Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Helpful Apologetics of Patrick Madrid


Here's a few firecrackers tossed over at John Mark to see if he'll jump:

"... it seems to the untutored mind that if one claims that the Bible is the standard by which all doctrine is assessed (sola scriptura) and the doctrine of sola scriptura itself is not taught in Scripture, then the doctrine of sola scriptura is self-refuting."

And also:

Bro Mark, I did not make an objection to Sola Scriptura but to show the end result of Sola Scriptura wherein it is up to a person to decide which is Biblically correct interpretation according to his will, intellect and rationality.

We believed the authority of the Pope comes from Jesus Our Lord and God given to Peter and to his successors (Matt. 16:18). Faith is made know to all through the Church (Ephesians 3:4-6). Its as simple as that.Jesus appointed specific people, 12 to be exact, to carry out his mission. Even though Jesus has many, many followers, he called out 12 specific individuals to guide his flock. Even in Heaven there is a structured hierarchy where God is the Head, where Archangels and angels follow their rank, position and dominions also in the early church is very very hierachical as Paul described it as having Bishops, presbyters (priest) and deacons. In fact the church could not exist if Jesus had not been around to start it himself and he did, but he left it in the hands of Peter (Mt 16:13-19).So, we see that there was a church, with a specific structure of leaders that were called by God to lead the church. with all believing members. This is the Catholic (Universal) definition of church.


Typical firecrackers.

First, this person needs to simply demonstrate that God has given special revelation elsewhere. The burden of proof is on those claiming God has spoken infallibly elsewhere. If they can't produce God's voice elsewhere, then it follows, there is only one record of God's voice. That's why it's called "SOLA" Scriptura.

Second, the striking irony is that Bible verses were put forth to prove the Romanist position, as if those verses have been infallibly interpreted by Rome. But as far as I know, Rome has never given an infallible interpretation of any of the verses used above. What Rome says, is "we declare X, and here are some Bible verses that help us out...but keep in mind, the Bible verses may not actually support X..."

Patrick Madrid: …the dogma being defined here is Peter’s primacy and authority over the Church — not a formal exegesis of Matthew 16. The passages from Matthew 16 and John 21 are given as reasons for defining the doctrine, but they are not themselves the subject of the definition. As anyone familiar with the dogma of papal infallibility knows, the reasons given in a dogmatic definition are not themselves considered infallible; only the result of the deliberations is protected from error. It’s always possible that while the doctrine defined is indeed infallible, some of the proofs adduced for it end up being incorrect. Patrick Madrid, Pope Fiction (San Diego: Basilica Press, 1999), p. 254.

Thanks Patrick. Well done.

43 comments:

Nick said...

James said: this person needs to simply demonstrate that God has given special revelation elsewhere. The burden of proof is on those claiming God has spoken infallibly elsewhere. If they can't produce God's voice elsewhere, then it follows, there is only one record of God's voice.

The Catholic response here is pretty standard:

(1) Sola Scriptura cannot be proven true by 'default', which is what you're arguing here; it must be expressly taught in Scripture, else it's self refuting.

(2) Scripture expressly teaches that the Word of God was passed on orally, thus Tradition can and does fulfill the condition you set above to find 'another source'. Thus the true burden is on you to prove, from Scripture, that either this oral teaching was (a) eventually written down, or (b) expired, leaving only the written record.

I know that if I was a Protestant I'd want to convince myself that Sola Scriptura can answer the above questions, not just worry about having a Catholic prove this or that, leaving Sola Scriptura as the 'default' option until shown otherwise. The above logic shows clearly that SS cannot be the default option, proven 'negatively', but rather must be proven 'positively' (i.e. a clear Scriptural mandate). If I were a Protestant, it wouldn't sit well with me to be thinking no 'positive' proof for Sola Scriptura exists (for that kind of defeats the purpose of God establishing such a critical pillar as SS in the first place).

Jugulum said...

Nick,

"(1) Sola Scriptura cannot be proven true by 'default', which is what you're arguing here; it must be expressly taught in Scripture, else it's self refuting."

If Sola Scriptura meant, "Something is only true if it's explicitly taught in Scripture", then yes, it would be self-refuting.

But here's what I mean when I say I believe in Sola Scriptura: Scripture is the only infallible source of knowledge that God intends for us to draw on. Why? Because God told us to look there, and didn't tell us to look anywhere else.

I also put it this way: "It’s not that “Scripture is the only infallible authority” has been revealed. It’s that nothing but Scripture has been revealed as an infallible authority."

Jugulum said...

P.S. On the positive-argument side, we would also want to look at what the Bible says about the sufficiency of Scripture. That's related, though it's not exactly the same thing.

Jugulum said...

Also: In #2, did you mean the following? "Scripture expressly teaches that God's word has been infallibly passed down in oral tradition"? Or perhaps, "Scripture expressly teaches us to look at orally passed-down tradition as God's word"?

If that's what you meant, then that would defeat Sola Scriptura, if it's true.

If you just mean, "Scripture expressly teaches that God's word has sometimes been revealed orally", without teaching that God preserved it by overseeing the process of passing it down, then how is that relevant?

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Nick writes:

(1) Sola Scriptura cannot be proven true by 'default', which is what you're arguing here; it must be expressly taught in Scripture, else it's self refuting.

Sola Scriptura could be taught implicitly as well. As the WCF says (1:6, emphasis mine):

The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture

It's not as if Protestants are required to have something like a verse or two that explicitly demonstrates Sola Scriptura.

Nick said...

Jugulum,

Thank you for your response. Though most of what you say is simply a variation on what has already been said and addressed, here are my comments:

J: God told us to look there, and didn't tell us to look anywhere else.

N: Where does the Bible say this? Where is there a command to look to Scripture and nowhere else?

J: nothing but Scripture has been revealed as an infallible authority

N: I respond by saying my two original points address this; you're merely restating James' original position.

J: On the positive-argument side, we would also want to look at what the Bible says about the sufficiency of Scripture.

N: Agreed. Now show the proof.


J: In #2, did you mean the following? "Scripture teaches God's word has been passed down in oral tradition"? Or perhaps, "Scripture expressly teaches us to look at orally passed-down tradition as God's word"?

N: Yes. That's what 1 Thes 2:13 states, and again in 2 Thes 2:15.

J: If that's what you meant, then that would defeat Sola Scriptura, if it's true.

N: Agreed. It's true and does defeat SS.

J: If you just mean, "Scripture expressly teaches that God's word has sometimes been revealed orally", without teaching that God preserved it by overseeing the process of passing it down, then how is that relevant?

N: I'm not sure I understand the question, but here is my attempted response: If you accept God's word has sometimes been revealed orally, you've denied Sola Scriptura by definition. Whether it was passed down is irrelevant to my case (but not yours). If God's word was revealed orally, there goes your 'requirement' of "God told us to look to Scripture and nowhere else".

Nick said...

Matthew,

Agreed, Sola Scriptura could be taught implicitly, but that's not the same as having it as the 'default' position. One objection I would raise, though not sufficient for refuting SS by itself, is that it would be quite ironic for such a foundational doctrine to have to rely mainly on implicit evidence.

As for your quote of the WCF 1:6, my response is quite simply: Where does Scripture say all things necessary for man's salvation are either explicitly or implicitly found in Scripture?
I don't believe the WCF's definition has Scriptural warrant.

I actually wrote an apologetics article on WCF chapter 1 (i.e. Sola Scriptura):
http://catholicdefense.googlepages.com/westminsterch1

Andrew Suttles said...

I'm actually thankful Romanists don't pretend to be XXX Scriptura (XXX = fill in the blank).

PM: "Bishops, presbyters (priest) and deacons..."

Whoa, a πρεσβύτερος (presbyter) is a priest (ἱερεύς). Is there a page missing from my Greek lexicon or something? Can someone show me a place in secular or religious Greek writing where the word πρεσβύτερος is used to represent a Old Testament (or otherwise) priest.

We can find clear testimony in scripture that churches should be ruled by Bishops (same thing as pastor and same as Presbyter or Elder) as those who serve under Christ's authority and they should be served by deacons - this part is true.

PM: "In fact the church could not exist if Jesus had not been around to start it himself and he did, but he left it in the hands of Peter..."

Whaaaa.....? I think the train just jumped off the tracks! I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I thought a dead person was the head of the church. Do you not believe in the resurrection?

"Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him." I Pet 3:22

"For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church..." Eph 5:23

"And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." Col 1:18

Andrew Suttles said...

N: "Sola Scriptura cannot be proven true..."

Nick, do you believe the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God - yes or no? If so, you should be concerned with what they say. Do you think arguments like this abrogate your responsibility to obey the Word of God?

"And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Tim 3:15-17

Do you agree with the inspired Apostle that all Scripture is inspired, profitable for doctrine and able to make the man of God perfect and thoroughly furnished?

(2) Scripture expressly teaches that the Word of God was passed on orally, thus Tradition can and does fulfill the condition you set above to find 'another source'...

No one disputes that the Word of God was passed orally amongst the first century believers. Scripture also states that ravenous wolves would come into the flock and scatter the sheep and that in the last days men will believe lies such that even the elect may almost be deceived. So, we want to make doubly certain we only believe the true oral tradition and not the lies of Satan (who transforms himself into an angel of light). SO, provide me with an infallible list of oral traditions and transmission history so that I can be as sure of your additions to scripture as I am to scripture. After all, Jesus chastised the religious leaders of his day for setting aside Scripture and following false traditions. I would be wise not to do the same.

louis said...

"(1) Sola Scriptura cannot be proven true by 'default', which is what you're arguing here; it must be expressly taught in Scripture, else it's self refuting."

I'm not sure I understand your point here. We would all agree that scripture is the revealed word of God, and that God calls us to listen to his voice, and only to his voice. Therefore, we look to scripture as we look to God, as it is the very word of God. What is there to prove here?

The question really is the second one: Is there reason to believe that God has given special revelation elsewhere, that we should look to it also? Given God's many warnings not to listen to anyone but Himself, and the repeated warnings and examples of false prophets in scripture, the burden really is on you to establish this. And this is something to be very careful about.

It appears that under your #2), you simply assert that there is oral tradition apart from scripture and then use that to try and shift the burden back on us. But simply asserting it doesn't make it so. What is the case for this separate revelation apart from scripture?

Nick said...

Andrew: Nick, do you believe the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God - yes or no? If so, you should be concerned with what they say. Do you think arguments like this abrogate your responsibility to obey the Word of God?

Nick: I'm not sure what you're getting at; I believe the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God and I obey them as best as I know how.

Andrew: Do you agree with the inspired Apostle that all Scripture is inspired, profitable for doctrine and able to make the man of God perfect and thoroughly furnished?

Nick: Yes, I agree with the Apostle. However, I don't believe the Apostle is teaching Sola Scriptura here, and that's the issue at hand.

Andrew: No one disputes that the Word of God was passed orally amongst the first century believers.

Nick: Good, I'm glad. That only raises the question: Why was James looking for another source of Divine Revelation when "no one disputes" that it was passed on orally? This proves they were not operating on Sola Scriptura in the first place!

Andrew: Scripture also states that ravenous wolves would come into the flock...So, we want to make doubly certain we only believe the true oral tradition and not the lies of Satan. SO, provide me with an infallible list of oral traditions and transmission history so that I can be as sure of your additions to scripture as I am to scripture.

Nick: Such a list does you no good because you're operating on a flawed assumption SS is true. For example, one of the oral teachings is that Sola Scriptura is false, and when compared to Scripture we see that oral teaching confirmed. But that's not what you're looking for, so me giving you a list does no good. All you're doing is attempting to prove SS by default, 'negatively', while not having 'positive' proof.

Andrew: After all, Jesus chastised the religious leaders of his day for setting aside Scripture and following false traditions. I would be wise not to do the same.

Nick: Exactly, and Sola Scriptura is one such "tradition of men."

Nick said...

Louis: I'm not sure I understand your point here. We would all agree that scripture is the revealed word of God, and that God calls us to listen to his voice, and only to his voice. Therefore, we look to scripture as we look to God, as it is the very word of God. What is there to prove here?

Nick: There is nothing to 'prove' in what you just said, it's what you didn't say that is the problem. You're assuming the Word of God is confined to Scripture alone, which doesn't follow in what you just said. All you've said is 'Scripture is divinely inspired' and concluded with 'only Scripture is divinely inspired and thus can only bind the conscience', when that doesn't automatically follow.

Louis: The question really is the second one: Is there reason to believe that God has given special revelation elsewhere, that we should look to it also? Given God's many warnings not to listen to anyone but Himself, and the repeated warnings and examples of false prophets in scripture, the burden really is on you to establish this. And this is something to be very careful about.

Nick: That's a false example, because you're putting the Apostolic oral teaching in the same category as false prophets. I would say Luther was a false prophet/teacher telling you to follow SS, so your example cuts both ways.

Louis: It appears that under your #2), you simply assert that there is oral tradition apart from scripture and then use that to try and shift the burden back on us. But simply asserting it doesn't make it so. What is the case for this separate revelation apart from scripture?

Nick: If you're asking for Biblical evidence, look no further than 1 Thes 2:13 and 2 Thes 2:15. The burden isn't so much 'shifted', since the Sola Scriptura side has yet to put up 'positive' evidence the burden's always been on you. In strict fairness, I didn't have to provide my evidence above (but I did), since your demand for me is of human origin and not a Scriptural mandate.

Andrew Suttles said...

Nick: I'm not sure what you're getting at; I believe the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God and I obey them as best as I know how.

If the Scriptures are the Word of God you SHOULD follow them. For example, God commands the following:

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them:

I read this in my Bible and yet I observe Romanist bowing down before shrines made in the image of dead sinful human beings. How does the Romanist reconcile the two - he doesn't. He practices Nada Scriptura. He says, the Apostles gave us this secret oral tradition that only we know about that we are supposed to violate the law of God and pray before these idols (sounds like the false prophets of ancient Israel to me).

My reaction is to ask, "show me the repository of this secret gnosis. Where is it to be found. How can you prove this is actually from the Apostles and not from Satan?

The response is, just trust us.

No thanks. I'll trust the Word of God.

Andrew Suttles said...

Nick: Yes, I agree with the Apostle. However, I don't believe the Apostle is teaching Sola Scriptura here, and that's the issue at hand.

Forget about Sola Scriptura.

Do you agree with the Apostle when he says that Scripture is profitable such that "the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."

Does he or does he not say that with the scriptures we are furnished with what we need to be perfect and thoroughly furnished?

Andrew Suttles said...

Nick: "For example, one of the oral teachings is that Sola Scriptura is false..."

Oh? OK, so I've been deceived? Which apostle taught that sola scriptura was wrong and when did he say it?

Nick: "If you're asking for Biblical evidence, look no further than 1 Thes 2:13 and 2 Thes 2:15..."

Yes, Paul taught the Thessalonian believers by Word of mouth the things he learned from Christ. Can you enlighten us by proving to us exactly what those things were which he taught them by word of mouth.

louis said...

Nick,

You said: "You're assuming the Word of God is confined to Scripture alone, which doesn't follow in what you just said."

That is not what I said. I only stated in my first paragraph what we both agree on: Scripture is the word of God; we don't need to argue proofs about that.

You said: "you're putting the Apostolic oral teaching in the same category as false prophets."

Again, that is not what I said. I said that if you are going to allege some other word of God, you need to prove it, and you need to be careful about it, because there are many warnings in scripture (which we both know to be the word of God) about this.

As for your prooftexts, they only establish the obvious, which is that the Apostles taught both orally and in writing. However, there is absolutely nothing in those texts to indicate that they taught different things orally from what they put in writing.

Nick said...

Andrew,

I'm not going to turn the discussion into one of whether Catholics espouse idolatry. The topic is whether Sola Scriptura is true, not whether any given Catholic doctrine is true.

Andrew: Yes, Paul taught the Thessalonian believers by Word of mouth the things he learned from Christ. Can you enlighten us by proving to us exactly what those things were which he taught them by word of mouth.

Nick: This isn't the time to go into the content of what Paul preached orally (which at this point is simply changing the subject of this debate), all that matters now is that Paul wasn't espousing Sola Scriptura. His oral preaching was the Word of God (thus proving more than Scripture is inspired) and he tells them to hold onto his teachings whether given orally or written.

Nick said...

Louis: That is not what I said. I only stated in my first paragraph what we both agree on: Scripture is the word of God; we don't need to argue proofs about that.

Nick: Sorry if I misunderstood you. It is agreed that Scripture is the Word of God, but that's not where the dispute rests.

Louis: Again, that is not what I said. I said that if you are going to allege some other word of God, you need to prove it, and you need to be careful about it, because there are many warnings in scripture about this.

Nick: My proof was as explicit as it could possibly be: If an Apostle is teaching orally, and even calling this oral teaching the "Word of God" (1 Thes 2:13), we know the "Word of God" doesn't apply only to the Scriptures. The "warnings" in Scripture don't apply to the oral or written teachings of the Apostles, notably Paul himself.

Louis: As for your prooftexts, they only establish the obvious, which is that the Apostles taught both orally and in writing.

Nick: Which in itself refutes "sola scriptura," because the Apostles and Christians weren't looking to Scripture alone (not to mention Scripture wasn't even fully completed yet).

Louis: However, there is absolutely nothing in those texts to indicate that they taught different things orally from what they put in writing.

Nick: Here is where we start to get to the bottom of things.

First, you're assuming what was taught orally was also written down. There is no evidence to suggest this, and it even contradicts Scripture itself which tell Christians to hold onto oral teachings (which is illogical if the writing itself is all they need). You must have clear ('positive') Scriptural evidence of what you say, else Sola Scriptura is self-refuting.

Second of all, even if the content in ESSENCE* was the same orally as written, that doesn't mean the EMPHASIS in each source was the same. And a difference in emphasis can be significant, because what is only implicit in one source can be explicit in another source. And the concurrent existence of the two still disallows Scripture ALONE by definition.

*It would be absurd to think the oral teachings were simply a word-for-word recitation of the written text (especially given the fact Paul lived for a time among Christians he later wrote to).

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Nick writes:

Which in itself refutes "sola scriptura," because the Apostles and Christians weren't looking to Scripture alone (not to mention Scripture wasn't even fully completed yet).

No one follows the explicit manifestation of the content of God's revelation to the Apostles and earliest of Christians. No one has access to everything that was said by God or His inspired agents during that time, even if we do try to follow as much of the material as is available today.

If you wish to just note that the Apostles and earliest of Christians had access to more of God's Word than just Scripture, it also follows that the Apostles and earliest of Christians had access to more of God's Word than modern Catholicism does. If that's a problem for the Protestant rule of faith, it's a problem for the Catholic rule of faith as well.

Now, the key question at this juncture is not what was inspired during the era of the Apostles, but what of that inspired material is available to us today. So far, I don't see any reason to believe that anything beyond Scripture has survived into our modern era.

Catholicism's claims to oral tradition are like claiming to knowing the content of early church writings that are only referenced or briefly quoted in later documents. That we have fragments only demonstrates that those original documents existed at one time. It does not reveal its specific contents to us.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Short edit:

The first sentence above should read "specific" instead of "explicit".

Nick said...

Matthew: No one follows the explicit manifestation of the content of God's revelation to the Apostles and earliest of Christians.

Nick: Sure, but how does this help your case which not only must mean the Apostles and Early Christians were NOT practicing SS, but that what was 'sufficient' was eventually written down. Those are two huge issues that must be addressed. Catholics are not in the same bind as Protestants because Catholics have tradition to answer the questions you cannot; the difficulty for you is that Scripture doesn't teach Sola Scriptura (and in fact contradicts it).

Matthew: Now, the key question at this juncture is not what was inspired during the era of the Apostles, but what of that inspired material is available to us today.

Nick: You're building from a deistic framework, such that God left no instructions about what to do in the future so all we can do is scrounge for material today.

Matthew: So far, I don't see any reason to believe that anything beyond Scripture has survived into our modern era.

Nick: This doesn't prove SS at all, all it says is Scripture is all YOU know of. You're not saying "Scripture teaches ONLY it would be available in the future."

Matthew: Catholicism's claims to oral tradition are like claiming to knowing the content of early church writings that are only referenced or briefly quoted in later documents. That we have fragments only demonstrates that those original documents existed at one time. It does not reveal its specific contents to us.

Nick: I'm not sure what you're saying here. Oral teachings don't depend on having been written down at one point.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Nick writes:

Sure, but how does this help your case which not only must mean the Apostles and Early Christians were NOT practicing SS, but that what was 'sufficient' was eventually written down.

It helps my case to the extent that it refutes your argument at this point. You did not follow my reasoning, so I will try to explain it again.

It is insufficient to merely point out the fact that Christ and the Apostles used more than Scripture. They also used more than Scripture + Catholicism's current understanding of Tradition. There are words, deeds, actions, etc. of Christ and the Apostles that no one in the entire world knows about. They have been lost to the sands of time. The same objection you are raising about the supposed insufficiency of the written Word would also create an insufficiency in the Roman Catholic rule of faith. All Christian traditions suffer from lacking the complete and total sum of everything Christ and his Apostles did and said.

I suspect you are trying to say that Catholicism can appeal to "tradition" to escape this problem, but I don't see how that is reasonable. The very point is that the Catholic definition of "tradition" does not encompass absolutely everything Christ and his Apostles wrote, said, etc. Both rules of faith suffer the same charge of "insufficiency" based on how Christ and the Apostles practiced their faith. An argument that defeats your opponent's position but also your own is, unfortunately, not a sound one.

You're building from a deistic framework, such that God left no instructions about what to do in the future so all we can do is scrounge for material today.

That's a bit of a non-sequitur. You're going to have to explain how the assertion that we are looking for the extent of God's Word today entails building from a deistic framework. It's not really obvious how you'd make that argument. Perhaps you know more about deism than I do, but deistic philosophy tends to embrace a lack of divine revelation. That seems to be incompatible with asking where we can find divine revelation today.

It's also not obvious how you'd avoid the same criticism applied to your position. Are you not telling Protestants that their rule of faith is insufficient, that they should be searching for and verifying more of God's Word than what is contained in Scripture? Is that not the same kind of question I am asking? Should I now say your apologetic is deistic in nature?

(Continued...)

Matthew D. Schultz said...

This doesn't prove SS at all, all it says is Scripture is all YOU know of. You're not saying "Scripture teaches ONLY it would be available in the future."

Your characterization is a bit off. Sola Scripture doesn't try to prove a universal negative. It is a "weak" (if I may use that word since I do not have the philosophical vocabulary to currently express the idea in my head) positive assertion that, as far as we know and have investigated, the evidence strongly suggests the written Word is all we have available. Various alternative candidates have been proposed, and all have failed to meet the claim of inspiration.

And that's the point others have tried to make in this thread to you about default position. The burden of proof must be on the Catholic's part or else you are asking the Protestant to demonstrate a universal negative. Perhaps you know more about the rules of logic and reasoning, but I believe that is logically impossible.

I'm not sure what you're saying here. Oral teachings don't depend on having been written down at one point.

I made an analogy. I suspect I am not always clear, so I will explain it if you like.

But that is not so important at this stage. The issue for me is what sort of positive case you can make to demonstrate the existence of oral tradition today. If an atheist asked me where God has spoken, I would point him to the written Word. Here is something I consider inspired. Here are the pages and contents of the material for him to read and examine. But if an atheist asked you reproduce the material where God has spoken through Tradition not included in the Scripture, what would you give him? What document, speech, recording, picture, etc. could you give him to read, analyze, observe, hear, etc.?

Andrew Suttles said...

Good points Matthew!

I want to be clear that in assenting that there were things taught orally by the Apostles that were not written down that these were inspired. The Scriptures on cliam inspiration for the Scriptures:

2 Tim 3:16-17 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

I find no such promise for oral teachings.

The inspired Apostle says that Scripture is profitable for teaching so that the man of God may be perfect and thoroughly furnished. If I needed tradition to stand alongside scripture, the Scriptures would not be able to provide me with everything I need to be perfect and thoroughly furnished.

Besides all this, the only argument present for the preservation of "oral tradition" is "just trust me", which is shaky ground given that Jesus condemned the Pharisees for maintaing tradition over Scripture.

Andrew Suttles said...

Oh man did I butcher that first paragraph - sorry. More clearly:

"I want to be clear that though I agree that there were things taught orally by the Apostles, I do NOT agree that these were inspired. The Scripture only claims inspiration for itself."

Andrew Suttles said...

Andrew: Yes, Paul taught the Thessalonian believers by Word of mouth the things he learned from Christ. Can you enlighten us by proving to us exactly what those things were which he taught them by word of mouth.

Nick: This isn't the time to go into the content of what Paul preached orally (which at this point is simply changing the subject of this debate), all that matters now is that Paul wasn't espousing Sola Scriptura. His oral preaching was the Word of God (thus proving more than Scripture is inspired) and he tells them to hold onto his teachings whether given orally or written.

To say that Paul preached the Word of God to them is different entirely from saying that everything Paul said is the Word of God. In other words, Paul preached the Word of God, his preaching was not the word of God. Do you think EVERYTHING the Apostle said was inspired?

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Andrew Suttles writes:

"I want to be clear that though I agree that there were things taught orally by the Apostles, I do NOT agree that these were inspired. The Scripture only claims inspiration for itself."

I wanted to ask if you believe the unrecorded words of Christ were also uninspired.

Or what about the lost letters to the Corinthians?

In any case, I don't think if we concede (even just for the sake of argument) that these unrecorded words were inspired the Catholic will gain any favorable ground for his position. The critical proof demonstrating the existence of this tradition today is still lacking.

Andrew Suttles said...

MS Wrote: "I wanted to ask if you believe the unrecorded words of Christ were also uninspired."

YES! Everything Christ spoke is the very Word of God.

MS Wrote: "Or what about the lost letters to the Corinthians?"

I'm sorry that I am ignorant here, so I can't comment. I only know of the 2 inspired epistles that have been preserved and the uninspired epistles of Clement to Corinth.


MS Wrote: "In any case, I don't think if we concede (even just for the sake of argument) that these unrecorded words were inspired the Catholic will gain any favorable ground for his position. The critical proof demonstrating the existence of this tradition today is still lacking."

Exaclty. I tried to make that point earlier.

Thanks for your clarification.

Andrew

Nick said...

Matthew: It is insufficient to merely point out the fact that Christ and the Apostles used more than Scripture. They also used more than Scripture + Catholicism's current understanding of Tradition. ... All Christian traditions suffer from lacking the complete and total sum of everything Christ and his Apostles did and said.

Nick: I never argued that we (either side) had to look to every single bit of information spoken by Christ and His Apostles. That doesn't mean what was sufficient wasn't passed on (which we both agree was). Thus, your objection doesn't accomplish anything. The key focus is solely upon what form(s) the sufficient information was passed on. That the Apostolic Church wasn't looking to Scripture alone (e.g. for reasons due to it being a period of 'inscripturation', when what was sufficient went from oral+written form to wholly written) is a problematic point for your side, not mine.

Matthew: I suspect you are trying to say that Catholicism can appeal to "tradition" to escape this problem, but I don't see how that is reasonable.

Nick: The "problem" you're proposing doesn't flow from my argument. We must have misunderstood each other because I never argued the sum total of everything ever spoken by Christ or Apostle was preserved verbatim, or had to be. Catholic tradition does not put us in the bind you're in because it teaches not all that was sufficient was eventually written down, which likewise fits the testimony of what was. The problem with your end is that you only have the Scripture to go by, which say nothing about all of what was sufficient being eventually confined to written form.

Matthew: That's a bit of a non-sequitur. You're going to have to explain how the assertion that we are looking for the extent of God's Word today entails building from a deistic framework. It's not really obvious how you'd make that argument. Perhaps you know more about deism than I do, but deistic philosophy tends to embrace a lack of divine revelation. That seems to be incompatible with asking where we can find divine revelation today.

Nick: Deism is the notion that while God had a hand in the grand scheme of world events, He left man alone in terms of direct interaction. Now, consider what many Protestants here have said, something in the form of: "What do we have available today? Since scripture is all we have available today, then we must go by Sola Scriptura." The implication here is that while God had a hand in creating the Bible, He basically abandoned man, leaving him to wonder what we have available in each generation besides Scripture, and leaving man to come up with SS on his own. This is not full fledged deism, but certainly a form of it.

Matthew: It's also not obvious how you'd avoid the same criticism applied to your position.

Nick: Simple, because Catholics are never left wondering or guessing on this subject: Scripture and Tradition deny SS. You on the other hand don't have a (Scriptural) mandate to embrace SS, leaving all of you assuming/guessing SS is the only/default option.

Matthew: Are you not telling Protestants that their rule of faith is insufficient, that they should be searching for and verifying more of God's Word than what is contained in Scripture? Is that not the same kind of question I am asking? Should I now say your apologetic is deistic in nature?

Nick: I am pointing out that if Scripture is sufficient in such a manner as to teach SS, the Scripture needs to expressly state this; anything else is man trying to figure out what God wants for us 'today' by guessing at the solution (which includes guessing SS must be true because no other sources have yet to be verified as on par with Scripture).

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Nick writes:

I never argued that we (either side) had to look to every single bit of information spoken by Christ and His Apostles.

I didn't argue that you did. What you originally argued was:

Which in itself refutes "sola scriptura," because the Apostles and Christians weren't looking to Scripture alone (not to mention Scripture wasn't even fully completed yet).

You are saying here that the Protestant rule of faith falls short of the content of God's Word that Christ and the Apostles used. And as I have been trying to explain, Catholicism also falls short of what Christ and the Apostles used as well; they used more than just Scripture + Tradition. If you are consistent, you must jettison this argument against Sola Scriptura since it also demonstrates the insufficiency of Catholicism's rule of faith.

The implication here is that while God had a hand in creating the Bible, He basically abandoned man, leaving him to wonder what we have available in each generation besides Scripture, and leaving man to come up with SS on his own. This is not full fledged deism, but certainly a form of it.

You're not really interacting with my response on this point. Deism generally denies divine revelation from God. Questions about God's revelation in the Christian tradition presuppose direct interaction with man. It doesn't even fit into the category; we cannot even call it a "form" of deism.

But even if you still wish to label it deism, the label suffers from such significant qualifications that there is no harm in taking it. (Although I suspect that such a fact will be used to later equivocate on the term.)

And it almost goes without saying that this sort of charge is so general that it probably applies to everyone. I could easily rewrite it with the Catholic rule of faith in mind.

I am pointing out that if Scripture is sufficient in such a manner as to teach SS, the Scripture needs to expressly state this; anything else is man trying to figure out what God wants for us 'today' by guessing at the solution (which includes guessing SS must be true because no other sources have yet to be verified as on par with Scripture).

You were corrected on this before in this very thread. You don't need an "express" statement. You can make an implicit deduction, as the WCF said.

By the way, your prejudicial characterization of my approach is noted for what it is (and not as a valid argument). "Guessing" is hardly a fair term to use. It's not as if evaluating the claims of other denominations requires us to "guess." Do I need to "guess" that the Book of Mormon is not the Word of God? If that's the case, not only are you in the same position of "guessing" on these kinds of questions, I suppose you are also asking Protestants to "guess" whether Catholicism is true since we are still left to evaluate whether Catholicism's Scripture + Tradition rule of faith is true.

And, so far, you still have yet to demonstrate that something inspired other than Scripture exists today.

Indeed, even if I concede that your position is correct and Sola Scriptura is not taught by Scripture, where does that leave us? It's not as if we automatically move to Catholicism. Catholicism has its own burden of proof. And since you are not willing or able to produce proof for something more than God's Word existing today, we are still just left with Scripture. We remain functionally Sola Scriptura followers.

Nick said...

Matthew: Your characterization is a bit off. Sola Scripture doesn't try to prove a universal negative. It is a "weak" positive assertion that, as far as we know and have investigated, the evidence strongly suggests the written Word is all we have available. Various alternative candidates have been proposed, and all have failed to meet the claim of inspiration.

Nick: Where is the 'universal negative' here I'm demanding?
If you're 'proving' SS by means of (1) "evidence strongly suggests" all we have is the Bible, and (2) other candidates have been tested and found wanting...you're going about proving SS the wrong way.
That's a man-centered, negative approach to theology which says, "I can't think of any alternative, so I'm assuming SS is true - at least until someone proves another candidate exists."
A God centered, positive approach would say something in the form of "God's Written Word teaches SS, that's why it is true and why I believe it."

Matthew: And that's the point others have tried to make in this thread to you about default position. The burden of proof must be on the Catholic's part or else you are asking the Protestant to demonstrate a universal negative. Perhaps you know more about the rules of logic and reasoning, but I believe that is logically impossible.

Nick: I assure you one thing, I'm not trying to ask you to do the impossible. I'm asking you to look to the Bible ALONE and show me where the Bible teaches SS. That's not an impossible demand. What you're doing is saying let's not go by the Biblical testimony alone, but instead go outside the Bible to find any other authority and if not stick with the Bible alone as 'default'.

I'm saying, "prove Sola Scriptura is true," and you guys keep responding, "no, you Catholics prove Sola Scriptura isn't true, because for us to prove it true is an unfair task." That's as absurd and unfair of a method as a Mormon saying the Book of Mormon is true and he will hold it true until you prove otherwise. Your job isn't to prove it FALSE, rather the Mormon's job is to prove it TRUE. The Mormon can't say "you're putting an unfair burden on me to prove the Book of Mormon true," yet that's what you're doing to me.

Matthew: The issue for me is what sort of positive case you can make to demonstrate the existence of oral tradition today.

Nick: That's changing the subject. SS is on trial here, not oral tradition. Further, your emphasis on 'today' is fallacious, for your argument depends on setting a date for when oral tradition applied and then somehow expired. You'd have to show it expired, otherwise we must approach the situation as if it still exists.

Matthew: If an atheist asked me where God has spoken, I would point him to the written Word. Here is something I consider inspired. Here are the pages and contents of the material for him to read and examine. But if an atheist asked you reproduce the material where God has spoken through Tradition not included in the Scripture, what would you give him? What document, speech, recording, picture, etc. could you give him to read, analyze, observe, hear, etc.?

Nick: That's fallacious. An atheist wouldn't accept your evidence just because it's written. From the atheist standpoint, a written teaching claiming to be from God is of equal weight as a oral teaching claiming to be from God.

Nick said...

Andrew: I find no such promise for oral teachings.

Nick: Well, you need to look harder then, for places like 1 Thes 2:13 say the Apostles orally preached the "Word of God" to them.

Andrew: The inspired Apostle says that Scripture is profitable for teaching so that the man of God may be perfect and thoroughly furnished. If I needed tradition to stand alongside scripture, the Scriptures would not be able to provide me with everything I need to be perfect and thoroughly furnished.

Nick: You've made a slight of hand here, going from Scripture is 'profitable' to Scripture is 'sufficient' (i.e. 'everything I need').

Andrew: Besides all this, the only argument present for the preservation of "oral tradition" is "just trust me", which is shaky ground given that Jesus condemned the Pharisees for maintaing tradition over Scripture.

Nick: You cannot escape a 'just trust me' situation in every sense, for we don't have the original Bible manuscripts, so we very much are 'just trusting' the copies were genuine. Same with the Epilogue of Mark, in which today some say it isn't inspired while others have to 'just trust' that it is.

Nick said...

Andrew: To say that Paul preached the Word of God to them is different entirely from saying that everything Paul said is the Word of God. In other words, Paul preached the Word of God, his preaching was not the word of God. Do you think EVERYTHING the Apostle said was inspired?

Nick: Not all the Apostle said was inspired, NOR DID IT need to be. That some of what he said was inspired is shown, and that's all my case needs to show. Now, I can also turn that back on you, because not all the Apostles WROTE was necessarily inspired either!

Nick said...

Matthew: You are saying here that the Protestant rule of faith falls short of the content of God's Word that Christ and the Apostles used.

Nick: No, only that the Apostles weren't limited to nor exclusively using the Protestant rule of faith. The Apostles weren't going by SS.

Matthew: And as I have been trying to explain, Catholicism also falls short of what Christ and the Apostles used as well; they used more than just Scripture + Tradition.

Nick: You're committing logical fallacy here. The Apostles preached the Word of God, but not everything they preached was intended to or strictly necessary to be passed on. Of what was necessary to be passed on, they weren't turning to Scripture alone either in mandate or by example.

Matthew: Deism generally denies divine revelation from God. Questions about God's revelation in the Christian tradition presuppose direct interaction with man. It doesn't even fit into the category; we cannot even call it a "form" of deism.

Nick: It's a form of deism in that it denies God instructed men on how to proceed after the Apostolic Age. All you have is 2000 year old writings and saying "well folks, what else is available TODAY? Scripture is all I see, so I'll proceed with Scripture alone" implying God has left man without operating instructions for 2000 years because you're assuming 'all we have TODAY must be how we operate'.

Matthew: You were corrected on this before in this very thread. You don't need an "express" statement. You can make an implicit deduction, as the WCF said.

Nick: By "express" I mean 'positive' evidence, either explicit or implicit. And while implicit evidence is true 'positive' evidence, I merely pointed out the irony of a cornerstone doctrine having only implicit evidence in it's favor.

Matthew: By the way, your prejudicial characterization of my approach is noted for what it is (and not as a valid argument). "Guessing" is hardly a fair term to use.

Nick: Which term do you prefer then? "Assume"? My point is simply that you're making a dogmatic claim (that since Scripture is all that is available today then SS must be true) when it's unproven and in fact built from assumptions.

Matthew: And, so far, you still have yet to demonstrate that something inspired other than Scripture exists today.

Nick: I don't need to prove that, because the burden is on you to present positive proof. Further, your demand is of your own human invention, God didn't instruct you to approach the issue like that.

You're asserting that in some unspecified time in history, after the time of Christ, Christians no longer had any other inspired source and in fact started to go by SS. Where is your proof for such a bold claim?

Matthew: Indeed, even if I concede that your position is correct and Sola Scriptura is not taught by Scripture, where does that leave us? It's not as if we automatically move to Catholicism.

Nick: Yes, you do, if you base your starting point for Protestantism with Luther's breaking away from the Catholic Church.

Matthew: Catholicism has its own burden of proof.

Nick: Sure, but either you go Catholic or else find another body that meets the evidence you've found.

Matthew: And since you are not willing or able to produce proof for something more than God's Word existing today, we are still just left with Scripture. We remain functionally Sola Scriptura followers.

Nick: Nobody should be forced to refute what is already false. If SS is already self-refuting, you don't need me to come here to produce other sources for you in order to get you to stop embracing SS. That's why my first post ended with me speaking from the Protestant perspective. It's as if a Mormon comes to a point that he sees not good evidence for Mormonism, he doesn't need to stay Mormon until someone else comes along proposing another religion.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Nick writes:

That's a man-centered, negative approach to theology which says, "I can't think of any alternative, so I'm assuming SS is true - at least until someone proves another candidate exists."

The positive case for Sola Scriptura is simply what logically follows from knowing that Scripture is a) inspired and b) authoritative. Since all parties agree with a) and b), there is no obvious reason to go ahead and prove them as true. There are positive reasons for a) and b), but they are not necessary to present here.

A God centered, positive approach would say something in the form of "God's Written Word teaches SS, that's why it is true and why I believe it."

Does Scripture teach that God's Word is inspired? Yes. Does Scripture teach that God's Word is authoritative? Yes. That is the essence of Sola Scriptura. The charge of "negative case" does not stick.

What you're doing is saying let's not go by the Biblical testimony alone, but instead go outside the Bible to find any other authority and if not stick with the Bible alone as 'default'.

All parties know the Scriptures are inspired and authoritative; that is what the Biblical testimony alone teaches. So the question becomes whether your denomination's claims to extra inspired and authoritative revelation are true. That's going "outside" of Scripture only in the sense of evaluating claims outside of it, not trusting authorities outside of Scripture as equal to Scripture.

I'm saying, "prove Sola Scriptura is true," and you guys keep responding, "no, you Catholics prove Sola Scriptura isn't true, because for us to prove it true is an unfair task." That's as absurd and unfair of a method as a Mormon saying the Book of Mormon is true and he will hold it true until you prove otherwise. Your job isn't to prove it FALSE, rather the Mormon's job is to prove it TRUE. The Mormon can't say "you're putting an unfair burden on me to prove the Book of Mormon true," yet that's what you're doing to me.

I believe we've been over this with the discussion of default position. Does the Bible say Scripture is inspired? Yes. Does the Bible say Scripture is authoritative? Yes. That's essentially Sola Scriptura. What you seem to be asking, and this is where discussion of universal negatives comes in, is to prove that Scripture says nothing else outside of Scripture will be available in the future as inspired and binding on the conscience of the Christian. Well, you might as well ask us to prove by Scripture that no prophet anywhere in the world has added some inspired book to the canon. How would that be possible?

That's changing the subject. SS is on trial here, not oral tradition.

As I said earlier, even if we admit Scripture does not teach Sola Scriptura, that still leaves us with just Scripture to follow. You still have to prove that Tradition is inspired and exists today.

(Continued...)

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Further, your emphasis on 'today' is fallacious, for your argument depends on setting a date for when oral tradition applied and then somehow expired. You'd have to show it expired, otherwise we must approach the situation as if it still exists.

I see a man smoking a pipe. I go for a walk on the other side of town. Three hours later I return and see that he is no longer smoking the pipe. Do I need to know the exact time the man stopped smoking the pipe to know that he is currently no longer smoking the pipe? No, of course not.

In the same way I don't need to know the exact date oral tradition was lost to the sands of time. I know it once existed because of references in the New Testament. But now I know, by, among other things, your refusal to demonstrate that it exists, that there is no longer such a body of oral tradition in existence today.

That's fallacious. An atheist wouldn't accept your evidence just because it's written. From the atheist standpoint, a written teaching claiming to be from God is of equal weight as a oral teaching claiming to be from God.

You are not reading carefully. The question was the identification and presentation of what a Christian believes to be where God has spoken. It was not an attempt to get the atheist to accept that the work is, indeed, God's Word. Now, if the atheist asked you to present the content of non-Scriptural tradition in the same manner, what would you present?

My point is simply that you're making a dogmatic claim (that since Scripture is all that is available today then SS must be true) when it's unproven and in fact built from assumptions.

Logically it is "unproven" only in the sense that you cannot prove a universal negative. I am fine with that, since we are talking about possibilities that are so remote as to be inconsequential, at best.

Of course, the same "problem" (if we can even call it that) is present in Catholicism. You assume the Roman Catholic rule of faith is all there is and that nothing else binding on the conscience of Christians exists today. How would you prove that nothing else exists?

Further, your demand is of your own human invention, God didn't instruct you to approach the issue like that.

Just how did God instruct us to approach claims of divine revelation? To blindly accept them as true?

Yes, you do, if you base your starting point for Protestantism with Luther's breaking away from the Catholic Church.

And how does that follow? Let's assume your denomination is the same group that called itself "Catholic" during the Reformation. What then? How does a negation of Sola Scriptura automatically require us to accept Catholicism as true? You seem to be sliding in some sort of historical continuity premise, but your assertion is a bit too confusing to say one way or another.

If SS is already self-refuting, you don't need me to come here to produce other sources for you in order to get you to stop embracing SS.

Did I say you did? No. The problem is that until you provide evidence for additional sources of revelation from God, we are still going to just use Scripture, even if we think the principle is not taught in Scripture (which, by the way, is not the same as "self-refuting") and it's very possible or probable that other sources outside of Scripture are available today.

Andrew Suttles said...

I'm not sure how profitable it is to keep re-hashing through the same stuff, but I'll give it another try...

Nick: Well, you need to look harder then, for places like 1 Thes 2:13 say the Apostles orally preached the "Word of God" to them.

My pastor preaches the "Word of God" every Sunday morning to our congregation. This does not mean that my pastor is inspired - he is not. The things that Paul wrote, that have been preserved (the Scriptures), are inspired. What things he said when he preached, neither you nor I know.

Andrew: The inspired Apostle says that Scripture is profitable for
teaching so that the man of God may be perfect and thoroughly
furnished. If I needed tradition to stand alongside scripture, the
Scriptures would not be able to provide me with everything I need to be perfect and thoroughly furnished.

Nick: You've made a slight of hand here, going from Scripture is 'profitable' to Scripture is 'sufficient' (i.e. 'everything I need').

Did the Apostle make a slight of hand when he said that by the profit of scripture the man of God may be PERFECT and THOROUGHLY furnished unto ALL good works? If by Scripture I have what is profitable for doctrine so that I may be perfect and thoroughly furnished, what do I need outside scripture?

Nick: You cannot escape a 'just trust me' situation in every sense, for we don't have the original Bible manuscripts, so we very much are 'just trusting' the copies were genuine. Same with the Epilogue of Mark, in which today some say it isn't inspired while others have to 'just trust' that it is.

There is faith involved in religion, I agree. I believe that the same God who is able to breathe out His Holy Word through the pens of the Apostles is able to preserve that to our generation and speak it to us. I hope the Lord will give you faith in his Written and Preserved Word.

Nick said...

Matthew: The positive case for Sola Scriptura is simply what logically follows from knowing that Scripture is a) inspired and b) authoritative.

Nick: That's an insufficient case though. It isn't technically 'positive proof' because 'a' and 'b' are already granted. Positive proof must build from that, for example, showing Scripture is the 'only' authority, only is 'operable' outside times of 'inscripturation', etc, etc

Matthew: That is the essence of Sola Scriptura. The charge of "negative case" does not stick.

Nick: That's an invalid proof, extending it's 'findings' beyond what the evidence warrants. Establishing Scripture is 'an' authority is insufficient.

Take this mock conversation as an example of your false argument:

Person 1: I'm thinking of a shape.
Person 2: Is it a geometric shape?
P1: Yes.
P2: Does it have 3 sides?
P1: Yes.
P2: Then it MUST be a triangle!
P1: No, I was thinking a square.
P2: But you said it had 3 sides.
P1: Ah, that doesn't mean ONLY 3!

Similar problem with your case: you're invalidly jumping from 'a' authority to 'the only' authority.

Matthew: All parties know the Scriptures are inspired and authoritative. So the question becomes whether your denomination's claims to extra inspired and authoritative revelation are true. That's going "outside" of Scripture only in the sense of evaluating claims outside of it, not trusting authorities outside of Scripture as equal to Scripture.

Nick: You're just rephrasing my original critique. The very fact you have to go 'evaluating claims' proves my point! If the Scripture plainly told you it was the 'only' authority, you'd automatically rule out 'evaluating claims' in the first place. This is proof that SS is a man-centered approach to theology, because you're proceeding blindly, not having definitive 'positive' evidence Scripture stands alone.

Matthew: [repeat for 3rd time in a row] That's essentially Sola Scriptura.

Nick: But that's not essentially SS, that's a logical error on your part. You're missing evidence that gets you to the point of SS. It's like baking a cake with only 3 of 5 necessary ingredients and calling those 3 ingredients the essence of the cake. That's the same logical error as you stated.

Matthew: What you seem to be asking, and this is where discussion of universal negatives comes in, is to prove that Scripture says nothing else outside of Scripture will be available in the future as inspired and binding on the conscience of the Christian.

Nick: I am asking that very thing, and it's not an unreasonable demand at all. It's not a 'universal negative' either. To prove SS you must prove "SCRIPTURE SAYS nothing outside of it is inspired and binding." That's not a universal negative; just the opposite.

Matthew: Well, you might as well ask us to prove by Scripture that no prophet anywhere in the world has added some inspired book to the canon. How would that be possible?

Nick: If SS WERE true, Scripture would give instructions ruling out that very possibility!

Matthew: As I said earlier, even if we admit Scripture does not teach Sola Scriptura, that still leaves us with just Scripture to follow.

Nick: Then you're in a logical bind. To say "Scripture doesn't teach doctrine X(ss), but I'm going to accept doctrine X(ss) anyway" is a self-contradiction for SS. In fact, it can only mean one thing, that doctrine X is a tradition, and being self-contradictory must be a tradition of men.

Matthew: You still have to prove that Tradition is inspired and exists today.

Nick: True, but SS is on trial here, as TurretinFan's blog post demonstrates. Further, it is almost impossible to make any headway in a Tradition discussion when SS is being presupposed.

Nick said...

Matthew: I see a man smoking a pipe. I go for a walk on the other side of town. Three hours later I return and see that he is no longer smoking the pipe. Do I need to know the exact time the man stopped smoking the pipe to know that he is currently no longer smoking the pipe? No, of course not.

Nick: Now carry this over to the inscripturation situation: How do you know inscripturation isn't taking place? How do you know tradition 'expired'?

Matthew: In the same way I don't need to know the exact date oral tradition was lost to the sands of time.

Nick: Yes you do, because if you don't then how do you know it wasn't lost just yesterday, or a year ago, or 100 years ago?

Matthew: I know it once existed because of references in the New Testament.

Nick: And unless the NT indicates it would someday 'expire', you're proceeding with unbiblical assumptions.

Matthew: But now I know, by, among other things, your refusal to demonstrate that it exists, that there is no longer such a body of oral tradition in existence today.

Nick: I don't have to 'demonstrate' anything here, because the burden is on you. You're not following basic guidelines for fair debating practice. To say you don't have to prove tradition expired is you building your case on the assumption it did, but an assumption isn't proof.

Matthew: You are not reading carefully. The question was the identification and presentation of what a Christian believes to be where God has spoken. It was not an attempt to get the atheist to accept that the work is, indeed, God's Word. Now, if the atheist asked you to present the content of non-Scriptural tradition in the same manner, what would you present?

Nick: I'd present the canon of Scripture as exhibit A.

Matthew: Logically it is "unproven" only in the sense that you cannot prove a universal negative. I am fine with that, since we are talking about possibilities that are so remote as to be inconsequential, at best.

Nick: You don't seem to know what a universal negative is. That seems to be your buzz word to get around the issue. You're misusing that term, and thus employing a false argument. It's as absurd as me saying tradition is 'unproven' only in that you can't prove a universal negative true.

Matthew: Just how did God instruct us to approach claims of divine revelation? To blindly accept them as true?

Nick: No, but he certainly didn't want us to proceed illogically, which is unfortunately what SS is doing.

Matthew: And how does that follow? Let's assume your denomination is the same group that called itself "Catholic" during the Reformation. What then? How does a negation of Sola Scriptura automatically require us to accept Catholicism as true?

Nick: Luther had to come 'out from' a continuity of holding the Truth, else there was nothing to 'reform back to'. Luther LEFT the Catholic Church because he said X was actually true...well if X is actually false then he had no right to leave. The Catholic Church could still be false, but there would be no acceptable grounds to leave it on the basis of issue X.

Matthew: Did I say you did? No. The problem is that until you provide evidence for additional sources of revelation from God, we are still going to just use Scripture, even if we think the principle is not taught in Scripture (which, by the way, is not the same as "self-refuting") and it's very possible or probable that other sources outside of Scripture are available today.

Nick: How is that not self-refuting? Do you understand the definitions you're arguing? You already were misusing 'universal negative'.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Nick writes:

Take this mock conversation as an example of your false argument:

Person 1: I'm thinking of a shape.
Person 2: Is it a geometric shape?
P1: Yes.
P2: Does it have 3 sides?
P1: Yes.
P2: Then it MUST be a triangle!
P1: No, I was thinking a square.
P2: But you said it had 3 sides.
P1: Ah, that doesn't mean ONLY 3!

Similar problem with your case: you're invalidly jumping from 'a' authority to 'the only' authority.


If all I know as a Protestant is three sides, and all other claims for evidence of an additional side have fallen short, then it is still reasonable to conclude that the evidence strongly favors three sides such that I can reasonably say it has only three sides.

Now, it is possible additional sides exist, but I still don't see how the possibility of additional sides refutes or causes a problem for Sola Scriptura. You're going to have to do a better job of explaining your objection. As for my part, I have, below, tried to contribute some clarity by asking some relevant questions.

To prove SS you must prove "SCRIPTURE SAYS nothing outside of it is inspired and binding."

Why do you think Scripture would need to say that there is nothing inspired outside of Scripture? I do not see why such a statement would be necessary for Sola Scriptura to be true.

If it helps, for me, the case for Sola Scriptura is more like an inductive argument than a deductive one.

If SS WERE true, Scripture would give instructions ruling out that very possibility!

What in your understanding of Sola Scriptura requires that Scripture rule out the very possibility of future Words of God?

Does the Roman Catholic rule of faith give instructions ruling out the very possibility of additional Words of God in the future? If not, then your rule of faith is subject to the same critique.

Then you're in a logical bind. To say "Scripture doesn't teach doctrine X(ss), but I'm going to accept doctrine X(ss) anyway" is a self-contradiction for SS.

In the hypothetical I proposed, I didn't say that we are still holding to Sola Scriptura. I said we are functionally practicing the same thing.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

By the way, to anyone else reading the thread (if anyone at this stage), Steve Hays has just done a post on the issue of whether Scripture needs to teach Sola Scriptura:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2010/01/is-sola-scriptura-self-refuting.html

Since I've spent a good deal of time in this thread already, I'll let this be my last response.

Nick said...

Matthew: If all I know as a Protestant is three sides, and all other claims for evidence of an additional side have fallen short, then it is still reasonable to conclude that the evidence strongly favors three sides such that I can reasonably say it has only three sides.

Nick: The point of my triangle example was that it's invalid to jump from 'a' authority to 'the only' authority. All you're doing is making a 'negative' argument, which is ultimately limited in it's power. A 'negative' argument like that can never take the place of a 'positive' argument. To say "all I know of is X" as your main example is weak, because your lack of knowing other X's can be due to your own shortfalls in understanding, not positive proof that no other X exists.

Matthew: Now, it is possible additional sides exist, but I still don't see how the possibility of additional sides refutes or causes a problem for Sola Scriptura.

Nick: If the possibility of additional sides exists, then that's solid proof you have no grounds to turn exclusively to Triangle; it would be a premature leap of logic. It's no different than betting on who's going to win a race before the race is over.

Matthew: Why do you think Scripture would need to say that there is nothing inspired outside of Scripture? I do not see why such a statement would be necessary for Sola Scriptura to be true.

Nick: Because such information is necessary to prove positively that SS is true; anything short of that leaves you guessing that it's true, but that makes SS a self-refuting premise.

Matthew: If it helps, for me, the case for Sola Scriptura is more like an inductive argument than a deductive one.

Nick: I don't see how an inductive argument helps, in fact I'd consider it a weaker grounds to start from.

Matthew: What in your understanding of Sola Scriptura requires that Scripture rule out the very possibility of future Words of God?

Nick: Because without ruling out other inspired sources, SS cannot stand by it's own definition. It would be saying Scripture is the only inspired authority, except for these other inspired authorities. That's a contradiction. As for the "future" aspect, that's a slightly different issue, because it assumes SS is true first, where as past/present inspired sources have yet to be dealt with.

Matthew: Does the Roman Catholic rule of faith give instructions ruling out the very possibility of additional Words of God in the future? If not, then your rule of faith is subject to the same critique.

Nick: Yes, in that tradition teaches Divine Revelation ended with the death of th elast Apostle.

Nick said...

Matthew: By the way, to anyone else reading the thread (if anyone at this stage), Steve Hays has just done a post on the issue of whether Scripture needs to teach Sola Scriptura:

Nick: Thank you for the link. I have commented upon that link, showing Hays' argument to be built on faulty premises. He mistakenly attributed 'self-refuting' strictly to whether something is 'self-referential'.


Matthew: Since I've spent a good deal of time in this thread already, I'll let this be my last response.

Nick: Agreed. It was a good talk but I've said enough.