Sola Scriptura is Sound
I will be arguing that Sola Scriptura is sound. Con will be arguing that it is not. I would also like to thank Con for accepting this debate.
Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Opening Arguments
Round 3: Rebuttals
Round 4: Q&A from both Pro and Con (I will explain to Con via message)
Round 5: Conclusion
I accept.In addition,I will be arguing that the Roman Catholic Magisterium, and the apostolic tradition are equal authorities to christian faith.
Wish my opponent all the very best for an interesting discussion and a good opening statement.
Definition of Sola Scriptura:
What do I mean by Sola Scriptura? The phrase sola scriptura is from the Latin: sola having the idea of “alone,” “ground,” “base,” and the word scriptura meaning “writings”—referring to the Scriptures. Sola scriptura means that Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of the Christian. The Bible is complete, authoritative, and true. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
  What Sola Scriptura is and is not:
According to the Reformation Principle, Sola Scriptura has to do with the sufficiency of Scripture as our supreme authority in all spiritual matters. Sola Scriptura simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture.
Sola Scriptura is not a claim that all truth of every kind is found in Scripture. For example: Sola Scriptura does not claim that Scripture is the final authority on every principle of Science. The scriptures may speak of scientific principles, but they are in of themselves don’t speak on specific scientific findings, like DNA structures, microbiology, or rocket science. That is not to say that the Bible is in conflict with science, nor is it to say that the Bible doesn’t contain scientific principles that we see today because the Bible is giving a general broad overview about the Creation of the Universe, as well as the World, without trying to get into specifics.
However what Sola Scriptura is implying is that Scripture is a “more sure Word,” standing above all other truth in its authority and certainty. It is “more sure,” according to the apostle Peter, than the data we gather firsthand through our senses (2 Peter 1:19). Therefore, Scripture is the highest and supreme authority on any matter on which it speaks.
Also, Sola Scriptura makes no claim to the contrary. Sola Scriptura does not claim that everything Jesus or the apostles ever taught is preserved in Scripture. It only means that everything necessary, everything binding on our consciences, and everything God requires of us is given to us in Scripture (2 Peter 1:3).
As the scriptures them-selves say in John 21:25, that there are many other events that Jesus did that are not written because there would not be enough room for these events. “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
Furthermore, we are forbidden to add to or take away from Scripture (cf. Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Rev. 22:18–19). To add to it is to lay on people a burden that God Himself does not intend for them to bear (cf. Matt. 23:4).
The Early Church Fathers and Sola Scriptura:
The Early Church Fathers: Ignatius, Polycarp, Clement, the Didache, and Barnabus taught doctrine and defended Christianity against heresies. Their writings are from the early-mid 2nd century.
Their sole appeal for authority was Scripture. Their writings literally breathe with the spirit of the Old and New Testaments. In the writings of the apologists such as Justin martyr and Athenagoras the same thing is found. There is no appeal in any of these writings, to the authority of Tradition as a separate and independent body of revelation.
Iraneus and Tertullian in the mid- to- late second century that we first encounter the concept of Apostolic Tradition (tradition handed down in the Church from the apostles in oral form). The word tradition simply means teaching. Irenaeus and Tertullian state emphatically that all the teachings of the Bishops that were given orally were rooted in Scripture and could be proven from the written Scriptures.
The apostolic Tradition defined by Irenaeus and Tertullian is simply the teaching of Scripture. It was Irenaeus who stated that while the Apostles at first preached orally, their teaching was later committed to writing (the Scriptures), and the Scriptures had since that day become the pillar and ground of the Churchs faith. His exact statement is as follows:
"We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith." Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors, Ante-Nicene Fathers (Peabody: Hendriksen, 1995) Vol. 1, Irenaeus, “Against Heresies” 3.1.1, p. 414. [up]
Also Cyril of Jerusalem (the bishop of Jerusalem in the mid 4th century). He is the author of what is known as the Catechetical Lectures. This work is an extensive series of lectures given to new believers expounding the principle doctrines of the faith. It is a complete explanation of the faith of the Church of his day. His teaching is thoroughly grounded in Scripture. There is in fact not one appeal in the entirety of the Lectures to an oral apostolic Tradition that is independent of Scripture.
He states in explicit terms that if he were to present any teaching to these catechumens which could not be validated from Scripture, they were to reject it. This fact confirms that his authority as a bishop was subject to his conformity to the written Scriptures in his teaching. The following excerpts are some of his statements on the final authority of Scripture from these lectures.
"This seal have thou ever on thy mind; which now by way of summary has been touched on in its heads, and if the Lord grant, shall hereafter be set forth according to our power, with Scripture proofs. For concerning the divine and sacred Mysteries of the Faith, we ought not to deliver even the most casual remark without the Holy Scriptures: nor be drawn aside by mere probabilities and the artifices of argument. Do not then believe me because I tell thee these things, unless thou receive from the Holy Scriptures the proof of what is set forth: for this salvation, which is of our faith, is not by ingenious reasonings, but by proof from the Holy Scriptures." A Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford: Parker, 1845), "The Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril" Lecture 4.17. [up]
Tradition, when referring to oral proclamation such as preaching or teaching, was viewed primarily as the oral presentation of Scriptural truth, or the codifying of biblical truth into creedal expression. There is no appeal in the writings of Irenaeus or Tertullian to a Tradition on issues of doctrine that are not found in Scripture.
This also includes Cyril of Jerusalem and many more church fathers. Scriptures are the sources for the doctrines and matters of theology that the early church upheld.
As we can see, Sola Scriptura is saying that the scriptures are the standard and final authority for all spiritual matters and theological matters of the Christian faith.
I would like to thank my opponent, and hope to see his opening argument soon.
 http://www.gotquestions.org...; html#ixzz2nUFksa5V
I hope this turns out to be a an interesting discussion.Firstly, I would like to present the view of the catholic church on the very nature of the Bible:
Catholic Dogma Says:
"Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit."
"God is the author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself."
-Catechism Of The Catholic Church
So the Catholic Church completely believes that the bible is inerrant too.But that is not what this debate is about.
The Catholic church believes that the scriptures are the standard and final authority for all spiritual matters and theological matters of the Christian faith,but, as the Bible is surprisingly silent on a wide variety of issues,because guidance is needed to interpret scripture in many places, and because the bible itseelf mentions the existence of teachings that are never mentioned or explained in detail anywhere else in the bible, Tradition, as well as the Authority of the Magisterium(Bishops) are also required to fully define the Christian Faith.
We believe that you err in that you believe in Sola(only) scripture and seem to imply that tradition and the authority of Bishops(Episcopos) and priests(elders) is not only not needed,but is contrary to what is written in the Bible.This makes it impossible for anyone to fully be a christian without a complete Bible.
I am sorry, in latin, Sola Scriptura means bible ONLY, and it negates the importance of the tradition by it's very definition.I will demonstrate how absurd this premise is later in the debate.
1.What is the Bible?
Firstly,using the Bible ALONE, one cannot even define what the Bible is.I am sure you must be aware that the Protestant Bible has only 66 books, while the catholic Bible has 73 Books and some Orthodox Christians have 81 Books.Using the Bible alone, we cannot even determine which is the correct Bible and must invariably turn to historic sources and Apostolic tradition.
Isn't knowing what books are in the Bible something that is necessary, binding on our consciences, and something that God requires of us?If so, then why isn't it defined in the Bible?
The Bible quotes you gave are equally interesting, because you are quoting from the Deutronomy, which is an Old testament book, so aren't we adding to the old testament with the New testament?The Bible never even existed when the Book of Revelation was written, so it is more likely that the author was referring to the Book of revelation alone.
2.Further practical problems believeing in Bible alone
Secondly,scripture alone opens up a wide variety of problems, and a number of difficult questions: where is it written that divine revelation has stopped?Is a specific date mentioned in the Bible?Why does divine inspiration come with an expiry date then?Why can't we keep adding to what is considered as scripture?Why would God leave so many unanswered questions and leave us alone in the dark when advances in science open up moral and ethical questions?
Also,The discovery of the Nag Hammadi scrolls shows that before the Synod of Hippo,there were a wide number of Gospels having a multitude of errors such as the Gospel of Philip, that implied Jesus had sexual relations with Mary Magdalene,The Gospel of Mary Magelene and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, both which claimed that Gnostic christians were given a 'secret teaching', and the Syriac Gospel of Thomas that even claimed Jesus had an evil look-alike twin called Judas!
How can you refute all these heretic Gospels using the Bible alone?I want you to bear in mind that the 4 Canonical Gospels often contradict each other too.All of this relies on the wisdom of the earliest Bishops(Including the Bishop in Rome) and the promise given to the Apostles that Peter would be the foundation against whom the gates of hell can never prevail and the implicit protection from doctrinal error.
Thus tradition and the Authority of the Magisterium(Bishops) becomes crucial for even defining the Bible for you.These two obviously predate the Bible itself.The Bible was defined and authority, because the Holy spirit declared this authority and communicated it to the Magisterium.As you rightfully mentioned, certain other aspects of the faith as well that are simply not mentioned in the Bible, but are part of oral tradition alone.
We believe that the Bible is a part of the Apostolic tradition(teaching).The authority was given to oral and written tradition, the bible is merely the written part of that tradition, to ignore the oral part would not just be wrong, it would be heresy.
Even if all the oral parts never contradict the written part, I can say that the written part never contradict the oral part either.By claiming that written scripture alone is necessary, you are ignoring an important part of the teachings that defined the Bible in the first place.
Thirdly,We can see that the early Christians lived without a defined scripture or 'Bible' for longer than America has been a country.Literacy was not widespread until well after the medieval era , and most of the books and epistles were not even written yet!We learn that many Greeks and Romans had converted to christianity from the very beginning, It is highly unlikely that they could read the Hebrew scriptures.
So most of the earliest converts were definitely Christian, but they were christian even without the knowledge of the scripture.This makes any claim for 'SOLA scriptura' really dubious.
The Early christian Fathers did not have the Canon that we have with us today.so they did not even have the Bible.I have demonstrated how the canon of books and the word 'Bible' was not even officially defined till the Synod of Hippo in 393.It is highly unlikely that they would have referred to the 'Bible' that you and I have when the were refering to 'scripture'(although the old testament books may have been the same.)
Even after the Bible was defined, it wasn't until the invention of the printing press that the bible became easily available for most christians.Before that, a single Bible was simply affordable.So most christians could not even read the Bible.
4.what does the Bible really say?
Lastly, the Bible itself never makes any claim that scripture 'alone' is sufficient.I challenge you to give me a Biblical verse that says written tradition and scripture alone is sufficient.
You had to refer to the teachings of the earliest fathers, but isn't that not allowed?whenever the teachings are mentioned in the Bible, BOTH written and oral traditions are always mentioned.
There are many learned Catholic theologans who have given over a hundred biblical verses against Sola Scriptura.I have mentioned them in the sources as I have a severe shortage of space.
However, my aim is to show that tradition also existed as separate and complementary to scripture in the scriptures themselves:
"I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you" (1 Cor. 11:2).
"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us" (2 Thess. 3:6).
"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).
In the third verse,St.Paul speaks of Sacred Tradition as being taught both orally and in writing. The written teaching would later be canonized as Sacred Scripture, so this verse suggests how Sacred Tradition preceded Sacred Scripture and clearly mentions written teachings as distinct from oral teachings.
Furthermore,near the end of St.Paul’s ministry he instructed Timothy to carry on the Sacred Tradition passed down to him: "Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us" (2 Tim. 1:13-14). Paul went on to instruct Timothy to pass down that Sacred Tradition to others: "and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2).
It is almost ironic how Pro is relying mainly on the tradition of the early fathers to argue for 'only' scripture, while I am relying almost purely on biblical sources for my claims about the importance of scripture.I assert in conclusion that,Throughout history, the Catholic Church alone has continued to safeguard and teach the fullness of the Christian faith. This faith is complete only when it includes Sacred Tradition.
Tradition is defined quite well in the Catechism too:
"living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. ... The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer." (CCC 78)
I humbly recommend you to follow what is written in scripture and to come into the fullness of faith with both.
Sola Scriptura, as I mentioned up above, does not exclude the idea of tradition as merely false. The doctrine of sola Scriptura does not mean that we don’t have any other authorities or even sources of revelation, but that the Scripture alone is the final and only infallible source—it is the ultimate source.
So any tradition must be authorized by scripture first.
Rebuttal to Paragraph 1:
Actually Sola Scriptura, as I mentioned up above, does not exclude the idea of oral traditions. Sola Scriptura is saying that the scriptures are the final matters on theological and doctorate type issues.
Con asserts that quoting from the Old Testament, for the New Testament in order to be written is “adding to scripture”. However this is not what John meant in Revelations 21:18-19.
What John believed was that nothing more should be added to the inspiration of Scripture. The Book of Revelations was the final eschatological conclusion of everything that God had revealed. So, it is safe to say that John was concluding what God had revealed from Genesis, all the way down to John’s book of Revelations.
Rebuttal to Paragraph 2:
Con assumes that I believe the Canon of Scripture is closed. However, I did not necessarily say that it’s directly closed. There could be other scriptures out there that we don’t know about. I believe it’s closed in the sense that, God has revealed everything to man-kind, from Genesis to Revelation. So we no longer need any new revelations from this time period. That’s not to say that there aren’t prophets today who speak. All I am saying is that the purpose of scripture was to give us a full revelation, so I don’t see what else we would need today.
God’s word addresses science and morality, so I don’t see the issue here. In fact Genesis 3:5 says that when Adam and Eve ate from the tree, they knew good and evil “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
So the Bible is really saying is that God has placed inside our hearts, a moral law by which we must live. However, I don’t see how this is relevant to our debate topic, but I didn’t mind addressing it anyway.
First off, Con jumps to many conclusions that I haven’t addressed in my opening argument. Yes, there were many scriptures that were circulating around that time. Con mentions the gnostic gospels which are obviously forged and written way after the apostles were alive.
The councils followed something similar to the following principles to determine whether a New Testament book was truly inspired by the Holy Spirit: 1) Was the author an apostle or have a close connection with an apostle? 2) Is the book being accepted by the body of Christ at large? 3) Did the book contain consistency of doctrine and orthodox teaching? 4) Did the book bear evidence of high moral and spiritual values that would reflect a work of the Holy Spirit? Again, it is crucial to remember that the church did not determine the canon. God was the ultimate authority in determining the scriptures.
Rebuttal to Paragraph 3:
Yes, many Christians did not live with the entire “canon” just yet. Con also says that many Greeks and Romans(Gentiles) could not read scripture. I agree, that is why they had educated leaders and bishops to help read the scriptures for the church. However, I don’t see how this would “refute” Sola scriptura. Just because a bishop or church leader helped the earliest Christians read scriptures, doesn’t mean that we can therefore conclude they were the source of authority for doctrine and theological issues. I mean of course, only the wealthy who were well educated could read the scriptures. That is why the church used them to help read God’s word.
Con says that most early Christian converts did not have the knowledge of scripture. I would beg to differ. Yes, it is true that they may not have had “all” the New Testament, but they had enough of the Old Testament, as well as the 4 gospels and Paul’s epistles to get by. Many early Christians were fitting the pieces of the puzzle, I guess you could say. And they were coming to then realize that God wasn’t finished yet through his revelation of scripture. Much of God’s people whether Jew or Gentile, had trusted in the Lord to give them an accurate accounting of his revelation through the apostles, as well as the prophets in the OT. So I don’t see how this is dubious at all to the idea of Sola Scriptura.
The first “canon” was the Muratorian Canon, which was compiled in A.D. 170. The Muratorian Canon included all of the New Testament books except Hebrews, James, and 3 John. In A.D. 363, the Council of Laodicea stated that only the Old Testament (along with the Apocrypha) and the 27 books of the New Testament were to be read in the churches. The Council of Hippo (A.D. 393) and the Council of Carthage (A.D. 397) also affirmed the same 27 books as authoritative.
Based on the earliest “canon”, we can conclude that the early Church fathers during A.D. 170 already had the 4 gospels that attributed to Jesus Christ of Nazareth. As listed above Hebrews, James, and 3 John were the only ones that were not canonized just yet.
Rebuttal to Paragraph 4:
Con says that the Bible alone does not claim that scripture is sufficient. But, it also does not claim that it is insufficient either.
What about 2nd Timothy 3:15-17? “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Why does Paul assert Scripture as a means of “ teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness”?
Why didn’t Paul appeal to a Magestrium or Bishop, as the means for these types of things?
It had to have been because Paul was appealing to Scripture as the source of Authority on all matters.
Again, I referred to the early Church fathers because they based their traditions oral or written on the OT, as well as part of the NT.
Con also assumes that Paul appealed to something other than scripture. However, this is false.
Where did Paul get his authority from? The Holy Spirit of course, any oral or written tradition that was passed down, was based on Old Testament prophecies or scripture or Christ himself.
For example: I will cite 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
Did Paul appeal to a magestrium or bishop as the sole basis for this early creed? No, Paul received this from the apostles, whom they received from Christ because Christ was resurrected from the Dead. And, since Christ is God then he was the authority for this creed because it was a real event.
This creed is also based on all the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah, and Christ fufilling those prophecies (death, burial, and resurrection).
I cited the early Church fathers to show that they accepted tradition whether oral or written that were based on Old Testament scriptures, in order to verify it.
Happy for the rebuttal that Con is going to give next.
I would like to wish both Pro and All our readers a Merry Christmas in advance.I also apologize for the many typos I made in the previous argument.It was somewhat embarrassing. I hope I avoid them this time.
Firstly,I would like to remind readers that Sola in Latin means 'Alone' and scriptura means 'Scriptures'.Therefore, Sola Scriptura means Scriptures Alone.Pro is saying "Sola Scriptura simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture.".This should automatically mean that ignoring sacred tradition, that defined scripture in the first place, as an unnecessary extra is allowed.
If you believe that everything is already there in the Bible, why do you need anything else?It makes no logical sense to keep other aspects alive.
In contrast,Catholicism believes that the Bible is the Word of God, written under the breath of the Holy Spirit.It believes also however, that the sacred tradition and teachings given to the Apostles must be preserved and are of equal importance to the christian faith, and it sums up the tradition as well as the decisions made by the Elders(Magisterium) in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
I am arguing that ever since the Bible itself was compiled, there were many aspects of the faith that were a part of sacred tradition alone, and that that the bible requires the Guidance of spiritual elders and Bishops for interpretation.These Spiritual elders must be part of an unbroken tradition("The Gates of Hell shall never prevail against it") and must be the direct spiritual descendants of the Apostles themselves(i.e the Pope and the Magisterium).The sacred tradition as well as the directives of the Magisterium deal with all aspects of the faith that are not covered in the Bible, and are just as infallible as the Bible.
We can see that Pro seems to be coming up with a self contradictory definition, where he says that tradition and the authority of Bishops(Magisterium) are also accepted. I find it really amusing, because this has been the exact same belief that the Catholic Church taught since the very beginning.Now,I really wonder what the Protestants who started Sola Scriptura were 'protesting' against, as Pro is implying that they believed in both the tradition and the Authority of Bishops for interpretation.
At this point,I want to ask Pro if he believes that Roman Catholic Christians are 'Sola Scriptura' too?We too believe that the Bible is 'more sure Word," standing above all other truth in its authority and certainty.'Every accepted tradition and decree of the Magisterium and the Pope MUST be biblically defended and compared before it is pronounced as Dogma and if any of the Papal Bulls or Encyclicals are contrary to the Bible, the Pope automatically loses his office and is tried as a heretic.
However we believe that wherever the tradition and the Magisterium make a ruling about something that is not mentioned in the Bible, it becomes an equal authority to the Bible in that case.I would like to point out to the readers that many central doctrines of Christianity, such as Christ being consubstantial(one) with the father(Homoousios) , the mystery of the holy trinity, original sin etc are not explicitly declared anywhere in the Bible.Many 'Bible-alone' heretics could come up with biblical arguments against all of them(eg. Arians,Unitarians etc), yet it was the interpretation consistent with tradition and the decision of the Magisterium that was final and helped in times of confusion.(Homoousios is not even a biblical word)
Also, Pro himself is making so many points about the inadequacy of scripture himself.He himself agrees that:
1."Actually Sola Scriptura, as I mentioned up above, does not exclude the idea of oral traditions"
2.'Sola Scriptura is not a claim that all truth of every kind is found in Scripture.'
3."Sola Scriptura does not claim that everything Jesus or the apostles ever taught is preserved in Scripture"
He can't even come up with a list of books that must be in the Bible from the Bible itself.This is something of crucial importance to the Christian faith and is implicitly agreeing that other authorities are needed.He cannot also provide an explicit quote from the Bible to support his claim.So I really wonder why he still chooses to believe in Sola Scriptura.
Now to rebut some of the other points raised by Pro:
(I am rebutting them in the order of perceived importance and relevance.I am sorry if some points are missed out due to lack of space.)
1."All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.""-2nd Timothy 3:15-17
This is the quote Pro is giving as biblical proof for sola scriptura.It merely says that all of the scripture is useful.It does not say ONLY scripture is useful(SOLA scriptura).
I have given so many quotes to show that oral tradition is important as well, from epistles written by St.Paul himself.It becomes obvious, when oral tradition, 'Pattern of Sound words' etc is stressed as important and distinct from scripture, an explicit verse condemning SOLA scriptura is not necessary.
You are the one making the claim that scripture alone is sufficient,yet scripture alone is not sufficient even to defend your claim.You had to refer to the tradition of early fathers to get support.
"Con also assumes that Paul appealed to something other than scripture. However, this is false."
I am not assuming, I am asserting that St.Paul appealed to something other than scripture!
It was he who gives ample proof that Oral and written tradition was distinct and laid special stress on the 'Pattern of the Sound words'.Scripture is only that which is written.Oral tradition is not called scripture.I quote the relevant verses once again for your convenience:
"I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you" (1 Cor. 11:2).
"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us" (2 Thess. 3:6).
"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).
"Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us" (2 Tim. 1:13-14)
"Did Paul appeal to a magestirium or bishop as the sole basis for this early creed? No, Paul received this from the apostles, whom they received from Christ because Christ was resurrected from the Dead"
Pro does not seem to know the origin of Bishops and the Magisterium, and is making another self-contradictory claim.
The apostles passed the authority given to them on to others through the 'laying of hands'-
"Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you."-1Tim 4:14
The Magisterium consists of Bishops who are the direct spiritual descendants of the apostles themselves.The Pope is the descendant of the head of the Apostles St.Peter.I am giving you a list of all those who succeeded St.Peter right up to the current Pope Francis in the sources to prove that only the Catholic church has this unbroken tradition.
This is Ideal, because it shows that Pro agrees that even St.Paul, who had received direct communication from God, witnessed a miracle, and wrote parts of the Bible, relied on the authority of the Apostles.How can we who are not even fit to 'undo the Sandals of Saint Paul' claim to be able to interpret scripture independently of the Magisterium, their spiritual descendants?
"God's word addresses science and morality, so I don't see the issue here."
What about abortion and contraception?what about stem cell research?what about human and animal cloning?what about the LHC?what about the million other things that are the result of the explosion of technological advancement in the 19th century like internet pornography and psychedelic drugs? These things are not mentioned explicitly anywhere in the Bible and we need the guidance of the Holy spirit to discern what is right and wrong.The promise of infallibility was given only to St.Peter the 'Rock', and to the Apostles.The Bible's silence does not mean we can do whatever we want.This is relevant to the rebuttal of the next point.
"Con assumes that I believe the Canon of Scripture is closed. However, I did not necessarily say that it's directly closed. There could be other scriptures out there that we don't know about. I believe it's closed in the sense that, God has revealed everything to man-kind, from Genesis to Revelation."
So who in your opinion is going to decide whether something is scripture or not?On what basis?I am saying that the written proclamations of the Catholic church about things that are outside the scripture are inspired by the holy Spirit, does sola scriptura accept it?The Magisterium consist of the spiritual descendants of the Apostles, If they declare that the Catholic Catechism is inspired, will Sola Sciptura agree?
"What John believed was that nothing more should be added to the inspiration of Scripture. The Book of Revelations was the final eschatological conclusion of everything that God had revealed."
But how did John know that if the Bible was not even compiled at his time.On one hand,Pro claims that the canon of scripture is not closed, that more books can be 'discovered', on the other hand he says John has concluded everything mentioned in the Bible.more self-contradiction.
I look forward to the Q&A round.I think I have to ask the questions first.
We will now begin our Q&A with each other. Con has given me 5 questions to answer. I will accordingly answer them, down here below.
Questions from Con:
1. How is Sola Scriptura different from the Catholic approach to the Bible that I have mentioned?
2. If you agree that sola scriptura accepts both tradition and authoritiy of Bishops, then why is it called SOLA scriptura, wouldn't Scriptura sit refert be a better name for this?
3. If I can show you that the early church fathers believed in the primacy of the bishop of Rome, will you believe that catholicism is true?(since that is the only reason that you believe in Sola Scriptura)
4. Why is Sola Scriptura more correct that the other 4 solae of the protestant reformation?
5. What proof that you need for me to convince you that Sola Scriptura is unsound?
Answers to Con from Pro:
1. Sola scriptura, as I mentioned before, is saying that Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of the Christian. The Bible is complete, authoritative, and true. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Human Creeds and Traditions are not necessarlly the final authority to Christianity. That does not mean; however, that Sola scritpura rejects Creeds and Traditions. It basically says that scripture is the final authority of infallibility on Creeds and Traditions. I think you are confusing "Solo" with "Sola". Solo scriptura is believed to be the only authority, and does not accept creeds or traditions at all.
2. I did not necessarily say that Sola Scriptura accepts tradition and authority from Bishops. I was agreeing that Bishops were necessary for reading scripture to the church, and they were necessary for finding the real historical gospels and the complete New Testament.
3. Sure, if you want to go ahead and list some early church fathers then be my guest. However, I don't think that everyone who is a Protestant-Christian, holds to the idea of "Sola Scriptura". Some Protestants believe in"Regula Fidei"or Rule of Faith. Others believe in "Solo Scriptura" which holds that Scritpure alone is the sole basis in the life of a Christian, and that all creeds and traditions are useless. I think you might believe that I believe in "Solo Scritpura". However, I only believe in "Sola" Scriptura." There's a difference between the two.
4. I am not sure if Sola scriptura is "more" correct than the other 4. I believe they are all equal because they are all necessary to the Christian Faith.
5. Hmmm. That is a good question. I think you would need to show me examples of the apostles, and the early church denying the idea that scritpure is the final authority for theological and doctrinal statments or issues.
Hello CynicalDiogenes, here are my 5 questions for the Q&A.
1. If you are not permitted to engage in private interpretation of the Bible, how do you know which "apostolic tradition" is correct between the Roman Catholic, the Orthodox and the Watchtower churches, for all three teach the organization alone can interpret scripture correctly, to the exclusion of individual?
2. Why do Roman Catholics believe that Peter was the first Pope? Do you have some justification for that statement, based on Scripture?
3. According to Catechism of the Catholic Church, Para82 says " As a result the [Roman Catholic] Church...does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence." If that statement is true, then how can the Bible be God's word and why should we trust it?
4. The Church Fathers believed what Paul said in Eph 3:3-5, that the scripture could be understood by merely reading it. They indicated that the scriptures themselves were clear, so clear, they even criticized the heretics for getting it wrong. If those outside the church and common pew dwellers are unable to understand the Bible themselves as the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches teach, then why did the apostolic fathers expect the heretics to understand the Bible with their own human skills?
5. If sola Scriptura cannot be the correct method of determining truth because of the religious division among churches that claim to use sola Scriptura, then does this not also disqualify the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches method of using tradition, since they are divided against themselves?
1.Firstly, Catholics are encouraged to read the Bible and form their own opinions.They must merely rely on the Guidance of the Catholic church to ensure that they do not come to any wrong conclusions or make mistakes.
There are many core issues like the interpretation of the Book of Genesis, the true nature of the Afterlife(is it also a place you go after you die, or a state of mind alone.)etc, where the elders are still disagreeing, and represent different views.Unless the holy spirit inspires the Pope to make an ex-cathedra declaration, we are required to use our intellect to interpret it the best we can, and can believe whatever we want.
The church has a rich diversity of beliefs, I am personally Thomist,who follows the interpretation and theology of St.Thomas Aquinas, but not everyone in the church needs to be, there are a number of Saints and Doctors of the church we can follow any of them,or follow a personal belief as long as it does not interfere with the rulings of the church.
Rulings are made, only in those cases in which the church feels a particular interpretation is completely wrong, and is a dead end for spiritual progress.In every council,papal encyclical and papal bull that deals with Biblical ruling on interpretation, the detailed explanations for every decision must also be given.None of the decisions are blindly forced on believers.
Those who refuse to believe are 'anathema'.Anathema does not mean that you are condemned to hell immediately.It merely means that you no longer enjoy the protection of infallibility promised to St.Peter of the church, and are open to the deception of the devil who you now are going to face on your own.Many may face this willingly,but they are not allowed to lead others to error, and to teach this as a church dogma.
I come to the conclusion that the catholic 'tradition' is correct personally because:
A.It is the only church that has an unbroken tradition historically.Unlike protestant denominations that came up 1500+ years after the death of Christ.
B.Even orthodox christians(the only other church to be as old as the catholic tradition) see the pope as a 'Patriarch of the West' they don't see the catholic interpretation as completely wrong, and want the Pope to merely be a 'First among of equals' of the Patriarchs.I will explain this in more detain below for answer 5
C.Jesus said 'On this rock I shall build my church, and the gates of hell shall never prevail against it.' to believe that the church he founded went in error is to say that the church was over come by the deception of the devil.Heresy was common and throughout history we see that they eventually die away, But only the catholic church has survived.I think Protestantism is going the same way.It is fractured,small, confused, irrational and divided, just like the early heresies.
D.Catholic Dogma has never contradicted itself in core issues of dogma and interpretation in over 1800 years if seen properly and in a detailed fashion.Protestants have consistently been inconsistent in their beliefs and undergo a sea of change every decade.The teachings of Christ are meant to last forever, not change with every new idea that comes along.
2.The title 'Pope' is a modern invention for Bishop of Rome.I have already shown how the current Pope has an unbroken chain of succession from St.Peter.St.Peter was merely the person whom Jesus promised would be the 'Rock' and foundation of his church.He is mentioned in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles 191 times, while all the other disciples combined come only 130 times.He is the one who first calls Jesus as the Messiah and is told that all he binds on earth will be bound in heaven first.
It makes sense that the church of his unbroken chain of spiritual successors would be the true church.I will show how the primacy of Rome was the belief of the early fathers also:
St.Irenaeus("Against Heresies"):"It is possible then for everyone ....who may wish to know the truth to contemplate the tradition of the Apostles.The saints Peter and Paul have handed over the episcopate(of Rome) to Linus.
St. Cyprian of Carthage noted:
And again He says to him [Peter] after His resurrection: 'Feed my sheep' (John 21:17). On him He builds the Church, and to him He gives the command to feed the sheep; and although He assigns a like power to all the Apostles, yet He founded a single chair, and He established by His own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity.
<See sources for a more detailed respose.>
3.I do not see where this is a problem.Tradition and Scripture are both the foundations of the faith.Tradition obviously predates the Bible.The Bible is silent on a lot of things, but tradition is not.In those cases, tradition is as infallible as the Bible, as both are inspired by God.
Tradition never contradicts scripture,nor scripture tradition.They are both needed for the fullness of faith.The guidance of elders and men of wisdom,learning and authority of the Holy spirit is needed to interpret both and to give guidance as the time changes and new questions are raised.The 2000 year collective experience and directions of these men forms the catechism of the catholic church.
God's word is recorded in the scripture.His teachings are also recorded in practical actions of tradition.So we can very well follow both, and trust that both are equal.
4.When the early church fathers believed that everything is explicitly written in the Bible, they were trying to stem heresies like the Gnostic Heresy that claimed that there was some kind of 'hidden teaching' of Christ, that only they had access to.They were trying to show that the truth that the Bible contained was simple enough to be understood by intelligent reading, and no 'special','hidden' code or secret existed in the Bible.
This does not mean that every possible interpretation of the Bible, done by anybody is going to be correct.They were also against ancient heresies like the Arian heresy that required 'Bible- Alone' interpretations and used a non biblical word Homoousios to refute it.I think most protestants believe Jesus is God, they have this non-biblical argument to thank for this belief.
5.No.Catholics have only ONE dogma, summarised in the Lumen Gentium.The core beliefs of this have not changed in 1800 years.Over 1.2 Billion of us in 170 countries are united by this SINGLE set of core beliefs.We have only ONE leader, the Pope, who I have shown is the direct Spiritual descendant of St.Peter the Apostle himself.
When compared to the 30,000+, small,fractured, divided,self-contradicting protestant faiths,who are less than 300-400 years old,regularly flip flopping on core issues and keep condemning everyone else as false and wrong,the division between the Catholics and the Orthodox Christians is surprisingly less intense.
The Orthodox and Catholics have a long history, and apart from some minor theological issues,the main difference is whether the Pope ALONE has infallibility, or all the Patriarchs do .The Orthodox Christians too accept that the Pope is a 'Patriarch of the West' and is a 'First among equals'.Most of the beliefs of the Catholics and the orthodox christians are surprisingly similar, and are merely based on adminstrational disputes(western and eastern Roman Empires) as well as who has authority in deciding what is theologically superior and inferior.Nobody is denying the Infallibility of the Pope not even staunch orthodox defenders.They merely want more patriarchs to have something that was never propmised to them in the first place
I don't follow the Orthodox faith, merely because they refuse to accept the infallibility of the Pope as a Dogma.This in spite of the verses in the Bible showing that St.Peter alone was chosen to be the 'Rock of the church'.
Nevertheless,it is still dogmatically possible for both faiths to reconcile these differences and come together,unlike some protestant faiths that claim that everyone else is going to be condemned to burn in hell.There are many 'eastern' Catholic churches that have done this(including mine-I am actually a Syrio-Malabar Nasrani christian).
I have providied a link that gives a more detailed response for Papacy:
As we have seen. Sola scriptura is sound because it relies on the Idea that God's word, the scriptures, are the final authority on all issues and matters. However, Sola scriptura does not deny tradition, nor does it deny creeds. It just says that the two are not the final authority over the Christian faith.
Sola Scriptura is sound because of its roots in scripture. It is rooted in Jesus who is God.
There are divisions amongst all religions and non-religions. Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Coptic, etc. They all have disagreements on certain doctrines or dogmas. The same thing with Protestants. There are small differences between Baptists, Lutherans, Methodist, Presbyterians,etc.
I don't think there are 30,000 denominations. That's an over exaggeration.
However, might I say that Unity does not have to be Uniformity of expression. The one thing that makes me and Con or others a Christian, is Christ Jesus himself. I trust in him as my Lord and Savior. Regardless of the denomination or abomination that someone belongs to.
I wish Con a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
I wish everyone here a happy and prosperous new year in advance.
I am typing this from my phone, so i apologise in advance for not being able to type this well enough.
Firstly, I want to draw your attention to the way pro has defined 'sola scriptura'.He claims that scripture has everything that is sufficient for the fullness of christian faith.However, the bible itself does not contain a list of which books are inspired and which books are not,something of vital importance to the christian faith.So if scripture does not contain something this vital, how can we say it alone is sufficient?
Then, he goes on to say that Scripture alone is authoritative, but I have shown him many central christian docrrines such as the divinity of christ and doctrine of original sin required non biblical words for their defence, and were deemed correct even when others could come up with fully biblical arguments against them, as they were supported by tradition and had the support of the magisterium.So scripture alone fails there too.
Also, Pro has failed to show a single verse from the bible to support his claim that scripture ALONE is sufficient.I have aleeady provided a satisfactory rebuttal to the lone verse that he claims gives support.This is really ironic as scripture alone is insufficient to even back his claim.
He cherry-picks the writings of the early fathers and some parts of tradition, but convinently ignores others.He has regularly flip-flopped on whether tradition,oral teaching and apostles also have authority or not.Solo Scriptura is actually very bad latin, but it is a word used to distinguish a stricter version of this belief, that does not accept tradition and early bishops whenever convinent, but fully follows what it claims to be.Hence it is atleast more intellectually honest.
The only sensible argument he makes comes from the fact that no teaching should every directly contradict the bible.I have shown how this is true of catholic faith as well, as every tradition and papal decree does not contradict the bible.But he is not willing to accept catholicism as sola scriptura.
Thus, we can see that not only is sola scriptura logically unsound, it is also, scripturally unsound.
I agree, that there can be a rich diversity of beliefs.There is a similar diversity of expression in the Catholic faith too, with over a hundered different orders,many hundereds of years old, each interpreting and serving God in their own way.However, it is also unwise to follow something that is this unsound both logically,historically and scripturally.
The number 30,000 is a very consercative estimate.This proliferation of churches is the direct result of the belief that anyone and everyone is infallible.In contrast, while there are a number of distinct churches, even within the catholic church, (syro-malabar,maronite,melkite,coptic etc.).They are all geographical and traditional distinctions, the core beliefs are all the same,unlike protestantism.All accept the authority of the Pope.Even the orthodox church accepts the pope as the patriarch of the west and do not deny him the authority.Unlike many protestants who boldly even assert that others are not even christian.
In the end, Christ alone is going to judge us, I am glad that you are willing to discuss your faith in an open forum, and are able to argue about it in a civil way.Even though we may have differences, I sincerely hope, you never stop seeking the truth, and have the courage to go wherver your search will take you.I returned to my faith after wandering in advaitic hinduism and buddhism as a teen.It is okay to wander, but it is not okay to stagnate even after you think something is wrong.
I wish you a prosperous, and fruitful year ahead in your search,
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