Why do you believe in Sola Scriptura?

Hey everyone! This question is for Christians who follow the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone). As a Catholic, I believe in both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. I was wondering why you believe in following only Sacred Scripture.

I look forward to reading/discussing you answers!:slight_smile:

God bless!

The short answer would be that God is the highest authority for the Church. Therefore, His word (which carries His authority) is the highest authority for the Church. Tradition has its place, of course. However, where that tradition contradicts the written word or is not present in that written word, it cannot be made dogma. I understand, of course, that Sacred Tradition in Catholic theology is God’s word. Any tradition would have to be verified as being that word or as having come from Christ or His apostles. There are some traditions that I do believe come from the apostles that are not present explicitly in Scripture (such as Mary’s ever-virginity), so I accept them. But I do not accept them as de fide revealed dogma.

I largely agree with what Per Crucem says. I would add that I don’t consider sola scriptura * as an article faith, or de fide*. IOW, one does not have to believe in sola scriptura in order to be saved.

Jon

Here is my issue with this line of thought. I am an ex-protestant and believed in sola-scriptura. That is until, through studying history, I realized that the new testament was decided by the Catholic church in the 4th century, through Tradition.

It is through sacred tradition that the new testament was revealed. Not to mention all there was was Tradition prior to the 4th century when we got the bible as we have it today.
Sacred tradition means the teaching handed down from the Apostles which, again, preceeds the new testament.

So… explain to me how Sacred scripture trumps sacred tradition when tradition came first and tradition gave us scripture?

I would also point out that NO TRADITION contradicts scripture. It may contradict your personal interpretation of scripture (which peter warns against in 2nd Peter 3:16) but it doesn’t actually contradict the true meaning of scripture.

I mean doesn’t make sense that since Tradition came first, and gave us the new testament, that scripture can only truly be interpreted in light of Tradition?

Sola Scriptura doesn’t mean that you “only follow scripture” at least not to Luther or Calvin or Cranmer. Sola Scriptura for us means that scripture is the highest authority by which all other authorities must be normed. That is the norm that is itself not normed by anything else. That doesn’t mean we don’t follow tradition or reason, those are great sources of truth. But Gods word is the ultimate truth, and it has to be, since tradition and reason are often wrong, often fallible, and often subject to change. That’s why scripture has to be the highest authority.

What you have said is what the Catholic Church has been saying for almost two thousand years. The problem that many non-Catholics have is that they believe that the traditions were all made up later. Many also have warped sola scriptura to mean that ONLY the Scriptures contain the truths we need to achieve salvation.

Sola scriptura maintains that the Bible contains all the truths necessary for salvation. It can be used alone – sola scritura means “by Scripture alone”. Those who profess to sola scriptura often demand, therefore, that if something is not contained within the Bible, it is not the Word of God. But that is not a good interpretation of sola scriptura.

But to be clear, sola scriptura does not deny that other authorities govern Christian life and devotion. It simply views other sources as subordinate to and corrected by the written Scriptures. It dictates that where written scripture and traditions do not agree, the written scripture is to be followed.

You say “where that tradition contradicts the written word” and I challenge you to give examples of Sacred Traditions that contradict the written word (but I remind you that you need to refer to the Catholic Bible, not the King James Version as the Catholic Bible is the version of the Sacred Scriptures used by the Catholic Church).

You also say “where that tradition … is not present in that written word” To that I say that this is why it is called “tradition” – because these are things that have been handed down by word of mouth.

The written Scriptures specifically mention handing things down by word of mouth. In 2 Thes 2:15, “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” And in 1 Thes 2:13, “And we also thank God constantly for this, that 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, which is at work in you believers.”

Both of these written Scriptures say that we need to follow the oral traditions and accept them as the Word of God. If you believe in sola scriptura, then you HAVE to believe that the oral traditions are also the Word of God. The Bible tells us so.

But, does the Catholic Church deny sola scriptura?

There is a very interesting article on the Catholic Church and its belief in traditions as well as Scriptures specifically regarding sola scriptura. The article supports substantial portions of what you said. The article can be found at catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=6804

The article details, among other things, the idea that Catholics can embrace much of Sola Scriptura. It says:

“One of the principal architects of Dei Verbum [Vatican II] was the French theologian Yves Congar, who thought Catholics could acknowledge a substantial element of truth in sola scriptura.”

“He wrote that ‘we can admit sola scriptura in the sense of a material sufficiency of canonical Scripture. This means that Scripture contains, in one way or another, all truths necessary for salvation’ (Tradition and Traditions, 410).”

For those Catholics reading this who are saying “WHAT!!!”, think about it. The idea of sola scriptura is that the Scriptures contain all the truths necessary for salvation. Why wouldn’t they? Nothing found in Catholic teachings suggests that the truth found in the written Scriptures is incomplete. So, by logic, if we believe that the truth found in the Scritures is complete, we have embraced the basic premise of sola scriptura.

But we also understand that sola scriptura does not exclude the possibility of other sources. Sola scriptura does not exclude the truth of Sacred Traditions. Anyone who tells you otherwise does not understand the basic premise of sola scriptura.

This idea that Catholics can acknowledge substantial elements of truth in sola scriptura does not mean that Catholics do not believe in traditions. The article also states:

“Scripture and Tradition would not be two sources containing different material but two modes of transmitting the same deposit of faith” and that both “the decrees of Trent and Vatican II allow Catholics to hold the two-mode idea.”

So, in other words, a Catholic believes in substantial elements of truth in sola scriptura by believing that the scriptures contain all the truths necessary for salvation. But, we also believe the Sacred Traditions also contain the truths needed for salvation. We do not see these as mutually exclusive but rather we see them as two different ways of presenting the same truth.

And yet many Protestants criticize the Catholic Church for its “Latin Bible”. Historically, the Church translated the Bible into Latin because Latin is a dead language. This eliminated the possibility that the words changed meaning.

Consider that the Catholic Church recently approved new translations of the Bible. Why? Because the translation is in a living language; a language in which the meaning of words and phrases changes. The Church determined that the old translation was not accurate in the version of the language we have today.

The point is that unless you go back to the ORIGINAL scripture, you are using a source that is in a fallible human language; a language that is, as you put it about tradition and reason, “subject to change.”

And in order to go back to the original scripture, you actually have to go back in time to listen to the scripture being given as an oral tradition the first time ever (it might have changed between the first and second presentations). For all we know, “change” happened when the scripture was written down from the original oral tradition the first time.

I accept Written Scriptures as containing the true Word of God. I just mean to point out that the very same arguments that many use against tradition and reason can be extended to include the written Scriptures as well. At various points and for various reasons, they are all subject to change.

We take it on Faith that the written Scripture is correct. Catholics also take it on Faith that the oral traditions are correct.

Lutherans tend to understand your concerns - it’s why our pastors are trained in Koine Greek, Latin and often Hebrew.

That seems to be more of a license to support own beliefs that scholarly responsibility at times…

For example,

The ESV translation comittee determined that 1 Tim 3:15 should read:

The Church is a pillar and buttress of truth - as oppossed to the pillar… even the NIV and the NLT got it right… Obviously a strong SS bias…

Then the NIV translation comittee decides to use the same Greek word: paradosis as:

Tradition when in the negative sense

And

Teaching when in the positive sense

They both have Koine Greek, Hebrews and Latin scholars… And a simple layman is able to see through this…

It’s not enough to have scholarship if the intent is in the wrong place.

The translations notes I have for the ESV say that the household of God, with pillars and buttresses - is set against the Gates of Hell.

As opposed to the a structurally wobbly church with one pillar and one buttress.

I think (perhaps) it isn’t too much of an issue, that one of our bible translations is a bit more poetic than others.

EDIT: This is got me really curious, I’ll see if I can dig down to see if there’s more rationality in this translation than just poetic license - frankly you’d think the household of God would have more than just one pillar. It would also have Christ.

Doesn’t hold up against scrutiny, though, Isaiah.

Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. - 1 Cor. 11:2

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. - 2 Thess. 2:15

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. - 2 Thess 3:6

All from the ESV, using tradition in a “positive” light.

The Tradition issue is with NIV

Ben,

Forget the notes… It is clearly an issue for them to use “the pillar” - it’s talking about The Church as a Whole - not a building that has only one column…

I don’t know to take this seriously… but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

Here’s a side by side comparison:

biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Tim%203%3A15&version=NIV;KJV;ESV;NASB;NLT

All use “The Pillar” EXCEPT the ESV…

Thanks for pointing this out. My pastor always reminds us that translations are actually interpretations…

Your premise seems to be that His word is ONLY to be found in scripture.

We believe that Jesus did and taught the Apostles far more than is contained in scripture.

And we believe that we should follow EVERY word of God, not just those enscripturated, but those entrusted to the Apostles and to men who will be able to teach others also.

Mt 4:4 But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by **every word **that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

Mt 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."

2Ti 2:2 and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Tradition has its place, of course. However, where that tradition contradicts the written word or is not present in that written word, it cannot be made dogma.

None of Catholic Apostolic Tradition contradicts the written word of God, any more than the Gospel of St. Luke contradicts the Gospel of St. John or the letters of St. Paul.

Now, whether they contradict your personal, fallible interpretation of the “written word” is a different matter.

I understand, of course, that Sacred Tradition in Catholic theology is God’s word. Any tradition would have to be verified as being that word or as having come from Christ or His apostles.

It already HAS been verified. By the same institution that has been authorized to determine which documents should be included as part of the “written word.” By the divine institution that Jesus started, which that same “written word” calls the “pillar and bulwark of the Truth.”

There are some traditions that I do believe come from the apostles that are not present explicitly in Scripture (such as Mary’s ever-virginity), so I accept them. But I do not accept them as de fide revealed dogma.

Oh? And where in scripture does it say that YOUR beliefs are to trump those of the Church that Jesus started? The Church that IS stated in scripture to have that authority?

In other words, to put your “acceptance” over that of the Church’s is to explicitely deny scripture.

Ah…okay. Though the NIV translates 1 Cor 11 as tradition.

NIV 2011 does.

NIV 1984 has:
2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.

:cool:

Though I have to ask, why do you think that that is the result of a translation bias on the part of the NIV? Is there a substantial difference in your thinking between teaching and tradition?

I would say some of the traditions were the result of years and/or centuries of development. I certainly think that to be the case with the Assumption, as well as transubstantiation. The papacy, too.

I would certainly say that everything necessary for salvation is contained in Scripture. That doesn’t exhaust the whole of the apostolic deposit, however.

Sola scriptura maintains that the Bible contains all the truths necessary for salvation. It can be used alone – sola scritura means “by Scripture alone”. Those who profess to sola scriptura often demand, therefore, that if something is not contained within the Bible, it is not the Word of God. But that is not a good interpretation of sola scriptura.

But to be clear, sola scriptura does not deny that other authorities govern Christian life and devotion. It simply views other sources as subordinate to and corrected by the written Scriptures. It dictates that where written scripture and traditions do not agree, the written scripture is to be followed.

Yep, correct.

You say “where that tradition contradicts the written word” and I challenge you to give examples of Sacred Traditions that contradict the written word (but I remind you that you need to refer to the Catholic Bible, not the King James Version as the Catholic Bible is the version of the Sacred Scriptures used by the Catholic Church).

The immaculate conception and many, if not most, of the dogmas surrounding the papacy and the magisterium. The invocation of the saints is another, but I would say that one is a bit more fluid and there is some ground for arguing for the case for such. At the least, I do believe the saints in heaven intercede for us. I just don’t think invocation warrants a dogmatic pronouncement.

You also say “where that tradition … is not present in that written word” To that I say that this is why it is called “tradition” – because these are things that have been handed down by word of mouth.

That’s true. And since they aren’t, I would argue that is a warrant for not holding them as binding on the Christian conscience.

I will respond to the rest later when I have more time!

Here you are getting into a circular argument. You base your view of the church and its authority on your personal interpretation of Scripture. Because your interpretation agrees with the church you are Catholic. It comes down to the church has authority because scripture says so and scripture has authority because the church says so. Unless you are willing to believe the church because it tells you to, without any other basis for that belief.

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