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The Protestant Doctrine of "Sola Scriptura" is unbiblical, unhistorical, and untenable

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/5/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 403 times Debate No: 90773
Debate Rounds (3)
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The Protestant Doctrine of "Sola Scriptura" is one that is ironically unbiblical, unhistorical, and therefore untenable.

I would also like to make it clear that I am Catholic and a former Protestant, and therefore my arguments will lead to the fact that The Bible (Holy Scripture) is in fact God breathed and divine and held on the highest level of esteem, but on that same level equally held are the Church's Authority on Earth and Christian Tradition.

Let us first define what "Sola Scriptura" is, as well as what I am referring to by the term "Protestant".


Sola Scriptura: The belief that Scripture (here meaning the Christian Bible) alone is the primary and absolute source for all doctrine and practice (faith and morals). The Bible is therefore "sufficient": it is all that is necessary for faith and practice. It is the final authority for the Christian faith.

Protestant: I am referring to first, the historical movement began by Martin Luther, and subsequently Calvin, Zwingli, and others, and second by the Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, and "Bible Believing" Christians who trace their roots back to, and still hold to, the foundational principals of the protestant reformation, being of course "Sola Scriptura" (and others but we are focused today on Sola Scriptura).




Perhaps the most ironic aspect of Protestant theology is the fact that "Sola Scriptura" is not Biblical. There is no definitive part of the Bible that clearly states that scripture alone is the final authority on Christian teaching, nor is there a place where Scripture states that Scripture is "sufficient".

Now, Protestants are ready with their favorite, and I do stress the word favorite, Biblical verses to counter this. The most obvious verse would be 2 Timothy 3:16; please note that I am using ESV translation of the Bible:

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness"

Notice the word "profitable" and that the word "sufficient" is no where to be found.

Also in verse 15, there is a reference to the scriptures that Timothy has known since infancy. He is of course referring to Old Testament scriptures, and not to the New Testament ones, and therefore not the Bible, which did not exist until almost four centuries later.

The Bible is of course the Word of God, but without the authority of the Church (which Jesus himself established first, He NEVER promised nor commissioned the writing of His teachings or works, but He DID give us a Church) it is anyone's guess as to what the Scripture of the Lord God truly means.

This is why the estimates of different Protestant denominations range from 21,000 (World Christian Encyclopedia by David A. Barret; Oxford University Press, 1982) to a liberal estimate of over 40,000 according to a cursory Google Q&A.

This of course will inevitably lead to a debate about what is meant by "denomination" and what is meant by "Church" as Christ meant it. So let's get into that, because frankly all of these denominations happened as a result of the Protestant Reformation. Even will affirm that:

So what does the Bible say about divisions? Let us turn to the New Testament to 1 Cor 1:10: "I appeal to you, brothers,[a] by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment"

Well, Protestant denominations cannot agree on the following: the nature of the Trinity, Communion, Sacraments (how many are there, are they symbolic, and are we obligated to do them), Baptism by water, Baptism for infants, Women in the Priesthood, gay marriage, birth control, abortion, fighting in wars....just to name a few.

It seems that the only thing uniting Protestants is their dislike for Roman Catholicism and their "both/and" mentality for Tradition and Scripture. Meanwhile, the "Sinners Prayer" and "being saved by simply accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior" are no where to be found in Scripture, but rather a tradition of a particular brand of Protestantism. The irony is totally lost on most modern Protestants.

But let us now turn to 2 TH 2:15: "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter"

Wait...what? "TRADITIONS that you were taught by us; either by our SPOKEN our letter"?

There was NO Bible at this time. How did the early church convert the pagan Empire of Rome with NO BIBLE? In fact, it was not until the Church was legalized that a CANON of Scripture was authorized by the Church! More on that later.

Last verse for this argument (though there are plenty more):

Acts 8:30-31 "So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" 31 And he said, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him."

Yes, how can you know the scriptures unless someone teaches it to you? I.E. the magisterium of Christ's Church.

Here are some follow on questions to ponder:

1. How did the Apostles "preach the Gospel" with no Bible, furthermore, to a largely illiterate people? Well the answer is the Holy Spirit and the Authority given to them by Christ to "bind and loose" on Earth (MT 16:18-19). So we have an infant church, which was illegal and persecuted and had the street's running with the blood of martyrs, converting the entire Roman Empire and pockets of the world, with NO Bible. How is it Sola Scriptura again?

2. Where is it written that God's Holy Word must be written, and that spoken word is not on equal terms? Jesus wrote nothing down and spent three intimate years with the Apostles. Do we have Gospels from all of the Apostles? No, but we have the fruits of their labors as Evangelists. Do we have everything he said and taught to them? No, we have only a fragment of that, but we have the product of their oral and traditional teachings, which to a largely illiterate society was essential. No where in the Bible does it say that the Lord has given us "the Bible" as we know it.

3. Why did the Holy Spirit wait for almost four centuries before finally collecting and forming the apostolic writings into a collection called the New Testament? Why didn't the apostles collect all the inspired writings and authoritatively announce to Christians suffering and dying all over the world that these texts are inspired and true and worth your blood but these others are not? The early church seemed to be in no hurry to have the "deposit of faith" as solely the Bible, or to even have a Bible, as Protestants would have you believed, but rather in the teachings and authority of the Apostles.


Briefly, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura did not exist until the 16th Century. Before that, we had Holy Scripture working with the Magisterium of Holy Church. So for 16 centuries, no one propagated the doctrine of Sola Scriptura until a disgruntled and excommunicated monk proposed this particular Theology. What on Earth was going on for 16 centuries? Was the Holy Spirit asleep?

Martin Luther wanted to remove books from the Bible, and indeed moved seven other books to an appendix. He did this in response to his own theology not being Biblical. E.g. prayers for the dead is obviously a part of 1 MAC and 2 MAC (not found in most Protestant Bibles in America, though they WERE a part of the original Bible of which Sola Scriptura said was the final authority), but Luther nonetheless said prayers for the dead were not to be a Christian practice. This came out in the Leipzig Debate.

Source: Kolb, Robert (2009). Martin Luther. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 24. ISBN 0199208948.

After losing that debate, Luther moved the books he did not agree with (Deuterocanonical books) to an appendix, and most Protestant Bibles today do not even have them period.

So, how is the Bible that the Holy Spirit infallibly chose in the 4th century not good enough for Protestants? The Old Testament that Jesus knew was the Septuagint, which included the Deuterocanonical books. Furthermore, those books in question were not even considered "uncanonical" by Jews until decades AFTER Christianity was started! So why even consider what Jews are doing after Christianity when discussing CHRISTIAN theology?

Here is a list of New Testament references to the Septuagint in SCIRPTURE


If it is not obvious now, let me make it clear:

You cannot just ignore 16 centuries of Church Tradition and Authority and then say it can ONLY be the Bible upon which you base your teachings. All of these difference denominations claim to use Sola Scriptura, but they can hardly agree upon anything while drawing from the same "Sufficient" authority. It is unhistorical, and only Biblical when you only pay attention to the Bible verses you like and disregard the one's your Protestant Pastor does not preach on.


My opponent is arguing that the teachings of the Christian Church are equivelent to the Law of G-d. This is a very false doctrine shared by Christians and Rabbinical Jews alike that the meaning of scripture is subjective, thus we have rabbis/ pastors to tell us what the meaning of them are. I, on the other hand, am a Karaite Jew, I disbelieve Christian Tradition even more so than I disbelieve Rabbinical Tradition, and I will tell you why with both scriptural and non-scriptural arguments:

First of all, if the word of G-d isn't sufficient, how then are the teachings of men? To say this would mean that the teachings of men are above the word of G-d, because the teachings of men define the word of G-d, by interpreting it, but the teachings of men would not necessarily be defined by the word of G-d, because they get to decide what any scriptures mean.

As we all know, G-d is far beyond any man, and this places his word over the teachings of men, not the other way around. This is taught all over the Torah, Jeremiah 17:5:
"This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD."

Isaiah 2:22:
"Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; For why should he be esteemed?"

Infact, if salvation is taught and defined by the Christian Church, that would be in complete violation of these verses, Psalms 146:3:
"Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation."

Isaiah 43:11:
"I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior."
Debate Round No. 1


Well let me just start off by saying that you just labeled yourself as "Con" to the notion of Protestant Sola Scriptura is unbiblical, unhistorical, and untenable. You did not directly address my thesis, nor my arguments related to that thesis. You went completely off the rails here, and did what no rational debate should do: go outside the scope of the proposed argument.

If you wanted to say that one should "disbelieve Christian Tradition even more so than one should believe Rabbinical Tradition" then you should have posted a separate debate, as they are in fact, separate subjects.

Now to address your points, which again is problematic as your points do not coincide to the plaintiff's points brought up, but let's just do this anyways since I left the debate open and you went all cowboy and decided to answer.

I did not ever say that the WORD of God is not sufficient, but rather that the WORD of God is not limited to SCRIPTURE anymore than your words are limited to written text. So there goes your first paragraph, but let's delve further into what you said. For as I asked, where is it written that God's word is limited only to writing?

No where did I ever say that the "teachings of men" are "above the word of God". If you are referring to my proposed notion that SCRIPTURE, TRADITION, and MAGESTIRUM are all on the same highest level, then you obviously do not understand Catholic Doctrine. They are like three legs of the same stool, and serve as tools for the servants of God to better serve Him and His will.

Now as to your quotes, again, this starts to fall into a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT DEBATE and I am unsure why you thought it wise to hijack a debate, which is so clearly about a specific Protestant Doctrine, we cannot truly move forward without completely going away from the original points.

The whole Christian Doctrine, Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox, relies on the fact that God became Man through the hypostatic union to come to Earth to redeem man's sins and regain union with Man that was lost in the fall in Genesis. So any Christian can quote out the whazoo from the Bible, Early Church Fathers, and most any Theology to quote back at you from Holy Scripture. God did this because His will is for man to know Him, and serve Him, and love Him. I'd quote all day from the New Testament and Church Fathers/Doctors, but that would all be based on Christian Theology and this debate is not set up for an interfaith dialogue between Christian and Non-Christian theologies.

So this debate is now really mute due to you going completely off the rails with it. This is why I made a statement, or thesis, and had proof for my statement. None of which you even quoted properly in your response, let alone responded to.

Essentially though, all of your Biblical quotes and how you mean them are in agreement with Christian doctrine. We cannot put our faith in man, or princes, or the secular things of this world, but rather in God who gave us His son, and His son gave us His church and the Holy Spirit to guide men on Earth. He gave his disciples authority to forgive sins and the mission to evangelize and all that they bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven, while all that they loose on Earth shall be loosed in Heaven. See above MT citations.

Just as Moses was given the Scripture, and His people were informed by Scripture granted by God, Moses' authority, and the tradition that preceded, grew, and followed all of this, so does Christ's church on Earth follow the Authority of God's Scripture, the Tradition of God's people, and the teaching authority of those who God has spoken to and through to His children on Earth.

Here is a thought experiment:

What does this sentence mean?

"I never said you stole money."

Seems pretty straight forward right? Let's do some experimenting:

"I never said you stole money" changes every time in meaning when you put an emphasis on each individual word. I NEVER said you stole money...I never SAID you stole money (maybe I thought it, or wrote it)...I never said YOU stole money (I said it was someone else)....I never said you STOLE money (calling into question the verb "you" did)...I never said you stole MONEY (calling into question the noun which was stolen). How can we be sure of this without extra-scriptural knowledge? That's why we have an authoritative body who can settle such disputes and we can move forward as a community. How would any Army in the world be functional if every NCO and Officer interpreted doctrine, training, and commands each to their own independent ability? That's why there is a hierarchy of command and training to coincide with written orders and doctrine for proper interpretation. Something to consider for your off topic debate subject.

Not sure where we are going to go from here, thank you for ruining this debate.
Debate Round No. 2


So please actually read this time, because you clearly do not read, think, and then respond with a writing process. I will answer this in sections broken into two subsections: WHAT YOU SAID and MY RESPONSE

First of all, that wasn"t supposed to be my argument, it was a rough draft and it got published too soon. And yes, I argued that it is not unbiblical for the protestants to disbelieve the Catholic Church"s doctrines because they are all false. And I never went outside the scope of the argument, I meant to address your argument that scripture needs to be interpreted by the Catholic Church.
Thirdly, you misquoted me and further misunderstood that misquote, I never said you should disbelieve Christian Tradition even more so than one should believe Rabbinical Tradition, I said that I disbelieve Christian Tradition even more than the Rabbinical Tradition, which isn"t aside from the debate because I was merely emphasising the extent of inaccuracy in Catholic Doctrines.


Use Spell Check. Also, you went from Firstly to Thirdly with no Secondly. But you obviously aren't a man to let little things like a writing process to get in your way.

I also NEVER said that YOU said "you should disbelieve Christian Tradition", rather, I took what looked to be your thesis statement and replaced the words "I" with "one". This is ironic in that your opening statement was "My opponent is arguing that the teachings of the Christian Church are equivalent to the Law of G-d".

PLEASE SHOW ME WHERE I WROTE THOSE WORDS and then when you cannot, please explain your logic in deducing that as my argument instead of it being what the title of this debate is.

Let me explain how debates work. You have a "plaintiff" and a "Defendant". This site calls them "instigator" and "contender" to be clever. The plaintiff's claim is that the PROTESTANT (not sub-sect of Judaism) doctrine of SOLA SCRIPTURA (referring to a specific doctrine, which you never addressed in Round 1 that was in fact defined in my opening argument) is UNBIBLICAL (which I provide Biblical texts refuting the definition of Sola Scriptura, more on that later) UNHISTORICAL, and therefore UNTENABLE.


You did not even MENTION "Sola Scriptura", which is what this PARTICULAR DEBATE is putting on trial. So yes, you have gone completely outside the intended limits of this debate, and negated the whole purpose.


Fourthly, Catholic teachings as well as Christian Tradition are not equal to the word of G-d, and they are both the teachings of men. They are not 3 legs of the same stool, because they all came from different sources; the first 5 books of the Tanakh came directly from G-d to Moses, the Nevi"im was written by genuine prophets of G-d, though the Ketuvim came from more than one location, psalms, however, accounts of came large chunk of it and came from Solomon, the wisest man ever to exist, and etc.
As we can see, the origins of these books, the 5 books of Moses coming from the greatest prophet ever to exist according to the Tanakh, the Nevi"im from the prophets of G-d, and a large chunk of the Ketuvim coming from the wisest man ever to live, DO put them on a higher level than the Non-Testament AND Christian Tradition.
Fifthly, your thought experiment is irrelevant, because the meaning of the sentence stays the same, you just put emphasis on certain parts of it to direct people's attention to a specific idea proposed.
Now, I never addressed your argument because I accidentally submitted my response before I finished, so I now intend to respond fully to your arguments and dismantle every one of them.


Again, it is not my fault that you submitted your response before you were ready. You are the one who looks ill prepared as you backtrack and put an argument that should have been in Round 1 in Round 2.

Everything you are saying regarding who the Author of scripture is, is either directly or indirectly in agreement with myself, Protestant doctrine, and Catholic doctrine. Except you are missing one kind of need someone to interpret what is written. How do you explain what is written to someone who cannot read? How do you interpret complicated rules and ornate poetry to the masses? You need a body of people with authority to do so and tradition to carry it forth. Your faith and all faiths exist because people passed it on both orally and through writing in conjunction with their traditions. That's how the world works.

Again, you MISQUOTED ME FORM THE START when you said my thesis was, "My opponent is arguing that the teachings of the Christian Church are equivelent to the Law of G-d." I would ask once again to use the spell check feature, and to actually read my argument BECAUSE I DO NOT SAY THAT ANYWHERE and therefore you are totally OFF TOPIC.


"No, but you cannot "prove" an argument of yours simply by stating that there is no proof against it because there also aren"t any scriptures that say that scripture is insufficient. "


Read my argument under "unbiblical" and read my quotation from 2 TH where it is written that both TRADITION, whether ORAL or WRITTEN is what we should rely on. Therefore implying, that scripture ALONE (again, going back to the actual thesis you never addressed regarding SOLA SCRIPTURA) is not biblical.


First of all, Jesus didn"t make a church, as a matter of fact there were no official Christian Churches until over 100 years after his death. If I remember correctly, Jesus actually said "call no man rabbi" in Matthew 23:8-9, and that HE was the mediator between man and G-d who said that you don"t need man to connect to G-d in 1st Timothy 2:5. This is obcourse false, all of it, but it"s what your Christian scriptures so you have to agree with them.


First of all, we don't call people Rabbi, and secondly yes Jesus did.

" And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[c] in heaven." 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ." MT 16:18-20


And yes, there was maybe no OFFICIAL church until the fourth century, but immediately after Pentecost the Apostles carried on Christ's mission and IMMEDIATELY began Evangelizing.

I would also love it if you gave a source for your notion of the "official churches" not being around until "100 years after his death". Jesus first saw Mary announcing his Resurrection to them THREE DAYS after his death, thus making them the first witnesses of the Christian faith.

But I'm sure you're a New Testament expert.


Exodus 34:27:
"Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel."



Again, you ruined this debate in your very first sentence of your first response. You did not even UNDERSTAND what this debate was about apparently and we are totally off topic. This is not an interfaith dialogue between Christian and Non-Christian, as you wanted it to be.

Thanks again for ruining this debate, please think before you respond so quickly next time you decide to cowboy it up where you should not.
Debate Round No. 3
20 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by whiteflame 5 months ago
>Reported vote: Danielle// Mod action: Removed<

7 points to Pro. Reasons for voting decision: My RFD will be in the Comments Section.

[*Reason for removal*] While the voter more than sufficiently analyzes the arguments given and conduct is borderline (the voter should do more than imply that being argumentative in the final round warrants a conduct violation), S&G and sources are insufficiently explained. S&G requires more than stating that it's obvious " it should be clear that one side's points are difficult to read. Sources require more than just a statement that one side has them while the other doesn't, as the voter must explain how they were relevant to the debate and not just that they supported a given side's statements.
Posted by Lonely-Bird 5 months ago
matthew 15:9.
Posted by Lonely-Bird 5 months ago
if you wish.
Posted by harrytruman 5 months ago
I'm not throwing a temper tantrum, you should learn not to make things up about people, all that is happening here is you are complaining about me following rules that aren't. And really, if you wanted the character limit to be a debate rule that I would otherwise have to follow, you should have put it in round 1, but you didn't, unless that was done, the character limit remained what it always was, a rule to prevent the debate from taking up too much information, which I did not violate because posting the link only took up a few characters. Besides, even if this was a rule, I never violated it because the amount of characters Tolkien up by the link was below 10,000.
Posted by hutch976 5 months ago

It would be interesting, perhaps, if you were to formulate your thoughts more cohesively. Maybe you should start your own debate. I'd be happy to debate you. I have a few questions about what you wrote, because it sort of seems like you are just spewing a bunch of random facts together and pretending like we should all just see the reasons for your ad hoc conclusions.
What do you mean by "consolidated form"? Do you mean as a LEGAL entity, because we can pinpoint that date and not just say weird qualifiers like "a minimum of 300+ years".

"Wholly a construct of humans..." Well, in the context of an interfaith dialogue between Christianity and Atheism, I could see this being a point of contention, but the Church maintains that it was founded by Jesus at Pentecost, and at that point was "consolidated", as all of the Apostles worked to evangelize people together.

You are calling into question the validity of the "letters" (which is not the entire new testament I might add). Well those letters SHOW HOW THE CHURCH WAS UNIFIED. The letters are usually sent as guidance to the other branches of the Church, and they were preserved as a reference and teaching point.

And yes, of course ideas contrary to the teaching of the church were banned. Every organization does that. The Army. Corporations. Banks. Schools. If members of any organization start conducting day to day operations contrary to what their hierarchy dictates, it is going to cause problems.

Your point on Constantine.....and? So he fell victim to a heresy. What's your point? That people can fall away from the Catholic Faith? GROUND BREAKING
Posted by hutch976 5 months ago

When you hit the button saying you accepted this debate, did it, or did it not, state the word limit per round? I'll tell you the answer. The answer is, it did specify what the word limit it.

Did you violate that word limit? Yes, yes you did.

Is that misconduct?

Yes it is.

I suggest you stop making yourself look worse by throwing a temper tantrum like an undisciplined teenaged boy.
Posted by harrytruman 5 months ago
Hutch 976,
You're full of crap, candidates are only given time limits so the republican debates don't last for hours because Americans have a very short attention span, they are still allowed to say "go see my website" when asked a question, which is similar to what I did posting a website to respond in a debate.
Posted by Lonely-Bird 5 months ago
the roman doctrine is untenable as well. it is also unbiblical.

the church, whether roman, orthodox or protestant is wholly a construct of humans. as such they can no more establish traditions, laws, regulations or proclamations that do anything other than show what they believe to be "the word of god." of course since the roman church and in reality "the church" did not exist in a consolidated form for a minimum of 300+ years it is necessary to examine as best as possible what the church did to create scripture and to accept what they created as being scripture. after nicea in essence thousands who were christian, who believed, lived and thought they were christian suddenly weren't due to the establishment of certain writings as scripture and certain belief structures as heretical. the church did this, not god. the church, a construct of man, lacking any scripture since the jewish scripture was all they had (the so-called letters of paul and others were just that, letters) had to have scripture that was superseding jewish scripture and this the nt was created and collected. any thing that was determined via political means to threaten the church by not being under the control of the church was deemed heretical and discarded. those different believers were either forced to accept so-called orthodoxy or discarded as well. see ireneaus for example. it is also interesting that constantine was baptized on his death-bed by a heretical bishop of the aryan belief system.
Posted by hutch976 5 months ago

It is misconduct. It's like driving over the speed limit, or having a handicap in a sport.

When you start a debate topic on this site, you can choose the PARAMETERS of that debate, and one of those parameters is how long a response can be. It is the equivalent of the rules in "live debates", as one might find on TV, where the candidates have a TIME limit on how long they can speak.

If one candidate consistently violates that parameter, by going over the agreed upon limitation, while the other obeys the parameter, the former candidate is displaying misconduct.

You need to work on brevity apparently, and accepting when you're wrong.
Posted by harrytruman 5 months ago
It isn't misconduct, there isn't a word limit rule, that's only there so the page doesn't hold too much data, DDO can't hold debate arguments of 100000000 characters per person, and no, your analogy is nonsense, it would really be like if a safe could only hold 10000000 $ in gold, so someone bought another safe to hold more, and the safe company tried to get him arrested for circumventing the size of the safe.
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