Baptist friend presents article

So I have a Baptist friend who I often give catholic apologetic articles to and discuss on the topics. Hes now given me this article regarding sola scriptura and church authority. Was wondering if I can get your thoughts on it. How would you respond to it’s claims. Thank you

Indeed, it is impossible — try to get me here — it is impossible to have biblical faith in a truth one does not believe is in the Bible. It is not the nature of biblical faith. It is not the nature of biblical faith or biblical submission or biblical allegiance to God in his word that it would bow to any man who teaches anything contrary to the Scriptures.

I’m feeling a little snarky, so please forgive me for going straight to the low hanging fruit and easy soundbite, but we are Christians, not Bible-ites. Christ is our God, not Scripture, even if Scripture is authoritative and infallible. We practice Christian faith, Christian submission, and Christian allegiance to God. Not do we ever practice anything contrary to what is in Scripture.

The Bible was not written all at once, nor did it drop put of the sky, nor did Christ hand it to us. Christ taught. His disciples taught and appointed new teachers to carry on their mission. Our faith is based on that, and it’s from that tradition the Bible arose.

There are a number of ways to respond to such articles. I like to start off reading up to the first error (whether an error in logic, misconception about what Catholics believe, applying an interpretation to Scripture that conflicts with other passages from Scripture, or his appeal to himself (the author’s) as an authority in understanding Scripture…).
I respond directly to that, and then address the next one, etc.
I also like to point out where we agree, but usually after a couple examples of the author making serious errors, I ask the other person why they would accept them as a reliable source for teaching.

Here’s an example or two:

Misrepresenting what Catholics actually believe:

Taking an understanding of Scripture which completely misses the point of those passages (Scripture out of context):

Taking an understanding of Scripture which contradicts other passages of Scripture:

:smiley: I’ll tag on to this. He writes, "Indeed, it is impossible — try to get me here — it is impossible to have biblical faith in a truth one does not believe is in the Bible. "

Okay, so are we talking about things that are not in the Bible, or are just contrary to it? Because if we are talking about what is in the Bible, then this person has absolutely no ground, whatsoever, in believing that James, the Epsitles of Peter, Revelation, or ANY book/letter in the Bible is actually the Word of God. There is no evidence at all in the entirety of Scripture regarding the Canon of Scripture. That came 100% from the Catholic Church. The Church was either infallibly correct in the Canon, or no one can ever know whether he is really reading God’s Word or not. It’s as simple as that.

Here is my first response. If the Bible is God’s word, by definition no human authority or human institution can serve alongside the Bible with equal authority.

If it weren’t for a human authority or human institution (i.e. the Church) we wouldn’t even know what books should be in the Bible and what books shouldn’t in the first place, because nowhere in any of the books of the Bible does God specify the Table of Contents.

There’s enough in that linked article for several threads, but I have always found the following links helpful:

On sola scriptura:

On authority:

Questions Protestants can’t answer:

The answers:

Here are my responses Piper’s arguments:

  1. Here is my first response. If the Bible is God’s word, by definition no human authority or human institution can serve alongside the Bible with equal authority.

Sure, the Bible is God’s word, and there is no disagreement about its authority. The problem is with his second premise that no human or church can serve with equal authority.

Notice first that Piper is forced to explain away the plain meaning of Mt. 16:18-19. Otherwise, he has no argument. Second, the Catholic understanding is that Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church act together. Sola Scriptura is a one-legged stool that cannot stand.

The Church functioned authoritatively for several decades before the first book of the NT was even written. Was this authority genuine? Of course it was.

The Church functioned authoritatively for several centuries before the NT was formally compiled into the form we have today and the Church was able to do so without having a set canon of scripture.

The Church functioned authoritatively for 1500 years before the invention of the printing press made ownership of pocket NT’s even possible.

If it was God’s intention for the Church to abandon the authority of the Church in favor of the authority of the Bible alone, why didn’t the authors of the NT give instructions to their readers about this transition period? Why does scripture actually encourage us to hold fast to the traditions of the apostles and to obey the authority of our Church leaders?

And just whose interpretation of the Bible should be considered authoritative anyway? The Baptist who does not baptize infants? Or the Lutheran who does baptize infants?

Ironically, Piper states, “…it is impossible to have biblical faith in a truth one does not believe is in the Bible.” That cuts both ways, John. Where does the Bible teach that scripture alone is to function as the sole rule of faith for the believer? (It doesn’t…not one single verse.)

If the Bible does not teach sola scriptura, why do you believe it? :shrug:

You can’t believe as biblical what you don’t see as biblical, no matter who tells you to. If I see one thing in the Bible, but submit to an authority that teaches something different, I am de facto elevating that authority above the Bible. And I am attempting the impossible: to believe as biblical what I see to be unbiblical. That is my second response.

Okay, John, but saying that you cannot force someone to believe something they don’t believe to be biblical is not the same as saying that the doctrine is not biblical. (Here, Piper undoubtedly has the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption of Mary or Papal Infallibility in mind.) I think it is possible to make a biblical case for all of the Catholic doctrines that you thing are unscriptural; consequently, once I have explained the biblical foundation for Catholic doctrine, there is no reason to think that a person cannot accept that doctrine as biblical.

So, in other words, when you ponder the issue of authority — that is, the issue of Scripture alone versus the ecclesiastical authority of the Roman Church — are you willing to isolate that issue? Does not the entire sacramental system almost at every point contradict what you have seen in Scripture as an evangelical? And if so, are you willing to sacrifice your conscience and say, “I do not see what I see”?

The problem, John, is that you do not actually understand what you claim to “see”. Quoting Isaiah, Jesus said, ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’ (Mark 4:12)

John Piper does not understand the Catholic doctrines that he disagrees with, and there is little wonder that he objects to the false ideas he holds about what we believe.

But we don’t actually believe what he thinks we believe!

Sola Scriptura Protestants seem to have the strange idea that the Bible was all written and compiled in one day after a sudden divine revelation and has never changed since. This is very far from the truth. The Bible as we know it today was compiled hundreds of years after Christ’s death, and long after the Apostles had written the Gospels too. So, knowing that, why would we take the Bible as a greater authority than the other teachings and beliefs of the Apostles that have been passed down to us through Church tradition?

I wouldn’t want to undersell the Bible. It is the word of God after all and divinely inspired. We know the words of it are God’s own words (through men) that have been preserved. But it doesn’t interpret itself and is not all Christ gave us or all that should be used as Christians.

A lot of what is said above is great info. This also stood out to me in #1

There are pastors and teachers which Christ gives to the church (Ephesians 4:11). Their job is not to impart revelation, but to stand on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.

This is a great statement by Pastor John. However, my question to Pastor John would be by whose authority was he given to the church? Also, could he provide us with a lineage to prove that he is teaching on the foundation of the apostles and prophets?

From #2

it is neither biblical nor wise to surrender one’s conscience to any human authority outside the Bible.

My first unkind thought on this was, well then why the heck am I listening to you.:smiley:

But in all honesty, let’s follow his advise and not surrender our conscience to logic instead of human authority. How can you ever know if someone is teaching something contrary to scripture if you haven’t learned scripture first? Not to mention without an authority how can you ever know you aren’t the one teaching something contrary to scripture? Could you imagine laying on the operating table asking your heart surgeon where he went to school and he replies I didn’t surrender my conscience to the authority of men I bought some books and learned what I felt was most important. :bigyikes:

The Bible isn’t self explanatory.

A great example of authority comes into play with this phrase:

I never said you stole money.

These 6 little words in this sentence can have 6 different meanings. Without the authority of the writer, not the reader, how can you ever know what the writer was trying to convey?

His number three seemed to be a rant so I will go off of just his one statement regarding following biblical truth in choosing a church.

an evangelical who has shaped his convictions around biblical truth

If Pastor John truly believes that we should choose our church based on the Bible alone then he would choose his church based on the prophecy foretold in Malachi…

Malachi 1:11

11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.

This is the prophecy, about 450 years before Christ" of the One “pure offering" to be sacrificed…in all places and among all the nations”. The Universal/Catholic Church is the only entity on Earth where a “pure offering to be sacrificed” is performed; the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is fulfilled throughout the entire world. Every minute, of everyday, in all nations, there is a Catholic Mass being performed where a “pure offering to be sacrificed” is carried out. The only thing, the absolute only realization of an offering that is pure in every sense of the word, is the pure Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Bread and wine are not pure, but are the work of impure human hands. Wine and bread, being the impure work of sinful human hands, are transformed into that which is only pure; the Body and Blood of the spotless and pure victim.

Growing up I was never strong in my Catholic Faith, but once I learned this prophecy I new at that moment there was no way I could deny that the Catholic Church is the one true Church started by our Lord Jesus Christ.

God Bless

Hi Shaolen. :slight_smile: It’s always good to see your posts.:thumbsup:

I know I’ve said this many times but it bears repeating in this case that since Sola Scriptura has no basis in scripture that even by it’s own standards it violates its own premise and therefore cannot be a correct Christian doctrine. According to it’s principle scripture must support it…yet there is no such scripture; Hence my response.

These threads where this has been discussed may well help you handle your friends thinking.
It’s NOT in the Bible, okay?
It’s NOT in the Bible, okay? (Part II)
since the Bible is the Word of God it is all we need…
“If anyone teaches/preaches something that is not in scripture”

Here is an interesting explanation I found on the web…

It’s very interesting that your friend does NOT accept SOLA Scriptura; what they do DO is pick what conforms to John Calvin invented faith beliefs.

The last two verses of John chapters 20 & 21 specifically tell us that NOT everything is in the bible:)

Then we have Mt 10:1-8
Mt 16:15-19
John 17:17*20
Eph 2:1-21
Eph. 4:1-7
Mt 28: 18-20
John 6: 47-58
John 20:1923
Acts 20:28 {Douay Bible}

To list a few teachings that they do not accept:

Then take these very same teaching, and take careful note of the singular-tense words chosen by the GOD Inspired authors, and you also have a summary of the Churches Authority… GOD Divine Will and Design

Then ask questions:

Can TRUTH be anything other than singular per defined issue? NO!

Could GOD: “All Good things perfected”

Actually have waited more than 1,000 years AFTER having chosen to establish His:

One True God

One set of true faith beliefs {even God can not hold more than 1 set of defined beliefs}

Through only ?MY Church" Mt 16:18 singular

ALL of which existed and thrived for more than a thousand yerar’s before Wycliffe, Henry, Luther, Calvin and Wesley

**And looking at

Mt 16:18
John 17:17-20
Mt 28:18-20** it is impossible for Christ Church to have somehow, somewhere, sometime to have lost the promised and committed GODLY protection promised by an unfailing GOD.

Finally: Where in the BIBLE, even one time is there evidence that GOD {Yahweh or Jesus} tolerated, permitted, accepted, desired, allowed or even overlooked ANY other sets of faith beliefs other than those taught to, entrusted to and protected by Him, through the Apostles and their Catholic successors:shrug:

OH, and here is a searchable site you can use to pull up these teachungs

God Bless you


I have NAB, Douay-Rheims, RSV-CE, NRSV-CE in my house, trust me, I’ve read the Bible. First version I read on a regular basis was KJV-II, which was a gift to my mother from my Baptist Sunday School teacher great grandmother. Believe me, Catholicism is the only Church I know of (maybe Holy Orthodoxy) that fits the description of the New Testament Church.

I am about half way though “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” subtitled "The attack on ‘Romanism’ by ‘Bible Christians’ " by Karl Keating. I have quite enjoyed it and it may be something the OP would find interesting in order to learn more to further along the discussions with the Baptist friend.

I agree with Randy Carson, but perhaps from a slightly different perspective. Pastor John’s first argument is “if the Bible is God’s word, by definition no human authority or human institution can serve alongside the Bible with equal authority.”

The premise is true (the Bible is God’s word), but the assertion is false. Just because we have a Bible doesn’t mean that there can be no other authority. If the Bible says that there is no other authority, then Pastor John has a leg to stand on; the problem is, it doesn’t. (It says that Scripture is useful for all sorts of good purposes, but it doesn’t say either that it’s the only authority, or even that it’s the sufficient authority.)

But, Pastor John has a bigger problem: if the Bible identifies that there is a human authority, then not only is his assertion false, but he’s painted himself into a corner. After all, if the Bible says it, then it must be true, right? And the Bible does make these sorts of claims. First, Christ’s Great Commission isn’t “go forth and give Bibles to all peoples, teaching them what the Bible says.” Rather, the Great Commission is “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

In a very explicit way, this is a grant of authority to the apostles[sup]1[/sup]. And so Pastor John, in a certain sense, has it precisely backward: it’s not that the Bible is the authority and the humans are the means through which this authority is exercised – it’s that particular humans were given authority by Christ (cf Mt 16, 18, and 28) and the Bible was the means through which they exercised that authority!

PJM points out, correctly, that even the Bible (in John 21) admits that there’s more to Jesus’ ministry than the Bible relates to us. So… if the apostles were given authority to teach all things, and the Bible only relates a subset of them, then “by definition” (as Pastor John puts it), the scope of Scripture is less expansive than the scope of Jesus’ teachings during his earthly ministry. (This is an extremely difficult assertion for a person to hear, if he worships Scripture, but it’s logical and it follows from what Scripture tells us.)

Pastor John is again partially correct when he asserts what MT1926 picked up on: “there are pastors and teachers… [and] their job is not to impart revelation, but to stand on the foundation of the apostles.” The foundation of the apostles is apostolic succession – we see it in the selection of the first successor to the apostles (Mathias) in Acts 1. Now, as I recall, Luther wasn’t a successor to the apostles – he was a pastor. And, Pastor John isn’t a successor to the apostles. Therefore, their job “is not to impart revelation, but to stand on the foundation” that the apostles gave. If Luther and Pastor John do otherwise, then – as Pastor John himself mentions – they’re on thin ice: “If anyone does not acknowledge this, he is not acknowledged” (1 Cor 14:38). (OK… that’s a pretty lame example of proof-texting; but it’s no less irrelevant than Pastor John’s use of that verse. ;))

In the final analysis, Pastor John’s assertions fail in his first point. He takes decent premises, and then misuses them in an attempt to prove his point. His assertions, admittedly, are believed by many; that doesn’t make them true, though. :shrug:

[sup]1[/sup]Now, some claim that the Great Commission isn’t addressed to the apostles, but rather, to the entire church, and therefore, there isn’t any implication of a grant of authority to the apostles. Much like Pastor John’s other arguments, there’s both accuracy and inaccuracy in this kind of argument. Yes, it’s true that all of us are called to evangelize and “make disciples.” However, in the Bible, we only see apostles baptizing according to Jesus’ command. Moreover, if only the apostles were able to “teach … all that [Jesus] has commanded” (since only they were present for the entirety of these teachings) then it’s not reasonable to assume that just anyone in the church would have access to these extra-Biblical teachings. Therefore, the “you” in the Great Commission must refer to those explicitly to whom Jesus was speaking – the apostles.

If Scripture itself tells us that the Church is to have authority over matters, then wouldn’t the Catholic Church be more accurately obedient to Scripture’s authority than those who reject the authority of The Church? :shrug:

Matthew 18
If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Ephesians 3
through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.

1 Timothy 3
If I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.

We have relied on Scripture in every age. Tradition has helped us understand Scripture better, and how to interpret/practice it’s message. Sometimes we fail at this, through our own faults.

Thank you everyone! This has been very helpful and I’ve sent a response that I hope will be compelling. Will update you guy if he replies

From the article:
“It is neither biblical nor wise to surrender one’s conscience to any human authority outside the Bible.”

I don’t understand how these people conclude that the Church of God is “outside the Bible”? Really, this is a very strange and profoundly poor arguement.

It is written:
If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Jesus is not saying that the Church is just a mere human institution! It is the House of God, with whom He is with until the end. This is a promise. This is what Scripture reveals. It’s not evil men’s imaginations, but what the Son of Man instituted and gave His Flesh and Blood for.

+1 :thumbsup:

From the Wiki: **

“Historians trace the earliest church labeled “Baptist” back to 1609 in Amsterdam, with English Separatist John Smyth as its pastor.”

** Rather, I would not answer until he explains: 1) the 1,576 years between Christ and John Smyth. 2) From whence John Smyth’s infallibility came.

Even the article makes a claimed infallible statement that no one can serve with equal authority to the scriptures. The scriptures themselves - specifically the words and actions of Christ regarding His Church (which wrote the bible. Hello!), contradict this. Secondly, Saint Paul forgiving sins in the person of Christ (2 Cor 2:10) is already superior to this spurious claim. How can ink on paper forgive sin?

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