Friday, December 23, 2011

A Visit to Catholic Answers Forum Part #5

Is Sola Scriptura Biblical? You Betcha!

Old May 27, '11, 8:15 pm
Join Date: January 30, 2010
Posts: 277
Religion: Protestant
Default Re: Is Sola Scriptura Biblical? You Betcha!

Originally Posted by inkaneer View Post
I think 2 Thess 2:15 makes your wishfull thinking null and void.

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter. [2 Thess 2:15 RSV]

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. [2 Thess 2:15 KJV]

God's word is immutable. It is the same yesterday, today and forever. Those words penned by Paul almost 2,000 years ago are just as valid today as they were when the ink was still wet. 2Thess 2:15 is the wooden stake in the heart of the sola scriptura vampire.
In Galatians 1:14, Paul makes reference to 'the traditions of my fathers' and in Colossians 2:8, 'the tradition of men'. Charles Hodge notes that Galatians 1:14 and Colossians 2:8 are references 'to what is human and untrustworthy...and frequently in the gospels of the elders.'

Only in the remaining three instances (1 Cor. 11:2, 2 Thess. 2:15, 3:6), where the noun (paradosis) appears, do we find binding Christian tradition in the New Testament. In each of these, the apostle makes reference to authoritative apostolic tradition which he had 'delivered' (1 Cor. 11:2), 'taught' (2 Thess. 2:15), or 'commanded' (2 Thess. 3:6).

In all three cases, the tradition(s) to which he referred could be objectively identified by his readers.

These traditions were not something awaiting the future development of a living voice because, firstly, they had already been 'delivered' to the Corinthians who were 'keeping' them (1 Cor. 11:2), and secondly, they had already been 'taught' to the Thessalonians who were commanded to 'stand fast' in them and 'hold them' (2 Thess. 2:15). Thirdly, they were commanded to 'walk' according to them, clearly indicating that the Thessalonians were already acquainted with them (2 Thess. 3:6).

This being the case, not one of these texts supports the modern Roman view that 'tradition' in the New Testament can refer to a future unfolding of doctrinal development, or unidentified dogma awaiting future definition.

Why? Because the Church was already in possession of these traditions. They were already 'keeping' them, 'holding' them, and 'walking' in them.

The verbs used to describe the relationship of these traditions to Christian observance make no sense unless they had already been identified and defined. Every reference to 'tradition' in these passages has to do with doctrinal or moral rules already delivered.

David T. King p.112 Holy Scripture The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Vol. I


Paul Hoffer said...

Sola Scriptura sure is biblical. It was the tradition of men condemned by Jesus at Nt. 15:1-9.

James Swan said...

Mr. Hoffer,

I disappoint myself when I leave some sort of "snarky" (yes, that's a word I learned from you) comment, but do so with a typo. I'm sure you feel just like I do.

Shall I assume that the Roman Magisterium has infallibly defined "Jesus at Nt. 15:1-9"? Or is this simply your private interpretation?

Constantine said...


Assuming that "Nt." is meant to be "Mt." then Jesus quotes no fewer than five verses of Scripture - and Scripture alone - to condemn non-scriptural "traditions".

So is it your contention, Paul, that Jesus uses Scripture alone to condemn Scripture alone?


Paul Hoffer said...

I apologize for the typo. You are right Mr. Swan, it was supposed to by Matthew 15:1-9. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

Constantine, show me where in the O.T. a korban vow is unscriptural. In fact, the opposite is true. Leviticus 27:28)Further, there is no authority in the O.T. for a third party to loose a person from a rashly made korban vow. See, Numbers 30:1-3, Leviticus 27:26-30, and Deuteronomy 23:21-23.

Now there came a point of time once the Pharisees came into the picture that there was a disagreement over this issue, but that came about because they had developed an Oral Torah where they divided the 613 commandments found in the O.T. into two categories: Laws in relation to God (bein adam le-Makom) and Laws about relations with other people (bein adam le-chavero). It was generally regarded in the Oral Torah that violations of commandments involving relations with other people were considered more serious in degree than ones only involving God as in the former situation, one must obtain forgiveness both from the offended party and from God for one's sinful conduct.

If you think that I am wrong, please show me anywhere in the O.T. where a third party had the authority to annul a korban vow. Let me give you a hint here:

Judges 11:29-40~nope. Jepthah sacrificed his daughter to keep his vow despite the injunction against human sacrifice. Here a vow trumps the commandment, "thou shall not kill".

Numbers 30:3 "If any man make a vow to the Lord, or bind himself by an oath: he shall not make his word void but shall fulfill all that he promised."

Is there anything here that suggests an exception can be made?

Dt. 23:21 "When thou hast made a vow to the Lord thy God, thou shalt not delay to pay it: because the Lord thy God will require it. And if thou delay, it shall be imputed to thee for a sin."

Is there anything here that suggests an exception can be made?

Eccl.: 5:3-5 "If thou hast vowed any thing to God, defer not to pay it: for an unfaithful and foolish promise displeaseth him: but whatsoever thou hast vowed, pay it. And it is much better not to vow, than after a vow not to perform the things promised. Give not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin: and say not before the angel: There is no providence: lest God be angry at thy words, and destroy all the works of thy hands."

Any exception here for foolish or unfaithful vows?

Proverbs 20:25 "It is ruin to a man to devour holy ones, and after vows to retract."

Any exception here?

Jesus labeled these pharisees as hypocrites for following the letter of the Law-i.e. sola scrptura when they should be reading it in the spirit of the times.

Mr. Swan, I am not aware of time when the Magisterium ever needed to formally define this percope to defend a teaching of the Church. If you know something to the contrary, please feel free to correct me. If not, your suggestion is based on an erroneous presumption. Catholics have as much right as Protestants to interpret the sacred texts. The Church only steps into offer correction, if the exegete's reading takes him off-the-reservation. Again, show me where my understanding of tbis text is wrong!

God bless!

James Swan said...

Mr. Swan, I am not aware of time when the Magisterium ever needed to formally define this percope to defend a teaching of the Church. If you know something to the contrary, please feel free to correct me.

Mr. Hoffer, I recall that there was some sort of schism that took place in the sixteenth century that's had somewhat of a lasting effect on the Roman Church. This of course is my opinion. If either you or the Roman hierarchy doesn't think the Reformation was so important as to infallibly define a number of Scriptures (including this one), then I indeed am grateful to you for clearing this up for me.

If not, your suggestion is based on an erroneous presumption. Catholics have as much right as Protestants to interpret the sacred texts.

I appreciate that Mr. Hoffer. I didn't realize Rome allowed me the right to interpret the Bible. I was mistakenly thinking they thought that I was a petulant spirit relying on my own skill wresting the sacred Scripture to my own senses.

On the other hand, if by some chance you're wrong about my "right", you may also be a petulant spirit presuming to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church,--whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures.

The Church only steps into offer correction, if the exegete's reading takes him off-the-reservation. Again, show me where my understanding of this text is wrong!

Well, I'd much rather be your pupil than your teacher. Perhaps you can dig up the unanimous consent of the fathers on this verse?

Here's one that puzzles me Paul. If you interpret this verse one way, and some other Roman Catholic another, how do I know which of you is correct? What value is there in either of your interpretations? It seems to me you should spend more time informing petulant spirits like myself in certain truths of Roman Catholicism than speculative personal interpretations.

Joe said...

Hi Paul.

May I ask how Matt 15 condemns SS?

I did read your post, but honestly do not know how it relates. I am sure it is just me not understanding, but can you simplify it a bit for me?

Seems like Matt 15, if anything confirms SS.


-in Him,


Joe said...

Hi Paul.

In this passage, Jesus says that the Pharisee's tradition caused them to violate the commands of God (and quotes scripture, "Honor your father/mother" as the commands of God).

This seems like He is actually affirming the principle of SS here...but like I say, you probably have a point that I am just missing here, so please clarify what you are saying for those like me that are slow of mind. :)

in Him,


PeaceByJesus said...

please show me anywhere in the O.T. where a third party had the authority to annul a korban vow.

Yes, just as the vow of a women can be annulled by a higher authority,(Numbers 30:3-4) so that of a man is subject to such, that being the Scriptures, which are abundantly manifested to be the standard for obedience and establishing truth claims.

To presume that texts such as Leviticus 27:28 would sanction a man making a vow to literally burn up his child as Jepthah is supposed to have done is making the prior command to none effect, which is what the Pharisees were doing.

You can adhere to your interpretation of Judges 11:29-40, as Rome has no infallible definition of it, but the stamped commentary in your official Bible offers,

"Jephthah’s rash vow and its tragic consequences reflect a widespread folklore motif, most familiar in the Greek story of Iphigenia and her father, Agamemnon. The sacrifice of children was strictly forbidden by Mosaic law (Lv 18:21; 20:2–5), and when the biblical writers report its occurrence, they usually condemn it in strong terms (2 Kgs 16:3; 21:6; Jer 7:31; 19:5). In this case, however, the narrator simply records the old story, offering no comment on the acceptability of Jephthah’s extreme gesture. The story may have been preserved because it provided an explanation of the custom described in vv. 39–40 according to which Israelite women mourned Jephthah’s daughter annually in a four-day ceremony."

James Swan said...

Rather than simply relying on Mr. Hoffer's opinion on what the Bible says, I find it always helpful to consult the American Infallible Magisterium, Catholic Answers. Here's what Roman Catholicism really holds on Matthew 15:1-9.

This article avoids any meaningful interpretation of the text. This article though gives the infallible apologetic that I've heard most often:

He was not condemning all traditions. He condemned only those that made God’s word void. In this case, it was a matter of the Pharisees feigning the dedication of their goods to the Temple so they could avoid using them to support their aged parents. By doing this, they dodged the commandment to "Honor your father and your mother" (Ex. 20:12).

This standard answer makes a distinction between human traditions (condemned) and divine traditions (allowed). In Matthew 15, Jesus was only condemning human traditions.

What makes this text though so pertinent to Romanism is that during this period the Jewish leaders held the tradition in question to be authoritative, some even holding it was passed down from Moses. For these Jewish leaders, this tradition functioned with divine authority as a divine tradition.

Chrysostom rightly notes, that Jesus (as recorded by Mark), "as on every occasion He doth, bringing forward the Scriptures, and so evincing Himself to be in accordance with God." (NPNF 10, 316).

James Swan said...

Mr. Hoffer vs. Catholic Answers

Mr. Hoffer:
show me where in the O.T. a korban vow is unscriptural.

Catholic Answers:
The Jews of Jesus' day quoted the Bible to defend their beliefs, but they also followed their traditions (Mt 15:2). Some were legitimate, some not. Look at Jesus' attack on one of the illegitimate traditions: the Pharisees' custom of the Corban (Mt 15:4-9).

His attack is taken by some as a rejection of all tradition and as an affirmation of sola scriptura, but it really shows only that he opposed human traditions which contradicted Scripture, not that he rejected all tradition. You can't conclude, then, from Jesus' mere citing of the Bible, that one needs to believe only in the Bible or that the Bible is the sole rule of faith and all tradition must be rejected.

Here's another one that puzzles me Paul. If you say the corban vow is a scriptural tradition, and Catholic Answers infers the passage in question is speaking of a human tradition which contradicted Scripture, how do I know which of you is correct? What value is there in either of your interpretations? It seems to me you should spend more time informing petulant spirits like myself in certain truths of Roman Catholicism than speculative personal interpretations.

James Swan said...

A tidbit from John Calvin on Matthew 15:1-9

"Let any man now consider whether this wickedness does not at present abound more among the Papists than it formerly did among the Jews. It is not indeed denied by the Pope, or by the whole of his filthy clergy, that we ought to obey God; but when we come to the point, we find that they consider the act of eating a morsel of flesh as nothing less than a capital crime, while theft or fornication is regarded as a venial fault, and thus, on account of their traditions, they overturn the Law of God; for it is utterly insufferable that the enactments of men shall withdraw any part of that obedience which is due to God alone. Besides, the honor which God commands to be yielded to parents extends to all the duties of filial piety. The latter clause which Christ adds, that he who curseth father or mother deserves to be put to death, is intended to inform us, that it is no light or unimportant precept to honor parents, since the violation of it is so severely punished. And this is no small aggravation of the guilt of the scribes, that so severe a threatening does not terrify them from granting an extension of liberty to those who despised their parents."

James Swan said...

A tidbit from Luther

The same Christ, in the same chapter, Matthew 15[:11], declares, “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”
This declaration and judgment must be firmly grasped, for it is powerful and overthrows with forcefulness all teaching, custom, and mode of life that distinguishes between foods. It liberates all consciences from all laws concerning food and drink. So it is allowable to eat milk, butter, eggs, cheese, and meat any day, be it Sunday or Friday, Lent or Advent; and no one needs to pay butter money or buy letters for that purpose. For this word stands firm and does not deceive, “What goes into the mouth does not defile a man.”

From this it follows, first, that it is a lie to claim that St. Peter instituted the fast days and that it is a commandment of the church, on pain of mortal sin, to forego eggs, butter, milk, and meat on fast days. For neither St. Peter nor the church prescribes or teaches anything contrary to Christ. And if they did, we should not obey them. Not that it would be wicked to practice such abstinence. But it is wicked to make a requirement or rule out of something essentially free and to pretend that something does defile and is sin of which Christ himself says that it is not sin and does not defile.
Second, it follows that for the pope to sell letters and grant permission to eat butter, meat, and so forth, is sheer knavery of the devil. For in this verse Christ has already permitted it and made it a matter of liberty.

Third, it is an error and a lie to say that gold-fasts, ban-fasts, and the fasts on the eve of apostles’ and saints’ days must be observed, on penalty of sin, as a commandment of the church. Against everything of the kind there stands this word of Christ, “What goes into the mouth does not defile a man.” Rather fasting should forever be free and voluntary, both as to the day and as to the food.
Fourth, the orders of St. Benedict, St. Bernard, the Carthusians, and all others, oppose Christ when they abstain from meat and the like as a matter of necessity and command, as if it would be a sin not to abstain. For their regulations flatly contradict what Christ says when they assert: What goes into the mouth defiles. To them, then, Christ must be a liar when he says, “What goes into the mouth does not defile a man.”


James Swan said...


So you see that this one saying of Christ mightily condemns all the [monastic] orders and their “religious regulations.” For if what goes into the mouth does not defile, how much less will that defile which is put on the body, whether cowl, coat, shirt, pants, shoes, or cloak, whether green, yellow, blue, red, white, motley, or whatever? The same is true also of places, whether churches, cells, houses, or the rooms within them.
It follows that whoever regards it a sin for a monk to go without the garb of his order, whoever would not leave it a matter of freedom, also makes Christ a liar. For he makes that a sin which Christ freed from sin. He says Yes! where Christ says No! What are such monks, then, but people who say to Christ’s very face, “You lie; there is sin, in what you say is not sin.”
It will not help them to quote St. Bernard, St. Gregory, St. Francis and other saints. We must listen to what Christ says. Him alone did the Father make to be our teacher, when on Mount Tabor he said, Matthew 17[:5], “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” He did not say, “Listen to Bernard, Gregory,” etc., but, listen to him, him, him, my beloved Son. Who knows how far the saints sinned or did right in this matter? What they did, they did not do as a matter of necessity and command. But if they did it as a matter of necessity and command, they erred; and we are not to forsake Christ in order to follow them.
All this is confirmed in the same passage in Matthew 15[:11, 18–20] where Christ continues, “What comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man. For out of the mouth, from the heart, come evil thoughts, fornication, adultery, theft, false witness, slander, and so forth. These are what defile a man.”

Constantine said...

Mr. Hoffer writes,

If you think that I am wrong, please show me anywhere in the O.T. where a third party had the authority to annul a korban vow. Let me give you a hint here:

When I read that, I just can’t help but think of Jesus’ interaction with the Jews in John 10. The Jews, standing right in front of Jesus failed to recognize Him as the Christ.

Yes, Paul, let me please introduce you to that third party. His name is Jesus and He is the creator of the universe. He has power and authority over all. So when He uses Exodus 20:12; Deut. 5:16; Exodus 21:17 and Lev. 20:9 to condemn the oral traditions of the Pharisees, there is no further court of appeal.


RPV said...

Not to pile on, but the Nth commandment is thou shalt never be snarky to a romanist, which commandment is surely found in one of the many deutorocanonical books.

More to the point re. the traditions Paul refers to in 1 Thessalonians, is that one has to be wearing the roman version of beer goggles not to understand the verse in its plain and simple historical grammatical context.

Paul essentially says, whether you heard it by word or by epistle, follow and obey it. There is no conflict between the two. What Paul first said to the early Thessalonican church in person, he went on to put in writing and it became part of the New Testament.

We might as well want to return to the church of Acts and practice speaking in tongues and expecting all kinds of signs, wonders and miracles, all the while ignoring that these things occurred in the early church to corroborate and seal the gospel preached by the apostles previous to the same being recorded and preserved in the NT. IOW since we have the NT written why should we want to return to the economy and dispensation which was without it?

Likewise the supposed unwritten tradition of the apostles of which we are still waiting for the canonical list - as opposed to the a certain italian bishop sucks out of his thumb.

James Swan said...

To bring this a bit closer to my limited area of knowledge: One of the earliest defenders of Reformation doctrine was a man named Lazarus Spengler (1479-1534). He wrote a book entitled, The Main doctrines by Which Christendom Has Until Now Been Deceived(1522). One of the doctrines that Spengler covers is the authority of tradition masquerading as divine commands:

"Spengler accuses church teaching of having made the abuse of a religious holiday or the breaking of a fast a more serious moral matter than adultery, blasphemy, and harming one's neighbor."

"This is no exaggeration. In the archbishopric of Mainz, laymen were fined 300 solidi for adultery, 600 for breaking a fast. Clergy were fined sixteen times as much for burying the excommunicated as for for visiting a bordello"

Source: Steven E. Ozment, The Reformation in the Cities: The appeal of Protestantism to Sixteenth-Century Germany and Switzerland (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1975), p. 78, 195.

Ozment explains that Spengler argued the Romanists of his day were popularly putting forth the notion that salvation was sought by good works. That is, because Romanism held to the foundation of free will, "salvation is to be sought by good works, especially by such apparent good works as 'going on pilgrimages, securing indulgences, building churches, endowing cloisters, masses, anniversaries and like ceremonies, making great offerings, decorating churches, and fasting.'"

Ozment explains Spengler drew this conclusion: "when men are taught the power of free will and the necessity of good works, and the later are defined arbitrarily by human tradition, such a teaching contrives to alarm the consciences of men so that they will see no way to salvation except the payment of money, the performance of apparent good works, and the purchase of indulgences" (ibid. 78).

I'll give Mr. Hoffer this inch: I think it's quite possible that a Protestant church claiming sola scriptura can just as easily fall into fitting the description of Matthew 15 as Romanism did. The difference is this: a sola scriptura church must always seek to conform itself to the word of God, and root out its unbiblical traditions. But Roman Catholicism has different ultimate rule of faith. This discussion with Mr. Hoffer, while interesting, will never resolve because of presuppositions.

James Swan said...

On a related note to anyone interested in regard to Jewish tradition on Matthew 15, track down John Gil's commentary on this text. Here's one link without the Hebrew fonts. A link with the Hebrew fonts though would be best.

Gil's detailed exposition is quite interesting, including his historical exploration of Jewish tradition:

Gil says the rules Christ and the disciples were breaking were those of "Hillell and Shammai; the two heads of their famous schools, and other ancient doctors; from whom were delivered by one to another, certain rules and laws of their own devising, which had no foundation in the word of God."

Gil explains the traditions being broken were preferred over God's law, and what the disciples were doing was worthy of death. He provides also a detailed account of Corban here and here.

Unless Mr. Hoffer can convince otherwise, I'm going to go with Gil's historical exegesis of Matthew 15.

PeaceByJesus said...

Came across this today from a Jewish source in researching on the Pharisees which i thought you may find interesting:

While the Sadducean priesthood prided itself upon its aristocracy of blood (Sanh. iv. 2; Mid. v. 4; Ket. 25a; Josephus, "Contra Ap." i., § 7), the Pharisees created an aristocracy of learning instead, declaring a bastard who is a student of the Law to be higher in rank than an ignorant high priest (Hor. 13a), and glorying in the fact that their most prominent leaders were descendants of proselytes (Yoma 71b; Sanh. 96b). For the decision of their Scribes, or "Soferim" (Josephus, σοπισταί; N. T., γραμματεἴς), consisting originally of Aaronites, Levites, and common Israelites, they claimed the same authority as for the Biblical law, even in case of error (Sifre, Deut. 153-154); they endowed them with the power to abrogate the Law at times (see Abrogation of Laws), and they went so far as to say that he who transgressed their words deserved death (Ber. 4a).

By dint of this authority, claimed to be divine (R. H. 25a), they put the entire calendric system upon a new basis, independent of the priesthood. They took many burdens from the people by claiming for the sage, or scribe, the power of dissolving vows (Ḥag. i. 8; Tosef., i.).