Protestants: Did Sola Scriptura exist at the time of the Apostles?


Did Sola Scriptura exist at the time of the Apostles, and if not why should we accept it today?

Convince me Sola Scriptura existed in the early Church and I will become a Protestant. That is the challenge… :smiley:


Ah ha I spotted this thread. Time to quote James White again:

“…the doctrine [of sola scriptura] speaks of a rule of faith that exists. What do I mean by this? …You will never find anyone saying, ‘During times of enscripturation – that is, when new revelation was being given – sola scriptura was operational.’ Protestants do not assert that sola scriptura is a valid concept during times of revelation. How could it be, since the rule of faith to which it points was at that very time coming into being? One must have an existing rule of faith to say it is ‘sufficient.’ It is a canard to point to times of revelation and say, ‘See, sola scriptura doesn’t work there!’ Of course it doesn’t. Who said it did?” (Review/Rebuttal of Steve Ray on the Bereans)

So the answer is No. Sola Scriptura did not exist at the time of the apostles, and was not a “valid concept.” But White counters with: Did “X” (fill in the blank) Catholic doctrine (his favorite is the Assumption of Mary) exist at the time of the apostles, and trace it on back. Too bad he’s not consistent in accepting a doctrine that is clearly traced all the way back, and through Scripture (baptismal regeneration).

But please continue with the challange. I’m especially interested when this “sola scriptura” thing became a “valid concept” if it wasn’t valid at the time of the apostles. :cool:

Phil P


Yes, the Apostles were “sola scripturists”. The New Testament didn’t exist, but the Tanakh/Septuagint certainly did. That was the scripture of “sola scriptura”.:slight_smile:

Your turn.


Semper Fi: Before Pentecost they were, using the Jewish scriptures, but after that they were not and relied on the word of mouth teaching of Jesus Himself. The Apostles weren’t even concerned about writing scripture because they all thought Jesus would return in their lifetimes. So they weren’t even expecting a New Testament. As you all know 1/2 of the Gospels were written by followers of Apostles, from the memories of the Apostles orally handed down to them. However that does not include my S. Baptist mother-in-law who told me Jesus Himself wrote the red words!

Semper Fi to you too!
Used to be-S/Sgt
4th Mar Div


Even in light of how important the doctrine of the assumption of Mary is to Catholicism, it is not a foundational doctrine to Catholicism. Sola Scriptura is a foundational doctrine of Protestantism, so the stakes are much higher for Sola Scripture existing at the time of the Apostles than the Catholic doctrines White likes to attack.


[Doing a DeNiro impersonation:] You talkin’ to me?:cool:


Johnny << Sola Scriptura is a foundational doctrine of Protestantism, so the stakes are much higher for Sola Scripture existing at the time of the Apostles than the Catholic doctrines White likes to attack. >>

True, and no Christian should have “biblical” objections to the Assumption of Mary anyway, since God can clearly do that: Elijah (2 Kings 2), Enoch (Genesis 5), and perhaps Moses (Jude 9) comes to mind. It is the “exaltation” of Mary they object to rather than merely that her body and soul is in heaven. :slight_smile:

Besides, did the first-century apostles themselves run around teaching explicitly “God is a Trinity, One in substance, essence, and nature, but Three in Person.” I doubt that. What we have is the language of the New Testament for what they taught on the Trinity. Another question I could ask White on his program if I ever had the courage to call in: Did the apostles teach the Trinity in the fourth-century Nicene language? :confused:

Phil P


Ahimsa << The New Testament didn’t exist, but the Tanakh/Septuagint certainly did. That was the scripture of “sola scriptura”. Your turn. >>

“And he [King Hezekiah] set the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the Lord by his prophets.” (2 Chron 29:25 KJV)

“He [King Hezekiah] stationed the Levites in the temple of the Lord with cymbals, harps and lyres in the way prescribed by David and Gad the king’s seer and Nathan the prophet; this was commanded by the Lord through his prophets.” (2 Chron 29:25 NIV)

What we can conclude from this text is this:

(1) First, David, Gad, and Nathan were dead about 250 years at this point;

(2) Yet, they passed on a “commandment of the Lord” which was prescribed by God’s prophets on how worship was to be conducted in the temple;

(3) That prescription and commandment of the Lord is nowhere found in the Old Testament Scriptures.

So what we have here is a clear OT refutation of the Sola Scriptura principle. Other OT texts refer to the non-canonical written and non-inscripturated oral tradition of prophets and seers: 2 Chron 35:4; 9:29; 12:15; 33:18-19; 1 Sam 9:9; Isaiah 30:10; Jer 26:18; Zech 1:4-6; 7:7; 8:9; etc.

Touche. :slight_smile:

Phil P


That’s Oral Scripture.:smiley:


Ahimsa, the fact that the Septuagint wasn’t created until 200 B.C., (with Jewish law and tradition going way before this), proves that a “sola scriptura” law wasn’t necessary to the Jews. The Jews were in no hurry to write down whatever they had of the OT because “sola scriptura” was not necessary to them at all. The oral traditions and teaching of Judaism were working fine.

As for the NT, a compilation of what was in fact “scripture” only came out from gnostic texts and heresies that challenged the truth of Christianity.

Also, ‘Oral Scripture’ is an oxymoron.

Pax Christo



‘Oral Scripture’ is perfectly understandable. A scripture is something ‘written’ – but ‘writing’ can be done in very different ways. You can write using pen and ink, or using paint and brush (thus, the Eastern Orthodox use of icons as ‘visual scripture’), or using sound and images in your mind (or ‘oral scripture’).:thumbsup:


The Bible wasn’t around then so there was no “scriptura” yet. :wink:


I believe that’s exactly his point.

A fundamental weakness in the Protestant’s position of sola scriptura is that the scriptures themselves were compiled in large part on the basis of oral and social tradition some 375 years after the death of Jesus of Nazareth.

Now, if you have faith that the “correct” books were compiled then, and the traditions true to that point, the Catholics have a very strong basis for claiming said tradition itself on footing with scripture now.


The same can be said about the teachings of the Catholic church, though. They were developed over thousands of years and heck, things still are changing to this day. Nothing is EVER concrete, especially when it comes to man-made teachings. This is true for EVERYONE!


Thank you Anubisthe,

What you call “oral scripture” is what Catholics call tradition.


Blue Serenity, you obviously don’t understand the difference between dogma (which is unchangeable) and disciplines (which can be changed). This is a point that confuses many Protestants, but it’s vital to understanding Church teaching…:wave:


We know that there were written scripture sets in use as early as the 200’s… picking the set to be used universally was not unti 397 or so. And the Eastern Orthodox have a couple books we don’t.

Athanasius, BTW, lists a canon in 360-something.

It is generally accepted that the gospels were written down in the time frame 75-150AD, and thence promulgated individually (as well as at least 8 more that are no longer in the canon).

the following site: has a chronology of use…
The following is derived from their chronology
1 & 2 Thes. written in 52, Galatians in 55, Corinthans in 56, Romans in 57, Phillipians and Philemon in 60, Ephisians, Collosians, and Hebrews in 62…

By 63, the gospels apparently in circulation, at least Matt., Mark, Luke.

1 Tim & Titus in 64, 1 Peter in 65

So it’s accepted that scripture existed. It’s clear that a codified canon was still not universal, and that it was growing.


1. Did the Apostles believe in the Pope’s full, supreme, & immediate primacy of jurisdiction :slight_smile: ? That is the same sort of question as the one in the title of the thread.

2. If we can find it compatible with the Church’s earliest expressions of its faith to believe that the Pope’s full, supreme, & immediate primacy of jurisdiction is part of the deposit of faith (although the Apostles say nothing of it), then that Protestant belief should be given exactly the same latitude. After all, they use Tradition - because that doctrine does not in itself leave no place for Tradition; only in some forms of the doctrine does it do so.

3. The Psalms say nothing of the Pope’s primacy, yet we regard the Psalms as being in continuity with our beliefs, those about the Pope included.

4. Sola Scriptura may have existed in germ until the time for it to come into its own was ripe (which is Newman’s phrase about the Papacy) - that time being, presumably, the end of the process of canonisation (whensoever that was). This is in substance the account of the doctrine given in a widely used book called In Understanding Be Men: which Catholics do could far worse than read. Reading it may do something to put to rest the myth that there is no doctrinal unity among Protestants.

5. Is it quite certain that the CC is not in fact guided by Sola Scriptura as that is understood by some Protestant Churches ?


it is quite certain. In the Catechism it states:

[quote=CCC 84-87]The heritage of faith entrusted to the whole of the Church

84 The apostles entrusted the “Sacred deposit” of the faith (the depositum fidei),45 contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to the whole of the Church. "By adhering to [this heritage] the entire holy people, united to its pastors, remains always faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. So, in maintaining, practicing and professing the faith that has been handed on, there should be a remarkable harmony between the bishops and the faithful."46

The Magisterium of the Church

85 "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ."47 This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

86 "Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith."48

87 Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: “He who hears you, hears me”,49 the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.



So, you assert the dogma has never changed?

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