Can anyone critique a James White essay for me

Hey guys,

I am a Protestant seriously researching the Catholic faith. I found this defense of sola Scriptura online, and I was wondering if anyone could critique it for me. I don’t know enough to see what is wrong with the essay (if anything is). The essay is called Sola Scriptura in Dialogue by James White. A link to it is Sola Scriptura in Dialogue

Thanks so much in advance. This will really help me out.


Hi there, and welcome.

I dont know if i have enough time to go through and rebuke the whole essay, BUT, I do know that James White’s sister converted to Catholicism. :thumbsup:

From what ive read it just seems to be an attack on Rome.

Sola scriptura is refutable on the one basis that to accept the authority of the bible, one must accept who brought it together…the Catholic Church, and if the Catholic Church brought it together then we are the one true Church whom Jesus promised would never fail, and if you want to try and refute that (like Mr White) then I’m afraid he (and people like him) are doing so simply on pride, for if you submit wholly to Almighty God and ask for only his will to be done, you cannot remain outside the Church.

I hope your journey bears many fruits!

In Christ.


You should buy Rob Sungenis book “Not by Scripture Alone.” It will help your research alot. :slight_smile:

White is afraid of debating with Sungenis, and would never debate him again after their debate skirmishes

[quote=BigTurkey]Hey guys,

I am a Protestant seriously researching the Catholic faith. I found this defense of sola Scriptura online, and I was wondering if anyone could critique it for me. I don’t know enough to see what is wrong with the essay (if anything is). The essay is called Sola Scriptura in Dialogue by James White. A link to it is Sola Scriptura in Dialogue

Thanks so much in advance. This will really help me out.


Talk about preaching using a lot of words, :rolleyes: Jesus the Master taught in a language that even the most uneducated could understsand, White uses many words to confuse. (Jive talker)

Actually after reading it I still don’t get the point apart from sola scripture. :cool:

One thing White forgets is he is quoting from a Catholic document provided all the books are stilll in it.

And he’s very fond of Bibical Paul like he was the rock that Jesus built His Church on, hope he remembers that Saul persecuted God, and had many Christians murdered.

White reminds me of those street traders that people quickly gather around as they give it their all (lip) before you know it you’ve bought something you don’t really want.

And when you bring it home you scratch your head wondering why you bought it in the first place, I’ve seen this happen for real.

Anyway anyone that makes a religion out of being anti-Catholic isn’t secure in their faith, because if they were, they’d get on with it, being anti-catholic isn’t a religion.
But it seems they have to feed their untruths with anti-catholic slander, to keep their bank balance from going into over-draft.

Sorry James White if I had to listen to you on a Sunday I’d get up and leave, too many words with no substance, surley a clanging gong.

An empty vessel makes the loudest noise.

I apologize for not reading the article (actually i started out but lost interest almost immediately), so my answer is not really a refutation of anything James White said but of Sola Scriptura in general.

I heard someone say it this way one time and it makes a lot of sense. Sola Scriptura, if followed faithfully, manifestly results in disunity, because it absolutely relies on individual private interpretation of Scripture.

On the other hand, the Catholic Church, if followd faithful, manifestly leads toward unity because there is one Magisterium.

So of these two opposing views, one leads to disunity (which has been proven by history) and the other leads to unity (which also has been proven by history).

If someone points out that not all Catholics agree on doctrine, remind them that we are only talking about those that actually faithfully practice their faith. Catholics who dissent from Church teaching are actually guilty of practicing Sola Scriptura…they are being Protestant.


[quote=James White]Literally millions of people have left Rome, seeking something beyond the dead formalism of sacramentalism based upon man’s acts, man’s merits.

True enough. But literally BILLIONS have come to Catholicism seeking the tangible realities that confer grace (Acts 19:12), these gifts of a loving God, that are offered in the living Sacraments (John 6, and *many *others).


[quote=James White]she refused to apply the same standards to Rome she was applying to the Bible and Protestant churches.

James White refuses to apply the same standard to the Orthodox as he does to the Catholic Church, constantly saying that “Rome” says this or that (when in fact it was all of Christendom for the first 1500 years).


[quote=James White] “I tell you, I tried every possible approach to get her to see the circularity of her thinking….” His voice trailed off…

No support for this given; simply the allegation. You do the same thing in court - put out a lot of bad colored and unfounded descriptions of a defendant, and hope something sticks in the jury’s mind. Dr. White would make a good lawyer.

[quote=James White][size=2]
[/size][size=2]But I also knew that the deep and abiding commitment to the authority and sufficiency[/size] of the Scriptures could be modeled but not forced upon anyone

Again, painting a picture without support. The Catholic Church DOES INDEED view the Scriptures as sufficient. This is an attempt to make it look like Catholics denegrate Scripture, but it won’t work if you’re paying attention.

[quote=James White]the divine truths of sola scriptura

and sola fide These non-Biblical “truths” are simply announced as such at this point (1/4 way through), apparently infallibly by Dr. White, and no attempt at support has been given.

[quote=James White][size=2]
[/size][size=2]Modern-day converts to Rome…[/size]

This and the next three paragraphs could just as easily apply to converts to any religion, including Reformed Baptist and Islam. All you need to do is substitute “Protestantism” for “Rome” and “Penal Substitution” for “Purgatory”. As Dr. White has said before (SS debate w/ Tim Staples), an argument that cuts down your side as well is no argument at all.

[quote=James White]And so the cancer grows…

Hope this sticks in the jury’s mind…

[quote=James White]Rome’s attacks upon the Bible and the gospel of grace…

CCC 135 and 836, among others. Attacks? Hardly. Throw it against the wall and hope it sticks…

[quote=James White]Standard MO of the Catholic apologist… Rome’s claims must be examined by the exact same standard, and that rarely happens…

Hope it sticks…man, he would be a good lawyer!

[quote=James White]“You mean the Roman Church’s teachings?” I inserted.

[size=2]Dr. White knows that this is a pejoritive, and insists on using it anyway.

[quote=James White]anti-Catholic? I’m not sure how you define that

How about like this? Then Dr. White give this definition:

[quote=James White]what you mean is you, like most convinced Protestants, rejected Rome’s claims to absolute authority

Which is not the definition; it’s a mockery of the definition. Check the link - publishing has nothing to do with it. Mindset has everything to do with it. Publishing is only one way of conveying the mindset.

[quote=James White]33,000 [Protestant Churches]. I’ve heard so many grossly inflated numbers it is hard to keep track.

How about the these? And these are simply the major ones! There are plenty of minor ones as well. Having been to several "church on the corner"s, it’s a dice roll as to the theology you’re going to get. I have heard some weird stuff that isn’t classified above…

[quote=James White]250 meaningful denominations with any substantial historical or numerical presence

Here, he qualifies the 33,000 by saying that it must be (1) meaningful, (2) historical, and (3) numerically significant. There would be some Calvary Chapel folks who would take great offense at this, as Dr. White couldn’t call them “meaningful”.

[quote=James White]Sola scriptura

By what authority can Dr. White define what SS teaches? I’ll grant that this is the most historically supported definition, but the fact remains that he neither has nor claims to have the authority to dogmatically define this definition. This starts to undercut his case, as SS is now whatever he wants it to be (as there is no officiating and God-Breathed authority to define it - it is unmentioned in the Bible).

[quote=James White]sola ecclesia…

The idea that the church, specifically, the Magisterium, headed by the Pope, is the final and infallible authority in all things.
Although this is not what we believe, Apolonio does a nice defense of it here. To see what we believe in contrast to Dr. White’s claims, read this.

After more “sticking”, this question is posed. 1. We don’t claim that the Church is subservent to Scripture or Tradition. They are part of the single font of Truth which is Christ. It is like a triangle (or the Trinity); can you have one part only without the others? Is any one greater than the others? Is any one subservient to the others? The answer, of course, is no. This is yet another misrepresentation.

[quote=James White] sola scriptura

refers to a period of time when the scriptura exists and when revelation is not being given, i.e., the normative state of the church as she exists after the apostles of the Lord have passed from the scene.
Is this ever found in Scripture? Implied? Not at all. This is an after-the-fact justification, and a pretty slick one at that.

how it is that the Jewish ‘magisterium’ could infallibly pass on that [errant] tradition [of the Corban rule]

I don’t know anyone who has claimed that the Jewish magisterium was infallible; only authoritative with divine mandate (Deu 17). If it was a ‘shadow of the things to come’ (Heb 10:1), the later thing would have to be greater; this is standard typology. The NT Magisterium is infallible as well as authoritative, and thus greater.

[quote=James White]… hesitant to affirm that Paul actually passed on orally any kind of specific non-biblical tradition

Not at all true. We would constantly and consistantly affirm that St. Paul passed on the way in which Scripture is to be interpreted, including such things as the I.C., Petrine Primacy, faith AND works, the Eucharist being Jesus, etc., or in other words the FORMAL sufficiency portion of the material sufficiency view. See the “sufficiency” link above.

[quote=James White]You can’t get an infallible definition [of Sacred Tradition]

Start here and work down. That is the definition, not what Dr. White claims.

[quote=James White]…beliefs simply unheard of amongst the early Christians

No support or even examples given; hope it sticks…

[quote=James White]did you inform these dear folks of that when you used that verse to get them to begin to question the sufficiency of God’s holy Word?”

We do not question the sufficiency of God’s holy "w"ord. (The "W"ord of God is Jesus.) This is a caricature.

[quote=James White]admitting the confusion that exists in Rome about the topic [of Sacred Tradition]…

Where does he think there’s confusion? Read the link above, and tell me that it’s somehow unclear. Silliness, I tell you. Hope this sticks in the jury’s mind…

[quote=James White]“A strong spirit of anger? I see! Do forgive my zeal for the truth…

Read: “You claim that I’m mean so that you can get away (liar), when I’m actually a holy and righteous man…”. Brilliant tactic! What an attorney Dr. White would make. I think he missed his vocation…

[quote=James White]“Has Rome infallibly defined a single word Paul taught to the Thessalonians, or to anyone

for that matter, that is not found in Scripture?” This is just plain silly. Infallibility does not rest on dogmatic definitions of specific words and phrases said by the Apostles or their successors outside of Scripture, and Dr. White knows it. Counciliar infallibility is not mentioned, nor is the definition given by the CCC in 892.

There’s more between this and the following, but I’ll get back to it:

[quote=James White]Surely the door still swings very one-sidedly away

from Rome as far as conversions go. Demonstrably false.
Since 1900, the number of Christians in Africa has jumped to 390 million from 8.7 million, an increase of more than 4,400 percent. By 2025, Africa’s pews are expected to seat almost 600 million believers.
You see, Dr. White’s claims only work in the post-reformation, “enlightened”, secular West. On a global and historical scale (which is a Godly scale), his claim is patently absurd, as there are now over 1.1 Billion Catholics (not counting the Orthodox, who also reject SS and hold to Sacred Tradition without the claims of the Pope).

As for the rest, it’s mostly attacks, but with some substantive argument. Here are a couple of links that directly contradict his claims:
Universal Negatives
Proving Inspiration (Refutes his “one step back” argument)
Finally, this Comprehensive Page refutes many of Dr. White’s positions. Simply do a word search on the page for “White” and you’ll find the many links.

Hope this helps.

God Bless,


[quote=BigTurkey]Hey guys,

I am a Protestant seriously researching the Catholic faith. I found this defense of sola Scriptura online, and I was wondering if anyone could critique it for me. I don’t know enough to see what is wrong with the essay (if anything is). The essay is called Sola Scriptura in Dialogue by James White. A link to it is Sola Scriptura in Dialogue

Thanks so much in advance. This will really help me out.


Micah, this is a long article. Could you please post the main points that trouble you?

I got a far as “sufficiency of Scripture” and stopped because nowhere does Scripture say that Scripture is sufficient. Catholics may express faith in the “sufficiency” of Scripture as “material sufficiency” – in other words, everything necessary is in there, but it may not be written out in neon letters. In other words, Scripture lacks “formal sufficiency” and requires Tradition to connect the dots.

Hello Eirann…I’m just going to read through Mr White’s essay and comment as I recognize an argument he is using. Even before I begin I know one thing right off: he won’t be able to demonstrate from “Scripture ALONE” how one is to infallibly know “The Canon of Scripture”…it simply cannot be done without reference to the Authority of Christ’s Church. We know that a particular book is “inspired of God” and thus “authoratative and canonical” only because Christ’s Church has vouchsafed such for that book. We accept the testimony of the Church only because it is clear from the New Testament as a historical record that Jesus promised to guide His Church “into all truth” such that the Apostle Paul refers to the Church as “the pillar and foundation of the truth”. We accept the words of Jesus as true because He proved Himself to be God “who can neither deceive nor be deceived”.

As I read the "Dialogue " I gather that the situation is that of James White speaking to a pastor friend who has a congregational member that has embraced “a deadly heresy”. James White is encouaging his friend to confront the member and her heresy…

Sola Scriptura in Dialogue
James White

…“Indeed.” He rose from his chair and stood in front of a large shelf filled with books. He pulled down a hefty volume and opened it. “I have always sought to be faithful in preaching the whole counsel of God. She heard it preached over and over again. I thought she loved the truth….” His voice trailed off.

…“the whole counsel of God”…the “Bible, all of the Bible and nothing but the Bible”…how do we know from Scripture ALONE which books of all those books on “a large shelf filled with books” are in fact “Inpsired of God”?..this is the question James White must address if he wishes to prove “Sola Scriptura”…

One portion of the pastor’s comments rang in my ears. It wasn’t because it was anything I had not heard before. In fact, that was exactly why I could not get it out of my mind: I have heard it over, and over, and over again, with such regularity that it must represent a common delusion coming down upon those who refuse to love the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10).

…why does Mr White give us reference to the book of Second Thessalonians? He accepts the book as inspired of God, but why does he do so? As a Catholic, I do so because the Church built upon St Peter - to whom Jesus gave the authority to “bind and loose” - has declared it so.

“From day one I have taught the Holy Scriptures are God-breathed, the very speaking of God, sufficient for all we need to know to live a life of godliness. It never crossed my mind that one of my own flock could be tricked into believing the opposite.”

Same question must still be addressed…how does one know infallibly the extent of Holy Scriptures?

“I doubt you will be overly surprised to learn they want to discuss sola scriptura” he said with a bit of a sigh.

“No, doesn’t surprise me a bit. Standard MO of the Catholic apologist. But I will not allow the conversation to be one-sided. Rome’s claims must be examined by the exact same standard, and that rarely happens in such situations.”

Well…let’s allow that Mr White is right about the Catholic Church…how does that prove Sola Scriptura? Even with the Catholic Church out of the way he still must demonstrate how he knows “the Canon of Scripture”…

Starting below, at this point in the “Dialogue” Mr White is engaging a Catholic apologist…

Let me get the definition clear before we discuss its truthfulness. Sola scriptura teaches that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church. The doctrine does not say that there are not other, fallible, rules of faith, or even traditions, that we can refer to and even embrace. It does say, however, that the only infallible rule of faith is Scripture. This means that all other rules, whether we call them traditions, confessions of faith, creeds, or anything else, are by nature inferior to and subject to correction by, the Scriptures. The Bible is an ultimate authority, allowing no equal, nor superior, in tradition or church. It is so because it is theopneustos, God-breathed, and hence embodies the very speaking of God, and must, of necessity therefore be of the highest authority. So as you can see, your definition does not correspond well to the actual doctrine.”

Using Mr White’s definition of Sola Scriptura, how will he demonstrate the Canon of Scripture? Will he refer us to “fallible rules of faith”? or will he refer to the “infallible rule of faith”? If he must rely on the former then how will we know that the “fallible rule of faith” has not erred?

”“OK, so please tell me: if Rome determines the extent of both Scripture and ‘tradition,’ and the meaning of both Scripture and ‘tradition,’ how can she logically be subservient to two things that she in fact defines and interprets?”

God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, promises to guide His “assembly of called out ones” into “all truth”. So if a question pertaining to “the extent of Scipture and Tradition” and their meaning must be decided on - as in the case of the Council of Jerusalem in Acts - then we have it on the Authority of Christ that what the Church is guided into “defining and interpreting” is the Truth that all members are to be “subservient to”. Just as the judges of the Supreme Court both interpret and are subservient to the Constitution, likewise for the Church with regard to Scripture. Just as the judges on the Supreme Court would disallow some proposed addition or deletion to the text of the Constution (defining the “Canon of the Constitution”) so did the Church act with regard to safegarding the Canon of the Bible. In both instances it is a matter of “who has the authority” to define the extent of a governing text. It’s not illogical for the Church to both have the Authority to define the extent and meaning of the Scriptures and be subservient to it.

“I’m sorry, but how did my noting 2 Thessalonians 2 and Matthew 23 lead you to that conclusion?”

“Two things: this isn’t the first time I’ve spoken to a Roman Catholic apologist on this topic, and I know where you are going” I said with a smile. “Second, the only meaningful interpretations of either of those two passages you could possibly offer that is relevant to your reason for being here this evening both require us to embrace an infallible teaching authority in a church—the Roman Church, of course—so you seem to be teaching that the Bible, rather than teaching sola scriptura, teaches sola ecclesia. That means you’ll need to meet the same level of proof that I must meet, as you are presenting a positive position, just as I am.”

I think I’m begining to see Mr White’s confusion. He seems to be thinking that the Catholic position uses the Bible to prove the Authority of the Church in the same way that he uses the Bible to prove Sola Scriptura. Such is not the case. We first refer to the Scriptures as simply reliable historical documents that give witness to the Divinity of Jesus of Nazareth, from which we can see that it was Jesus who established “His Church” and empowered it to “teach in His Name”. Once we identify the visible society of Christ’s Chruch, we listen to this Church inorder to learn the truth that Jesus has entrusted to His Church. When this Church then affirms that “such and such” books are “inspired of God” then and only then are we sure that such is the case, because Jesus has vouchsafed the truthfulness of what He leads His Church to accept as true. Such reguires faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and God. It doesn’t first reguire faith in the inspiration of Scripture as Sola Scriptura does. The Catholic position is not circular logic as is Mr White’s.

“OK, those who hold to material sufficiency, the idea that all of God’s revelation is at least implicitly contained in Scripture, really have no reason to cite this, as they are hesitant to affirm that Paul actually passed on orally any kind of specific non-biblical tradition. That is, no apologist worth his salt will try to defend the idea that Paul actually taught the Thessalonians such things as the Immaculate Conception or Papal Infallibility, both dogmas based quite fully on ‘tradition.’ So there really is no reason to cite the passage unless you hold to the older partim-partim view that said that part of God’s revelation is found in Scripture and part in ‘oral tradition.’

Mr White is confused about material sufficiency. It’s not a matter of whether or not St Paul actually taught “the Immaculate Conception or Papal Infallibity” - doctrines which he assumes are based soley on ‘tradition’. Material sufficiency of Scripture affirms that all such doctrines that the Catholic Church affirms as being “Revealed of God” are at least implicit in Scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity is nowhere explicitly stated in Scripture but the doctrine is most certainly implicit within the same.

Anyway, back to 2 Thessalonians 2:15. Obviously, Paul was not saying, ‘Hold to Scripture and some oral component.’ In context, his meaning is much simpler. When you read the preceding verses, and take into account the context, Paul’s meaning is simple. Paul had preached the gospel to the Thessalonians in person. He was now writing to them. He has just noted the gospel, and he is saying, ‘Hold to the body of teaching, i.e., the gospel, that I have delivered to you, both in person and by letter.’ The letter, of course, was what we call 1 Thessalonians. The content is the gospel. We are to hold to the faith, the gospel of Jesus Christ, which the Thessalonian believers were privileged to learn, at that unique time of apostolic ministry, both from an apostle (Paul), and from a letter directly from him. Note even how Paul uses the same term, which we translate, ‘hold fast,’ in 1 Corinthians 16:13, ‘Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.’ Were you aware of these facts concerning the passage under consideration?”

The context as Mr White describes above has the following bearing on how to understand St Paul’s command to “hold fast” to both “oral and written teachings”:

to the Thessalonians St Paul has given instructions in the faith through both written and oral presentation. What they have learned - the understanding of God’s Revealtions as St Paul has delivered it - is to be handed on. Now, the content of God’s Revelations has been written down but that understanding of God’s Revelations - as St Paul had explained it to the Thessolonians - is contained in both the letters and oral presentations. We are to recieve “both” - and it is the Church which preserves both the written instructions (Sacred Scripture) and that particular understanding of the written instructions (Sacred Tradition).

For example, we have the words of Jesus in John Chapter 6 which speaks of “eating and drinking His body and blood”. The written account is one thing and the proper understanding of it is another. Sacred Tradition gives us the understanding of the written account as it was taught by the Apostles and received by the faithful. Such need not be explicit at first. There are truths that have been revealed which are only implicit and not fully understood at first but which later - through the guiance of the Holy Spirit - the Church later understands better such that the truth becomes explicit.

I turned suddenly to Paul and said, “Paul, has Rome infallibly defined the meaning of 2 Thessalonians 2:15, or given to you an infallible definition of what ‘tradition’ is?”

The Church doesn’t have to. The understanding of “what is Tradition” and the meaning of 2Thess 2:!5 is agreed upon enough within the Catholic Church that a “dogmatic declaration” on the part of the Magesterium is not needed. Usually, it’s when a truth becomes controverted, with differing parties arguing to the point that the peace within the Church is disturbed that the Magesterium will step in to settle the issue. That a particular Catholic teaching has not been “dogmatically defined” doesn’t mean the teaching is not true. The fact that the Church has held the teaching - at least implicitly - throughout Her history is enough to establish it’s truthfulness as the Holy Spirit will not allow the whole of the Church to fall into error.

I haven’t gotten to the positive evidence drawn from the nature of Scripture as Paul presents it in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. I haven’t addressed Jesus’ teaching on the relationship of any and all traditions—even allegedly divine and inspired traditions—to Scripture. And remember, I haven’t even started on the historical material yet.”

…the question I’m still looking for an answer to is: how is the Canon of Scripture revealed within Scripture?

Paul, let me ask: did you challenge these fine folks with the standard line, ‘How do you know Matthew wrote Matthew?’ Did you use the ‘canon argument’ with them?”

“Of course, as such is one of the great unanswerable questions for Protestants.”

“Indeed! Let me ask, how do you know Matthew wrote Matthew, Paul?”

Wrong question. It’s not a matter of whether or not Matthew wrote Matthew, it’s a matter of “is the Gospel According to St Matthew inspired?” How do we arrive at the conclusion that it is in fact “inspired of God”?

He smiled and said, “Surely you know. Christ gave us the Church to answer such questions. I know Matthew wrote Matthew because the Church tells me so.”

Mr White puts in the mouth of the Catholic Apologist an answer that is not a part of Catholic teaching. He’s demolishing a “straw man”,

I sat forward and pulled out a piece of paper. “Is that why, in 1955, the Roman Pontifical Biblical Commission granted complete freedom to Roman Catholics to believe Matthew did, or did not, write Matthew?”… “So, Paul, do you now know that Matthew wrote Matthew, and if so, how?”

Paul sat silently. Finally he spoke, “I had never heard anyone address this before. I don’t know what to say.”

Poor Paul…sorry I wasn’t there to help him know what to say to Mr White.

“You studied the claims of Mormonism, for example?”

“No, no I did not. Mormonism is not even a Christian religion.”

“I agree, but Mormons say otherwise, and once a person accepts the ultimate authority of the LDS prophet, they have no choice but to believe themselves correct as well. My point is that there are plenty of groups out there that will offer you an ultimate authority, are there not? And when you chose Rome, was not your choice a fallible choice?”

“Well, I am surely not in and of myself infallible” Paul replied.

“Neither am I. Such is the human condition after the fall. So you admit, that first choice was a fallible one, right?”

“Well, yes."

As St Paul affirms…if Christ is not Risen from the dead, we are still in our sins…it is a matter of faith.

“So, all the decisions that are made for you after that initial choice cannot be any more certain, can they? I mean, if you were wrong to choose Rome—if her claims are shown to be unbiblical and a-historical, her exegesis errant—all the claims of infallible certainty she might provide you are in fact worthless, are they not? You would agree with me that the allegedly divine authority claimed by the LDS prophet is, in fact, anything but divine, and yet a Mormon who accepts his teaching as his ultimate authority might well claim absolute certainty that what he teaches is correct. If the basis of such claims of absolute authority cannot be examined, we have no basis for knowing truth at all, just competing leaders or groups saying, ‘No, I am right, because I say so.’ So, your claimed certainty regarding the canon is no more certain than the authority claims of Rome itself, which are, obviously, subject to all sorts of counter argumentation.”

Basically, I differentiate between the various claims of authority on the basis of historical continuity from Christ and His Apostles up to the present day for a given visible society of believers. I reject the claims of Mormonism becuase they can be seen as not being “2000 years” old.

“That hardly serves you very well to point that out, as you claim no infallible authority to define for you the canon in the first place.”

How does this argument help Mr White’s position? What is his infallible authority for defining the Canon of Scripture? If it’s not “the Scriptures” then how can he affirm “Sola Scriptura”?

When I deal with canon issues, I wrestle directly with the nature of the canon, which flows from the nature of inspiration, as well as the historical realities through which God led His people to recognize the extent of His work of inspiration.

…“as well as the historical realities through which God led His people to recognize the extent of His work of inspiration”…that’s the Catholic position…God guiding His Church to both recognize the extent of Scripture and Its meaning…can’t divorce the Scriptures from a consideration of the Church which leads us to the necessary task of identifying the visible Church.

“OK, then, I will present all this historical material, and when we dig through all the rest of the verbiage, the final argument offered by Rome will be, ‘Our canon is correct because we say so.’ At least when I deal with canon issues, I can do so by going directly to the source documents themselves. I do not have to believe that a group of men in a little town in Italy a millennium and a half after the birth of Christ were somehow divinely inspired to work through all the issues and come to a final and infallible decision. In fact, I honestly doubt anyone of the members of the Council of Trent were in any position to discuss the matter with near the ability we can do so today, given the state of research into the topic at the time. Your acceptance of their decision is not based upon the facts of history but upon your acceptance of Rome’s authority, period.”

I believe Mr White too flippantly dismisses the historical evidence in favor of the Catholic position…but he’s right in that the final word belongs to the Church regardless of what evidence there may be in contradiction to the Church’s decision. The Judiazers had thier Scriptural evidence in support of imposing circumcision on the Gentiles - it was instituted before the giving of The Law, and didn’t Jesus say that he did not come to abolish the Law? - still we accept the Church’s decision on the matter as being infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit. The same I affirm is how God works through the Church in all matters disputed.

Well…it seems that Mr White’s objective was to cast doubt on the Catholic claim that Christ’s Church is the final arbiter in disputed matters pertaining to God’s Revelation to mankind through Jesus Christ. If he’s succeeded, then so what? How does he now propose to establish the extent of Scripture using only the Scriptures?

As his fictional Catholic Apologist, Paul, stated: it’s the great unanswerable question for any “Sola” Scripturist.

Keep the Faith

[quote=BigTurkey]Hey guys,

I am a Protestant seriously researching the Catholic faith. I found this defense of sola Scriptura online, and I was wondering if anyone could critique it for me. I don’t know enough to see what is wrong with the essay (if anything is). The essay is called Sola Scriptura in Dialogue by James White. A link to it is Sola Scriptura in Dialogue

Thanks so much in advance. This will really help me out.


I used to occasionally debate White nearly 20 years ago when the internet was not as active as it is today. (Remember the old FidoNet Bulletin Boards?)

The problem with him is that it is pointless to argue with him. He does know a lot about the Church Fathers, but he quotes very selectively. He is very much in a “my mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts” mentality.,

Actually, he is a man to be pitied and prayed for. I begin to wonder if he does not in fact realize that he IS wrong . . . and can’t get past that.

Just my 2 cents worth . . .

[quote=mercygate]Micah, this is a long article. Could you please post the main points that trouble you?

I got a far as “sufficiency of Scripture” and stopped because nowhere does Scripture say that Scripture is sufficient. Catholics may express faith in the “sufficiency” of Scripture as “material sufficiency” – in other words, everything necessary is in there, but it may not be written out in neon letters. In other words, Scripture lacks “formal sufficiency” and requires Tradition to connect the dots.


I’m afraid I didn’t read more than about 1/4 of the James White article, I find his style to be quite tedious.
You may be interested in a thread I started on an analysis of sola scriptura.

No matter how much you dislike James White or his articles you have to admit he is a pretty good writer and very entertaining if you can get around the attacks.

**Main Entry: tes·ta·ment
** to be a witness, call to witness,

God intended the bible to be a WITNESS to the truth. Sola scripturists try to put the bible on the judge’s bench rather than in the witness stand where it belongs.

Witnesses offer testimony and judges decide the validity of that testimony. If God left us the bible as the witness to the truth, who did God leave as the judge in determining the validity of that testimony? 1 Tim 3:15 tells us that God left us the Church.

The Church, God says, is the upholder (pillar), protector, and defender (bulwark) of the truth. So, as witness the bible offers testimony to the truth. As God-ordained judge the Church then upholds, protects, and defends that truth.

In Christ,
Nancy :slight_smile:

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