Thursday, February 09, 2006

Sola Scriptura Argument

Here's an argument in 5 steps to try out on your Roman Catholic friends when they attempt to prove Sola Scriptura is a blueprint for anarchy:
1. Affirm and Define Sola Scriptura
I affirm that sola scriptura means that the Bible is the ultimate and only sufficient source as an authority for a Christian. There are though, lower authorites, like Church leaders and teachers (these must always though be judged by sacred Scripture).

2. Present the Usual Counter Charge
The counter charge (from Roman Catholics) seems to be that one needs an infallible tradition of Church hierarchy to be the ultimate and only sufficient source as an authority- this must be so because Protestants disagree with one another, so obviously sola scriptura is a failure. Without an infallible interpreter and authority like the Roman Catholic Church, one has doctrinal chaos.

3. Define the Point of Agreement: Apostolic Teaching
Now, Catholics and Protestants agree that Peter, Paul, and the apostolic teaching previous to New Testament inscripturation was an infallible, sufficient source for doctrine.

4. Use the Counter Charge To Evaluate Apostolic Teaching:
But yet we find that those who heard the teaching of Peter, Paul, and the apostolic teaching previous to New Testament inscripturation disagreed among themselves on the teaching they heard at times. In other words, there was error present in the early church while the apostles were teaching.

5.Present The Big Question:
Because those who directly heard the apostles teaching got it wrong and disagreed among themselves at times, does this mean that Peter, Paul, and the apostles were insufficient sources as an infallible authority for the early church?

The above argument will demonstrate that those who heard the very voices of infallibility in the first century made errors, but it does not follow that the apostles were insufficient as authorities.

Similarly, that some people misinterpret or twist the Bible is not the fault of the Bible, hence not a proof against sola scriptura. In the same way, that I may possibly configure my computer incorrectly is not the fault of the owner’s manual that comes with it. The misuse of a sufficient source does not negate the clarity of that sufficient source.

Rome has only explicitly defined a handful of passages, and allows their theologians to speculate and use their private judgment on the majority of Scripture. What this means to Catholic laymen, is that in actuality, they can’t really know what the Scriptures do mean in most cases. Rome has claimed infallible interpretive rights, but rarely use the right. At least with other sola ecclesia groups like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, they constantly expound on passages, giving "infallible" interpretations. With Rome, very few infallible interpretations come forth. Why do Catholics always claim such certainty? I have no idea. It always sounds good in theory; it falls flat on its face in actual practice.

Protestants do though actually affirm the binding authority of apostolic tradition as delivered by the apostles. The content of this is what they preached and taught, and was subsequently written down in the Scriptures. Thus, I can “show” infallible tradition. Pull the Bible off your shelf. Open it up to Matthew, use your left hand as a bookmark. With your right hand, flip to the last page of Revelation. Now place your right there as a bookmark. Between your two hands is the content of the infallible teaching of Christ and the apostles.