Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sola Scriptura Debate - Concluding Essay by Gerry

Sola Scriptura Debate - Concluding Essay 
by Gerry

All right, so we are in the concluding part of the debate. I want to thank my opponent Nick for being an courteous and respectful opponent. Let's thank him also for his insights in this discussion. We hope that the two of us are able to give the readers enough information to consider each others point of view.

First of all let's evaluate Nick's responses to my 5 questions:

On the requirement to give one apostolic tradition that is proven to be originating from the Apostles, necessary for salvation, and not found in Scripture, Nick replied that the question is tricky but he did give an answer:

If I had to give an answer, I’d say the teaching of the Canon of Scripture would fit within Gerry’s three parameters. The 73 books which the Catholic Bible contains is (a) a teaching of the apostles, (b) necessary for salvation as far as one is aware they are bound to affirm this canon, and (c) does not have (sufficient) support in Scripture to determine. To clarify on “c,” while some books in Scripture are called “scripture,” others are not, so a book like Jude would have to be known as “Scripture” by a purely extra-biblical teaching.

Gerry asked that I “prove” this answer. The proof is in the fact that all Christians, including Gerry, accept more less the same canon of Scripture (though the Protestant canon is missing books).

I have heard many Roman Catholics, including Patrick Madrid, give the same response. Unfortunately the response failed to consider a few but major things. For one, an apostolic tradition should have originated during the time of the apostles. But in 2nd Thessalonians 2:15 (which is their favorite verse against Sola Scriptura), Paul mentioned that the traditions have been what? Already delivered (past tense). So Nick's timing is off. In addition, how can I as a Protestant be his proof wherein my brethren rejects the Deuterocanonicals?

Furthermore, how come it took the Church of Rome more than 1,500 years to settle the canon at Trent? The New Catholic Encyclopedia has this entry:

"According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church at the Council of Trent...The Council of Trent definitively settled the matter of the Old Testament Canon. That this had not been done previously is apparent from the uncertainty that persisted up to the time of Trent" (New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. II, Bible, III (Canon), p. 390; Canon, Biblical, p. 29; Bible, III (Canon), p.390).

This question was Nick's grand opportunity to refute Sola Scriptura by giving an apostolic teaching not found in Scripture, and he blew it. While the canon is indeed not mentioned in Scripture, it cannot exist without the creation of Scripture because it measures and reveals what has been inspired.

On his response to the dreaded James White Question, Nick says Inspired Oral Tradition. I said the question was dreaded because up to now no Roman Catholic apologist has ever given a scholarly answer, let alone logical. His answer can be negated by asking, "Well, how does a Jew fifty years before Christ know which oral traditions are inspired?" Nick's answer is susceptible to a series of "how do you know what you know" kind of questioning. Roman Catholic boasts that they have an infallible magisterium to rightfully tell them what the Scriptures are, but how does that work during the Old Testament when Christ wasn't even incarnated yet? If the Jews managed to correctly identify the Scriptures without an aid of an infallible magisterium like Rome's, then I don't see why that is necessary in the present time.

On his response concerning the basis of his reliance on the church he belongs that rightfully tells him what the Scriptures are, it is no surprise that Nick answered it with a precedent with how his church would have wanted him to answer: the presence of an infallible magisterium. For what basis does he say that a church should have an infallible magisterium to be considered as the true church? And why did he limit his choices to three? For all we know the Mormons could be correct that there was indeed a total apostasy and that there four other books which we didn't dare to consider. What about Watchtower? The point of this question is to refute the idea that the church, specially Nick's church, made the canon. With all the churches today claiming to be founded by Christ, how does one can tell with certainty that this particular church holds the true knowledge of Scripture? In my analysis, Nick's answer is a variant of "my church tells me so".

On his response if his church gave an official interpretation to all verses in the Bible and traditions, he gave an honest answer that his church did not do so. Isn't it ironic that he tells us that the Scriptures are only materially sufficient but not formally sufficient. Claiming to have a 2,000 year pedigree, why didn't Nick's magisterium interpreted all the verses so that everyone will know all the teachings very clear? Roman Catholics have long criticized Protestants for their contradicting interpretations - all because of sola scriptura so as they accuse. Folks, do not believe that the Church of Rome is united in their interpretations because they are not. I know Roman Catholic apologists who interpret verses differently against a fellow Roman Catholic apologist. If the Scriptures are not sufficient then Nick church, in its claim of apostolic succession, should have addressed this problem... 2,000 years ago.

Lastly, on his interpretation of 2nd Timothy 3:16 and 17, he gave this comment:

But as verses 3:10-14 (and throughout 1 & 2 Timothy) we see Paul’s living testimony and oral teachings contribute to those qualities as well. This ties directly into Paul’s immediate instructions following in 4:1-5. People must take care when reading 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that they don’t rip it out of it’s context and make it more than what it really is focused upon.

In his exegesis of 2nd Timothy 3:16 on the part of "all Scripture", while Nick does not deny the inspiration of the New Testament he argues that the verse pertains only to the Old Testament. and Timothy should made use of oral teachings that Paul also taught him. The weakness of this kind of exegesis is if we substitute the words Old Testament it would appear that "the Old Testament makes the man of God thoroughly equipped unto all good works". That doesn't sound what Paul really intends to mean. In 2nd Peter 3:14-16 we read Peter's endorsement on Paul's gospel:

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

So when Paul said "All Scriptures" in verse 16 it is a general statement.

Nick did not give a thorough analysis of verse 17: so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Nick didn't even address this properly his rebuttal. This last verse completes the thought of verse 16. If the Scriptures are not sufficient, how can Paul say that the man of God is thoroughly equipped to do all good works?

Let's now wrap this up:

In my opening statement, I challenged my opponent to give me another rule of faith so that Scripture alone is really not alone. Nick failed to do this. In the cross examination, I asked my opponent to give me an apostolic tradition not found in Scripture. Nick also failed to do this. It is not enough to argue that the Bible does not support Sola Scriptura. If someone argues that Leah is the only wife of Jacob, doesn't common sense tell you that in order to refute that argument you just simply point to Rachel and give proof that she is also Jacob's wife? I don't see why Sola Scriptura could be any different.

My opponent utilized a strawman argument that Christ and the apostles did not practice Sola Scriptura because the Bible wasn't complete yet. If Nick were to abide by this standard then praying the rosary should be considered as a false practice because the Marian mysteries has not been completed yet. As I admitted, Sola Scriptura is temporarily inoperative when God is giving new revelations. But when God is not giving any revelations, all we have that functions as his authoritative voice are Scriptures.

The Scriptures are inspired by God to be profitable to teaching, correcting, rebuking, and training in righteousness so that the believer is perfectly fitted to do all good works. We do not see any apostle referring us to another rule of faith.

I will leave you with a quote from Athanasius:
"The holy and inspired Scriptures are fully sufficient for the proclamation of the truth." (St. Athanasius, Against the Heathen, I:3)

Thank you and God bless us all!


Jae said...

Gerry said, "Furthermore, how come it took the Church of Rome more than 1,500 years to settle the canon at Trent?"

The Catholic Church (not the Church of Rome) didn't settle the canon of Scripture at Trent it was just emphasized and declared definitively for the protection of the faithful from the current threat of heretical teaching and act of schism by the reformers. Same could be said of the Deity of Christ which was believed long before Arius challenged the Teaching in the 4th century. At the Council at Nicaea in 325 A.D this teaching was defitively declared and proclaimed to the faithful to protect her against the heretical teaching of Arius. As for the canon of Scripture, it has been practiced and believed for thousands of years prior to the reformation era 1,600 years later.

For Pete's sake even ask the Orthodox Churches 400 years before Luther when they split from the Catholic Church and they have the same canon and number of Books as Catholics.So Gerry don't make an assertion like that because your position is not supported by historical facts.

Furthermore, it is an historical FACT that the "founders " of reformation took upon themselves (with their brand of authority) to subtract certain Books form the Holy Writ.

Gerry said, "... to rightfully tell them what the Scriptures are, but how does that work during the Old Testament when Christ wasn't even incarnated yet? If the Jews managed to correctly identify the Scriptures.."

Well what do we do with the verses of "seat of Moses" (Matt 23:2) which by the way a word for authoritative succession. By the way, what happened to that guy named Korach and his minions who had challenged and questioned the authority of Moses and Aaron? Korach had no idea that that he was challenging the authority of God Himself which He ordained to Moses. (Numbers 16:1-35).

There is NO not even miniscule evidence that individual Jews try to figure out for themselves which Books belong to the Old Testament Scripture - NOWHERE! So, this assertion by Gerry from the ideas of James White is unBiblical.

It just boggles my mind of why someone tends to believe some guys 1,600 years later and Mr. James White and not the historical Ecumenical Councils and Apostolic Tradition. Thus in essence Mr. James White is both for them.

Jae said...

In a nutshell:

It was just a reaction of a living organic authority to a situation where some core doctrinal teachings which was long beforehand being practiced and believed were being challenged at that time (viz. time of Arius, Nestorius, Reformers etc) to make a definitive declaration in order to preserve orthodoxy. The Church is the guardian and pillar of Truth.

May I also add, that the Jews look primarily to Moses for the word of God eventhough they have the written Torah.


Hapax Paradidomi said...

As I admitted, Sola Scriptura is temporarily inoperative when God is giving new revelations. But when God is not giving any revelations, all we have that functions as his authoritative voice are Scriptures.
Since scripture is always NEW revelation, then it would follow that sola scriptura was inoperative during the "enscripuration" of the entire canon of scripture.

What alternatives do you have now? Perhaps you could maintain that inoperative simply means not practiced but still taught. But if it was being taught through NEW REVELATION then how is it inoperative?

Also was it operative during the "intertestamental period"? If so, then at what point did it become inoperative? Was it when John the Baptist came on the scene? Or could a jew have read scripture and realized that there was still more revelation to come and therefore sola scriptura could not yet be operative since it would necessarily undercut any new revelation?

And if it couldn't have been operative during the "intertestamental period" then when did it become operative? Was is only after christians all agreed on which books qualified as scripture? Only after the bishops agreed? Only after everyone could have his own personal bible?

And who was it operative too? Was it operative to those who could only hear the scriptures read?

Hapax Paradidomi said...

But if it was being taught through NEW REVELATION then how is it inoperative?

Other words, how could a true believer, as you understand it, not have practiced it if it was being taught?