Friday, August 27, 2010

Sola Scriptura Debate - Rebuttal Essay by Gerry

I would like to thank Nick once again for posting his opening statement. The entirety of Nick's argument is found here.

His opening however is quite unusual since it contains rebuttals to Evangelical evidences which should be done in his rebuttals and not on the opening statements. Furthermore, it presented Evangelical evidences which I didn’t present in my opening as evidences and now I am supposed to defend what I didn’t present. I will reiterate this later.
I will only tackle the things Nick said which I find objectionable:

(b) The burden of proof is upon my opponent. Since he has chosen to take the affirmative side to this resolution, any argument assuming Sola Scriptura is true until proven false is begging the question and invalid. Further, this also means that Sola Scriptura doesn’t automatically become true just because a given Catholic doctrine is unproven or even false.

Of course we will not utilize the fallacy of ignorance on this debate as it is unfair to anyone. However, my requirement to refute Scripture alone by presenting another rule of faith is valid and logical. Roman Catholics have attempted without success to refute Sola Fide or Faith Alone by proving that works is also necessary in salvation. So common sense will tell us that to dispute what is “alone” another related item must be presented. And this is what I will hold my opponent for the duration of this debate.

On Nick’s exegesis of 2nd Timothy 3:16 concerning “All Scriptures:

Based on the Greek grammar of the text, with the word “pasa” generally meaning “every” and “graphe” in the singular meaning “[individual book or verse of] Scripture,” the text most accurately reads “every individual book or verse of Scripture.” It could possibly mean “all Scripture [as a whole],” but that is only a maybe, based on an exception to the general rule. If one doesn’t see the implications of this grammar, the following substitution and analogy should better highlight the problem:
“Every individual book or verse of Scripture is sufficient” is akin to saying “Every individual letter of the alphabet is sufficient for writing any word.”
“All Scripture as a whole is sufficient” is akin to saying “All letters of the alphabet, taken together, are sufficient for writing any word.”

The term “Scripture” (graphe in Greek) is used about 50 times in the New Testament, virtually always referring to the Old Testament as a whole or individual verses or passages of the Old Testament. The only clear exception for any New Testament writing being called “Scripture” is 2 Peter 3:16, speaking of Paul’s Epistles in general as Scripture, but even then that doesn’t tell us which of his writings in specific are included or even if this is what Paul was speaking of to Timothy. (For example: Does 2 Peter 3:16 include Paul's private correspondence to Titus and Timothy? Or what about the 'lost letters' of Paul (e.g. 1 Cor 5:9; Col 4:16) which either were uninspired or are speaking of some other NT work?) Given this, Paul could very well have simply been speaking of only the Old Testament at this point, which doesn’t help the Sola Scriptura case for similar reasons as given in (i) above.  

This is more polemical than scholar. Even if you don’t resort to going to the Greek manuscript, context will tell you that what Paul is telling us the nature of Scripture – God breathed. Common sense will tell you that what is not God-breathed is not Scripture.
On the allegations that the apostles did not practice Sola Scriptura, Nick put malice in Dr. James White:

What is important to point out, as many have done, is that James White has effectively conceded Sola Scriptura (especially via 2 Timothy 3:16f) is functionally impossible and thus false. Since 2 Timothy 3:16-17 applied during a "time of enscripturation," it couldn't have been teaching Sola Scriptura without falling into the fallacy of anachronism (that is, reading back into a text a historically impossible detail). The truth is, the Protestant can only speculate as to when the last NT book was written and when. Many NT Scholars actually say Revelation was the last book to be written.

James White is telling us what is moot and academic. Do we expect an Old Testament Jew to believe that Christ built a church wherein that period Christ wasn’t born yet? Let’s presume that all Roman Catholic doctrines are true, can a Jew during the Old Testament time believe in the Assumption of Mary or do they pray the rosary? Of course not. Mary wasn’t born yet and the New Testament Magisterium wasn’t established yet. The same is true for Scriptures. If God is giving new revelations, we should listen. As I have mentioned in my opening, Sola Scriptura does not deny that the Scriptures were once spoken. But what do we do when God is not giving any new revelations? Christ holds everyone accountable to their deeds in the light of Scripture.

(iii) The term “sufficient” doesn’t actually appear in 2 Timothy 3:16, and rather the term is actually "profitable" (which is a much ‘weaker’ term). A Protestant might read the text as 'Scripture is [or must be] sufficient to fully equip the Man of God', but that’s a jumping to conclusions and improperly parsing (i.e. splitting up) the text.

I need not refute any further as I made no such argument. What I did make is to explain the relationship of verses 16 and 17.
Nick made rebuttals on some proof text Evangelicals used in favor of Sola Scriptura:

(b) Acts 17:11. It is often claimed that the Bereans of Acts 17 exemplified the teaching of Sola Scriptura since they “examined the Scriptures daily” to see if Paul’s teaching was indeed “biblical”.
(c) 1 Corinthians 4:6. The phrase “do not go beyond what is written” is taken by some to mean ‘do not go outside the pages of Scripture for your doctrines’.
(d) John 20:30-31. This verse is taken to mean that even though Jesus did and said many things, only what was sufficient for salvation was written down, and thus Scripture Alone is all that the Christian needs.
(e) Matthew 4:1-11. The argument is that since Jesus turned only to Scripture and quoted it as the highest authority, that Sola Scriptura must be true.

As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t use the above verses as evidences. Therefore, I am not required to answer Nick’s rebuttal. I believe this is a technicality.

(f) Mark 7:5-13. It is often claimed that here Christ definitively rejected tradition in favor of Scripture alone.
This reading is very problematic for a variety of reasons. First of all, the “tradition” Jesus condemned was a human tradition, not inspired tradition which the Apostles passed on before any NT writings came into being. These “traditions of men” were condemned precisely because they overturned other commandments of God, not even simply because they were “traditions”. These “traditions of men” were more akin to something resembling Sola Scriptura than anything else, for the “tradition” condemned here was having one Scripture trump another, namely the command to stay true to your donation vow (Numbers 30:2) with the command to honor and support your parents. Jesus only condemned two traditions, the “Corban Rule” and the “Unwashed Hands”, which is hardly a warrant for saying Jesus condemned tradition in general.
In short, this passage was not a blanket condemnation of any and all tradition by any means, yet that is precisely the oversimplified definition one must project onto the chapter for it to support Sola Scriptura. 

Although I did not quote from Mark 7:5-13, it is nevertheless a parallel to Matthew 15:1-9.
Unfortunately for Nick, that’s not how the Evangelical argument goes. When Christ was rebuking the Pharisees, he used the Scriptures. He didn’t quote from any oral tradition which cannot be found in Scripture. Christ didn’t even say, “Hey, your magisterium does not approve of that tradition!”
Now for a more serious discussion, Nick presented his arguments against Sola Scriptura:

(a) Christ nor the Apostles engaged in Sola Scriptura. In section 3.a.ii it was shown why Christ and the Apostolic Church couldn’t go by Sola Scriptura, the Bible wasn’t complete yet. All throughout the Gospels, Christ is introducing new doctrines and information that wasn’t written down (until later) and the same can be said of the Apostolic preaching throughout most of Acts. Also, Christ never told the Apostles to write anything down nor that He would leave a book behind for future generations.

I already refuted a similar argument earlier. A Jew during the Old Testament time is not expected to believe in the second coming of Christ. Why? Christ hasn’t been incarnated yet.

(b) The canon. The Protestant position presupposes what books belong in Scripture, without sufficient Biblical evidence. Without the (proper) canon of Scripture, Sola Scriptura cannot function. To argue something along the lines of ‘Matthew is inspired because it was written by the Apostle Matthew’ is already leaving the pages of Scripture. This kind of information can only ultimately come from inspired Oral Teaching.

This argument suggests that there must be an infallible entity to determine what Scriptures are. But the problem with this is that a person must first determine which is the infallible entity, how will he do that? The believers of God identify what is Scripture because they have a relationship with God. Having this relationship, they know the actions of God like a boyfriend knowing the actions of his girlfriend as gained from their bonding times. John 10:4-5 says:

When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice."
By the way, will a person go to hell for not knowing that Matthew wrote Matthew?

(d) The Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15). The Council of Jerusalem didn’t appeal to Scripture in any way akin to how Sola Scriptura operates. There was a major doctrinal controversy, but rather than turn to Scripture, the Apostles made an authoritative ruling. The only quote from Scripture the Council turned to was a generalized Old Testament prophecy that didn’t touch directly upon the issue of circumcision. The Church acted infallibly when it issued the decree “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (15:28), and made these teachings binding on all(16:4), which rules out Sola Scriptura by definition.

This is a lie, in Acts 15:15 to 18, James was quoting Amos 9:11-12 in support of his declaration. So who says they didn’t appeal to Scripture? Furthermore, since the Holy Spirit was revealing this to them, it is a period of ensrcripturation.

(c) The Word of God. While many mistakenly think the phrase “word of God” refers to the Bible, the fact is the phrase “word of God,” as used in Scripture, most often refers to the oral teachings of the Apostles, especially in reference to the Gospel. Texts such as 1 Thessalonians 2:13 say this “word of God” is explicitly the oral teaching of the Apostles. For Sola Scriptura to work, it would have to be shown that this oral teaching was eventually (sufficiently) written down, but the Bible never says this.
(e) 2 Thessalonians 2:15. This texts tells us to hold onto the traditions the Apostles passed on whether they came in oral or written format. This indicates the presence of oral as well as written teaching from the Apostles, explicitly refuting Sola Scriptura. The context of this verse is very much is that of a “rule of faith” scenario, explaining this all pertains to the Gospel and salvation.

The two are related. This is what I require since my opening statement. You do not know how every Roman Catholic misunderstood 2nd Thessalonians 2:15. The verse does not say hold on to oral and written traditions. It says hold on to traditions that was delivered orally and in writing. The manner of transmitting tradition was done through oral and written means. The verse does not suggest that there are oral traditions which cannot be found in written traditions. It only distinguishes the manner of delivery.

(f) Jude 1:14-15. In St Jude’s Epistle, he quotes a prophecy of the Old Testament Patriarch Enoch. While some would say Jude was quoting an apocryphal source, this doesn’t do justice to the fact this is an inspired prophecy kept for centuries. What is more accurate is that this was a truly inspired prophecy uttered by Enoch, but it was never written down and was rather passed on orally. The same thing can be said in regards to Jude 1:9 and St Michael the Archangel. This obviously disproves the notion of Sola Scriptura.

And up to now, Vatican has not determined if the source of Jude’s quotation is useful for the church. To say that this comes from oral tradition or some assumed source simply because it cannot be found in the Old Testament is arguing from ignorance. How about the possibility of being directed by the Holy Spirit? It’s a big leap for Nick and not to mention wishful thinking.

Overall, Nick is repeating the same banana that the likes of Patrick Madrid, Gerry Matatics, and even Stephen Ray have been banging. These arguments have long been refuted yet it is often repeated stubbornly.
Like I said, in order for Nick to defeat Sola Scriptura he must show me another rule of faith. He must prove that Scripture alone is not alone.


Hapax Paradidomi said...

I already refuted a similar argument earlier. A Jew during the Old Testament time is not expected to believe in the second coming of Christ. Why? Christ hasn’t been incarnated yet.

The problem with this line of argument is that in your view, scripture must teach it's own sufficiency. If sola scriptura was not yet true, than arguing that scripture teaches it's own sufficiency is bogus. What do you expect us to gather from your argument? That scripture taught it was completely sufficient but that sufficiency did not equate to sola scriptura? That is what you are arguing.

Ultimately what it gets down to in your view is that scripture WOULD eventually be sufficient for all things.

Hapax Paradidomi said...

*all things = matters of faith and morals. I better correct this as I can see a protestant running with this and counter arguing, 'oh we don't teach that scripture shows you how to work on cars'

Hapax Paradidomi said...

This argument suggests that there must be an infallible entity to determine what Scriptures are. But the problem with this is that a person must first determine which is the infallible entity, how will he do that? The believers of God identify what is Scripture because they have a relationship with God. Having this relationship, they know the actions of God like a boyfriend knowing the actions of his girlfriend as gained from their bonding times. John 10:4-5 says:


This is a gigantic leap. First of all it would need to be worked out what exactly is meant by the sheep recognizing the voice of the shepherd. Does this extend to recognizing that something should bare the classification of scripture? I wonder how Gerry can make this leap considering that even protestants hold that the COPY they are looking at is not inspired itself and is not inerrant. Protestants maintain that scripture was inspired and inerrant in the original ONLY. So how does recognizing the voice of Christ tell you that the document you are holding is a copy of the ORIGINAL? And even then how does recognizing the voice of Christ tell you that the original was inspired and inerrant? The copy that Gerry holds in his hand could be a compendium of actual scripture. If that is the case, then is Gerry willing to argue that because he is a sheep who recognizes the voice of his shepherd that he is qualified to say that the compendium he holds in his hands is scripture?

So Gerry has not solved this problem by appealing to the sheep hear the voice of the shepherd idea. In fact he has only dug himself in deeper.