Sola Scriptura Discussion/Debate


#1

[quote=]Originally Posted by Sola C F G S DG
[/quote]

Hello-

Looking for a go on one of the solas…may be a little over my head with this screen name but thought it might be some good bait!

The 5 Solas of the Reformation form the core of my beliefs:

Sola Scriptura

Particularly passionate about Sola Scriptura.

Anyone want to join?

ThanksMight as well put this up for debate in the hopes that better understanding can be achieved somewhere along the way.

First, I would like to bring out a couple of points that I think are important.

MATERIAL AND FORMAL SUFFICIENCY (Link)

By JAMES AKIN

MANY Protestants, including James White, have difficulty understanding the Catholic distinction between the material and the formal sufficiency of Scripture. For Scripture to be materially sufficient, it would have to contain or imply all that is needed for salvation. For it to be formally sufficient, it would not only have to contain all of this data, but it would have to be so clear that it does not need any outside information to interpret it.

Protestants call the idea that Scripture is clear the perspicuity of Scripture. Their doctrine of sola scriptura combines the perspicuity of Scripture with the claim that Scripture contains all the theological data we need.

It is important to make these distinctions because, while a Catholic cannot assert the formal sufficiency (perspicuity) of Scripture, he can assert its material sufficiency, as has been done by such well-known Catholic theologians as John Henry Newman, Walter Kaspar, George Tarvard, Henri de Lubac, Matthias Scheeben, Michael Schmaus, and Joseph Ratzinger. and also,

Apologetics 101-07 (Link)

Q: A friend of mine said that his church takes the Bible literally, but that the Catholic Church doesn’t…is that true?

A: Actually, there is no truth to that, whatsoever. Catholics interpret the Bible in a “literal” sense, while many fundamentalists, Evangelicals, and others interpret the Bible in a literalist sense.

The “literal” meaning of a passage of Scripture is the meaning that the author of that passage of Scripture intended to convey. The “literalist” interpretation of a passage of Scripture is: “that’s what it says, that’s what it means.”

Let me give you an example to illustrate the difference. If you were to read a passage in a book that said it was “raining cats and dogs outside”, how would you interpret that? As Americans, in the 21st Century, you would know that the author was intending to convey the idea that it was raining pretty doggone hard outside. That would be the “literal” interpretation…the interpretation the author intended to convey. On the other hand, what if you made a “literalist” interpretation of the phrase, “it’s raining cats and dogs”?

The “literalist” interpretation would be that, were you to walk outside, you would actually see cats and dogs falling from the sky like rain. No taking into account the popularly accepted meaning of this phrase. No taking into account the author’s intentions. The words say it was raining cats and dogs, so, by golly, it was raining cats and dogs! That is the literalist, or fundamentalist, way of interpretation.

If someone 2000 years in the future picked up that same book and read, “It was raining cats and dogs outside,” in order to properly understand that passage in the book, they would need a “literal” interpretation, not a “literalist” interpretation. Now, think about that in the context of interpreting the Bible 2000-3000 years after it was written.

Literal, or Catholic, interpretation vs. literalist, or fundamentalist, interpretation.Please be sure to carefully read both of these articles (and bring them into the discussion as needed) because they lend much to understanding what Catholics actually believe as opposed to what many n-Cs allege that we believe.

Okay…I guess it’s on now. :coffeeread:


#2

How can there be 5 “solas”? Doesn’t sola, by definition, mean only one? :shrug:


#3

I have read much on this debate and listened to many apologetics regarding this debate and the sola fide or faith alone debate and as with both I ask the believer of these 2 sola’s since they are “bible believing” to show me where in scripture these 2 teachings are and so far no can. Because as the scripture teaches the “Church is pillar and bulwark of truth” and at the the Paul wrote this there was only one Church. The problem is protestants believe the Bible is the pillar and bulwark of the truth but that is not found in scripture either.


#4

The amazing thing about “bible-believing” people is how few things they all agree on. And when somebody opens a bible and does not see e.g. the Trinity, or the divinity of Christ, then there is no possible way to correct them using the bible alone.

In fact, I continue to believe that God made/allowed the bible to be as enigmatic as it is precisely to work against this false notion that the bible is a catechism.


#5

I am not a Catholic; however, I find most of the “Solas,” including Sola Scriptura to be completely untenable, and indefensible - it’s a circular argument, no matter how one puts it.

This, of course, raises a problem for me as a non-Catholic as I have no supposed “authority” (I actually do, it’s called the Spirit) to tell me what any given passage means. My current understanding is pretty individualistic, and based on an attempt to humbly submit myself to the Spirit’s leadership (which I tend to think the Catholic church under-emphasizes). I realize this can cause problems with divergent views; however, I take comfort in the following:

Paul does not say, led by a man, but the Spirit:

Romans 8:14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Paul has no problem with divergent views, as he points out in Romans 14, and he has no problem preaching unity at the same time that he accepts those with differing opinions:

Php 3:15-16 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

So, my conclusion is that although Sola Scriptura is illogical, it’s a false dilemma to suggest that the only other option is to submit to the Pope.


#6

VociMike, could you point out some areas where you believe the Bible is enigmatic? I mean, other than the obvious apocalyptic writings?

Believe, repent, be baptized, be fruitful, be unified, live a holy life, etc - I don’t need someone to tell me what these mean, and they are not enigmatic.


#7

Php 3:15-16 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.

If God will make it clear, then why doesn’t everybody at some point believe the same? Or at least, why doesn’t everybody before their deaths come to the same belief? But we know they don’t.

No, not the Pope, the Church. Anyway, what other option(s) do you propose?


#8

The bible is enigmatic in every case where reasonable people can come to different conclusions, because the bible seems to say different things on the subject. And that covers just about every fundamental belief of Christianity. You can find people who disagree about the meaning of every word and phrase you cited.


#9

I would suggest that just for a learning that you read the catechism of the church and you will see exactly how the spirit is empasized and how the Holy Spirit leads the church it just does it through Sacred Tradition, the magisterium and Sacred Scripture. When you say the only option is to submit to the Pope is a just a little short sited you must submit to the authority of the Church, the authority that was given to Christ by the Father and then that authority was then given to the apostles which was then continually passed down by apostolic authority. That is why we as catholics can trace that authority all the way back to Christ himself.


#10

Okay people…Look at the thread title and re-read the initial post again.

This thread is only about Sola Scriptura, so please stay on that topic.

If anyone wants to tackle anything else they are, of course, welcome to open a new thread of their own, which is the way the Forum Rules intend things to go.

Now back to the regularly scheduled topic.
CM


#11

As a Catholic --I agree. A thinking person does not automatically slip into a default position just because one position has been tested and found wanting. Either/or thinking is patently lazy and/or ignorant.

Having said that, however, the case for Church authority has compelling arguments in it’s favor (which as a revert to the Catholic Faith) I have found convincing. Those have to be dealt with on their own merits, perhaps in another thread.


#12

Agreed so far.

This, of course, raises a problem for me as a non-Catholic as I have no supposed “authority” (I actually do, it’s called the Spirit) to tell me what any given passage means. My current understanding is pretty individualistic, and based on an attempt to humbly submit myself to the Spirit’s leadership (which I tend to think the Catholic church under-emphasizes). I realize this can cause problems with divergent views; however, I take comfort in the following:

However, there is nothing that I have seen in the Word of God that tells me the Bible is the authority for all Christian belief and practice. It’s simply not there.

Moreover, the idea that Christ gave individual members of the church the authority to define doctrine is also not in evidence in scripture.

Paul does not say, led by a man, but the Spirit:

However, Paul also doesn’t tell us to use just the Bible.[size=][FONT=“Palatino Linotype”] 2nd Timothy 2:15 Carefully study to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. Does that specify just the scriptures? No, it doesn’t.

And what does Paul write to the Thessalonian church? 2nd Thessalonians 2:14 Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.

Paul has no problem with divergent views, as he points out in Romans 14, and he has no problem preaching unity at the same time that he accepts those with differing opinions:

You seem to miss the fact that Paul is here talking about those who are weak in faith, who might have difficulty with the more complex doctrines of Christian faith.

IMO, this is the position that the modern post reformation step children find themselves.

So, my conclusion is that although Sola Scriptura is illogical, it’s a false dilemma to suggest that the only other option is to submit to the Pope.

Papal authority is not the issue here.

The object here is to determine from the Word of God if Sola Scriptura is correct doctrine, and if it is not, then to determine (again, from scripture) what the true doctrine actually is.

We can also appeal to history wherever it informs this topic. IOW, among believers who perhaps held what beliefs about this and when.

Another source that I would like to cite here is the excellent MP3 Bible study on Sola Scriptura by John Martignoni. It would be helpful if everyone took the few minutes required to listen to it and peruse his notes.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum
(The peace of the Lord be with you all.)[/FONT][/size]


#13

Is this supposed to be an argument? I’d say people disagree not because the Bible is confusing, but because of sinful pride and arrogance.

The option I propose is that people obey the scriptures, and gasp talk to each other rather than just label each other.

So you’re saying I don’t have to submit to the Pope to be Catholic?

[quote=johnknoesel]I would suggest that just for a learning that you read the catechism of the church and you will see exactly how the spirit is empasized and how the Holy Spirit leads the church it just does it through Sacred Tradition, the magisterium and Sacred Scripture.
[/quote]

Please allow me to clarify. The Holy Spirit does not lead the church only, He leads individuals as well. This is what I think is lacking in the Catholic church - individual spirituality. Catholics do what Rome tells them to, and at that, often only do the minimum requirements. This stifles the work of the Spirit, which leads individuals, as the passage I already quoted here points out.

[quote=VociMike]You can find people who disagree about the meaning of every word and phrase you cited.
[/quote]

I find that when I sit down and actually listen to someone, we end up agreeing a lot more than if we just bring all our preconceived notions to the table and start off combative. These disagreements are typically over semantics, and again, the underlying reason here is not that the Bible is confusing, but that people are sinful and prideful, and are too busy pre-judging to actually sit down and listen to what someone is saying. Sola Scriptura was a perfect example for me. I used to believe it, until I had an open discussion with reasonable Catholics and Protestants who were as interested in truth as I was. Although I didn’t come away ready to submit to Rome, I realized that this Protestant teaching is totally illogical.


#14

I agree that some arguments for submission to the Catholic church are convincing; however, you lose me in Papal Primacy and a lot of overly-complicated doctrines, which are, in my mind, unnecessary to the Faith.


#15

Thanks for that link, I’ll check it out.


#16

“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15

“Although I have much to write to you, I do not intend to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and to speak face to face so that our joy may be complete.” 2 John 12

“There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.” John 21:25

How do we know who wrote Matthew’s Gospel since the author doesn’t pin his name. How do we know which books should be in the cannon of Scripture?

If any other series of writings had something similar to these in them, or about them, then most people (Catholic and non-Catholic) would agree that these writings can’t be taken as “sola”, but because we are taking about the Scriptures then it is different? What ever happen to faith and reason? Sorry but Sola Scriptura just doesn’t work for me.


#17

But who decides who is reading the bible correctly and who is incorrect because of pride and arrogance? There is no final arbiter. It is quite impossible, without the authority of the Church, to say with certainty what the bible does or does not say about a great many fundamental questions.

The option I propose is that people obey the scriptures, and gasp talk to each other rather than just label each other.

People can’t obey if they don’t know what is required of them. Besides, a lot of Protestants would be screaming “works salvation!” at what you just wrote. :slight_smile:

So you’re saying I don’t have to submit to the Pope to be Catholic?

Huh? You have to submit to the Church. The Pope is part of that equation, by virtue of the authority vested by Christ in the office, but is certainly not all of it.

Please allow me to clarify. The Holy Spirit does not lead the church only, He leads individuals as well. This is what I think is lacking in the Catholic church - individual spirituality. Catholics do what Rome tells them to, and at that, often only do the minimum requirements. This stifles the work of the Spirit, which leads individuals, as the passage I already quoted here points out.

So when two people disagree on a fundamental point, and both claim the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we’re back in the same hole, chasing our tails.


#18

This underlines the problem I have with Catholicism. The Holy Spirit is marginalized. Every question needs a thousand page answer. I believe if people came together in humility the way the Bible calls us to, with our eyes on Jesus instead of who’s right, we wouldn’t have nearly as many problems as we do. And the existence of problems, in and of itself, does not necessitate a human arbiter. Problems are OK! according to Paul. He says this explicitly. There are instances in Acts where the Apostles sent instructions to the Gentiles. I note that the Jerusalem Council was very limited in its dogma. I think the Catholic church would have done well to follow this example.

People can’t obey if they don’t know what is required of them. Besides, a lot of Protestants would be screaming “works salvation!” at what you just wrote. :slight_smile:

As I’ve said, I agree with a lot of Catholic doctrine, just not all of it. In matters of biblical interpretation, for some odd reason, I tend to come down on the Catholic side than I do the Protestant side.

Huh? You have to submit to the Church. The Pope is part of that equation, by virtue of the authority vested by Christ in the office, but is certainly not all of it.

If I say, “I refuse to submit to the Pope,” as a Catholic, would I be a schismatic, or would I not be?

So when two people disagree on a fundamental point, and both claim the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we’re back in the same hole, chasing our tails.

If two parties claim guidance by the Holy Spirit and are staunchly holding to their preconceived notions, both are guilty of the same sinful pride I’ve been talking about. This should not be a matter of “I am right, and you are wrong,” it’s a matter of, “God is right,” following his example and saying, “Come let us reason together.” The Lord gives us ways to “test” the spirits, as John instructs in 1 John 4:1, Paul instructs in Galatians 1:8-9, and Jesus himself said that by their fruits we would know his followers (Matt 7:20), along with our love for one another (John 13:35). These scriptures seem to suggest that individuals and collective groups can determine the truth without a church hierarchy, unless you say that those passages only apply to specific individuals, but that causes all kinds of other problems.

I hope we’re not veering too far off topic for Sola Scriptura, but I think this is all relevant to the the topic.


#19

Church Militant, be patient with me as I’ll get to the thrust of your thread.

Ckempston, in charity, I will assume you have this impression rationally and irrationally, both because you don’t know the right Catholics and you don’t know Catholics very well.

Right Catholics: It is my belief that Catholics have a higher percentage of practicing Catholics who are luke warm. This is a product that even if we aren’t very spiritual, we attend Church because we are told to do so in obedience. If we aren’t spiritual, generally we are pretty obedient at least with regard to the externals.

Why do I say this: I belong to parish of 900-1,000 families. Each weekend at all three Masses our church is probably 65% full on average. I have a good friend who is Lutheran and of a congregation that is also about the same number of families. However, they have two services, it is nearly full but the size of their worship space is half our size. In essence, we have a higher percentage going to church and about twice as many worshippers on a given Sunday.

In other words, our less spiritual are sprinkled in with our more spiritual while the Sunday worshippers at my Lutheran friend’s services have a higher percentage of their more spiritual there every Sunday.

Don’t know Catholics very well: For most, Catholic spirituality is very private. Our outward expression of our spirituality is in how we live our lives and not what we say. Most Catholics live by the motto of St. Francis: Spread the Gospel always, use words if necessary. Contrast this with especially evangelical/fundamental Christians, their spirituality is expressed very vocally.

Let me give you an example on why I think that your impression is irrational and incorrect. I belong to a men’s Christian book group comprised now of three Catholics, a Lutheran, and a Baptist/fundamentalist (he jumps around depending on how he feels about the Pastor) where we read a religious book and meet every other week to discuss what we are reading.

The group was originally comprised of just one Catholic (not me) and more non-Catholics. However, as the group grew, the seriousness of the books grew. Rather than just reading Max Lucado, they started to drift to books by Tozer, Boenhoeffer, and spiritual books by Saints like Therese of Liseux and Avila, Thomas Kempis, etc. As the depth of the Spirituality of the books grew, new people were added as people quit.

The fact of the matter was that the make-up has changed because the Fundamentalists fell away and were replaced because the Catholics stayed. Both of the non-Catholics admit that the fallen away left because they were uncomfortable w/ the direction of growing spirituality while the Catholics have embraced it.

We are now reading “Interior Mansions” by Therese of Avila. Just yesterday, the Lutheran made the observation that those that left was a result is they couldn’t stand the admonition to grow in spirituality because it caused them to examine their attachment and security of OSAS. At the same time, us Catholics desired greater growth (getting to a deeper mansion) as we feared that we might fall and lose our salvation.

Now to the point of this thread. The problem with Sola Scriptura is that it places on the Bible the primary purpose as to be the “path to salvation” (kinda like a “how-to manual”). I thought that Christ was the “path to salvation” which changes the primary purpose of Scripture to being a means to understand who God is.

All revelation is to reveal God to His people. Thus, we are to look to Scripture, Tradition, Teaching, Creation, and our Conscience as means to gain a more full understanding of God. It is only to the extent we have an accurate understanding of God’s Nature (or as non-Catholic writer and preacher Tozer said “Knolwedge of the Holy”) that we can begin to discern the will and heart of God. Then, with this discernment we are properly disposed to pick up our cross of discipleship (Cost of Discipleship from Confessional Preacher Boenhoffer). Finally, with discipleship we come to experience the True Love of God to which we are called and from which we gain Salvation…

Now to summarize, if I pick up Scripture in the mode of a Sola Scriptura, I do so with my impression of God which means that the Holy Spirit must always fight my preconcieved notions which leads to misunderstanding. But if I bring to Scripture knowledge of God from Holy Tradition, Teaching and Creation (or at least synthesize all sources of Revelation as I learn w/o ignoring this sources), I have a better understanding (or will gain it as I grow in knowledge) from which to discern His message in Scripture such that it can be a better source of “how-to”.

In very short, Sola Scriptura’s assertion of “material sufficiency” denies or denigrates other forms of Revelation and thus is incomplete.


#20

Hello ckempston,

You wrote:

“This underlines the problem I have with Catholicism. The Holy Spirit is marginalized. Every question needs a thousand page answer. I believe if people came together in humility the way the Bible calls us to, with our eyes on Jesus instead of who’s right, we wouldn’t have nearly as many problems as we do. And the existence of problems, in and of itself, does not necessitate a human arbiter. Problems are OK! according to Paul. He says this explicitly. There are instances in Acts where the Apostles sent instructions to the Gentiles. I note that the Jerusalem Council was very limited in its dogma. I think the Catholic church would have done well to follow this example.”

This is not true. It is difficult to give a non-catholic a “cracker jack” answer to a “prime rib” question. Although I guess we could do that but then again we would not have brought our seperated brothers and sisters any closer to TheTruth. It does not take much scratching on my part when I encounter a “bible believing” christian to sometimes realize that this is a empty claim. How can you believe in a book that you do not understand and have spent little time with? Keep in mind that to know and believe in this book it to believe in a Somebody. It never ceases to amaze me that we want to keep “the faith” simple and dumbed down. Yet we will oooh and aaah over the theory of realitivity or write a thousand page answer to describe DNA. Yet when it comes down to the creator of the universe we want a simple proof text. St. Paul in his letters is communicating to people of on fold. The Council of Jerusalem was limited in its dogma, for one The Church was in its infancy and two the heretics were just getting started.

Peace,
DCD


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