Wednesday, February 16, 2011

An array of Reformed tetimony of the ahistorical nature of Sola Scriptura

The following are quotes from well known Protestant Apologists teaching publicly on the subject of Sola Scriptura and admitting the ahistorical nature of it:

  • James White: The main element of [Catholic apologist] Mr. Ray’s misrepresentation of sola scriptura can be seen in just this: the doctrine speaks of a rule of faith that exists. What do I mean by this? One will search high and low for any reference in any standard Protestant confession of faith that says, “There has never been a time when God’s Word was proclaimed and transmitted orally.” You will never find anyone saying, “During times of enscripturation—that is, when new revelation was being given—sola scriptura was operational.” Protestants do not assert that sola scriptura is a valid concept during times of revelation. How could it be, since the rule of faith to which it points was at that very time coming into being? One must have an existing rule of faith to say it is “sufficient.” It is a canard to point to times of revelation and say, “See, sola scriptura doesn’t work there!” Of course it doesn’t. Who said it did? (Source

  •  William Webster: The sixteenth century Reformation was responsible for restoring to the Church the principle of sola Scriptura, a principle that had been operative within the Church from the very beginning of the post apostolic age. Initially the apostles taught orally, but with the close of the apostolic age, all special revelation that God wanted preserved for man was codified in the written Scriptures. Sola Scriptura is the teaching, founded on the Scriptures themselves, that there is only one special revelation from God that man possesses today, the written Scriptures or the Bible. (Source)
  • Joe Mizzi: Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) is the doctrine that the Holy Bible, being the Word of God, is the only infallible rule of faith and practice for Christians in the post-apostolic age. (Source)
  • R.C. Spoul Junior: The Bible does not have specific text that suggests that the Bible alone is our final authority in all matters of faith and practice. ... ... Sola Scriptura is a biblical doctrine not because the Bible says so. That would be a tautology- the kind of argument we find in that collection of lies the Book of Mormon. Instead the Bible is our alone final authority because it alone is the Word of God. (Source)
  • John Piper: Beware of imputing advantage to antiquity. Seventy years after the death of Jesus the churches had neither the collected New Testament nor a living apostle. It was a precarious and embattled time. Neither the experiences nor the teachers of the first 300 years of the church are as reliable as the finished New Testament. The church did not rescue the New Testament from neglect and abuse. The New Testament rescued the early church from instability and error. We are in a better position today to know Jesus Christ than anyone who lived from AD 100 to 300. They had only parts of the New Testament rather than the collected whole. That’s how valuable the fullness of revelation is in the finished Bible. Beware of idealizing the early church. She did not have your advantages! (Source
  • John MacArthur: Jude 3 is a crucial passage on the completeness of our Bibles. This statement, penned by Jude before the New Testament was complete, nevertheless looked forward to the completion of the entire canon: Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. ... ... Also important in Jude 3 is the word "delivered." In the Greek it is an aorist passive participle, which in this context indicates an act completed in the past with no continuing element. In this instance the passive voice means the faith was not discovered by men, but given to men by God. How did He do that? Through His Word--the Bible. And so through the Scriptures God has given us a body of teaching that is final and complete. (Source) 
  • John H. Armstrong: Further, no true advocate of the supreme and final authority of Scripture would assert that the immediate hearers of the preaching of Jesus, or the apostles, were free to pick and choose what they would submit to since they did not receive it in written form. What is asserted in believing that Scripture alone has final and full authority is this: God revealed His Word orally and temporarily through prophets and apostles and then subsequently through the inscripturated text. Oral communication, in this post-apostolic era, is powerful precisely because it relies so faithfully on the "more certain" word of Scripture itself. Thus we conclude, with the Apostle, himself a faithful preacher, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). (Source)
  • Robert Godfrey: [Catholics] will try to say that the phrase “the Word of God” can mean more than just the Bible. I have already granted that. The question before us is whether today anything other than the Scriptures is necessary to know the truth of God for salvation. The Scripture texts I have cited show that nothing else is needed. Our opponents need to show not that Paul referred to his preaching as well as his writing as the Word of God — I grant that; they need to show that Paul taught that the oral teaching of the apostles would be needed to supplement the Scriptures for the Church through the ages. They cannot show that because Paul did not teach that, and the Scriptures as a whole do not teach that! (Source)
  • Greg Bahnsen: The Word of God, which was originally delivered orally, needed to be reduced to writing in order for the rest of God’s people to know about it and for it to function as an objective standard for faith and obedience. Where God had spoken by personal address orally, if that was going to be a standard for the Church at large (for all of God’s people), that oral instruction (as authoritative as it was in itself) needed to be reduced to writing so that it would be an objective standard that governed all of God’s people... God’s Word needed to be inscripturated to govern His people through all generations. (Source)
Why are these admissions so significant? Because in each case the Protestant is admitting that Sola Scriptura was not practiced in the Apostolic age of the Church; the Apostles didn't go around teaching Christians to engage in Sola Scriptura in word or epistle. Why? Because, as the above quotes show, the full canon of Scripture didn't exist at the time, making the practice of Sola Scriptura functionally impossible. It would be like saying we can write a dictionary (a 'word bible' so to speak) without first having and knowing all 26 letters of the alphabet. To read "Sola Scriptura" into any passage of Scripture would be anachonistic by definition. Thus, whether these well respected Protestant preachers truly realize it or not, by their own logic Sola Scriptura is unbiblical, ahistorical, and unapostolic.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

John MacArthur fails to "deliver" on Sola-Scriptura

One of today's most outspoken and harshest critics of Catholicism is Reformed pastor and televangelist John MacArthur. Unfortunately, I think he spends too much time and effort condemning Catholics without actually backing up his words. But even when he does back up his accusations, this brief article will show just how absurd (and sometimes embarrassing) his attempts at refuting Catholicism can get. This article will focus on MacArthur's claim to uphold Sola Scriptura in the midst of his attempts to discredit Catholicism. Two relatively recent articles on his official webpage (each from 2009) are "Does God Still Give Revelation?" and "Scripture, Tradition, and Rome, Part 3" (which is the most important of the 3-part series). I will quote from each of those apologetics articles, highlight key phrases, and comment upon any points I believe are worth addressing.