Sola Scriptura (Bible alone) is not a coherent doctrine
Debate Rounds (3)
This isn't a debate about whether or not the Bible is true, trustworthy, or from God. It isn't a debate over the existence of God or the truth of Christianity. For the sake of the debate, all of these factors are irrelevant.
My position is that the Bible alone as a doctrine should be abandon by the Christians that hold this as it is a flawed doctrine in many ways. It is not a reasonable position.
Round 1 make your case.
Round 2 I will rebut and you can respond
Round 3 I will make my closing argument and then you can respond
Sola Scriptura claims the Bible is all you need for salvation. Well there's really nothing else one would need to be saved other than the Bible (concerning texts). If you think otherwise, say so.
And if the Bible needs a bodyguard to defend Christianity, what would you choose? There are non-biblical texts, but all they do is confirm what the Bible has been saying in the first place. There are archaeological records, but all they do is confirm locations in the Bible.
Sorry for the disorganization, I didn't quite understand what you meant by defense.
For the sake of this debate it doesn't really matter if Christianity is true, my point is that regardless of whether or not Christianity is true, S.S. doesn't make sense as a doctrine. One could completely discount the Bible as wrong and still admit that S.S. is a coherent, defendable thesis albeit wrong. I am arguing however that even if the Bible is true, S.S. would still be false. And if the Bible is false, S.S. remains a poor doctrine and an indefensible one.
You say that there are no other texts that would be necessary for salvation. Well this depends on your belief system. It is entirely plausible that a Christian believes that the books of the Bible and an additional book are necessary, say for instance, the book of Mormon...even if Christian groups do not claim this, it is also plausible that a new Christian group forms and believes in another extra-Biblical text which is necessary for salvation. The point is that simply claiming the Bible is all we need is not enough. Some Christians would argue that other texts are necessary. Others would argue Tradition is necessary as well. I am NOT going to argue for one specific view, also I am not arguing that in addition to the Bible SOMETHING must be necessary for salvation. Actually, all I am saying is that the belief that all that is necessary is the Bible is not incorrect from a Christian perspective but also incorrect simply because it is logically flawed. For all anyone knows, I do not believe in salvation, or God, or the Bible...or I might.
Now there are other extra-Biblical texts that confirm the Bible. But still, this doesn't matter because who is to say that these don't belong in the Bible? Don't the Biblical texts confirm each other? There are also extra-Biblical texts that expand on the Bible, say the works of theology being written today. But who is to say these don't add something necessary for salvation?
Now on to my main arguments against S.S. These are brief sketches, more to come in round 3 if you want clarification. These are not arguments against S.S. from a Christian perspective, they are arguments from the perspective of anybody. These are meant to show that S.S. is false before we even determine if Christianity is true. In other words, my argument is that S.S. is false and indefensible even if it turns out Christianity is true similarly, it remains indefensible if Christianity is false.
Here they are:
1) Sola Scriptura is not in the Bible. The Bible itself does not teach S.S. Therefore, in order to know the Doctrine of S.S. we have to have some Extra-Biblical source inform us of this foundational doctrine. If it is an Extra-Biblical source that is necessary, it refutes S.S.
2) The Bible does not determine which books should be in the Bible. Assume the following: a. The books in the Bible contain all that is necessary for salvation b. the books of the Bible do not contain which books should be in the Bible. Therefore it follows that which books are in the Bible is not important for salvation. but if this is the case, "a" cannot be true because if which books doesn't matter, neither can their content. Hence S.S. cannot be true
3) The Bible cannot be shown to be inspired by God from within. Even if the Bible claims "this is inspired by God" there is no way to know if it truly is God's word unless we look outside of the Bible for the answer. Eventually we have to get to an authority on the Bible that says it is God's word and this authority must be trustworthy in itself on some grounds.
4) This is not a deductive certain argument although it is still powerful. The Bible was written over the period of thousands of years, in many languages, by many people, in many cultures. They had different purposes, styles, stories, and messages. These books were then delivered to a world which was mostly illiterate (for about 1400 years after the N.T.). To defend S.S. one would have to argue that despite the great variation in the Bible it has clear and defendable messages without the need for interpretation of any other text, tradition, or organization. Yet the diversity in protestant denominations seems to attest to the fact that this is false. Further, to maintain that S.S. is true, you would have to admit that God revealed himself in a manner that was basically cryptic to all of humanity for a long time.
From these points, I conclude, that S.S. is not defensible or plausible, and in fact is necessarily false. My point remains the same whether or not I am a Christian. It remains whether or not Christianity is true. My claim does not refute Christianity, and yours does not prove it. You do not have to show that S.S. is true because this would entail proving Christianity is true. All you have to do is show that it is in fact possible or defendable. it is something that a reasonable Christian may hold. My arguments above attempt to show that this is not the case, it is necessarily false, and if Christians want to be honest, they should stop preaching this doctrine and refine the system in some way or join a group that does not teach S.S.
There is modern theology however which is inspired by, quotes, and explains the Bible. The only added doctrines to the Bible are made by the Popes of the Catholic Church (which the debate of whether or not he is infallible has torn the Church in two, then again to tens of sects) and books that contradict things written in the traditional Bible. For example the Book of Mormon, adding on countless doctrines to Christianity and stating that Jesus came to America even though it came out of his own mouth that he was here only for Israel. Another example is the Book of Thomas which was written by Gnostic Christians. Groups of Christians do not claim most of these books because their doctrines contradict the doctrines of the traditional Bible which was written by disciples of Christ & the apostle Paul and Jews.
And concerning your question on the possibility of another book or document containing something else necessary for salvation, Christians believe they are helpless for their own salvation since their very actions condemn themselves. The only way to find salvation is to have faith that it will be granted to you by the only one who can give it. I understand where the question came from however. Modern theologians discover more things about us and our relationship with God everyday. If you ever were to read modern theology it explains how salvation works, what connections there are to the Bible and the issues our generations and cultures are having with obtaining salvation. Although theology explains salvation for someone to better understand it and even obtain it easier, it isn't needed enough to add more scripture since the answer of what salvation is, why it exists and how to obtain it are all within the Bible.
1) The Bible can't claim to only use the Bible because it was never compiled together when it was written. It does however put emphasis on looking to "the Word of God"/scripture which were the popular books from the Old Testament which in a sense was the Jews own S.S. only not bound together. (Before its argued I will say there is no quotation in the New Testament that does not refer to a book possessed in the Old Testament [except in James which many scholars claim, when translated correctly, was not meant to be taken as a quote from scripture] (and before that is argued, there are no books in the New Testament era that aren't in the traditional new testament, except of course the books with contradicting doctrines))
2) Well first understand how the Bible was compiled. The popular books were put in the Bible and debated on which were necessary.
How did the Jews know what Scripture was important for salvation? It was chosen by the people, which by the way weren't chosen based on what sounded good. Jews cared only about the truth and it was all they looked for when consulting what they believed was the true Word of God.
3) And yet it was you who said non-biblical text did not matter. "Now there are other extra-Biblical texts that confirm the Bible. But still, this doesn't matter because who is to say that these don't belong in the Bible? Don't the Biblical texts confirm each other?" All you need for salvation is the Bible and all you need to confirm your faith if you ever wished to were the non-biblical texts. But this isn't about whether or not Christianity is true?
4) Looking at different denominations, don't confuse tradition with doctrine. There are many things both churches can argue against saying the other is not following the Traditional Bible.
And yes, (concerning the different cultures and edits of the Bible), most Christians understand the Bible is inspired by God and written by man. Not spoken by God through man.
And concerning whether or not God revealed himself in a manner that was cryptic, I most certainly don't believe he revealed himself in a manner that all can believe easily with 100% faith. But back in the Jews time, if you believe their stories to be true, yup he was cryptic back then as well. Why do you think the Israelites left Egypt with Moses, saw the water and flipped off God thinking he sent them to die?
I RESPOND: How do we know that Christianity says this? You say that we only need one Gospel? Well how do you know?
The problem is that you beg the question here. You assume two things that are not necessarily true:
1. The Bible is in fact the accurate source of Christian teaching at all (who says that its not Sola Tradition?)
2. The Bible in fact teaches this is how to be saved. The Catholic Church for instance teaches the sacraments are at least to some degree necessary. Jesus says "Unless a man be born again of water and the holy spirit" and He also says "unless a man eat my body and drink my blood you do not have life in you" and He says "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved" etc. The point is that this is YOUR interpretation of the Bible, how do you know that it is accurate? At the end of the day, S.S. for you then is operating off of the assumption that all we need to be saved is faith in Christ. But this just begs the question- How do we know this is what the Bible teaches and how do we know that the Bible teaches the truth of Christianity?
YOU SAY: "Although theology explains salvation for someone to better understand it and even obtain it easier, it isn't needed enough to add more scripture since the answer of what salvation is, why it exists and how to obtain it are all within the Bible."
This too just begs the question. How do you know the Bible is complete? What if I say that God spoke to me just now and told me that we also need to drink 3 glasses of water a day while saying the Our Father at the same time to be saved? Maybe the Bible doesn't explain everything. Yet you can quote the Bible to prove that it does, but then your argument is circular.
Now from what you have said so far it seems that S.S. cannot be defended completely. Anyway, I gave my arguments and you address them. Let's reevaluate.
1) You give a reason why the Bible can't claim S.S. as a doctrine. I agree 100%. BUT that supports me and not you. Let me put this in deductive format:
1. Either everything that is necessary for salvation is in the Bible or it isn't
2. What is written in the Bible is necessary for salvation
3. The fact that the Bible contains truths necessary for salvation is necessary for salvation (i.e. # 2 is necessary for salvation)
4. #2 is not in the Bible.
Conclusion: It follows that everything that is necessary for salvation is not in fact in the Bible.
Hence it doesn't matter why #2 is not in the Bible (it doesn't matter why premise 4 is correct) all that matters is THAT it is correct. You seem to agree with me and therefore should reject S.S.
My second argument stands because you seem to implicitly agree. you said the books were "debated on which were necessary." This means someone was doing the debating. The ultimate decision as to what books were in the Bible was made by the people doing the debating. here is the problem however: If the books of the Bible are necessary for salvation, wouldn't by your logic it have to be in the Bible? Also, who has the authority to chose which books? A committee? One person? St. Paul? All Christians? Me? How do we know, does the Bible specify what authority? Even if it did, wouldn't that be circular reasoning?
The most logical position is that Christ appointed someone with the authority to determine what books were in the Bible. Do you know when the Bible was compiled and who compiled it?
My third argument needs to be rephrased: The point is how do we know that the Bible is inspired? we might be able to know that it is historically accurate, but how do we know that it is actually God's word. Maybe the Bible says it is God's word...but that begs the question because I could write right now on a Napkin "This is God's word" and it still wouldn't be. Some external source needs to say which books are God's word. Did Jesus ever specify? Maybe he appointed people to speak in His name?
Finally, are you arguing that God's word is truly cryptic? That the only way God chose to teach people that which is necessary to be saved and not burn in hell was written even though for most of human history people were illiterate? Do you mean to say that God gave us such a cryptic message that perhaps he wants some to be damned? So cryptic that there exists thousands of denominations that can't come up with a common interpretation of the Bible? I find that hard to believe if God is truly a God of love.
So to conclude, this is what I will say: My arguments against the logical nature of S.S. stand. What it comes down to is this: Believing in S.S. is all based on circular reasoning. You cannot believe in S.S without arguing from the Bible. You have to assume S.S. is true in order to prove it. This is circular reasoning and is flawed. How then is a Christian to trust the Bible? How are we to know? You can still believe that the Bible is the word of God. If this is your conviction and your faith, this is what you must do. This is what God wants! But at the same time, maybe it is better to rethink how God uses the Bible. Maybe the Bible is true but God doesn't tell us everything through the Bible. As St. Augustine says "But I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me."
Perhaps Tradition to interpret the Bible is better? Perhaps a Church to have the final say is the best? Maybe the Church that compiled the Bible? Anyway, Im getting off topic. The scope of this debate is not to argue that Catholic Christianity is the most accurate. I don't want to go down that road. I just don't want to give you the impression that one has to either accept S.S. or leave Christianity. one can accept scripture and Christ w/o believing in S.S.
1. If the Bible were tradition we would have absolutely nothing to trust since the church would be defined by the "tradition" of the Bible and the "tradition" of whatever else they do.
2. I apologize for not including baptism. I only assumed a Christian who believed in Jesus would at least want to take the dunk of happiness. But this is even debated as well. But baptism is even debated as well, a man in his last week of life might accept Christ, schedule a baptism and get hit by a car before the date. Would a God that claimed he love all and showed no partiality send him to hell because he did not do one thing in the laws of the Bible (concerning salvation) which Jesus said he freed you from through Grace? But this leads to a different debate and is getting off topic.
And interpretation belongs not only specifically but generically as well. If one were to have the same interpretation as the members of his church, would he not be more confident there is some inspiration from God (which was promised) through interpreting the Bible?
And once again we know this is what the Bible teaches because there is nothing else other than contradicting doctrines and Christian theology, of whom read the Bible and gave their own personal interpretation for others to read if they did so wish.
I'm sorry but I really don't know what you hope to accomplish with asking if the Bible is complete. If there was a fourth round I would ask you "what in the world would you add to it?" And if you said God spoke to you and you shared it with others, just what do you think people (especially Christians) would say to you? The Bible wasn't written with small direct inspirations; if it is in fact true, it was founded on the Red Sea opening a passage across it, a pitiful nation destroying every single opponent it faced and I guess a Son of God coming back from the dead. I agree with you on the skepticism on if the Bible is true or not, but we've already had watchdogs for four centuries.
Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa "Now from what you have said so far it seems that S.S. cannot be defended completely. Anyway, I gave my arguments and you address them. Let's reevaluate."
I'm sorry but I can't leave that alone, I don't care who is reading the debate. Did you seriously just evaluate the circumstance of the debate from the most biased point of view one can evaluate it from (the one arguing). Goodness man that's like Hitler saying "Sorry Jews but the fact you aren't the cause to every problem I face just can't be defended. Let's reevaluate, I hate you and you're going to the camps."
1) You said this wasn't about whether or not Christianity is true. Sola Scriptura says all you need for salvation is the Bible by using deductive reasoning to find what you need, not all you need to defend the Bible is the Bible.
4. There isn't enough in the Bible for salvation? Sounds to me like either a loving God was lying the whole time about having grace or there is absolutely no reason to be a Christian. I apologize but saying this is suggested those who use the Bible in Christianity are not saved, because of the fact they do not have enough to be saved.
In the paragraph evaluating your second argument you say I "implicitly" agree with you. And yet I do not seeing how I have already said "And yes, (concerning the different cultures and edits of the Bible), most Christians understand the Bible is inspired by God and written by man. Not spoken by God through man." Just because the Bible was written by, edited by and organized by the imperfect man in no way suggests the Bible isn't all you need. Just because it is not infallible does not mean that it is wrong.
I am not responding to your rephrased third argument (not because I can't, but because...), this is not about whether or not Christianity is true (whether or not the Bible is actually inspired by God). This is about Sola Scriptura. I would say otherwise if there were any books to look to other than the Bible (and modern theology is not included in the criteria since the are written by first getting as much influence from the Bible as possible)
(Finally paragraph) It doesn't matter if one was illiterate, since they would need someone who knew the Bible to learn what it said. Otherwise the illiterate person would never of heard of Jesus.
And yes it's cryptic. Consider Christianity was true and look around. How many questions and arguments haven't been answered yet in the world by Christians? Countless, whereas if God were to be completely non-cryptic we wouldn't even question if God was real or not. And calling God not a God of Love is another debate. But I will give a brief open statement anyways.
One should condemn God anyways just because every sin that is committed is allowed to happen by God. So God is either a lier or a planner. Many things happen in someone's life that are absolute garbage but in the end lead to something good. For example someone may lose a high school sweetheart marriage, and find the true love of their life. But then you will say God is evil because he could easily make a life without all these things that hurt us. And yet he promised us one, why we have to go through this life no one knows because it has never been in the Bible. Anything else argued against God is an attempt to put him to your own standards of morality when, if he were real, he is so much more intelligent than we will ever be and may have a plan of his own. One ancient theologian (I don't remember who) stated that if there were a compassionate God, this is the best possible life. For reasons unknown at this time at least.
To close, your argument revolves around S.S. being "circular reasoning." You said the Bible cannot support itself because it is in fact the argument. The Bible is all you need for S.S. and non-biblical texts (things like http://www.westarkchurchofchrist.org...) are all you need to confirm the Bible. If it is not enough for the individual then I would welcome him to the world for the first time.
[on a side note, I personally would be a Catholic seeing as how they come from the first church (but as does in a since every church). But the Catholic Church uniquely form their tradition on the basis that their Pope is infallible. Many support it with the Bible and many bash the supporters, I personally don't believe the supporters and wouldn't want to follow the founding church that changed so drastically from what it once was.]
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