Sola Scriptura Does Not Suffice
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|Updated:||6 months ago||Status:||Debating Period|
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Debate Rounds (4)
Debate Rules (to be considered during voting):
I will be restricted when referring to Scripture to the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible with Challoner notes, which can be referenced at drbo.org . This has traditionally been considered for centuries the best Catholic translation of the Latin Vulgate into English. Con may refer to this or the King James Version, or another recognized translation of Scripture.
This debate is not open to acceptance for the sake of dismissal of Scripture as irrelevant or fraudulent of itself.
1st Round is acceptance only.
2nd and 3rd rounds are for argument and rebuttal.
4th round for summation of arguments made for your own case.
Best wishes to my opponent. Let's have a clean fight with no low blows!
I will open with the reassertion that Scripture alone (sola Scriptura) is insufficient. I also quote from the Christian Research Institute, giving the Protestant understanding of the concept, in order to show it is not defined prejudicially using Pro"s point of view:
"PROTESTANT UNDERSTANDING OF SOLA SCRIPTURA
Sola Scriptura"A Definition
By sola Scriptura Protestants mean that Scripture alone is the primary and absolute source for all doctrine and practice (faith and morals). Sola Scriptura implies several things. First, the Bible is a direct revelation from God. As such, it has divine authority. For what the Bible says, God says.
Sola Scriptura"The Sufficiency of Scripture
Second, the Bible is sufficient: it is all that is necessary for faith and practice. For Protestants "the Bible alone" means "the Bible only" is the final authority for our faith.
Sola Scriptura"The Authority of Scripture
Third, the Scriptures not only have sufficiency but they also possess final authority. They are the final court of appeal on all doctrinal and moral matters. However good they may be in giving guidance, all the fathers, Popes, and Councils are fallible. Only the Bible is infallible.
Sola Scriptura"The Clarity of Scripture
Fourth, the Bible is perspicuous (clear). The perspicuity of Scripture does not mean that everything in the Bible is perfectly clear, but rather the essential teachings are. Popularly put, in the Bible the main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things. This does not mean " as Catholics often assume " that Protestants obtain no help from the fathers and early Councils. Indeed, Protestants accept the great theological and Christological pronouncements of the first four ecumenical Councils. What is more, most Protestants have high regard for the teachings of the early fathers, though obviously they do not believe they are infallible. So this is not to say there is no usefulness to Christian tradition, but only that it is of secondary importance.
Solo Scriptura"The Interpretiveness of Scripture
Fifth, Scripture interprets Scripture. This is known as the analogy of faith principle. When we have difficulty in understanding an unclear text of Scripture, we turn to other biblical texts. For the Bible is the best interpreter of the Bible. In the Scriptures, clear texts should be used to interpret the unclear ones." http://www.equip.org...
On many of the items within these principles both sides can agree. However for sola Scriptura to be sufficient, it must fulfill all of these articles completely. Pro finds no argument against the definition given. From there we move on to the arguments against sola Scriptura:
A.) The sufficiency of Scripture.
The claim the Bible alone is necessary for faith and practice is refuted. Even Scripture itself does not make this assertion, as is clear from the following texts:
1.) "He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me." (Luke 10:16);
2.) "Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?
Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven." (Matthew 16: 15-19);
3.) "Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book." (John 20:30).
From these it is clear Christ intended to establish a teaching authority among men to continue to guide mankind beyond the events of the Scriptures.
B.) The authority of Scripture.
At first glance this would appear to be unassailable by anyone who believes it to be inspired writing. The Scriptures are in fact unassailable as far as they go. However as it is not the entire and complete fulfillment of Christ"s Church, although the unfailing foundation of it as shown in A) above (by the Scripture"s own admittance), it stands to reason it cannot be the arbiter of those things which are not contained within it.
C.) The clarity of Scripture.
If by clarity is meant it has a single meaning, there can be no doubt. God is not against Himself. If by clarity is meant the inspired writings of Scripture can be understood by an individual reader, this cannot be admitted as true. The article above points to the former; but were that such a simple solution, there would be unity among those who believe in the principle of sola Scriptura.
D.) The interpretiveness of Scripture.
This is refuted as any such instance where a text is unclear or ambiguous to our understanding must then have another text which clarifies it. This ,without the teaching authority spelled out within Scripture itself, is fraught with the possible danger of several different opinions as to the meaning of the compilation of texts relied on to reach the interpretation. When Scripture is followed as to the teaching authority placed by Christ in His Apostles and the Church, there is a single authority to render a decision on these interpretations and, as a result of following His wishes as expressed within Scripture, and contrary to sola Scriptura, we find the harmony which He would have intended among His believers.
It is then shown that sola Scriptura is insufficient on grounds of sufficiency, authority, clarity, and interpretiveness.
Sola Scriptura is a Protestant doctrine developed in the midst of the Protestant Reformation which was fueled by the martyrdom of men and women who died for their faith in the word of God alone and were never a part of the Catholic church. While this doctrine was not new, it was established to clarify the Protestant position as opposed to that of Catholicism. The five "solas" of the protestant reformation were never to be taken as statements of faith per say or even a summary of the Protestant faith, but rather, they were put worth and defended against perceived Catholic heresy.
However, the doctrine that God's written word is the sole arbiter of truth and the final authority of all matters of faith and practice is certainly supported by the scriptures themselves as long as it is taken to account that the Holy Spirit who first inspired these words is also the one who illuminates the understanding of men and opens their eyes to the truths of His word. The word of God is spiritual and is not limited to the text itself, that is to say, a man may read the text in its proper grammatical context and structure and yet remain closed to understanding it's truths as the Holy Spirit has not revealed to them its true meaning.
Lest my opponent argue that I am really claiming that only the Holy Spirit is the source of truth, consider that any truth coming from God is in fact God's word, thus it must be in agreement with the Bible. Anyone can claim God has spoken to them, but the measure of all claims of divine revelation is the word of God itself. Essentially, the Holy Spirit simply provides the key to unlocking the meaning of God's written word. With all this said, allow me to address Pro's claimed implications of Sola Scriptura.
Implications of Sola Scriptura
1. I have no problem with the first implication as stated.
2. While I agree that the Bible alone is the sole source of authority, I do not agree that Sola Scriptura necessarily means that you ought to learn God's truths without the aid of fellow believers. The Bible may be sufficient as the source of God's truths, but without prayer, humility and the working of the Holy Spirit to open one's understanding, the Bible will remain a closed book.
3. I have no problem with the third implication as stated.
4. I would have to disagree that the essentials are clear while the rest of God's truths may not be. All of God's truths are clear when access is granted to understanding them, thus none of God's truths may be clear if the Bible remains a closed book. Every word, verse, phrase, chapter, and book in the Bible may be misconstrued or wrongly interpreted by a person who simply picks up the Bible and reads. For example, anyone can read John 3:16 and conclude in their mind that since God loves the world, He would never condemn someone to hell. This of course is not only refuted by other scriptures but to understand what the verse truly means, one must have the Holy Spirit open their understanding.
5. While I agree with the concept of scripture interpreting scripture in principle, it should be understood that the prerequisite for utilizing this method of interpretation is having one's understanding opened by the Holy Spirit.
Rebuttal of Pro's Arguments
A. None of Pro's quoted scripture references provide evidence that a teaching authority was established to provide further revelation than what is given in scripture. Teachers, disciples, and apostles were all established to guide and aid men to the truth which is ultimately provided by the word of God through the revelation of the Holy Spirit.
B. The Bible is the final authority for all matters of faith and practice because it in fact addresses all such matters. To argue that it is not the authority of those things which are not contained in it is not an argument against its veracity. Pro must argue for a verifiable source of revelation outside of scripture which is not itself addressed by scripture in order for his argument to stand. What further revelation exists apart from the Bible, and by what authority does one verify it?
C. As I previously stated, the Bible remains a closed book to those without their understanding opened by the Holy Spirit. Of course even Christians can misinterpret the Bible if they are reading it without having God's truths revealed to them by the Holy Spirit. The Bible is clear as far as one has the proper access to its truths.
D. Again, without the Holy Spirit's revelation, men cannot understand God's word no matter how many good teachers they may have. Holy unity is shared amongst men who have received their understanding of God's word from the Holy Spirit, not from other men. Unity which is brought about solely on the basis of a teaching authority of men without ultimate regard for the revelation of the Holy Spirit is liable to be a unification in error. It is better to be separate for the sake of God's revealed truths than to be united in error.
My Evidence for Sola Scriptura
The Bible states on many occasions that the word of God is truth (John 17:17). It also states that all scripture has been given by the direction of the Spirit of God (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21). Scripture establishes itself as authoritative and as a measure of all truth (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 14:49, John 10:35, Acts 1:16, Acts 17:2, Acts 17:11, 1 Corinthians 4:6, 2 Timothy 3:15).
The Holy Spirit gives men the ability to understand the final authority (i.e. the Bible) through revelation (Job 32:8). However, the Holy Spirit is does not add to or negate that which is written in scripture (John 16:13).
2 Timothy 3:15-17 reveals that assurance of the truth comes from scripture alone, knowledge required for salvation comes from scripture alone, even a child can understand the salvation of God taught in scripture, and scripture is sufficient to enable a man to be complete and fully equipped for all good works. What else could possibly be added by novel teachings of men? Clearly any teaching authority must be in agreement with scripture, must not add to nor take away from it, and must thereby be checked by it and thus cannot possibly provide any further insight than that which is readily available through scripture itself to anyone who has proper access.
I will gladly explain and defend any of my claims in the next round. I look forward to addressing my opponents rebuttals. Thank you for your time and interest in this important topic.
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