"Why" is sola scriptura important?


#1

It’s a serious question. I know WE know why it is, but I’m finding that our single-minded loathing of this man-made tradition mystifies Protestants. Our repeated refutations of it seem, to them, like an attack on the Bible even though that is nowhere near our intention.

So, I wanted to open up a discussion on WHY we zero in on this false doctrine rather than, say, “baptism is a symbol only.” For many of us, SS is just the easiest one to refute, and it has the added benefit of being the Achilles’ Heel of Protestantism. But I also loathe this doctrine because it’s untrue, and I’m a fanatic when it comes to truth and falsehood. I think SS is also our favorite target because of all the other false doctrines, it seems to be the wellspring from which all other errors flow.

So, any other thoughts, or am I just stating the obvious?


#2

I think you are stating the obvious from the Catholic point of view. :wink:

SS is vital to many Protestants because they cannot accept that the Church is the final arbiter of the truth. To them the Church is no more than men, fallen men in a Church they regard as apostate on one extreme (rabid Fundamentalists) and merely arrogant on the other end (mainstream Protestants, such as Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, many of whom don’t even follow SS).

The Church’s claim of infallibility is what kept C. S. Lewis from “poping,” even though most of his thought was quite Catholic, and he certainly wasn’t a proponent of SS.

To some Protestants of the Evangelical sort attacking SS is like attacking God himself. They really cannot divorce their interpretation of the Bible from the Bible itself. So, if you tell them their interpretation of John 3:16 is wrong, they just can’t believe it or take you seriously. It’s that deeply ingrained into them that the Bible is the sole rule of faith and morals, even though the Bible itself doesn’t teach that idea.


#3

SS is a perfect target because it undermines all of the rest of Protestantism. Catholics and Protestants may bicker about thing like “baptism is a symbol only,” but when it really comes down to it, the issue of authority is what keeps us divided. That’s why we attack SS.


#4

Here’s one I don’t get. If SS is the only source, then only the educated can know Christ. It seems one would have to be able to read in order to really experience the word of God. Oh, sure, someone could read the bible to you I suppose, but that’s not really the same as reading it yourself.

The Catholic mass is open to all…literate and illiterate.


#5

[quote=StCsDavid]Here’s one I don’t get. If SS is the only source, then only the educated can know Christ. It seems one would have to be able to read in order to really experience the word of God. Oh, sure, someone could read the bible to you I suppose, but that’s not really the same as reading it yourself.

The Catholic mass is open to all…literate and illiterate.
[/quote]

This is why Protestants put so much effort into translating the Bible into all sorts of crazy languages.


#6

[quote=Della]They really cannot divorce their interpretation of the Bible from the Bible itself.
[/quote]

I think you hit it on the head on this one–they cannot differentiate between interpretation of the Bible from the Bible itself. It’s what makes discussions with our separated brethren frustrating, since for them, to attack their interpretation of the Bible is to attack the Bible itself, which is fundamentally false of course.


#7

Another difference is that the Protestant’s relationship with Christ is intellectual. They know Christ based on what they read in scripture and what they are able to reason. Catholics relationship with Christ is experiential. We experience Christ in the sacraments. Scripture is the living word of God that we encounter. It’s far more active versus the static nature of Protestantism.


#8

[quote=StCsDavid]Another difference is that the Protestant’s relationship with Christ is intellectual. They know Christ based on what they read in scripture and what they are able to reason. Catholics relationship with Christ is experiential. We experience Christ in the sacraments. Scripture is the living word of God that we encounter. It’s far more active versus the static nature of Protestantism.
[/quote]

I think that might be backward. I’m always accused of trying to think my way to God, but “I have a relationship with Jesus and he’s in my heart.” Yadda, yadda, yadda.

I think you’re right in essence, though. They’ve reduce this fuzzy relationship down to a few simple slogans, turned the almight Creator of the universe into a stuffed toy, and they have a relationship with THAT.


#9

What it really is about is authority, and that is why it’s such a hot-button topic.
If one were to admit that the bible is not the final judge and jury of itself, then you immediately have to say—“Who is?”

That leads quickly down the common sense road that God would not have set it up that there are thousands of authorities. Or millions. Or billions!

The absolutely best way to handle that conundrum is to not think about it too deeply, which is why we usually end up in Nowhere Land when trying to sort it out with those who believe it.

Regardless of what they profess, no one really practices Sola Scriptura anyway. What are the chances that any missionary group of any denomination has ever simply dropped bibles off, say, in the middle of Africa and left without saying a word? Zero. What they do is get there, preach orally while holding a bible, distribute a few bibles, and stay on to teach **orally ** what interpretations they themselves have been taught orally.
If the bible is so obvious and simple, why not just drop a crate of bibles off at each village and be on your way while the bible saves souls at each village which you’ve passed?
We all know it doesn’t work that way. Interpretations are taught. Tradition is handed down by ALL churches.
Let me put it this way. Suppose a Protestant or Evangelical missionary organization goes to some far-off village somewhere and starts teaching about the bible, then gives several bibles out to the people. After a while some of the villagers are so excited about their new-found faith that they start doing their own bible study without the missionaries. They end up coming up with some beliefs and ideas about Christianity that disagree with the missionary ideas. What are the chances that the Protestants would say—“your view is as valid as our view”? Zero. They would sit them down, orally teach them interpretations which they have orally been taught and say “this is what that means”.
Suppose further that the villagers say “The bible is its own authority, it’s all right here, easy and obvious for us to understand, so don’t tell us what it means”.

Simple question: Why is the view that the villagers now hold any less valid than that of the missionaries?

It’s all about authority. Saying the bible is it’s own authority is simply a way of sidestepping the responsibility to seriously consider the difficult questions that “no authority” brings.


#10

[quote=montanaman]It’s a serious question. I know WE know why it is, but I’m finding that our single-minded loathing of this man-made tradition mystifies Protestants. Our repeated refutations of it seem, to them, like an attack on the Bible even though that is nowhere near our intention.

So, I wanted to open up a discussion on WHY we zero in on this false doctrine rather than, say, “baptism is a symbol only.” For many of us, SS is just the easiest one to refute, and it has the added benefit of being the Achilles’ Heel of Protestantism. But I also loathe this doctrine because it’s untrue, and I’m a fanatic when it comes to truth and falsehood. I think SS is also our favorite target because of all the other false doctrines, it seems to be the wellspring from which all other errors flow.

So, any other thoughts, or am I just stating the obvious?
[/quote]

Sounds like you hit all the points.


#11

[quote=valient Lucy]Sounds like you hit all the points.
[/quote]

I think NPS did a better job, actually.


#12

Originally Posted by StCsDavid
Another difference is that the Protestant’s relationship with Christ is intellectual. They know Christ based on what they read in scripture and what they are able to reason. Catholics relationship with Christ is experiential. We experience Christ in the sacraments. Scripture is the living word of God that we encounter. It’s far more active versus the static nature of Protestantism.

[quote=montanaman]I think that might be backward. I’m always accused of trying to think my way to God, but “I have a relationship with Jesus and he’s in my heart.” Yadda, yadda, yadda.

I think you’re right in essence, though. They’ve reduce this fuzzy relationship down to a few simple slogans, turned the almight Creator of the universe into a stuffed toy, and they have a relationship with THAT.
[/quote]

Big difference between old Prots and newer denoms. A lot of non-denom churches are almost strictly emotional.
Pop music, comedy skits, more pop music, pep-talk sermon, more pop music—that’s a typical Sunday morning for a lot of churches. All designed to get you that emotional “Jesus-high”.

I was shocked to learn from another board that the long segment (25-45 minutes) of Christian pop that starts off most “services” is actually called “Worship Time”.
This from a subtle anti-Catholic who will constantly tell the board that Catholics “worship Mary” or have invented this or that and need to rely more on the bible only. :rolleyes:


#13

[quote=montanaman]I think NPS did a better job, actually.
[/quote]

Nah, i’m just rounding it up. It is a very important question I think, so I’ll try to stay on subject— Not “Is Sola Scriptura biblical?” but “What is the motivating force behind the insistence of Sola Scriptura?”

It really comes down to one thing—authority, which people don’t seem to want to face:
Should all opinions and interpetations of the bible be held as equally valid and authoritative?
If not why not?
If so—Has this shown to be a good idea?
If it has not shown to be a good idea—Does God have bad ideas?

Why do Catholics focus on this issue? MM has it right—

For many of us, SS is just the easiest one to refute, and it has the added benefit of being the Achilles’ Heel of Protestantism. But I also loathe this doctrine because it’s untrue, and I’m a fanatic when it comes to truth and falsehood. I think SS is also our favorite target because of all the other false doctrines, it seems to be the wellspring from which all other errors flow.

I think Catholics are almost fascinated by the lack of logical thought on the issue. And MM is exactly right when he says that it is the "wellspring from which the other errors flow."
The reason Protestants don’t want to face the question head on seems to be because they have a sneaky suspicion that it will ALL come tumbling down.


#14

Hello, new here.

I think sola scripture is important becuase it guides us in doctrinal issues. It is very easy for those doctrinal issues to become lost over the centuries unless there is a written description of it.

The input of tradition is frought with probelms when it comes to theology because things can change geographically and temporally to fit the needs of the time. If the truth is universal (God, heaven, universe) - why would humans be the arborter of that truth. Yes the Bible was writen by humans (under inspiration), but if the Bible is internally consistent (which I believe it is) - it should be taken as a testable document.

“Come and let us reason together”

Isa 1:18.

“To the Law and testimony, if they speak not according to the word it is because there it no light in them.”

Isa 8:20


#15

[quote=illuminator]Hello, new here.

I think sola scripture is important becuase it guides us in doctrinal issues. It is very easy for those doctrinal issues to become lost over the centuries unless there is a written description of it.

The input of tradition is frought with probelms when it comes to theology because things can change geographically and temporally to fit the needs of the time. If the truth is universal (God, heaven, universe) - why would humans be the arborter of that truth. Yes the Bible was writen by humans (under inspiration), but if the Bible is internally consistent (which I believe it is) - it should be taken as a testable document.

“Come and let us reason together”

Isa 1:18.

“To the Law and testimony, if they speak not according to the word it is because there it no light in them.”

Isa 8:20
[/quote]

But that doesn’t work in practice, as evidenced by thousands of Protestant denominations, and it is condemned in the Bible itself:

geocities.com/thecatholicconvert/solascriptura21.html
geocities.com/thecatholicconvert/staplessolascriptura.html

Welcome aboard! :wave:


#16

I was mulling over this post:

[quote=StCsDavid]Another difference is that the Protestant’s relationship with Christ is intellectual. They know Christ based on what they read in scripture and what they are able to reason. Catholics relationship with Christ is experiential. We experience Christ in the sacraments. Scripture is the living word of God that we encounter. It’s far more active versus the static nature of Protestantism.
[/quote]

and then put that together with this by OP:

But I also loathe this doctrine because it’s untrue, and I’m a fanatic when it comes to truth and falsehood. I think SS is also our favorite target because of all the other false doctrines, it seems to be the wellspring from which all other errors flow.

and Milliardo pointed out this by Della:

Originally Posted by Della
They really cannot divorce their interpretation of the Bible from the Bible itself.

There’s something connected here. Regardless of the differences between the various Protestant denoms, Evangelicals and all the Non-denoms, they all have a background or a beginning in the Protestant Reformation, which means it could be said they have a beginning in Sola Scriptura.
(cont–sorry for the length)


#17

As StCDavid said above, it was more or less an intellectual tradition or at least supposedly so. Over the centuries, there has been a constant drum-beat of Protestant=bible literates as opposed to Catholic=Man-made Traditionalists. This comes down today to the various Protestant branches as having a general reputation or a pre-supposition of bible literacy.
This theme is always an undercurrent in modern apologetic discussions between Catholics and Protestants.

It is common to hear even Catholics say things such as “if only Catholics knew the bible as well as Protestants” etc etc. And has even gotten to the point where Protestants think the bible is their domain, not ours. See for example the many discussions that talk about the origins of the bible. You will hardly find a more bitterly fought turf war than when Protestants hear that the Catholic Church made the bible. The attitude often is “How dare you think your man-made church MADE GOD’s WORD?!?” Sound familiar?

So I think what happens is that when Catholics find themselves in a disagreement with advocates of Sola Scriptura there is an assumption by Protestants that they know the bible and Catholics don’t know the bible. And when a new Catholic apologist gets into this stuff, there is sort of an idea in the back of their head that since Protestants etc know the bible so well, we as Catholics should be able to point some things out to them and we can all come to some sort of agreement.

The problem is that most Sola Scriptura people don’t know the bible all that well. They know proof-texting very well, but they don’t know the bible any better than the average joe-Catholic-apologist. I also think that many beginning Catholic apologists hear the idea of Sola Scriptura and think “That sounds like a funny, unworkable idea” and when they challenge *Sola Scriptura * advocates on it they are half-expecting to be handily defeated by these Super Literates of the Bible. Except…they’re not. Not only are the Catholic apologists not defeated handily, the champions of Sola Scriptura are befuddled by the basic questions put to them.
So all of a sudden one goes from a little wary of the possible arguments to being, if not victorious in the debate, then at least having a clear upper-hand.

Remember the background Catholics are dealing with:
“YOU are part of a man-made church that made up all sorts of things over the years” “WE are pure. WE, in fact, represent the bible.” We’ve been hearing it all our lives. So, when we discover, as MM said: * “it seems to be the wellspring from which all other errors flow”*-- we know we are really onto something. As he said “the Achilles Heel” of Protestantism.

So the battle ensues. And it seems to be a battle, not a debate or discussion. You as a Catholic cannot figure out why they take so personally something they have such a hard time defending. Something is not making sense, but you can’t put your finger on it. As Della so simply, yet beautifully pointed out *“They really cannot divorce their interpretation of the Bible from the Bible itself.” * And you realize that this constant insistence and equation of “True Christianity” with The Bible Alone has not helped them. It has actually hurt them. They have put themselves in a box without knowing it.

So why do Catholics focus in on the question/problem of Sola Scriptura? I apologize for making this so long but I really think Montanaman already gave us the answer. I think Catholics, after so many years, so many accusations, so many mistruths about how “Catholics made things up” etc and to constantly hear how far away we are from “True Christianity” all the while hearing “What we Protestants believe is ALL IN THE BIBLE” and “We don’t make stuff up like you Catholics–we’re pure!”

The one thing that would prove all of it for them–the ONE THING that all of this “bible alone” stuff hinges on…the one thing that from whence all the other stuff flows…isn’t in the bible. :eek: And Catholics waste no time in figuring out that the main theory that supports all the rest a) cannot be proven from the bible
and b) is not logical.
So when you give a Catholic who has been tirelessly defending and defending and defending and defending against all that (stuff) for so darn long a silver bullet to make the opponent’s dragon go up in a puff of smoke…you use it. Or you try to get into an actual discussion about it…which almost never works. If I was a SS advocate, I’d avoid the subject too. :wink:


#18

[quote=montanaman]It’s a serious question. I know WE know why it is, but I’m finding that our single-minded loathing of this man-made tradition mystifies Protestants. Our repeated refutations of it seem, to them, like an attack on the Bible even though that is nowhere near our intention.

So, I wanted to open up a discussion on WHY we zero in on this false doctrine rather than, say, “baptism is a symbol only.” For many of us, SS is just the easiest one to refute, and it has the added benefit of being the Achilles’ Heel of Protestantism. But I also loathe this doctrine because it’s untrue, and I’m a fanatic when it comes to truth and falsehood. I think SS is also our favorite target because of all the other false doctrines, it seems to be the wellspring from which all other errors flow.

So, any other thoughts, or am I just stating the obvious?
[/quote]

Actually I think you summed it up in your last sentence. From Sola Scriptura every error flows.

Each new interpretation erupts with a new version of christianity and a new church emerges.

Basically if you took out the catholic church as the punching bag the invisible church would shortly find itself fighting with each other instead of us. Basically they have an uneasy truce as long as the church exists. Remove the church and everyone fights over the crumbs after the devastation.

Take out the church and an eruption over baptism, communion, predestination, who the Holy Spirit truly leads, who can be called christian (it already happens with non denoms rejecting protestantism {conundrum}), traditionalism vs. modernism, OSAS, clergical roles (men vs women or both) type of church worship, who is authentic and who isn’t, gay marriage, gay priesthood on and on. The accusations of heresy would be flying like a bunch of angry wet bees in the rainstorm.

Truly the light would disappear from the world because there would be no true voice proclaiming it among the competing cochophany of white noise.

Without a common foe people turn on each other. A Judas is needed to pit oneself against.

Just my 2 cents (probably not worth much though)

Peace and God Bless
Nicene


#19

[quote=Nicene]Actually I think you summed it up in your last sentence. From Sola Scriptura every error flows.

Each new interpretation erupts with a new version of christianity and a new church emerges.

Basically if you took out the catholic church as the punching bag the invisible church would shortly find itself fighting with each other instead of us. Basically they have an uneasy truce as long as the church exists. Remove the church and everyone fights over the crumbs after the devastation.

Take out the church and an eruption over baptism, communion, predestination, who the Holy Spirit truly leads, who can be called christian (it already happens with non denoms rejecting protestantism {conundrum}), traditionalism vs. modernism, OSAS, clergical roles (men vs women or both) type of church worship, who is authentic and who isn’t, gay marriage, gay priesthood on and on. The accusations of heresy would be flying like a bunch of angry wet bees in the rainstorm.

Truly the light would disappear from the world because there would be no true voice proclaiming it among the competing cochophany of white noise.

Without a common foe people turn on each other. A Judas is needed to pit oneself against.

Peace and God Bless
Nicene
[/quote]

That’s exactly correct. Great post. The “Christian” world depends on the Catholic Church whether they know it or not. Mother Church is the rock which always provides a base for all other forms of Christianity in the world. If it wasn’t for the Church, Christianity would be virtually unrecognizable today.


#20

I am sorry to interject. But I have a different view point from all of you.

Hear me out before you condem me because I truly do have a question. It is one that I cannot answer and only you can answer - I sincerely do not have the answer to this question but you must have the patience to read my whole post.

First some background:

I have read quite extensively about sola scriptura on this web site. What I have read can be summerized as follows:

  1. The Catholic Faith is the author of the Holy Bible
  2. The Holy BIble is not an inspired document and is not infalible
  3. The protestant church couldn’t deal with authority and borke away and used the “sola scriptura” as an excuse to apostitize
  4. Prostestants today are confused and probably wrong in their interpretation of the Bible.
    sub point: if so many churches claim to obey the Bible and only the Bible (i.e. protestants) - why are there so many churches?
  5. Tradition has been handed down from Christ to Peter to Popes etc.
  6. Traditiion is needed to properly interpret the Bible and without tradition - the world is hopeless to ascertain the truth.

Does this sum it up?

Now - my points:

I am particularly interested in this topic and have joined this thread for only this reason.

The fact that the Catholic Church doesn’t beleive in Sola Scriptura and beleives in tradition over this must indicate that the two sometimes don’t agree with each other. If they did, then this whole thread is “much ado about nothing” becuase there is no practical point to any of it. There must be doctrinal differences that are brought up by the Bible (and the Bible alone) that fly in the face of Tradition - and vice versa.

Now when I read the Catholic literature on these subjects I find one of two curious things. Some literature attempts to find Biblical evidence to support the belief and equally authoritve literature attempts to say that it is based on Traditional authority alone. Now which is it? Or can it be both. I suppose it can be both (for instance - tradition interpreting certain Biblical texts in a certain way). However, sometimes the two are mutually exclusive: case in point:

The Sabbath: This is a very important subject.

There is quite a bit of published Catholic literature for Biblical “evidence” for the switch from Saturday to Sunday.
In 1998, Pope John Paul II wrote an apostolic letter “The Lord’s Day” where he gave Biblical evidence for keeping Sunday as the Sabbath (he referred to the 10 commandments). In addition, if you read the web site given to me from Catholic apologists: catholic.com/thisrock/1999/9902fea1.asp, it also make the case for biblical evidence for the change from Saturday to Sunday.

These recent publications are curious to me because there is an even larger body of Catholic literature stating, in effect, that there is absolutely no Biblical evidence for the basis of a Sunday Observance. In fact, it was on this very topic that the Protestant religion was rejected by the Catholic Church at the Counsil of Trent. Becuase few will believe me unless I include the texts and quotes, the following is included for your review in the next post:


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