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-breathed – pasa 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.