Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Was (or is) the Reformation Necessary? An examination of Protestantism’s doctrinal Pillars: Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide -- 2

Sola Scriptura--Part 2

Here is part 2 of the Debate. As before, Jacob's word's are in black. My previous comments are in maroon, and my current comments are in the default blue.

In Regards to the opening Scripture I posted from Matthew 15:1-9, Gregory said:

First thing I'd like to say is Amen! I believe this Scripture, too! In fact, I believe all of Scripture 100%. What's more, I believe that no Scripture contradicts Catholic teaching--so it might be a little awkward to prove your point by quoting Scripture--but we'll see how that goes.

Next thing to note was that this text confronts "the tradition of the elders," as I bold above. Specifically, it is rebuking man-made tradition, and not even all man-made tradition, but specifically that which contradicts Scripture. The Key Question is, is Jesus condemning all traditions or simply their tradition? To answer that, you have to ask whether tradition is ever viewed positively in the New Testament, and even endorsed--and if so, how do we recognize what is a good and true tradition?


How do we know that they are man made?(referring to the traditions that Jesus rebuked) Because they contradict the teaching of Scripture. Catholic Doctrine does not set itself up as "supposedly Scriptural" but as authoritative and true in its own right. That's a key distinction regarding your presuppositions.

I'm not sure that I expressed myself quite clearly in this paragraph, although Jacob seems to have understood my meaning. For the record, let me clarify.

Catholic doctrine never contradicts Scripture, although some Catholic doctrines are not explicitly taught in Scripture. But, since Catholicism is not bound by Sola Scriptura, this is not a problem for us. That said, however, we do believe in the material sufficiency of Scripture--a) that it has everything we absolutely need to know for salvation, and b) that all Catholic doctrine is at least implicitly taught in Scripture.

Ultimately, Scripture has a lot to say about the authority of the Church to make such doctrinal pronouncements, and that is the key (Matthew 16:19, pun intended).

Alright then, My question to Gregory is what if throughout this debate you are shown that the Roman Catholic doctrine/catechism contradicts Scripture in some key areas. What would that mean for you? Because I intend before this entire debate is over to show just that.

It would simply mean that your interpretation of Scripture differs from mine and that of the Catholic Church. It would then become a question of who has the authority to properly interpret Scripture. You? Your denomination (sorry, "convention")'s founder or leaders? Or the Church that Christ founded and gave that authority to: The "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church" which the Bible itself calls "the pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15)?

But the simple fact that we can haggle, or you and those women pastors from earlier could haggle [a reference to a debate that Jacob had had, posted originally on the now-deleted blog], over the interpretation of Scripture demonstrates that some sort of interpreter is needed--an authoritative interpreter, and would to God an interpreter whom He keeps from error! Otherwise we are left with fallible interpretations based on fallible interpretive grids which are different for whichever person wants to study Scripture, and the argument endlessly goes in circles over which hermeneutical method is superior. Either way, it is an appeal to one tradition or another, which itself pokes holes all through Sola Scriptura.

(Regarding a statement I made about the Pharisees) I was with you up until that last line. The Pharisees in fact were not the dominant sect at the time. The Sadducees in fact were, and were the ones who held the key seats in the Sanhedrin at the time. The Pharisees were simply the more pompous and obvious and noisy group.

As far as the Sadducees being the dominant sect not the Pharisees, I'm willing to concede and retract that statement. However perhaps you'll agree that the Pharisees were at least more influential with the people as a whole.

Regarding which Jewish theological school was more important, I simply want to say that it is a tangential issue, and not pertinent to our discussion. I only mentioned it to point out your lack of correct scholarship on that particular issue. I can only hope that better scholarship will be evidenced in the remainder of this debate, especially as pertains to Catholic beliefs.

(Regarding the Pharisees upholding the commentaries and following them as much or more than the actual Scripture) Actually, that's not true either. Jesus is calling them out on the fact that they place two contradicting ideas as having equal authority--and that if there is a contradiction, there is of necessity an error. As such, the error is not with the Law, but with the interpretation, and therefore that interpretation cannot be construed as equal to the Law.

You betchya! I love your wording here and I agree when you say that: "Jesus is calling them out on the fact that they place two contradicting ideas as having equal authority--and that if there is a contradiction, there is of necessity an error." I totally agree with you. They put their tradition in equality with Scripture and it was their sacred tradition that was wrong. So therefore their tradition needed to be trumped by Scripture. Amen! And as I've said before this is where I intend to show fault in Roman Catholicism, for doing exactly what the Pharisees were doing.

Thank you. I've been told I have a gift for elocution.

Your claim that Catholicism commits the same error that the Pharisees did can only succeed if you can actually and convincingly demonstrate that there is in fact a contradiction between the Church's teachings and the Scripture that the Church compiled, preserved, and preached for nearly 2000 years now. And to do that, you need to demonstrate why your opinion about what Scripture means is of more authoritative weight than that of the Church. And that would be only the first part in proving part A of this argument. The second part to A would be, obviously, to actually demonstrate that Sola Scriptura is taught in Scripture:

"...The burden of proof is on you to demonstrate
a) that Sola Scriptura is actually taught in the Bible,
b) why the Church somehow missed this teaching for nearly 1500 years, if indeed it is so clear in the Bible,
and c) that it is in fact a workable theory in the promotion of Christian truth and unity, despite the glaring evidences to the contrary."

So I assume you are dealing with "A". Makes sense. If you can't prove that, no point moving on to B and C. Of course, I'm still waiting for you to prove A: that Sola Scriptura is actually taught in the Bible...


Here in Matthew 15:1-9 I believe is Jesus (God Himself) telling the Pharisees that it's Scripture alone that is authoritative, not tradition. (These are my words)

I don't see that borne out in the text, as explained above. Jesus is condemning corrupt traditions created by men with impure motives--not traditions in general. Since Catholic Tradition (Apostolic Tradition) never contradicts Scripture, it is quite a different thing.

Yes, that's exactly where I'm starting. One thing to understand about the doctrine of "Scripture alone" is that it's presented in the Bible similarly to how the Trinity is. Nowhere in the Bible does it ever say "God is a triune God. He exists in three separate persons, God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. Yet at the same time He is one God." But we know that Scripture fully supports the idea of the triune God, Despite what the Mormons and JW's [Jehovah's Witnesses] would claim.

The Trinity as a fully constructed Doctrine (authoritatively defined by the Catholic Church, for the record) is taught only implicitly in Scripture, and not contradicted by it, in exactly the same way as all other Catholic doctrines that are not explicitly spelled out in Scripture. This fact is borne out in that the doctrine itself took about 400 years to nail down, that every early Christian heresy revolved around it, and the first major Christian split (Catholic and Orthodox) was because of it. If it was so clear in Scripture, why did the Church not simply say, look, here, chapter and verse! Rather, when the greatest heresy of the Early Church rolled in (Arianism), it was finally defeated not ultimately by appealing to Scripture, but to the traditions of the Apostles! Yes, obviously, the words of Scripture were used in defence, but since the Arians used Scripture (Scripture Alone, no less) to defend their heresy, more was needed. It was Tradition that preserved the orthodox understanding of the Trinity and of the Nature of Christ.

On the other hand, Sola Scriptura is contradicted in several places! (In fact, so I don't have to redo all this wonderful work, check out A Quick Ten-Step Refutation of Sola Scriptura.

In similarity to this I admit that the Bible never says the words "Scripture alone is authoritative," but I believe it teaches this collectively.

I disagree, based on the evidence and the Scriptural texts in the link above. On the other hand, many Catholic doctrines that you reject could be argued for on the same grounds. Why would an implicit Sola Scriptura proof be more convincing than an implicit proof for Mary's Immaculate Conception? (And please, answer the question. Don't go off on a tangent trying to disprove an example...)

(Just as a side note, the Mormons claim to continue apostolic authority as well, I think they are another testament to what can happen when you allow for authority outside of Scripture. They too would claim that their apostolic tradition wouldn't contradict Scripture, but it does.)

Mormons can claim it all they want to. Problem is, they can't demonstrate it. Joseph Smith, Mormonism's founder, was not an ordained minister in any denomination, let alone a Bishop who can trace the path of his ordination generation by generation back to an apostle! Catholics can!

Besides, saying "Apostolic Succession" is false because Mormonism also claims it is the exact same as saying that your claim (on my blog) that we are all saints is false simply because Mormons claim that, too (their official name is, after all, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints); or it's like saying that Sola Scriptura is false simply because heretical groups like the Arians in the Early Church, or the Unitarians and Jesus-Only Pentecostals use it today. The logic just doesn't fly!

Moreover, Jesus believed in much Pharisaical tradition that other Jewish schools of thought (like the Sadducees) disagreed with--Resurrection of the dead, for example, or the Scriptural authority of the entire Old Testament rather than just the Torah.

Yes, you're right. But did he believe those things simply because they were tradition? No. He believed them because they were taught in scripture. Which is again my point, that scripture makes it authoritative not the tradition. If tradition keeps in line with scripture, then that's fine. but it doesn't make the tradition authoritative, the only authority it carries is that given to it by scripture.

First off, it should be plainly obvious to anyone reading that Jesus did not believe that the Old Testament books written after Moses (that's Joshua to Malachi, if you're counting) were Scripture simply because, as Jacob claims, "It was taught in Scripture." They themselves are Scripture! The Sadducees didn't regard them as such, but the Pharisees did on the basis of their traditions. This is one small instance where the Pharisaical tradition was correct, and Jesus believed it!

Second, Jacob begs the question, "What is Scripture?"
The Sadducees accepted only the Torah as infallible (which is why they denied the resurrection). The Pharisees accepted the rest of what we have as Scripture today (including a few other books as well) as inspired. It was based on these books that the resurrection and angelology and various other beliefs that Christ shared with them were held. But the thing is, is that an OT canon was not established until AD 90--60 years after Christ! So belief in a resurrection was a "tradition" in Jesus' day, and Jesus, as God, confirmed it. Now, here's an interesting point--the resurrection as we know it today was a really late development in Jewish theology. So late, in fact, that there is actually no clear teaching on it in the Protestant version of the Old Testament. However, there is very clear teaching of it in the Deutero-Canonicals (those "Catholic" books that Protestants refer to as the "Apocrypha") that very closely resembles Jesus' own teaching.

So your dilemma is this: if you are right, and Jesus believed in the Resurrection of the Dead based on Scripture, then why do you reject those Scriptures that teach it and that Jesus evidentially believed? On the other hand, if you insist on holding to your truncated canon, on what clear teaching of Scripture did Jesus base His teaching on the resurrection? You can't have it both ways--either Jesus believed an unbiblical teaching of the Pharisees (which was nevertheless true), or He agrees with the Canon of Scripture used by Catholicism. Either way, it is a point for Tradition and an evident error on the part of Protestantism.

In fact, if Tradition is ever, at all, viewed in the New Testament as a good and positive thing, then I think that Sola Scriptura is a wash. That, added to the fact that the Bible nowhere says that the Bible alone is our rule of faith. But anyway...

Wrong. As I just said, tradition that keeps in line with Scripture can be ok. But it's Scripture that gives the authority, not the practice of tradition.

First thing to note, a clarification: Apostolic Tradition isn't something we "practice" any more than Sacred Scripture is something we "practice". I do not understand your phraseology. But anyway, you totally miss the weight of my statement. 2 Thessalonians 2:15, which you yourself bring up below, as well as the other Scriptures mentioned in the link I provide, clearly demonstrate that Tradition, that of the Apostles, is binding--it is the Deposit of Faith that Jude mentions. Scripture and Tradition go hand in hand, and Scripture itself affirms this! That directly contradicts Sola Scriptura by definition. I don't see what more there is to say!

To bring it home further, though, where in Scripture does it say that authority flows from Scripture a priori?

(referring to Colossians 2:8-10) Is all tradition "human tradition" or is there, biblically speaking, a tradition that is spirit-guided and true and authoritative? I think St. Paul, who wrote this passage in Colossians, would say that there is such a Tradition.

Again, I'll say tradition that is based from Scripture itself is ok. But it's not the tradition that carries the authority; it's Scripture. So, I think Paul would say "I don't think so Gregory."

But St. Paul does say it, plainly, and I gave references, and there are more in the link I provided (please, go read it!). There was a reason that I singled him out!

My contention is simply that Sola Scriptura itself is just such a human tradition. But hey! Purgatory is!

Since we aren't discussing Purgatory, I won't defend it here. Try to stay on topic, please. If you want a (barebones) defence of Purgatory, you can read my response to your comments on my blog (Grace For The Wayward Heart in the "Happy Hallowe'en...?" article. Chris was wondering if you were going to come back and defend your statements against him, as well, FYI).

However, in light of no direct biblical evidence for Sola Scriptura--and evidence for Tradition--in the Bible, I have to say that it is as much or more so a tradition of men as any Catholic Doctrine that you could throw out here (and I could provide more biblical support for the majority of those doctrines than you can for this.

(In regards to 2Thessalonians 2:15) Okay, so I win then, because I simply needed to demonstrate that the Bible itself refers to Tradition that is extra-biblical, but still binding and authoritative, to show that Sola Scriptura is not taught in Scripture. But for argument's sake, let's see how this progresses. you don't. The "tradition" that Paul refers to is that which came from him or the other apostles, either by their actual audible words or by letter. Which seeing as how God gave them as Christ's apostles the authority to write Scripture that makes sense that when people heard or read the words of the Lord's apostles they would put into practice what they were told to do.

You have trouble with elementary concepts of logic. Sola Scriptura is a system of belief that says that Only Scripture is authoritative and binding, and that anything else might be valuable, but not infallibly so. Yet here in this very passage, we have St. Paul saying that the Traditions he delivered, whether or not he ever wrote them down are binding! Therefore, whatever those binding traditions were, they were still, by definition, not Scripture, because the root word of Scripture is Script--something written down.

Now, if that is not enough (that a verse calls Tradition binding, and that it specifies traditions that were never written down), there are other similar passages, such as 1 Thessalonians 2:13, which goes so far as to call the oral, heard, received preaching (again, not written down, thus not scripture) "The Word of God." But we'll discuss that in a minute, since you actually have the poor sense to use that text in support of Sola Scriptura, even though it says the exact opposite of what you want it to say!

But here is the issue, we don't have an audible recording of what was said by Paul and Peter and so on and so forth.

No, we don't, obviously. However, we do have the written testimonies of their successors and disciples, the leaders of the later Church, who referred to their teaching, making mention of some things not in Scripture that the Apostles taught. Now, if the Church was so careful to give to us the Bible, preserved, unchanged and intact, despite heresies and persecutions that threatened to destroy it--and if we can trust that Scripture today as the Word of God, then why do you suppose that they would take less care to preserve and teach those Traditions of the Apostles that they regarded to have equal weight? If Tradition is suspect, then so is Scripture! The two stand and fall together, since it was based on Apostolic Tradition that we have the Scripture in the first place!

However what we do have is some of their written words that carried that same authority.

Here's an interesting question, then. What if archaeologists found and confirmed absolutely the Letter of Paul to the Laodiceans, or perhaps 3 Corinthians? Would you add it to your Bible, because it was the writings of an Apostle?

For myself, the answer is a resounding "no", because the Church decided, led by the Holy Spirit, what was Canonical, and what was not. And the Canon is closed!

Therefore it is there written words that we can trust because the early church fathers affirmed it as the writing of the apostles or those under the authority of an apostle, such as Luke.

That is actually not the sole (or even a major part of) the criteria used to determine Scripture. If it was, letters like 3 Cor, or the Letter to the Laodiceans, which they had back then, would have been included ipso facto. However, they were not. Do yourself a favour and check out "Where We Got the Bible", especially Chapters 3 and 4 (though you might find chapter 2 interesting as well) for more on how, exactly, the Canon was determined.

Those who were actually around to hear the apostles speak could hold to what they verbally said, but nowadays we only know what they wrote. And therefore that's all we can consider authoritative.

Those who actually heard the Apostles speak, like St. Polycarp of Smyrna, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, etc. refer greatly to the Apostolic Tradition handed on to them, and write about it to a great extent! So that argument falls flat, because they preserved the teaching of the Apostles for us. Sure, they didn't have tape recorders, and couldn't sell CD's of St. John's sermons on their radio broadcasts, but to paraphrase the Grandfather in "The Princess Bride," "Back in their day CDs were called books."

(referring to continual apostolic authority) Do I actually have to go through the abundance of Scriptural evidence, or will a few key passages suffice for now? Let's try, for starters, Acts 1:15-26, where the Apostles pick a successor for Judas, and 2 Timothy 2:1-2, where Paul not only tells Timothy to teach the traditions that Paul preached to him, but to in turn pass those on to faithful teachers as well!

First of all Paul was giving Timothy instruction for being a pastor and for equipping the church and selecting elders.

Actually, since according to the historical record, Timothy was an auxiliary Bishop of Ephesus with St. John, until John was exiled to Patmos, it is clear that St. Paul was training Timothy to be a Bishop, and telling him how to train up other bishops (Gr. Episkopos) and priests (Gr. Presbyteron = "Elder": Our word "Priest" is a contraction of "Presbyter". Think of that when you read a text about calling the elders of the Church, and don't read your modern ecclesial structures back into the text.)

Bishops are the successors to the Apostles, and this is clear in places where St. Paul refers to Timothy (and others) as Apostles (Romans 1:5 uses the pronoun "we", referring possibly to Paul's company with him listed in Romans 16:21-22. Timothy starts the list. Paul calls James, "The Lord's brother", an Apostle in Gal 1:19. So either this is James the son of Alphaeus [and not actually Jesus' brother--support for another Catholic doctrine, the Perpetual Virginity of Mary], or else this James wasn't one of the 12 apostles [which of course would do nothing to negate the PVM doctrine...not that we're discussing that]. 1 Thess 2:6, Paul refers to working among the Church there, with other Apostles. But the biblical record shows that he was there with none of the 12, but Silas. Therefore Silas is also an Apostle. Further, all the texts referring to "false apostles" demonstrate that more than the 12 and Paul could be considered apostles, since it would be easy enough to determine whether these men were or not, by simply listing off the 12, realising, "Hey, you're not on the list!" and that being the end of the story. But the apostleship was not limited to the 12, or to Paul, or even to the First Century. It is an order in the Church through every century: the office of Bishop.

Now there is a large difference between being a pastor and an apostle.

Only of degree. Pastors watch over local parishes. Bishops oversee (literal meaning of Episkopos) entire regions (Bishop of Ephesus, Bishop of Rome, Bishop of Hamilton, etc.)

As far as naming a successor to Judas, I believe that very passage in Acts puts the argument for the succession of apostolic authority in its grave, and here is why:

Acts 2:1-2,

For it is written in the Book of Psalms, "May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it';

and "Let another take his office."

So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us--one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection." And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place." And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles."

I know what the text says...

Verses 21-22 are the downfall of Roman Catholicism's claim to apostolic succession. In these verses it gives the qualifications necessary to be an apostle. They had to be with Jesus from the beginning of His baptism by John until the time he ascended to Heaven. Certainly no one today can make such a claim as to have done that. The only exception to this is Paul. But Paul had a personal encounter with Jesus, which he admits wasn't the norm.

But Paul's exception still doesn't meet the qualifications. The qualifications count only toward the exalted title of one of the Twelve Apostles. Since other believers were called apostles in the Bible, like Timothy and Silas, your argument falls. And even if the successors aren't themselves called Apostles, they are still called Bishops, and immediately in the Church they were recognised as the successors of the Apostles by their ordination by the Apostles.

1 Corinthians 15:8-9,

"Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God."

But never the less, He had an encounter with Jesus Christ that no one living today can claim.

That's not true either. Many people have had such intimate, ecstatic encounters with the Lord! If you hold strictly to a cessationist viewpoint, not allowing for miraculous events in Christianity, then sure, you can deny such experiences. But there is no reason to hold to such a view, and it runs counter to the evidence in the world all around us! But again, you fail to demonstrate that it was Paul's vision that entitled him to be an apostle based on the above criteria (and note, he never becomes one of the Twelve).

2 Timothy 3:16-17 proves too little and too much: On the one hand, the passage never says "Only Scripture is God-breathed" or "Only Scripture is useful." On the other hand, when Paul wrote this, the only recognized Scripture was the Old Testament. Therefore Paul must be saying, if "Sola Scriptura" is true, that the OT and only the OT is necessary for our faith formation, and that the Christian does not need the New Testament! We can explore that more if you want.

*sigh* no,no,no. 1 Thessalonians 2:13,
"And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers."

The New Testament believers recognized the teachings of the apostles as God's word/Scripture. But again since we don't have recordings of their audible voices and what they verbally said, we can only hold to what we know they wrote. So when Paul said "all Scripture is breathed out by God" He recognized, and the church did also, that he was speaking and writing scripture. So the New Testament does fall under 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

It is time to take up the discussion from above. Scripture refers to written documents. That's what the word means. However, 1 Thess 2:13 refers to the preached word of the Apostles, which had not been written down (1 Thessalonians was the first NT document to be written!), and which the Thessalonian church "heard". This heard oral spoken word (not Scripture) was declared to be "The Word of God." If Scripture is authoritative, as 2 Timothy 3:16 says, because it is the Word of God (God-breathed), then so is this oral Tradition of the Apostles, because it is also called The Word of God! Besides, trying to equate the phrase "word of God" in this text with Scripture falls flat because nowhere in Scripture is the phrase Word of God limited to meaning "Scripture." In fact, many Protestants' favourite passage on The Word of God and its power, Hebrews 4:12, fail to realise that the Word of God in that passage is not referring to the Bible, but to Jesus Himself!

To lay it out simply for you, if the Bible refers to anything other than the Bible as "God's Word", then Sola Scriptura crumbles in on itself, since it says that the Bible is our only authority because it is God's Word. So if God's Word calls something else God's Word, then that something else logically carries equal weight as God's Word! (The phrase "word of God" [or some variant] occurs 107 times in Scripture, and only about 10 of those times can it directly be referring to Scripture.)

Further thoughts before I go:
Tradition is often referred to in the New Testament as good and necessary: 2 Thess 2:15 (which you were kind enough to point out); 1 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Timothy 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; and many more, but I don't have time today...I'll wait for your reply.

I think I've pretty clearly stated my position regarding this by now. Scripture is authoritative and is clearly stated to be so in Scripture, but tradition is in itself not authoritative outside of Scripture.

Yes, you've stated your position quite clearly. However, you have not demonstrated it convincingly at all.

Scripture itself is a product of Apostolic Tradition. It was orally transmitted for the 20-30 years before it began to be written down. Once completed (60-70 years later), it was preserved by the Church, but not as a body as we know it today, but as individual letters that were read in various churches and regarded variously as inspired Scripture or not, and by others as suspect--along with many other documents as well, such as The Shepherd of Hermas and the Didache. It was not for another 300 years that we get the 27 books of the New Testament--and that was decreed by the Magesterium of the Church, the definers and defenders of the deposit of faith (Jude 3)--The Word of God--that consists of Scripture and Tradition.

The apostles may have been teaching the same thing before they eventually were written down and sent somewhere, sure I can agree with that. But they were actually written by the apostles themselves (or someone like Luke under apostolic authority.) They were not just passed around orally and then written down by a church father or something, these are the written words of the apostles.

Out of curiosity, which Apostle wrote the book to the Hebrews? Oh, you don't know? Then how do you know that it, in fact, was an Apostle?

And yes the canon of scripture wasn't compiled until some time later, but that doesn't change anything we've talked about.

Absolutely it does! It changes everything! The fact that the Canon of Scripture was compiled later means a) in those formative years, before the Canon, there was no infallibly defined Scripture, and without that, there was no Sola Scriptura! So one question that spring to mind is when did the Church start teaching it, if it was, in fact, an impossible rule of faith in the beginning? Oh, I know! In AD 1517, by a rogue priest by the name of Martin Luther!

b) Scripture's later compilation means that until that time, no one was sure what was Sacred Scripture! They accepted several books in several churches that were later ruled out, and rejected many books in many churches that were later canonised! But one thing remained constant in all that: The Apostolic Tradition taught by the bishops--the successors of those very Apostles!

Adding to that the fact that not everyone could get a copy of the Bible until the Printing Press was invented in the 1400s, and less could read it if they could have acquired one, Sola Scriptura (and its bedfellow, the notion that anyone, "even a ploughboy" to use Luther's phrase, could interpret it) couldn't have been a possible rule of faith in the Early Church! It is a late, novel idea that Luther ultimately fell back on because he couldn't prove his points based on the Historical Witness of the Church (though he tried admirably hard).

Apostolic Tradition is vastly different from human traditions, and unlike the example of Matt. 15, never contradicts Sacred Scripture.

We shall see just how different or similar it really is throughout this debate.

I guess we shall! Hopefully when you start dealing with specifics, you'll have some idea of what you are talking about, or this may become no fun at all!

Oh and also I know and recognize that Mormons are giant steps from the Roman Catholic Church in many ways, I was simply making a point.

I'm glad you do. I notice that "Pilot Mom" never replied to my challenge of her own slur in that regard.

Anyway, here at long last is the reply to part two. I'm sorry it took so long. I trust it will give you some things to think through. Your counter-reply sure made me take a long, hard look, myself. Though, in the end, it has only strengthened my faith in the Church, and in Jesus Christ who gave her to us.

Sorry this is so long, btw. I just started page 12 in Word.
God bless

[The reference to "Pilot Mom" comes from this comment, posted in the comments at Jacob's Part 2:

Pilot Mom said...
Actually, there are a lot of Catholics who convert to Mormonism and there are many Mormons who convert to Catholicism when they leave the LDS faith. They in fact, have many similarities...

No, I'm not mormon but I live in UT and we are active in sharing the Christ of the Bible with them. (They believe in a different Christ)

To which I replied:
Gregory said...
We have similarities with Mormoms? Interesting statement. I wonder, Pilot Mom, what those similarities might be...

She never did reply to me. Not the first time I asked her to defend something she's said, to get silence in return.

To note, many Protestants convert to Catholicism and vice versa, so I'm not entirely sure what her point was in saying that Mormons convert to Catholicism and vice versa...
And yes, I do agree that Mormons believe in a false Christ. They believe in a different Christ and Christology (the theology of Christ) than defined by Catholicism waaaay back when. It is our definition of who Christ is that guides all orthodox Christian churches.

This is why, in my opinion, Church History is so important to learn. Learning it, even from a virulently anti-Catholic professor, was what got me looking at the Church in the first place! As the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman once remarked, "To be steeped in history is to cease to be Protestant."

One last thing before I go (You'll like this one, I promise!).
I don't know if you noticed this or not, reader, but I missed it the first time. A fellow Catholic who has taken an interest in the debate pointed it out to me.

When Jacob was fighting against Apostolic Tradition on the grounds that we can't know what the Traditions were that the Apostles in fact taught, and so we can only go by the Scriptures which we know they wrote, and I rebutted by mentioning the lost letters of 3 Corinthians, and the one to the Laodiceans (so you know where above to look), Jacob said this:
Therefore it is there written words that we can trust because the early church fathers affirmed it as the writing of the apostles or those under the authority of an apostle, such as Luke.
I bolded the relevant and previously overlooked phrase.

Jacob just ran in a circle. I doubt he even realised it. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, and Hebrews are written anonymously. The authors never identify themselves. It is therefore impossible to determine from the books themselves who wrote them. Yet, we believe that St. Matthew wrote Matthew, St. Mark wrote Mark, St. Luke wrote Luke and Acts, and St. John wrote John. As I pointed out, we do not know who wrote Hebrews. Yet Jacob's argument for the validity of Scripture (besides its self-testimony to be God's Word) is that it was written by "the apostles or those under the authority of an apostle, such as Luke." Yet, how can he be sure who wrote them, and that they were Apostles (or under their authority), if the books do not identify themselves? What does Jacob appeal to? The Testimony of the Early Church Fathers! Say it with me now, "That's Apostolic Tradition!"

In the end, his argument for the Canon being the Canon because it was written by apostles, and not because it was declared so by the Church, goes in a circle, because it was the Church who declared those books (excluding Hebrews) to have been written by the Apostles. Further, they inducted Hebrews into the Canon regardless of if it was an Apostolic document, because they did not know!

This is why Sola Scriptura is a logical absurdity. In the end, Scripture itself belongs to and is the product of the Catholic Church!

Thanks, Jamie, for pointing that out to me!
God bless,


Blogger Gregory said...

In response to the final part of this post, Jacob wrote:

The problem with the above argument is the fact that, this has nothing to do with "apostolic tradition".

There were simply men around in the early church that were close enough to the time of the writing of the different letters to affirm that they were written by an apostle or someone under the authority there of. It has nothing to do with tradition but simply a known consensus of who wrote these letters.

As to Hebrews, just because we don't have a name for the writer doesn't mean it wasn't once known when it was entered as canonical.

To which I replied:

The simple fact of the matter is that you believe a) which books belong in the Bible and b) who the authors of many of those books are based on a source other than Scripture. This is a denial of Sola Scriptura by the very definition of the doctrine.

If you deny that it is a denial because you don't hold who wrote the Bible as a matter of faith then a) your statement that the Canon is the Canon because it was written by the Apostles is shot and b) who is to say those in the Early Church bore a more reliable witness than the higher-critical scholars who say that the Synoptics are derived from the "Q Document" and John was written by a group called the "Johannine Community"?

After all, the same Church Fathers who tell us who wrote what also tell us that the Eucharist is literally Jesus' flesh and blood, and claim that they believe this based on those same Apostles' teachings that wrote the Scripture. So why do you reject their testimony on one hand and accept it on another, to the point where you build a whole sub-argument for Sola Scriptura based on their extra-Scriptural testimony?

But to get down to details, you claim that with regard to Hebrews, it might have been known to those who determined the Canon. However, this is not the case, as a quick perusal of history and scholarship shows us. The earliest traditions say St. Paul, but that was not definite, since very early on other possibilites were being suggested (like Barnabas, by Tertullian [c. 200]). In the end, Eusebius gave us the general conclusion that we hold today: "But who it was that really wrote the epistle, God only knows." He was born around AD 260 and died before AD 341. Since our New Testament was not formally listed as such until AD 367, not ratified until 397, and not formally canonised until AD 407, Eusebius' testimony counters your assumption. Moreover, since he himself had a rather large role to play in the development of the Canon (though his list was not what was finally canonised), his testimony goes further to discredit your description. For more, check out the article "Canon of the New Testament" at New

As for whether the testimony of authorship from the Early Church Fathers is in fact tradition or not, Tradition, to the Catholic mind, is any teaching or belief of the Church--especially that made explicit only outside of Scripture. Denying that their testomony on this matter is Sacred Tradition doesn't work, since "Tradition" is "our" thing to define, and according to our definition, who wrote the Gospels is part of Sacred Tradition.

It is all fine and dandy to want to argue against Catholicism, but when you start to change the definitions of our beliefs in order to shoot them down, you aren't shooting down Catholicism any longer, but your caricatured, preconceived idea of what Catholicism is. And this issue isn't the only one where you have done that. You've done the same on the idea of "purgatory", "earning salvation", and a few other things as well.

If you don't actually know what we believe on a subject, would it not be more charitable to ask, "What do you believe about...?" or "Is it true that you believe...?" rather than saying, "You're wrong because you believe....(which we don't actually believe at all)!"

David, above, was quite admirable when he said, "You believe X, but correct me if I am wrong about that" (in the Reformation Day post).

Now it would be well to follow up such a correction regarding what Catholics actually believe by accepting that we do in fact believe it the way we have said it. If you still disagree, that's fine. Debate against it. But please, don't debate our beliefs by changing their definition so that they are truly wrong--because in doing so, you aren't debating our beliefs anymore, and you will not convince any thinking Catholic who knows his stuff.

God bless.

When Jacob gets around to a full response to my above article, I'll addend this part of the conversation to it. In the meantime, he's gone off briefly on other topics, to which I have replied even more briefly on his blog, though my replies are not yet up thanks to the moderation program that he has in place. I'll have his parts 3 and 4 up here as soon as my replies are up and I've given his whole posts a more thorough response.

In the meantime, I'll find a better colour for my previous comments.

Dave, if you're reading this, could we possibly change the background colour to something a little more subdued and less bright?

God bless

8:03 AM  

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