Sola Scriptura> Authority of the Church

So the Catholic Church says that it is the only authorised interpreter of Scripture and that it has been given this Authority, pretty much, from Matthew 16… the Catholic Church in effect uses Scripture to demonstrate that it has supreme authority, rested principally in the Pope…

My question: isn’t this just using Sola Scriptura to justify the Catholic Church’s position, and then insisting that Sola Scriptura is no longer valid and that the Church is the only institution that can teach.

I mean… it took a point where councils and private individuals gathered together and said: hey, look, we can use Scripture to demonstrate X, Y, and Z… which is no different surely (in principle) from me doing the same thing now and setting up my own authorised church… the only difference surely is that the Catholic Church is two thousand years old.

I am not advancing this as my own position… but somebody will use it against me at some point, and I would like to know where we stand on the issue!! Thank-you!

It is not Scripture that gives authority to the office of Peter, it is **Jesus **who gave that authority. Peter had that authority before the NT Scriptures were written. Scripture records Jesus’ words, as well as instances of Peter exercising this authority given him by Our Lord. Other non-biblical records (ECF’s) record the ongoing practice of the successors of Peter exercising this authority conferred by Our Lord.

We are blessed to receive Our Lord’s teaching made available to us both verbally and in written form. But, if the words of Our Lord and the preaching of His apostles had never been written down – if there were no written Scriptures – the Church would still be preaching papal authority, because that is what Jesus taught. And what He taught would have been handed down verbally.

You’re right: Jesus alone gave authority to Peter - however, to take that and then assume that has given the institution of the Church authority requires a degree of sola scriptura, initially, at least.

The Catholic Church presents itself as effectively ahistorical - that Peter received authority from Jesus, and Jesus is of all eternity, and thus the Church’s authority is without limit… but this requires somebody to say this; to read this interpretation; to confirm and define it which must, initially, be the exercise of sola scriptura - however grand the Council is.

Again, this is not my position, but it seems a worthwhile question.

??? The preaching came first. So, of course what the Church preaches (“X, Y and Z”) would be contained/referred to in Scripture since the Scriptures recorded what was preached…

Thats quite a leap you make there in the first paragraph. There was no scripture when Jesus granted that authority to Peter so it follows the only way that could have been passed on was through tradition inspired by the Holy Spirit to the church.

It may not be your position but you seem well suited to it. Its not a worthwhile question since sola scriptura is itself unbiblical and couldnt possibly be used in regards to the example your just presented.

You’re not getting my point. At some point the Catholic Church as an institution has had to refer to Scripture to evidence its authority. The Church cannot refer to Scripture, form an opinion, and then say: well, the Scripture is only a record of this particular opinion.

Historically, at some point, the Catholic Church has **relied upon and required **Scripture for it’s own Authority - it surely cannot get away from that. Scripture came first > and then the opinion > and then the Church > which then bypasses Scripture and says: ah look, Scripture only confirms what we have always known and believed of ourselves.

Not “initially”. “Scripture” – that is, the New Testament Scriptures – were not even officially determined until the 300’s.

The Gospels were not written until approx. 3 decades after Jesus’ crucifixion. Peter was exercising authority before that. Luke records instances in the Book of Acts – which is dated about the same time as the earlier gospels. At the time they were being written, none of the writers “knew” that what he was writing would some day be declare to be part of “Scripture”.

You can only assert this opinion with reference to Scripture, and thus an interpretation is made! You cannot cite Scripture and then say that Scripture must be irrelevant. Surely the following can be argued: we only have access to Jesus through Scripture, and thus anything that we now have (e.g., a Church) is firmly rooted in and rested upon Scripture… and thus any talk of *the Holy Ghost has guided the Church * is a view that ultimately depends upon an interpretation of Scripture.

Again: this is not my held belief.

Again, you only know that **Peter was exercising authority **before the Gospels were complied through the window of the Gospels.

Second, even if Peter was indeed exercising authority before the Gospels, and thus outside of what we know from Scripture, it still takes a **Catholic interpretation of Scripture ** to use Peter exercising authority as evidence for the Church’s Authority now.

The Church can be (and is) explained through scripture, but is not entirely dependent upon it. The Church uses scripture as partial justification, and in her defence. Scripture is used in defence, just as Luke wrote his Gospel to defend and confirm the Church teaching that Theophilus had already received. Since Theophilus had received that teaching before the New Testament was written, it had nothing to do with New Testament scripture. It was the Gospel as revealed through Christ’s Apostles - men who had the authority directly from God to teach the Gospel. The bible came later, as a supplement to that teaching.

You fail to understand the force of the objections in this thread. First of all, the Gospels are not the only means that we can use to discern the authority of the Church. For that, we also have the witness of history and the Church fathers. But even if the Gospels were the only means to do so, your position, that the authority of the Church is subservient to Sola Scriptura, does not at all follow. It is Jesus that gives this authority to the Church, not Scripture. That Scripture records this is a complete non sequitur [on the issue of the Church’s authority being somehow subservient to Scripture.]

It seems like you’re being a bit stubborn Tannenhauser. The previous posters have made a pretty clear case. You seem to be arguing from the conclusion backwards. They are pointing out, with all due respect, that the conclusion is wrong. The Church’s validity as the true repsoitor of the Faith comes from Christ himself. Christ was the embodiment of the Word of God. The Word of God has power. Christ transmits that power to Peter who then transmits it to his successors. At some point, probably on or about 70 ad, it became clear that someone should write down the Word as transmitted through Peter from Christ so that future generations would also know the word as faithfully as possible. In time, we came to call that scripture. The various writings that were determined to be divine in nature were later sanctified as the Cannon as we know it today. At no point does the Church have to go to Scripture to justify it’s primacy. The Scripture does not need approval from the Church. They are one in the same. The Church and the Word which it contains is the bride of Christ. The two become one. The Church’s primacy comes directly from Christ. Upon this rock.

How else does the Church confirm her Authority **other than **through its interpretation of Scripture?

If it **were not recorded **that Chirst granted Peter authority in Matthew 16 - and indeed that is an interpretation - then how else would the Church exist? How else could the Church gurantee her Authority, but through the lens of Scripture - and thus all the Councils that have convened after which have rested their decisions and authority upon the Bible e.g., the First Council of Nicea in 325 has authority only with reference to Scripture, and its agreed interpretations as such…

Actually, it is false to say that church Authority rest “pretty much” on Matt. 16.

**I understand the point you are trying to make and there are other verses that justify that Church’s claim about Authority. A couple of them that are explicit about what the Authority is are Matt. 18:15-18, Luke 10:16 and John 20:21-23, which say that the Church has the final say on matters dealing with faith and morals. **

**Some of the others are less explicit about just exactly what that authority is - but that we are to follow the Church’s authority nonetheless. They state that we are to follow Traditions of the Church, which is the pillar and foundation of truth and the *fullness *of Christ himself (**2 Thess 2:15, ****2 Tim. 2:2, ****1 Cor. 11:2, ****2 Tim. 1:12-14, 1 Tim. 3:15).

I’m still not sure I’m getting your point.
The Church did not “have” to refer to Scripture to evidence its authority. The Church can refer to Scripture regarding its authority, since it is evidenced in Scripture. But, the Church could and would still be teaching the validity of the Church and papal authority even if there were no mention of it anywhere in Scripture ---- as long as it was part of the teaching that the apostles verbally handed down to their successors. (What we call Sacred Tradition - most of which, if not all, has (over the past 2000 years) been officially declared and recorded as Church doctrines.)

I recall one priest saying that he believed God allowed heresies to arise in order to force His Church to officially define doctrines – get it’s teachings down on record, so to speak!!

Historically, at some point, the Catholic Church has **relied upon and required **Scripture for it’s own Authority - it surely cannot get away from that. Scripture came first > and then the opinion > and then the Church > which then bypasses Scripture and says: ah look, Scripture only confirms what we have always known and believed of ourselves.

Church doctrines and dogmas most generally get/got officially defined when false teachings arose. (These would include teachings contradictory to what was being preached; or teachings that altho they did not directly contradict an existing doctrine, yet could not be reconciled with it.) In defending it’s position, Scripture passages are cited when they exist.

The Church has never “required” Scripture passage/s (either explicit or implicit) to validate its doctrines. Our “deposit of faith” consists of Scripture and Sacred Tradition. We are not a “sola scriptura” Church as you well know. We believe in the development of doctrine. The doctrine doesn’t change, but our understanding of it grows; and this growth is expressed in expanded teachings/doctrines about that initial doctrine.


Acts 15:28 shows us that the Apostles made an authoritative Church decision with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and not Sola Scriptura. Whereas, they appealed to the OT during the Council of Jerusalem - the decision was not based on that text because it didn’t specifically address their dilemma, namely that the Gentiles needed to be circumcised.

Everything that you have just said relies upon recourse to Scripture. Your assumption of the Church’s Authority is *seemingly * entirely dependent upon Scripture and an interpretation of it: you are yet to demonstrate how the, say, indefectibility of the Church as being guided by the Holy Ghost can be proven aside from reference to Scripture - specifically Matthew 16.

Again: if we did not have Matthew 16, how would we prove the Authority of the Church? Any argument requires that we reference Scripture, **and then say ** that Scripture is evidence for the Church’s Authority.

I am not being stubborn, it’s just there is yet an argument put forward that does not rely upon Scripture.

Read my last 2 responses for the answer.

I didn’t read through all the other posts. But the Church develops doctrine through the Magisterium (Pope and his Bishops), using Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

When the issue of woman priests was decided, the Pope stated that he could not ordain woman because Scripture and Tradition showed that Jesus had instituted a male ordinate.

In the same way, Apostolic tradition and the Magisterium decided which (if any) reproductive issues were moral - protection of embroys, abortion, contraception, in vitro fertilization, etc.

I’d agrue that protestant Sola Scripture is much more Catholic in appearance in some Churches than it is Protestant. Some churches have an informal Magisterium and they have built on Tradition to formulate what is immoral and moral within the bounds of their congregations.

Can I just preface by saying that I consider myself absolutely Catholic, and so I am not arguing against you. This merely is something that I want to resolve, for my own committment to the Church and her authority.

As regards your references, again: they all rely upon Scripture, and they all require us to adopt a Catholic interpretation. Admittedly many of the references are quite explicit, but is it not fair to say that the authority of the Church rests upon faith in her own interpretation of Scripture?

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