Solo Scriptura vs. Sola Scriptura

Hey all,

So I’m researching refutations so that I’ll be ready when I’m inevitably questioned why I’m leaving Evangelicalism and I came across this. I haven’t really been able to find anything to refute what this claims Sola Scriptura actually is. According to this, Protestantism stands on the shoulders of giants..

Anyway, it seems like this is essentially a shift in what Sola Scriptura is, in order to make it more difficult to refute.

Sola Scriptura in the Bible

Um the article claims that the fact that teachers and pastors are needed to agree and reach a consensus supports Sola Scriptura. Funny but no teachers and pastors prior to the 1500s ever taught sola scriptura. So the author is refuting sola scriptura themselves. The rest of the article sounds like Jibba Jabba to me so I can’t help you there. If the Bible supports Sola Scriptura, why does that need to be compared to the Pope’s writings in some way? The Test of Sola Scriptura should stand on its own.

Protestantism is a daughter of the Roman Catholic Church so it’s true that it stands on the shoulders of giants because everything, that Protestant has, came from the Catholics before. Yes, even the Bible was received by Protestants from the Catholic Church.

Scripture and Tradition

This is made clear when the apostle Paul tells Timothy: “[W]hat you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). Here we see the first few links in the chain of apostolic tradition that has been passed down intact from the apostles to our own day. Paul instructed Timothy to pass on the oral teachings (traditions) that he had received from the apostle. He was to give these to men who would be able to teach others, thus perpetuating the chain. Paul gave this instruction not long before his death (2 Tim. 4:6–8), as a reminder to Timothy of how he should conduct his ministry.

His argument is an interesting one. He treats the Bible as a final authority and states that it alone should matter. Then he goes ahead and states that those who criticize sola scriptura are making arguments of infinite regress because the traditions vary have some contradictions amongst the Church Fathers.

Okay, that’s a fine and solid argument for he or she to make. The problem is that it can be lobbed right back at sola scriptura. He claims sola scriptura doesn’t have to be justified by being stated in the Bible itself (which he admits that it is not). He claims that the Bible and the Word of God have done miracles. Okay, that’s a fine statement too, but on what basis does he say this? Did God come down from heaven and say, “Yo, dawg. I want these books in the New Testament. All the rest are garbage.” No, he did not. It was decided over time by people who had earlier traditions and faith passed down to them. Okay, so now this forces us to admit something outside the scriptures. And thus we arrive at the infinite regress once again because how do we know that these people were smart enough to make a good New Testament if they didn’t have one before hand? I suppose one could appeal to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but that exactly how Catholics and Orthodox understand Tradition as well. We both believe that the Church Fathers and the Traditions were guided by the Holy Spirit. This doesn’t mean that everything that the Church Fathers, etc. is infallible, but it is nothing to scoff at either.

In short, the whole debate really misses the point. The point is that it is the faith that is paramount. The faith is about the individual and the community. As such, it is right that we consult one another on what the scriptures might mean, etc. and cherish what has been passed down to us. Does this mean that it is necessarily infallible? No, but we do have a pretty good idea as to what the basics are. These were established through tradition and the scriptures. As a result, we can grow closer to God together through sharing our faith with one another.

So how does one refute Prima Scripture, which says that tradition is OK but must always override tradition?

No refutation is necessary, except perhaps the name. It should be aequalitas scriptura (equality of Scripture), not primum scriptura.

Scripture cannot contradict Tradition, and Tradition cannot contradict Scripture. Ever.

Sola Scriptura is a concept that is unbiblical. How’s that for irony. It does say it is the inspired word of God, which we as Catholics believe very much. It is NOT taught in the Bible. Anywhere.

The Bible was pieced together and created by the Catholic Church, primarily at the Council of Carthage in 397. That, in and of itself, means that EVERY Christian of every denomination recognizes the authority of the Church to a certain extent.

Sola Scriptura is a ridiculous concept. Most Christians in history couldn’t even read. Most received the word of God by ORAL TRADITION and relied on the clergy to teach the Truths of Christianity. How can Sola Scriptura even be a plausible concept when 1) most Christians in history have been illiterate and 2) for the first 350+ years of Christianity, the “Scripture” that is referenced in “Sola Scriptura” DIDNT EVEN EXIST.

“Keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us” (2 Thess. 3:6).
“When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thess. 2:13).
“I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.” (1 Cor 11:2)
“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 Thess 2:15)

what is the difference between “sola scriptura” and interpreting the bible literally?

do we all agree on the same definition for “sola scriptura”?

Sola Scriptura means that the Bible is the sole authority, the sole rule of faith. Nothing can be believed which is not set forth in the “plain” wording of Scripture (although there is no consensus of what constitutes the “plain” wording, and I’ve seen a lot of Biblical gymnastics).

As others have pointed out, Sola Scriptura is self-defeating because it is not Scriptural.

It’s possible to believe in literal interpretation without accepting sola Scriptura. Some Catholics are also literalists (and they are free to be so). It’s one thing to say Scripture is literally inerrant but another thing to say it’s sufficient.

=Sola Catholicus;13301645]Sola Scriptura is a concept that is unbiblical. How’s that for irony. It does say it is the inspired word of God, which we as Catholics believe very much. It is NOT taught in the Bible. Anywhere.

It is not unbiblical. The best one could argue is that, at least explicitly, it is extra-biblical. And, that is why it is a practice, not a doctrine. No one’s salvation is dependent on the belief.

The Bible was pieced together and created by the Catholic Church, primarily at the Council of Carthage in 397. That, in and of itself, means that EVERY Christian of every denomination recognizes the authority of the Church to a certain extent.

Of course. That’s scriptural. The teaching authority of the Church is extant in scripture.

Sola Scriptura is a ridiculous concept.

Not sure how name-calling improves your argument.

Most Christians in history couldn’t even read. Most received the word of God by ORAL TRADITION and relied on the clergy to teach the Truths of Christianity. How can Sola Scriptura even be a plausible concept when 1) most Christians in history have been illiterate and

Of course most received the word of God orally. Many people learned much about the faith through icons, as well. Its a shame that modern Lutheran churches have drifted away from stained glass, and other forms of iconography. But this isn’t what sola scriptura adresses.
Sola scriptura is a practice of the Church, not laity. It is used to hold doctrine and teachings - and tradition - accountable. That’s all it means.

  1. for the first 350+ years of Christianity, the “Scripture” that is referenced in “Sola Scriptura” DIDNT EVEN EXIST.

Of course it did. Are you saying that the OT was not written until about the time of the 1st Council of Nicaea? Are you saying Paul did not write his letters until then? All of these writings were available, and there were positions held within the early Church about what was universally attested, disputed, and rejected.

“Keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us” (2 Thess. 3:6).
“When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thess. 2:13).
“I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.” (1 Cor 11:2)
“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 Thess 2:15)

Amen.

Jon

In the end, it always becomes solo scriptura.

Is the NT sacred? If yes, who said so? The Church? Who gave them the authority to determine what is sacred and inerrant?

For every person that accepts the NT as scripture, did you arrive at that conclusion on your own? Anyone who says they came to the conclusion that those 27 books, and only those 27 books are inspired scripture, congratulations. You have now given yourself authority over the bible. You yourself determined the canon. You cannot claim sola scriptura, for by determining the canon, you have more authority than scripture, as it cannot tell you what the canon should be. And as such, if someone says that John does not belong in that canon, so what? That person has just as much right to determine the canon as you.

If you accept the canon because the Church determined this was the canon in the deeps of history, guess what? You have now given that Church authority over the bible. For once again, in any determination of what is scripture and what is not, the one determining what is scripture, exercises authority over that writing.

Sola scriptura is untenable. It only works for people if they** agree with each other.** If scripture is so clear, why have there been arguments over what it says since scripture was first written down? If it is not clear, how can it be the final authority? For if it is not clear, then one needs someone to interpret it for them, and as soon as you do that, then you have given the interpreter authority over the bible.

Look at all the arguments over what Paul and James actually say. How is sola scriptura working there?

I think you will find this article worth the read: calledtocommunion.com/2009/11/solo-scriptura-sola-scriptura-and-the-question-of-interpretive-authority/.

And in this article they rebut quite nicely the article you linked to: calledtocommunion.com/2009/11/is-sola-scriptura-in-the-bible-a-reply-to-r-c-sproul-jr/

I have studied sola scriptura in depth and basically concluded that discussing it leads to a very slippery slope among people because, generally, when you are discussing/defending it you will be talking with a Protestant. This of course means that there are many different theologies, etc. There too is certainly a divide between solo and sola scriptura in the most basic sense. Solo scriptura is actually easily refuted from a few notable verses.

The question ultimately boils down to authority - who, whom, or what is the final rule of authority on Earth. The overwhelming majority of scriptures which discuss this imply, rather explicitly in certain parts, that it is the body of believers headed by the St Peter and the other Apostles.

Sola scriptura is actually a very sound philosophical argument. One though cannot find any real scriptures which support it. Thus, when viewed in a theological light, it basically becomes a self refuting doctrine - which states that the Scripture is the final rule of authority, yet that this itself is not within the word.

For this reason, it should be concluded that, from a theological standpoint, the final rule of authority is the body of believers, headed by the Magesterium (which in turn is headed by the Pope), who receive divine revelation from both the Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition.

A response I got (one I anticipated, reading the Protestant’s Dilemma) was:

“Our depraved nature has caused our individual interpretations to come out incorrect, but God has protected the body of believers as a whole, keeping us together on the more important things (ie the Gospel).”

I don’t see an answer to that in the Protestant’s Dilemma. Ehhhhh

=alchemon;13302625]I have studied sola scriptura in depth and basically concluded that discussing it leads to a very slippery slope among people because, generally, when you are discussing/defending it you will be talking with a Protestant. This of course means that there are many different theologies, etc. There too is certainly a divide between solo and sola scriptura in the most basic sense. Solo scriptura is actually easily refuted from a few notable verses.

No argument here.

The question ultimately boils down to authority - who, whom, or what is the final rule of authority on Earth. The overwhelming majority of scriptures which discuss this imply, rather explicitly in certain parts, that it is the body of believers headed by the St Peter and the other Apostles.

I think many Christians not in communion with the Bishop of Rome could agree with this, depending on what it means.

Sola scriptura is actually a very sound philosophical argument. One though cannot find any real scriptures which support it. Thus, when viewed in a theological light, it basically becomes a self refuting doctrine - which states that the Scripture is the final rule of authority, yet that this itself is not within the word.

Well, it clearly isn’t explicit, which is why, properly understood, it is not a doctrine that binds the conscience of the believer, an article of faith. And that, in turn, is why it isn’t self-refuting. Sola scriptura doesn’t require that all practices, indeed all beliefs, need be explicit in scripture, but only those things that are required to be believed.
No Catholic is condemned simply because they reject the principle of sola scriptura. No Lutheran is, either. I am perfectly free to believe in the Assumption. It isn’t explicit in scripture. I’m not bound to believe it. But it does no harm to the Gospel to do so.

For this reason, it should be concluded that, from a theological standpoint, the final rule of authority is the body of believers, headed by the Magesterium (which in turn is headed by the Pope), who receive divine revelation from both the Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition.

At least for those in communion with the Pope. Those who are in communion with a bishop who is not in communion with him may look to another source. I look to my synod within the Lutheran tradition of the Church Catholic.

Jon

Yeah, I’ve still not confronted a compelling argument for it, and I asked over on Reddit.

It seems to me, after some thinking, that Solo/Sola/Prima Scriptura all suffer from the same thing, ultimately: the individual is placed in ultimate authority. Prima Scriptura says that Tradition is fine as long as it “meshes” with scripture and doesn’t override it. But, it’s still up to the individual’s interpretation of Scripture. If I interpret Scripture to say that Jesus had no brothers, then Mary’s perpetual virginity may stand. Otherwise, it fails. So, even under the framework of Prima Scriptura, my authority reigns supreme.

“Oh, but you must have a community of believers to validate your interpretation!” Nope. Still doesn’t work. I could just go join another church that believes the same, or start my own denomination.

The issue with it from a practical standpoint begins when you have something that is not explicitly defined by scripture which is necessary for salvation. Infant baptism is an excellent example of this. Nowhere does scripture tell us explicitly how we are to treat the children of two Christians. Obviously, Tradition is quite clear on this matter. There are other examples of this and ultimately the individual is responsible for interpretation. There is no clear way to then settle disputes.

I also agree that sola scriptura in the classical/initial sense (as we agree it varies widely depending on denomination) does not/did not mean that Tradition is inherently bad - rather scripture is a sort of “check mark” articles of faith must possess. The issue with this is that this very theology itself is not “checked” off by scripture. Philosophically it makes sense, but theologically it cannot. How can I suppose that the Lord included all that He wanted His people to believe as a unified group when this itself is not given to us.

At best I think we can conclude that it is a good method in order to prove an article of Faith, but not to disprove one (ie that by not being explicitly written in the scriptures it cannot be a true article of faith).

I appreciate the reply and hope we can reconcile sooner rather than later:thumbsup:

Yes I agree with your points. Many proponents of SS will say that scripture is inherently interpreterative. I agree that there are many, many verses that are - but many, many that aren’t. We would then need to reduce our theologies to some very basic things like Thou Shall Not Kill and miss most of the beautiful revelations.

In short I believe that SS can/does give a reasonable person the ability to achieve salvation, but not to receive the fullness of revelation.

=alchemon;13305283]The issue with it from a practical standpoint begins when you have something that is not explicitly defined by scripture which is necessary for salvation. Infant baptism is an excellent example of this. Nowhere does scripture tell us explicitly how we are to treat the children of two Christians. Obviously, Tradition is quite clear on this matter. There are other examples of this and ultimately the individual is responsible for interpretation. There is no clear way to then settle disputes.

Oh, I think Baptism is far more explicit than often credited. Same for the doctrine o the Trinity.
The individual Lutheran, OTOH, is not the ultimate interpreter regarding the doctrine of the Church. “Our churches teach…” from the Augsburg Confession are words of doctrine, and are indeed authoritative for Lutherans (or at least those who are confessional).

I also agree that sola scriptura in the classical/initial sense (as we agree it varies widely depending on denomination) does not/did not mean that Tradition is inherently bad - rather scripture is a sort of “check mark” articles of faith must possess. The issue with this is that this very theology itself is not “checked” off by scripture. Philosophically it makes sense, but theologically it cannot. How can I suppose that the Lord included all that He wanted His people to believe as a unified group when this itself is not given to us.

And yet the very same can be said regarding the theology that surrounds papal universal ordinary and immediate jurisdiction. The fact is in both cases, neither of us have the expectation scripture has to check it off. As I said regarding sola scriptura, it isn’t a doctrine that needs “checking off”. Not all practices of the Church are explicit in scripture, nor need they be.

At best I think we can conclude that it is a good method in order to prove an article of Faith, but not to disprove one (ie that by not being explicitly written in the scriptures it cannot be a true article of faith).

True, though when a teaching does no harm to the Gospel, the idea of adiaphora often makes sense.

I appreciate the reply and hope we can reconcile sooner rather than later:thumbsup:

Likewise, and pray this reconciliation happens soon.

Jon

There are some obvious issues with sola scriptura, if one is not perfect in the interpretation.

Read these two passages, both from the Gospel of St. Matthew and both being statements attributed directly to Jesus:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Then in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he speaks of a time when a man will speak of peace and security, and that is when the worst is about to happen.

So, are we to be peacemakers? Or are we to abhor peace, or live in fear of the mention of it, because the Bible says so?

But my biggest problem with sola scriptura as a concept is the 21st century world, despite what we may think, is not the intended audience of every word in the Bible. For example, God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. It was necessary to do so in order to populate the earth, since there were only 2 humans alive at the time. But since this appears in the Bible, is a sola scriptura believer bound to get married and have 19 kids (and counting) or else be held as having violated God’s command?

=minorsecond;13305066]Yeah, I’ve still not confronted a compelling argument for it, and I asked over on Reddit.

It seems to me, after some thinking, that Solo/Sola/Prima Scriptura all suffer from the same thing, ultimately: the individual is placed in ultimate authority. Prima Scriptura says that Tradition is fine as long as it “meshes” with scripture and doesn’t override it. But, it’s still up to the individual’s interpretation of Scripture. If I interpret Scripture to say that Jesus had no brothers, then Mary’s perpetual virginity may stand. Otherwise, it fails. So, even under the framework of Prima Scriptura, my authority reigns supreme.

I go back to “our churches teach…”. It is not a matter, at least from a Lutheran POV, of what the individual thinks. Certainly there are those who teach that. Certainly, there are Lutherans and Catholics who stand on there individual interpretation, Pelosi and Biden are notorious, but obviously not alone.
Within Lutheranism, you would be right about Mary’s perpetual virginity, but that’s not doctrine in Lutheran teaching. Its adiaphoron. In the same way, a Catholic may interpret individually whether or not the Blessed Virgin died prior to her Assumption. The Catholic Church also leaves many things open to the individual’s personal piety, so long as it does not go against Catholic doctrine. Am I right?

The point is, from a Lutheran perspective (I can’t speak for other communions, since I am no more a member of them than I am in communion with the Bishop or Rome), sola scriptura only applies to doctrines of the Church, things I am bound to believe.

“Oh, but you must have a community of believers to validate your interpretation!” Nope. Still doesn’t work. I could just go join another church that believes the same, or start my own denomination.

And you as a Catholic can go and join another communion, as well, Catholic Church claims against it notwithstanding. AFAIK, there are lots of former Catholics in the pews of parishes not in communion with the Bishop or Rome, including Lutheran, Anglican, and Orthodox.

Jon

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