Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Scripture is Sufficient 1

I have been listening to debates lately between Protestants and Roman Catholics on the issue of sola scriptura. For a debate question such as "Sola Scriptura or the Sufficiency of Scripture is taught by Scripture", the Protestants will of course take the affirmative side. Now of course, the Protestants do not mean to say that the phrase "Scripture is Sufficient" exactly can be found in the Bible, but is this principle taught just like the Trinity? The word Trinity is not found in the Bible but does the Bible teach such concept about God? Simply because the word is not found in the Bible, it does not mean that the Bible does not teach it.

Now for the RC apologist, what must he do to effectively rebut the affirmative? The Protestants believe that sola scriptura is vouched by 2 Tim 3:14-17. The RCs have to do more than say "I do not accept that". Also the exegesis that limits the application of this Scripture here to OT does not wash, because you will have to deny that the NT is not Scripture and I do not think you would like to go there as it will lead to a can of issues.

Think of this way, what is the Protestant position really saying? They are saying "The Bible teaches that there is only one source for a Christian's faith and conduct - it is the Bible". This is what is being said here.

This is similar to me saying - "I can prove to you that there is only One God". For you do take the negative on this you would have to prove, either of two things. You prove that there is no such God or you prove that there is at least another God and this one is not identical to the other.
For this case, the former is invariably taken as the method used by Atheist because by definition, God is supreme being and therefore unique, that is why we do not hear the latter position taken as a method (that is prove at least 2 God etc.) of proof.

From the debate I hear, RC apologists normally use 2 Th2:15 where Paul says "hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter" to show that sola scriptura is denied. Their point ,from what I understand, is the "spoken word" along with the "letter (Scripture)", thus it is not Scripture alone it has to be the oral words. Notice too that it says "either", that is this tradition is found in either spoken word or letter.

To be successful they have to show that "the spoken word" is NOT the same or is NOT identical with the "letter". That is, the contents of the two must not be identical with each other, for if they were, then they have not denied the position of the Protestant successfully. Thus they have to do a bit more work.

More later, God bless you in your thinking

10 comments:

Charlie said...

"Now of course, the Protestants do not mean to say that the phrase "Scripture is Sufficient" exactly can be found in the Bible, but is this principle taught just like the Trinity? The word Trinity is not found in the Bible but does the Bible teach such concept about God? Simply because the word is not found in the Bible, it does not mean that the Bible does not teach it."

Sola scriptura is not comparable to the Trinity at all. The Trinity is implied in the scriptural text, although it doesnt mention it explicitly. Sola Scriptura, on the other hand, is 1) Impossible to derive from Scripture, and 2) Is contradicted by Scripture on numerous occasions.

Here are several points in support of the latter premise:

i) Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:15;

"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter."

Paul makes no distinction here between the written letter or by oral tradition.

ii) Likewise, Paul says 2 Thessalonians 3:6;

"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 have recieved from us."

iii) In 1 Corinthians 11:2, Paul exhorts the Corinthian community to follow the traditions that they have recieved through him;

"I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you."

iv) In Matthew 2:23, we have a prophecy of Christ not recorded in the Old Testament;

"And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled. 'He shall be called a Nazarene'"


You wrote:

"From the debate I hear, RC apologists normally use 2 Th2:15 where Paul says "hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter" to show that sola scriptura is denied. Their point ,from what I understand, is the "spoken word" along with the "letter (Scripture)", thus it is not Scripture alone it has to be the oral words."

That is what the Scripture says. This is a fairly simple passage to understand. Anyone who would try to escape the obvious implications of this text would not be honoring the Bible as the word of God; he would be reading in his own man-made ideas (Sola Scriptura, in this case) using eisegesis.

But we arent interested in eisegesis; they are interested in the truth.

"Notice too that it says "either", that is this tradition is found in either spoken word or letter."

i) Paul uses 'traditionS' [plural] in this passage, not tradition.

ii) Paul was an Apostle, and as such he was the man who gave the Thessalonians the Divine Revelation in the first place.
You are suggesting that Paul didn't know whether the traditions that the Thessalonians were supposed to keep were in written form or oral form (and then leaving it up to the Thessalonians to decide where the correct "traditions" are to be found in). This idea is simply absurd.

"To be successful they have to show that "the spoken word" is NOT the same or is NOT identical with the "letter". That is, the contents of the two must not be identical with each other, for if they were, then they have not denied the position of the Protestant successfully. Thus they have to do a bit more work."

Catholic apologists have no need to argue against the idea that Tradition and Scripture contains the same materials. This is a breathtaking example of a Protestant who 1) Attempts to argue against Catholic doctrine, yet 2) Is totally ignorant about what Catholics believe.

The Fathers of the Council of Trent believed that Scripture was materially sufficient. That is, they thought that all the "materials" of Divine Revelation- all the doctrines- could be found implicitly or explicitly in Scripture.

And they also believed that Tradition was a second source of divine revelation (not secondary, but second).

But since Scripture was materially sufficient, what was the need for Tradition at all? The answer was simple. Although Scripture contains all the material of the deposit of faith, not all of these "materials" are explicitly taught in scripture (in fact, some are very, very obscure). The role of Tradition is to bring these more obcure teachings into stronger relief. Tradition contains all of the doctrines that scripture has, and it teaches many of them much more clearly. Taking the life of Tradition away from the interpretation of Scripture is to open a door to heresy.

Tradition, because it is the living Word of God, is the safeguard of orthodox teaching. As St. Peter says, "There are some things in them [the Scriptures] hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures."

"Now for the RC apologist, what must he do to effectively rebut the affirmative? The Protestants believe that sola scriptura is vouched by 2 Tim 3:14-17. The RCs have to do more than say "I do not accept that"."

This is not the case at all. 2 Timothy 3:14-17 is a pathetic example of Protestants stretching the Biblical text to read in a doctrine that won't fit anywhere else. Not a word is said about Tradition in this passage, either.

Your claim that "The RCs have to do more than say 'I do not accept that'" is completely false. Apologist Jimmy Akin wrote an article on this very passage that nobody has, as yet, responded to. It is available here:

http://www.cin.org/users/james/files/2tim316.htm

"Also the exegesis that limits the application of this Scripture here to OT does not wash, because you will have to deny that the NT is not Scripture and I do not think you would like to go there as it will lead to a can of issues."

You have totally missed the thrust of the argument.

Here are some simple syllogisms showing the absurdity of your position:

1) Paul taught Scriptural sufficiency in 2 Timothy 3:14-17

2) The only Scripture which existed in Paul's day was the Old Testament.

3) Therefore, Paul thought that only the Old Testament was sufficient [a conclusion you must reject.


If you try to use the defense that Paul was only talking about a "characteristic" or a "quality" that Scripture possesses, then you shoot yourself in the foot.

Remember, you are trying to argue that Paul taught Sola Scriptura. Scriptural sufficiency must not be a quality of any individual book, but about Scripture as a whole (i.e., you couldn't take just one book out of Scripture and call it "sufficient" because it is a Scriptural document). Thus, to argue that Paul was talking about a "characteristic" of Scriptural documents only goes to show that he was not speaking about Sola Scriptura in the first place.

"This is similar to me saying - "I can prove to you that there is only One God"."

No, it isn't. In order for you to prove Sola Scriptura, you must simply show me that the Bible itself teaches Sola Scriptura. If it doesn't teach Sola Scriptura, then it is false.

once a catholic said...

I'm prepared to act as an umpire here. Just agree to disagree, do this as graciously as humanly possible.
Once again, the "Lord looks at the heart" (1 Sam), your discord is doing more harm to the non-believers and causing more believers to "stumble".

http://www.apostolic-churches.net/bible/sbs/unity_of_the_righteous.html

L P Cruz said...

Charlie,

Let me start by quoting the syllogism you presented
1) Paul taught Scriptural sufficiency in 2 Timothy 3:14-17

2) The only Scripture which existed in Paul's day was the Old Testament.

3) Therefore, Paul thought that only the Old Testament was sufficient [a conclusion you must reject.


It is you who miss our syllogism. The point is the application! Today we have the NT as part of Scripture and is therefore inspired too! So when we read 2Tim 3:14-17, we can not limit the application of this passage to OT only. For if we limit this to the OT, then effectively you are saying that the NT is NOT inspired. As I said you will get into trouble for doing this. You can not limit the APPLICATION of 2 Tim 2:13-17 as a rule for faith and life to the OT! You just did that..., limit inspiration of Scripture to OT.

So that is my proof...

Now let us go to your position...

My point is simple as I said following the rules of mathematical proof which you dismiss by a magic wave of hand...You still have to prove what I posited. I hope you can accord me with your proof.

Let me repeat for clarity...
Protestants are saying "I can prove to you that there is only one rule for faith and practice for a Christian - Sacred Scripture, from Scripture itself". This is similar to "I can prove to you that there is only ONE GOD, from Scripture". That is, do the same for this with Scriptire this time. To negate this you have to show, either there are no (zero) rule for faith or practice or there are at least two, of which they are not identical- that is the Protestant point I am making.

The RC point is this - NO, there are two. Obviously you will not say zero rule for faith and practice because you believe that Scripture is inspired. RC is saying scripture is inspired but not complete and sufficient. This is your point and I believe I am representing it well, because if this is not your point, you have no meaningful argument to make, you just sided with us.

Our point in 2 Ths 2:15 is that this "traditions" is the body of teaching which have been eventually scripturated in the NT. Our point is that simply because the word traditions is found there, it does not mean it refers to RC Traditions. Your point is YES - it does - but these traditions have been kept by the Roman Catholic church and these Traditions are not in Scripture ( I believe you have to say this else, you offered no advanced argument).

If you say that this tradition is the same in identity as Scriptire then case closed, you have not denied the Protestant point.


You said
Catholic apologists have no need to argue against the idea that Tradition and Scripture contains the same materials. This is a breathtaking example of a Protestant who 1) Attempts to argue against Catholic doctrine, yet 2) Is totally ignorant about what Catholics believe.

The Fathers of the Council of Trent believed that Scripture was materially sufficient. That is, they thought that all the "materials" of Divine Revelation- all the doctrines- could be found implicitly or explicitly in Scripture.


To say that I am ignorant of RC beliefs is to ad hominem, which I find a common technique used by cultists and RC apologists when they assail the person they are debating... I forgive you for it nevertheless, it is bad form.

Now to my point...

I have not checked, but for a moment, let us assume you quoted the Council of Trent here, properly.

If they do not see any need to prove them to be the same, then you have just granted the Protestant position. You contradicted yourself. For if you say that tradition and scripture are really different names for the same objects, you exegesis of 2 Ths 2:15 starts crushing down. You have supported the Protestant position.

You must prove that the Traditions you hold are inspired from Scripture. Scripture already proves itself to be inspired, I doubt if you can do the same for your Traditions. However, I do give you the benefit of the doubt...

You have not proven the Traditions you spouse are inspired by God and is different from Scripture. You must prove this to succeed. I do wish you can because you would have stumbled on an interesting set of affairs!

We are accusing RC of this ...RC are espousing TraditionS different from Scripture and against or not even implied from Scripture. That is our point.

We are told that Scripture is God breath, now please show from Scripture that traditions you hold are God breath too, or is it just a claim?

Charlie said...

"It is you who miss our syllogism. The point is the application! Today we have the NT as part of Scripture and is therefore inspired too! So when we read 2Tim 3:14-17, we can not limit the application of this passage to OT only. For if we limit this to the OT, then effectively you are saying that the NT is NOT inspired. As I said you will get into trouble for doing this. You can not limit the APPLICATION of 2 Tim 2:13-17 as a rule for faith and life to the OT! You just did that..., limit inspiration of Scripture to OT."

I am not limiting inspiration to the Old Testament. My point was that Paul only had the Old Testament in mind when he wrote that passage, so he could not be talking about Sola Scriptura.

I don't think that Paul was talking about Sola Scriptura. You do. In order to get our of the dilemma I posed above, you must show me why Paul was not referring to the Old Testament alone.

What I am interested in is what Paul meant when he wrote this passage. If you say that Paul was identifying a particular characteristic of all Scriptural documents (lets just call this "X" for now), then he could not be talking about Sola Scriptura. Paul says: "All Scripture is inspired by God..."

Because the New Testament is Scripture, then it is inspired by God. But this verse cannot be reffering to Sola Scriptura because the Scripture of Paul's time was only the Old Testament. Therefore, it cannot be used in support of Sola Scriptura.

Lets take an example. If I take any one book out of the Bible, I could say that it has "X", although nobody would claim that that one book is "sufficient." The same works with Paul. This passage in 2 Timothy cannot be refering to Sola Scriptura because he was only naming a characteristic of all Scriptural documents, not talking about "Sola Scriptura".

"This is similar to "I can prove to you that there is only ONE GOD, from Scripture". That is, do the same for this with Scriptire this time. To negate this you have to show, either there are no (zero) rule for faith or practice or there are at least two, of which they are not identical- that is the Protestant point I am making."

As I said, the only thing that you have to do is to show me from the Bible that the Bible teaches Sola Scriptura. Catholics can do that easily. Protestants, on the other hand, have quite a difficult time trying to fit their doctrine into the Biblical text, as exemplified in your eisegesis of that passage in 2 Timothy.


"Our point in 2 Ths 2:15 is that this "traditions" is the body of teaching which have been eventually scripturated in the NT."

Well, as I said, we agree with this insofar as we are talking about material sufficiency. In terms of formal sufficiency, however, we part ways.

We actually would agree with that statement... but we would add that it does not follow that the "traditions" merely disappeared. In fact, we believe that they are entirely necessary. Some doctrines are very difficult to understand in the Scriptures, and Tradition guarantees that some central dogmas will never be touched. Throughout the centuries, it has always been the heretics who have appealed to the Bible alone, while the Catholics have always applead to the recieved tradition as well as the Bible.

We also would differ from you in that you say that Tradition has no value apart from Scripture at all. Ultimately, even Scripture originated from an oral tradition. Where do you think the canon comes from? The table of contents of the Bible is not inspired. That, like many other things is a tradition.


"If they do not see any need to prove them to be the same, then you have just granted the Protestant position. You contradicted yourself. For if you say that tradition and scripture are really different names for the same objects, you exegesis of 2 Ths 2:15 starts crushing down."

I haven't admitted the Protestant position. Scripture and Tradition are two seperate sources in themselves, although their contents are the same. By tradition, we can better understand the contents or materials of Scripture, and many doctrines which are not very prominent in the Bible are made prominent in the Tradition.

But make no mistake, though- just because the contents of Scripture and Tradition are basically the same does not mean that we can just discard Tradition and appeal to Scripture alone. We have seen how all the heretics, throughout history, have all attempted to justify their own beliefs by recourses to the Scripture. But in Tradition, orthodoxy in doctrine is essentially guaranteed.

When Paul was writing 2 Thessalonians, of course, the New Testament wasn't even completed yet. Does that mean that when the New Testament was completed and canonized the traditions were no longer the authoritative word of God? Of course not!

...continued later

L P Cruz said...

Thanks for your interest in sorting me out...

You said am not limiting inspiration to the Old Testament.

This is good you are applying this text also to the NT. Now it says in 2 Tim 3:14-17, ALL SCRIPTURE (OT and NT) as applied by the passage (and you agree to this that the NT is included) is INSPIRED by GOD, tell me does God inspire a written work that is not sufficient for any good work?

Also, the issue is not exegesis now, the issue is application. You said that the "scripture" mentioned here by your exegesis is limited to OT . Then if I follow your exegesis, I would not be able to apply anything in my life from scripture, why? Well using your method, I must conclude that this was written to Timothy and not to me nor to you, nor to anyone else alive today.

So we are quibbling not with exegesis but application - which is the Protestant point.

We now have the NT so when a Christian reads it, he is not permitted to limit the capability of being equipped and complete to the OT.

The OT and NT are SCripture
Scriptures are inspired by God
What is inspired by God makes a man complete, equipped for EVERY GOOD WORK.

There we see (and you don't) that Scripture alone is Sufficient.

You do not like the word ALONE. Now for my proof...

You agree Well, as I said, we agree with this insofar as we are talking about material sufficiency. In terms of formal sufficiency, however, we part ways.

Here firstly I say is "double talk", "formal/material" - I am not demeaning , I am stating a description that this is double talk or equivocation in the making. This is sadly common in your church group.

Here is another theological construction But make no mistake, though- just because the contents of Scripture and Tradition are basically the same does not mean that we can just discard Tradition and appeal to Scripture alone. We have seen how all the heretics, throughout history, have all attempted to justify their own beliefs by recourses to the Scripture. But in Tradition, orthodoxy in doctrine is essentially guaranteed.

You admitted that Scripture and Tradition are the same. You can not prove from Scripture that the tradition you mention is not the same as scripture. You appeal to another object, tradition yet you admit that this is the same as scripture.

Therefore Scripture alone is sufficient.

Your appeal to heretics using Scripture to vouch for their wrong doctrines is guilt by association.

I can also dare say, that cults like LDS and INK appeal to Church authority apart from Scripture. They say that inorder to understand Scripture you need our church leadership to say to you what it means. This is the point when I say RC and LDS are the SAME in its APPEAL to authority. RC is as cultic in its appeal to authority as do the LDS and INK.

Orthodoxy has nothing to do with it. The Devil is also as orthodox like you and me. The Pharisees were the orthodox Judaists. Yet Jesus rebuked them for their traditions because they make God's word non effect.


Now please, Charlie, I am still waiting for you to show me Tradition that is NOT the SAME in CONTENT as Scripture and yet is still inspired because I believe when you succeed then you have rebutted the Protestant position marvelously.

You are simply denying my proof without showing a counter case, a counter situation, a counter example which I have said before. To be effective in denying my case, you must look somewhere else. Like I said, this is similar to mathematical proof. Why? Because just a while ago, you agree that Scripture is sufficient it is the ALONE part that you do not like. SO as I said you must prove from Scripture that there is another inspired Object (Tradition) that is equally inspired and is different from the Scripture itself. Because if you prove that there is one and is identical to Scripture, then you have not rebutted the Protestant allegations.

I am in a hurry so please forgive me if my statements are a bit rough at the edges. I have pressing needs and need to run.

Venerable Aussie said...

"I can also dare say, that cults like LDS and INK appeal to Church authority apart from Scripture. They say that inorder to understand Scripture you need our church leadership to say to you what it means. This is the point when I say RC and LDS are the SAME in its APPEAL to authority. RC is as cultic in its appeal to authority as do the LDS and INK."


So Protestants don't appeal to the AUTHORITY of Luther? Or the authority and traditions of their own Churches (one of the traditions of which is the teaching on Sola Scriptura)?

The Church of Jesus Christ (ie the Catholic Church) can trace its origins in an unbroken line back to Christ.

That's its authority. And it is this authority - and the acceptance of this authority - which has given us all the gift of the Bible.

As convert from the Protestant Tradition, Jimmy Akin, also frequently repeats: the word "Bible" is not in the Bible. When we acknoweldge such a thing as the "Bible" then we implicitly acknowledge the authority of the Church founded by Jesus Christ - ie the Catholic Church.

L P Cruz said...

Yes we do not appeal to Luther always. We value his wisdom but we look at the Scripture to see if each claim can be squared with it.

This is a common misunderstanding that RCs believe about protestants. They think that Calvin and Luther and other reformers operate as our pope. Do not carry your mindset to protestant domain of thinking. Scripture is our authority.

The best way to rebut protestants is to look at their confession of faith for example Augsburg Confession/Belgic Confession/Westminster Confession and poke holes on them and find any inconsistencies in them but also say why RC dogmans are more scriptural than the assertions found in their Confession.

The RC arguement is really similar to INC's argument and claim to authority. RCs claim that the word 'catholic' each time it is seen should read 'roman catholic'. The INC does the same, each time the word 'church' is seen the Bible and documents - it means it refers to them 'INC" why? because that is their name 'church of Christ'. It refers to us because that is our name kind of reasoning - circular.

Protestantism was a reform movement (repeat a reform, reforming due to abuses) in the roman catholic church, it simply stripped off any catholicism that does not square with scripture. We recite the apostles creed, Nicene and Athanasian creed.

The protestant movement is not founded on a person like Luther/Calvin etc it is founded on scripture which is certified by Christ. Jesus says his word - they are spirit and they are life. It is they that testify of HIM.

Venerable Aussie said...

It's funny - well sad really - to see how many people in the Protestant Tradition just seem to go troppo at the very mention of the word(s) "(Roman) Catholic". I was listening last night to some very thoughtful comments by Jimmy Akin and he made a very valid point about why this term came about. From the beginning there was THE Church founded by Christ, but from the outset there were those who tried to make it THEIR Church. Scripture is replete with these attempts!! Hence the need to make it clear that when people were referring to the Church they meant the UNIVERSAL CHURCH (ie the CATHOLIC Church in Greek) not just a particular church that taught a particular heresy, or was identified solely with a particular person or place. It is really instructive to find that the term "Catholic" was used in the early part of the second century to refer to THE Church. Once again, go back to the 1st and 2nd centuries (not just the 1500s) and study those Church Fathers and you'll become Catholic!

And again, back to that issue that you can't run away from: authority. As I said in my earlier post, when you acknowledge such a thing as the "Bible" then you implicitly acknowledge the authority of the Church founded by Jesus Christ - ie the Catholic Church.

It is the authority and tradition of the Catholic Church that brings you the Scriptures!

What you may find hard to acknowledge is that you are sticking hard to your TRADITIONS.

L P Cruz said...

Mate,

Why stick to 100 AD, why not go back to the Bible times and you will not remain RC.

The early church did not believe in the supremacy of the bishop of Rome. In Acts 15 the one who presided the council in Jerusalem was not Peter, it was James.

Again you refuse to tack on the word Roman to Catholic. Is it because to be Roman (which is a locality an adjective), it is recognized that it is not consistent with the word catholic (which means universal) and this might jeopardise the apologetic approach?

I do not deny we have traditions, we have communion and baptism etc. But the difference with you is that we retain only traditions that comply with Scripture directly but you have traditions that can not be squared from Scripture, not all but some and these ones are the ones that becomes the major point of practice.


No, the church did not give the Bible to the world, it was God the HS who gave it. Do be careful, you speak blasphemies by attributing the glory meant for God onto Christians specially to your denomination.

Akin is not representing to you the Protestant position see Belgic Confession Article 5.

Were you once a Protestant? I was a Roman Catholic educated in the catechism when I was a child. I studied at Roman catholic schools. My kind was the Hispanic kind. Your Romanism in Aussieland is very mild compared to the one where I grew up in. I did my novenas to St Jude went to mass each Sunday etc. Perhaps I am older because at least 40 years ago, I can still remember, the mass I attended was in Latin.

Before you came along in the tread I was asking this, you must prove from Scripture that there is another inspired Object (Tradition) that is equally inspired and is different from the Scripture itself

So let us stick to this -- the ball is in your court, I welcome your proof .

Venerable Aussie said...

Sorry, my friend - time is very precious at the moment with much work due by this weekend.

Just on the gift of the Bible, I most certainly did not mean it in the sense which you took it. My idea was more in line with what Martin Luther had in mind:

“We are obliged to yield many things to the Papists--that with them is the word of God, which we received from them; otherwise we should have known nothing at all about it.” Luther’s Works, Vol. 24, Commentary on the Gospel of John, discussion on 16th chapter, St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia, 1961), 304.

Speaking of Martin Luther, yesterday was apparently his 522nd birthday. The wag who blogged on this made the following suggestion:

"If you're trying to think of the perfect gift for Luther, might I suggest obtaining a partial or plenary indulgence for his soul? Wherever Luther is now, I'm sure he now knows the value of an indulgence."

Well, I'll definitely do that at our Holy Hour and Benediction tonight.

On the subject of indulgences, I found these very thorough treatments:

http://www.catholic.com/library/Primer_on_Indulgences.asp

and

http://www.catholic.com/library/Myths_About_Indulgences.asp