete book but spoke through his anointed ones to write down His very words.

Now, for the biblical basis of Sola Scriptura:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2nd Timothy 3:16 and 17

The third chapter of 2nd Timothy started off with Paul warning Timothy how ungodly the world will become. Many people will love doing evil but Paul charged Timothy to stay away from evil doers. How will Timothy do the opposite of evil doers? Paul told him to continue in the godly teachings. Paul made special mention about the Holy Scriptures in the last two verses which we will analyze:

All Scriptures are God-breathedpasa graphe theopneustos – It is not referring to the Old Testament alone. Paul here is stating the nature of Scriptures, that is God-breathed, and they are not limited to the Old Testament. By theopneustos, it assures us that the very words came from God. When the word comes from God it is obviously authoritative.

And is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness – These words speak for themselves. We can use the Scriptures to teach, rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness because they came from God. This completes the thought that the Scriptures are authoritative.

Since we have already established the nature of the Scripture and how it is useful for teaching, verse 17 relays the result: so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. The words used were thoroughly equipped, not partially equipped. It also made mention every good work, not some good work.

Paul has not pointed any other source that is God-breathed, that is profitable for teaching, and that will make a man thoroughly equipped to do all good works. If Paul would have known any other source then Paul should have directed Timothy to those other sources because it is important to salvation and Christian living. What does that tell us? Scriptures is the only source of infallible rule of faith and morals.

Another support for Sola Scriptura is found in Matthew 15:1-9:

Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!" Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death. 'But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,' he is not to 'honor his father' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.' "

We find our Lord Jesus Christ rebuking the Pharisees and teachers of the Law under the light of Scriptures. He upheld the authority of the Scriptures as the word of God and subjected to it the tradition observed by the Pharisees. Some people may say Christ is only refuting manmade tradition. But what these people don’t realize is that the Pharisees considered the Corban rule as authoritative and Christ did not refer to any source other than the Scriptures to rebuke the Pharisees. Where else did Christ hold these Pharisees accountable other than from Scripture? This tells us that whatever teaching we adapt, they should be subjected to Scripture alone.

Therefore, with the verses which we read from Scriptures, clearly God’s authority has been written down in Scriptures alone which makes a man complete to do all His good works. Again, for Sola Scriptura to be refuted, my opponent must point to me another source of infallible rule of faith and morals.


Jae said...

Yes, I agree with "Scripture is infallible" however your interpretation of what the bible supposed to teach is NOT!

Any book written including the Bible can not make a decision and pass judgment of who's got it right or wrong.

And since no interpretation is higher than anybody, a relativist mentality resulted in the protestant world.

Is there any way to ever resolve the hermeneutical chaos and anarchy that exists within the Protestant church largely as a result of its adoption of radical individualism?

costrowski said...

The opening essay by Gerry brings to mind the question whether the prophetic sayings of Elijah were to be held by those who heard him and their descendants as God breathed? I guess not since these prophecies were not written down. The way Gerry uses Jesus' words in Matthew negate the propecies of Elijah, and thus the words of God Himself. This is how we know that Gerry's interpretation of that passage is wrong.

Chuck-n-Geneva said...

Jae said...

Gerry said, "God’s word in the Bible can be taught through the church. But do notice that when the church teaches, she makes use of the Scriptures."

Wow, whose church was he refering to? teaching from Scriptures?

Well, we could say that to others if not most protestant churches who have the same Bible as Gerry has and of course with the guidance of the same Holy Spirit who teaches that gay-marriage, artificial contraception, some forms of abortion etc. are morally and Biblically attuned. (viz. Evangelical Lutheran church,Anglicans, Church of Christ, Unitarians, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and a lot more independent evangelical churches).

This is the problem with so called, "Sola Scriptura" and the END RESULT! Since evrybody is pope - chaos to which by the way is unheard of for 1,500 years of christianity until Luther came 500 years ago and what he said was very prophetic:


“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.”


Tracy said...

If we all can agree to trust the Lord Jesus Christ, we will find the answer to the most heated of debates.

Please search the gospels and advise us where Jesus said that someone, something, an entity, a body, etc. is required to explain/interpret the Scriptures.

If Jesus was not tasked with this teaching, it would seem bizarre; however, if that were the case, what Epistle or Book should I turn to where God will explain, through the writers, that though I am created in the image of God and sealed with the Holy Spirit yet I cannot do the following:

1.) Read the whole council of Scripture to interpret what God is teaching on the topic contextually?

2.) Pray to God for illumination

3.) Do what the Bible says and look for (see) the fruit/evidence

4.) Read other authors and commentators on the matter and allow the Holy Spirit to guide me.

5.) Know, as a foundational rule, that God never contradicts Himself. If I think I see something contradictory, I need to deepen my level of study, including using Biblical Dictionaries, Lexicons, learning the native languages; and fasting to cleanse my spiritual pallet.

No where does God say "There will be an entity that will need to interpret Scripture for you. Listen to what they say. You were made in my image but I didn't choose you to be able understand and commune with me in it. Even though I tell you that the Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit, that's only for those qualified to use it."

That's not the kind of God I serve, I can tell you that with every fiber of my being.

Jae said...

The enumeration has been used by the Mormons, Jehovah's, Seventh Day, Unitarians or any individual however clownish he may be..(barrowing from Luther, inspired by the same Holy Spirit too).

Their is an entity that Paul said in the Bible as the dependable source of truth in Christ's absence to speak for Him:

1 Timothy 3:15

"...God's household, which is the Church of the living God, the PILLAR and FOUNDATION of the TRUTH."

When you say the words "PILLAR and FOUNDATION of TRUTH" it is what it is - not one's meaning of the "church" as a collection of differing churches who proclaims different truths according to their understanding of the Scripture.

How could the Bible call the FOUNDATION OF TRUTH is the CHURCH, if the truth is just subjective to men or majority votes? (viz. gay-marriage, artificial contraception etc which by the way prior to 1930's ALLLL Christian Churches agreed that it was against the Will of God, what happened to the "truth" since then?)

Jesus Christ only instituted and built ONE Church which is guided by His Holy Spirit and can not be overcome by the gates of Hell when He said:

JN 16:13

"Yet when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into ALL truth. He will not speak on his own accord, but will speak whatever He hears and will declare to you the things that are to COME". (JN 16:13)

Jesus said ALL, not one, two or three ....but ALL Truth (ALL means- wholeness, every one, fullness) from the DAY ONE until He comes back again. (NO GAP in history!. He will hold accountable those who lead their flocks over the edge.

I really don't think Christ just left us with copies of the Bible (400 years later) and figured out for ourselves.


Hapax Paradidomi said...

Therefore, with the verses which we read from Scriptures, clearly God’s authority has been written down in Scriptures alone which makes a man complete to do all His good works. Again, for Sola Scriptura to be refuted, my opponent must point to me another source of infallible rule of faith and morals.


This is a typical tactic I see coming from protestants from James White down to Gerry.

They assert a positive, i.e., "the Bible alone is sufficient to function as the infallible rule of faith and morals"

then essentially accuse catholics of trying to get them to prove a negative i.e., there are no other pens like the unique one the protestant holds in his hands.

But this burden is completely on the shoulders of the protestant since he is the one who is making both the positive and negative assertion for his position. A) Scripture is the sole infallible rule of faith and morals and B) There are no other infallible rules of faith and morals.

If the protestant cannot prove A, then he cannot likewise prove B. It is one thing to say, 'There are not other infallible rules' and another thing to say 'I don't know of any other infallible rules'. If the protestant would have only asserted the latter, then the burden would be completely on the catholic. But since the protestant asserts the former, the burden is completely on him. Protestants who assert the former should just stop whining, and put their money where their mouth is, none the less.

Nick said...

I've been down that road numerous times. They just can't see it. They are not trained in basic Logic so they cannot recognize a textbook Fallacy when they see/commit one.

I try to get them to see it by using an analogy with the book of Matthew. If all I have is Matthew, and I know it's inspired, that does not mean that there are no other inspired books out there. I cannot just assume Matthew is (a) sufficient, and (b) the only inspired book and wait for someone else to come prove there are other books out there. And yet that's what Protestants do, they assume a specific 66 books are all that's inspired and that they are sufficient just because nobody else can produce any other books.

Paul Smith said...

To be honest, I never would have thought that the Christian doctrine is not a denial of the teaching authority of the church. Gerry's interpretation of what bible is supposed to teach is very interesting... Well, thanks for sharing anyway! Best regards, the high school and university video poetry scholarships