Sunday, November 8, 2009

R. C. Sproul, Jr. and the question of whether sola scriptura can be found in Scripture.


Recently, R. C. Sproul, Jr., wrote a piece in order to answer the question of whether sola scriptura can be found in the Bible ("Is Sola Scriptura in the Bible?"). The reason why this question is worth answering is because it seems to the untutored mind that if one claims that the Bible is the standard by which all doctrine is assessed (sola scriptura) and the doctrine of sola scriptura itself is not taught in Scripture, then the doctrine of sola scriptura is self-refuting. Analogously, if X were to claim that all knowledge comes through the hard sciences, such a claim would be self-refuting, since the claim that "all knowledge comes through the hard sciences" is itself not a deliverance of the hard sciences though X claims to know it.

In any event, Bryan Cross, at Called to Communion, responds to Sproul's essay. Here are some excerpts from Cross's piece:
....Sproul first acknowledges that the Bible does not have a text that suggests that it alone is our final authority. Then he claims that Catholics and Orthodox who point this out are missing the point, because they are aiming their energies at solo scriptura. However, if the point of the Catholics and Orthodox who state this is straightforwardly to point out that the Bible does not have a text that suggests that it alone is our final authority, then these Catholics and Orthodox are not “missing the point,” but in fact making a true claim, one that Sproul himself acknowledges. We agree with Sproul that solo scriptura is “reprehensible.” But if, as Neal Judisch and I have recently argued here, there is no principled difference between solo scriptura and sola scriptura, then the fact that the Bible does not have a passage that suggests that the Bible alone is our final authority, is deeply problematic for those who claim that the Bible alone is our final authority.....

Sproul claims that “the Bible is our alone final authority because it alone is the Word of God.” Nothing he says here actually demonstrates that only the Bible is the Word of God. In other words, nothing Sproul says here shows that the oral teaching of the Apostles was not the Word of God, or that this oral Apostolic Tradition, as it was passed down orally in the Church, was not the Word of God. The Catholic Church agrees that the Bible is the Word of God written. That’s not the point of disagreement. The point of disagreement (between Protestants and the Catholic Church) regarding sola scriptura is twofold: First, whether the Word of God written is the entirety of the Word of God given to the Church from the Apostles, or whether the Word of God spoken, and orally transmitted and handed down by the succession of bishops, is also the Word of God given to the Church from the Apostles. Second, whether or not Christ established a unique interpretive authority by way of apostolic succession from one Apostle to whom Christ gave the keys of the Kingdom. Sproul’s prooftexts do not substantiate the Protestant position regarding either of those two points of disagreement.

If you want to read the whole thing, go here. If you want to read Sproul's essay, you can find it here.

62 comments:

Nick said...

Thank you for this. It's quite puzzling (and astonishing) that men like Sproul (Jr) would openly admit some of the things he said, most notably the self-refuting admission that it's not taught in Scripture!

lojahw said...

Dear Frank,

I think you are asking the wrong questions re: sola scriptura. The validity of sola scriptura is based on 1) the infallibility of Scripture; 2) the precedence set by Jesus and the Apostles; and 3) the inferiority of the alternative.

There is no argument that the Word of God written is infallible, and in disputes about faith and practice the consistent appeal to Scriptural authority given by both Jesus and the Apostles is: “It is written.” Further, it was the Apostle Paul’s custom to “reason from the Scriptures” in disputes with others about the faith (Acts 17:2). The Bereans certainly did not hesitate to judge oral teaching against God’s written Word. The argument against sola scriptura is not even an argument from silence: Jesus and His Apostles consistently practiced it.

As for the alternative, the first question boils down to: which Apostolic teachings were left out of Scripture and how do you know the Apostles handed them down?

Irenaeus answered: “We have known the method of our salvation by no other means than those by whom the gospel came to us; which gospel they truly preached; but afterward, by the will of God, they delivered to us in the Scriptures, to be for the future the foundation and pillar of our faith.” (Against Heresies, 3:1)

For Irenaeus the Scriptures were lacking nothing with regard to the faith. There simply is no other “foundation and pillar of our faith” handed down by the Apostles. Oral traditions, including liturgical and ecclesial practices, come and go, but “the Word of the Lord abides forever.” Furthermore, the discontinuity of dogmas that appeared in later centuries, particularly those that contradicted centuries of teaching by the Apostles’ successors, cannot legitimately be called oral traditions handed down by the Apostles.

Augustine also eloquently contrasted the authority of Scripture to all other sources, including *all* later bishops and Church councils:

“But who can fail to be aware that the sacred canon of Scripture, both of the Old and New Testament, is confined within its own limits, and that it stands so absolutely in a superior position to all later letters of the bishops, that about it we can hold no manner of doubt or disputation whether what is confessedly contained in it is right and true; but that all the letters of bishops which have been written, or are being written, since the closing of the canon, are liable to be refuted if there be anything contained in them which strays from the truth, either by the discourse of someone who happens to be wiser in the matter than themselves, or by the weightier authority and more learned experience of other bishops, by the authority of Councils; and further, that the Councils themselves, which are held in the several districts and provinces, must yield, beyond all possibility of doubt, to the authority of plenary Councils which are formed for the whole Christian world; and that even of the plenary Councils, the earlier are often corrected by those which follow them" (On Baptism, Against the Donatists, 2.3.4)

The alternative: “a unique interpretive authority by way of apostolic succession from one Apostle to whom Christ gave the keys of the Kingdom,” is essentially a denial of God’s ability to clearly communicate what He deemed necessary for our faith and practice; hence, it was necessary for Him to create a secondary human office to do what He could not. In contrast, Protestants answer that the main things in Scripture are the plain things – the community of faith, led by the Holy Spirit, is competent to interpret what is essential to Christian faith and practice. Protestants further answer that those things that are “hard to understand” in Scripture are not necessary for salvation and therefore should not be the subject of dogmatic teaching.

In addition, church history is replete with examples of contradicting teachings of the so-called Magisterium. What’s left is the written Word of God in the hands of community of faith led by the Spirit of Truth.

Blessings.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

I think you are asking the wrong questions re: sola scriptura. The validity of sola scriptura is based on 1) the infallibility of Scripture; 2) the precedence set by Jesus and the Apostles; and 3) the inferiority of the alternative.

It's not my question. It's R.C. Sproul Jr.'s question.

Nick said...

Lojahw, if I may comment on some of what you've said:

L: The validity of sola scriptura is based on 1) the infallibility of Scripture; 2) the precedence set by Jesus and the Apostles; and 3) the inferiority of the alternative.

N: Point 1 is uncontested, the key is whether it's the only infallible authority (which it's not). Point 2 is likewise significant, because if we don't see the Apostles practicing SS, then clearly it cannot be true. (Respected apologists like James White have publicly and repeatedly said Sola Scriptura was not in operation while the Apostles were alive because it was a period of 'inscripturation'. The Westminster Confession, Ch 1:1, alludes to this as well.) Point 3 is more philosophical and less Biblically based, it's ultimately irrelevant.

As for Jesus and the Apostles "constantly practicing it," two things come to mind: Jesus was constantly revealing new stuff and new demands on Christians which certainly is the anti-thesis of Sola Scriptura. Second, in places like the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 - where a serious dispute took place - there was no turning to Scripture to answer the question. Quite odd if Sola Scriptura was the 'rule of faith'.

lojahw said...

Thank you, Frank, for the correction - there is more than one way to argue for Sola Scriptura.

Nick, Your comments on point 2 are appreciated; however, the principle of appealing to the written Word of God applies to every generation of the faith - that which is written and recognized as God's Word has priority over all other human sources. That the Apostles did not practice Sola Scriptura with respect to the authority of the New Testament Scriptures is an arguable point. The Apostle John, for example, clearly proclaims: “these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” Is that not an appeal to the authority of his written gospel? Luke also refers to his gospel in Acts 1 as an authoritative account “about all that Jesus began to do and teach.” Paul frequently refers to his own letters as authoritative and urges his readers to pass them around. Peter also refers to Paul’s writings as Scripture and warns against distorting them. The witness of Irenaeus and Augustine also affirms the principle, which was indeed practiced by Jesus and the Apostles.

Regarding point 3:

Your trust in the Magisterium as “a unique interpretive authority by way of apostolic succession from one Apostle to whom Christ gave the keys of the Kingdom” is even betrayed by Frank's own post on Unam Sanctam:

“We declare, say, define and pronounce, that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

The normal interpretation of the above contradicts the clear teaching of Christ and the Scriptures that salvation depends on Christ alone, not on any other human agency. Realizing this, you have appealed to another authority to interpret the so-called unique divinely appointed interpreter.

Again, how do you argue that your alternative is better than the precedent set by Jesus and the Apostles?

Blessings.

lojahw said...

Nick, Two more quick comments:

1) go back and reread Acts 15 and find the appeal to Scripture that you missed. It's there.

2) Point 3 is not at all irrelevant. If you reject the principle of Sola Scriptura, something must take its place. I have argued that your alternative is inferior - what is your defense?

Blessings.

Nick said...

Lojahw,

Appealing to the written Word was never under dispute, it's making it the sole divine authority that's the problem. And this isn't about "all other human sources," because neither the Oral nor Written are of 'human origin'.

The Apostles didn't practice SS for many reasons, most notably for the fact the NT wasn't fully written yet. (you can't practice SS when books are being composed)
Texts like John's Epilogue serve to show this written testimony is to lead one to believe Jesus is the Son of God, which is very significant, but a far cry from "all doctrine must be found in Scripture." Before his Gospel was even written the Apostles were converting people.

You must take care not to view comments holding Scripture in high regard as equivalent to holding Scripture as the only divine authority.

L: The normal interpretation of the above contradicts the clear teaching of Christ and the Scriptures that salvation depends on Christ alone, not on any other human agency.

N: Properly understood, the Unam Sanctam quote doesn't deny or even usurp Christ's unique and indispensable role as Savior. To quote a key passage of Unam Sanctam (which, sadly, most have not taken the time to read):

This authority, however, (though it has been given to man and is exercised by man), is not human but rather divine, granted to Peter by a divine word and reaffirmed to him (Peter) and his successors by the One Whom Peter confessed, the Lord saying to Peter himself, 'Whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in Heaven' etc.,. Therefore whoever resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God

In other words, yes God is the one who saves, but you must also play by God's rules. The Church is the Body of Christ, one cannot be separated from it and be saved by definition. Christ established Church hierarchy, meaning those men must be obeyed for good standing in His Church. It's all interconnected.

The precedent set by Jesus and the Apostles is precisely that of Church hierarchy and succession.


As for your quick comments:
1) There is no appeal to Scripture, for no Scripture speaks specifically on the issue of circumcision and keeping the law coming to an end. There is a quote from Scripture (an obscure one at that), but Scripture was by no means the primary source they turned to in addressing the issue and laying down the new rules. It was not a Sola Scriptura moment.

2) Point 3 is purely philosophically based, thus holds no weight as far as Christian doctrine goes (under the umbrella of SS). An argument could be unassailable, but if it's not in Scripture then it's of no authority doctrinally. In otherwords, if SS is not taught in Scripture, it's self-refuting and thus false, regardless of how mighty a philosophical argument can be made for it. Second, what is 'inferior' is purely subjective, for you're already convinced Oral teaching passed down is out of the question. I can tell you, speaking purely philosophically, that to have a living prophet leading your sect is superior to Sola Scriptura. After all, a divine authority whom you can ask specific questions to and receive authoritative answers from is more advantageous than the written Word alone. And the NT plainly says prophets are an office of the Church, so why suggest there are none today?

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Nick makes a good point. SS is property had by the Bible as a whole but not of its parts isolated from the whole. So, for example, I can say the Yankees are the best team, but it would not follow that each player on the Yankees is best at his position.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

"And the NT plainly says prophets are an office of the Church, so why suggest there are none today?"

Because it would ruin the whole dispensationalist narrative. :-)

lojahw said...

Nick, You are arguing against “solo scriptura” not ‘sola scriptura.’ The distinction is important: “the sole divine authority” vs. “the priority of Scripture” over other sources.

Your explanation of Unam Sanctam is lame; it falsely appropriates and distorts Christ’s teaching. “’Whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in Heaven' etc.,. Therefore whoever resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God.” First of all, Christ was speaking to Peter, not each and every one of his successors. Secondly, there is no reasonable interpretation of Christ’s words to extend this “power” to the eternal salvation of individuals. (That would be another gospel! Please reread John 10 – the Shepherd there does NOT refer to the Pope). Also, don’t forget that the first Four Ecumenical Councils explicitly limited Rome’s jurisdiction to a provincial level, not global. Your explanation does not impress me.

Re: Acts 15, you miss the point. The point being argued was whether Gentiles were required to become Jews (submit to the sign of circumcision) in order to be saved. The quote about Gentiles being saved and the references to restrictions against idolatry, immorality, and eating meat strangled/with blood cover the general rules taught by Jesus that apply to both Jews and Gentiles, including the principle not to cause a brother to stumble (cf. Matt. 18:6. Jewish Christians would reasonably be caused to stumble by the latter, if not also the former).

Re: point 3, you appear not to be able to argue the validity of your alternative to sola scriptura. It is ludicrous to claim that a principle demonstrated by Jesus and the Apostles as recorded in Scripture has no Scriptural foundation. Your rules of engagement are arbitrary, artificial, and unacceptable.

Re: the pieces vs. the whole. It didn’t seem to be an issue with Jesus or the Apostles that some of God’s Word was not yet written: they took what was written and recognized as God’s Word and gave it priority over other sources. Your argument does not apply to any generation of Christians after inscripturation.

Roman Catholics should study history more carefully. Instead of rejecting the priority of Scripture in resolving doctrinal disputes, Christians should emulate the example of the AD 325 Council of Nicea:

From Constantine’s opening address to the Council: “For the gospels, the writings, and the oracles of the ancient prophets, clearly teach us what we ought to believe concerning the divine nature. Let, then, all contentious disputation be discarded; and let us seek in the divinely-inspired word the solution of the questions at issue.” (Theodoret, Church History 1.6).

And … “the bishops, having detected their deceitfulness in this matter, collected from Scripture those passages which say of Christ that He is the glory, the fountain, the stream, and the express image of the person … likewise, ' I and the Father are one. ' They then, with still greater clearness, briefly declared that the Son is of one substance with the Father; for this, indeed, is the signification of the passages which have been quoted.” (ibid.1.7)

And … “And since no passage of the inspired Scripture uses the terms 'out of the non-existent,' or that 'there was a time when He was not,' nor indeed any of the other phrases of the same class, it did not appear reasonable to assert or to teach such things.” (ibid. 1.11)

Lest it be forgotten, the asserted charism of Apostolic succession did not protect the bishops of the empire from heresy. As Jerome is famously quoted: “The world woke up and groaned to find itself Arian…”

Blessings: the truth shall set you free!

Nick said...

To keep things on track, I'll limit my comments to points immediately related to Sola Scriptura (thus stuff like Unam Sanctam will have to wait).

L: Nick, You are arguing against “solo scriptura” not ‘sola scriptura.’ The distinction is important: “the sole divine authority” vs. “the priority of Scripture” over other sources.

N: I maintain the solO versus solA is of no appreciable difference at the end of the day; both reserve the right to reject ANY other authority at any time. Further, the distinction you made is not a true comparison, for in the first you mentioned "divine authority" and in the second you did not (implying non-divine). Scripture is the ONLY divine authority, which is the only authority that counts as far as doctrine is concerned, thus it's priority is far above anything else.

Even WITH the distinction you made (i.e. showing respect to other authorities), the Westminster Confession, Chapter 31:4, expressly says Ecumenical Councils can err and many have erred. So right there the notion of holding any other authority anywhere close to Scripture is out of the question. And with Luther turning against the Church at large, that is definitive proof Bishops, Councils, etc can be rejected by the individual at any time under the principle of SS.


L: Re Acts 15, you miss the point. The point being argued was whether Gentiles were required to become Jews (submit to the sign of circumcision) in order to be saved. The quote about Gentiles being saved and the references to restrictions against idolatry, immorality, and eating meat strangled/with blood cover the general rules taught by Jesus that apply to both Jews and Gentiles, including the principle not to cause a brother to stumble (cf. Matt. 18:6. Jewish Christians would reasonably be caused to stumble by the latter, if not also the former).

N: That is quite a sophisticated argument!...but it in no way supports the notion the Apostles relied on Sola Scriptura (or even primarily Scripture) in settling that major doctrinal controversy. The Revelation Peter had in Acts 10 carried more prominence at the Council than Scripture did. The idea of those 4 prohibitions being specific outworkings of "general rules" of Christ is quite a stretch under a SS framework.

L: Re point 3, you appear not to be able to argue the validity of your alternative to sola scriptura. It is ludicrous to claim that a principle demonstrated by Jesus and the Apostles as recorded in Scripture has no Scriptural foundation.

N: You're getting ahead of yourself. This argument presupposes Jesus and the Apostles were operating on SS. If they were not, then no "principle" (regardless of how often it's mentioned) equates or demands SS at the end of the day.

L: Your rules of engagement are arbitrary, artificial, and unacceptable.

N: False. I've put forward solid points which you have basically brushed off. Most notably is the realization that "if SS is not taught in Scripture, it's self-refuting and thus false, regardless of how mighty a philosophical argument can be made for it." It doesn't matter if my alternative is so laughable as to be astrology, SS remains self refuting under the stated conditions. A philosophical debate on the grounds of "show an alternative" are more subjective than anything, where as proving SS from the Bible is the only thing that matters. I also note that you didn't even touch my prophet example.

I've debated this issue enough times to know where the key points to focus are, and how not to get side tracked on red herrings (which is what #3 is). For Sola Scriptura to have it's foundation on philosophical grounds (i.e. prove an alternate, more reasonable authority/system) rather than a divine mandate expressly stated its own pages is self refuting. Period.

Nick said...

L: Re the pieces vs. the whole. It didn’t seem to be an issue with Jesus or the Apostles that some of God’s Word was not yet written: they took what was written and recognized as God’s Word and gave it priority over other sources.

N: It wasn't a problem precisely because they weren't operating on Sola Scriptura! As for "priority over other sources," the ONLY time I've seen Scripture contrasted to other sources is the specific example of "tradition of men" Corban Rule (which is a far cry from a blanket condemnation of all tradition, especially divine tradition).
Side note: I believe the Corban Rule itself is based upon the "tradition of men" called Sola Scriptura, for the Torah (eg Num 30:2) clearly states a pledge of money must be upheld, thus a pledge to the Temple must be upheld (even if it means not having money left for your family).

L: Your argument does not apply to any generation of Christians after inscripturation.

N: Where did you derive this rule? I see it as arbitrary and without scriptural warrant. In fact, such a rule only serves to discredit SS more than anything, for example since 2 Tim 3:16 was written during the time of inscription (ie SS not in operation yet), then Paul could not have been teaching Timothy SS!

Francis J. Beckwith said...

What if, upon reflection, someone finds the arguments for SS unconvincing? For me, the idea that a book somehow found itself composed, collected, approved, interpreted, employed in liturgy and prayer without a divinely directed body that composes, collects, approves, interprets and employs the book in liturgy and prayer is not even remotely believable.

lojahw said...

Frank, I’m not sure where you got “the idea that a book somehow found itself composed, collected, approved, interpreted, employed in liturgy and prayer without a divinely directed body that composes, collects, approves, interprets and employs the book in liturgy and prayer.” That is certainly not my understanding of Sola Scriptura.

Can you help identify common ground?

1) Do you agree with Irenaeus and Augustine as quoted in my previous post? (Their statements fairly well represent my understanding of Sola Scriptura.) If not, in what way do you disagree with them and why?

2) Do you agree that after the writing of the New Testament, the Body of Christ, led by the Holy Spirit, is and has been competent to interpret what is essential to Christian faith and practice from the Scriptures? If not, in what way do you disagree and why?

Blessings.

lojahw said...

By the way, whether or not one agrees or disagrees with the principle of Sola Scriptura, the question of what doctrines are truly Apostolic (and how one knows) must still be addressed. Apostolic succession alone is inadequate as Jerome wryly observed re: the spread of the Arian heresy throughout the Church.

I keep looking for convincing validation of dogmas peculiar to Rome as truly part the "faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."

Blessings.

Jae said...

If you don't believe the church which Jesus founded upon the apostles (human leaders) then just belive in your own ability to understand the Scriptures.

There is no grey matter..it's them or it's you, simple choice...like little popes runing around.

Jae said...

Question:

What exactly do Catholics mean by Sacred (Apostolic) Tradition?

Answer:

The Word of God forms one sacred deposit of divine revelation. This one sacred deposit is ‘passed down’ to us in two ways (Cf. 2 Thess 2:15): the Written Tradition of the Word of God (Sacred Scripture) and the Oral Tradition of the Word of God (Sacred Tradition).

"Maintain the TRADITIONS even as I have delivered them to you." (1 Cor 11:2b)

"So the, 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)

"Keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the TRADITION that you received from us." (2 Thess 3:6b)

How is the tradition learned? By hearing, which scripture speaks to abundantly. Jesus wrote nothing; he taught the disciples through speaking and example. The apostles did the same, and handed the teaching of Christ on orally to chosen trustworthy men, the bishops, which today is the Apostolic Succession. The concept and importance of hearing is all over the Old and New Testaments, for it is God that we hear, in the living, active, moving, creating Word, speaking and writing through the prophets and the Apostles. The bible has more references to hearing than I can possibly recount; here are just a few from the New Testament:

He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Mt 11:15)

How are they to hear without a preacher? . . . “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!” (Rom 10:14c-15)

He that hears you hears Me; and he that rejects you rejects Me; and he that rejects Me rejects Him that sent Me. (Luke 10:16)

Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me. (2 Tim 1:13)

What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Tim 2:2)

Sacred Tradition comprises of the teachings, decrees, and definitions of the fathers, theologians, councils and popes. In short, it is the collection of the development of Christian teaching throughout the centuries. By the divine power vested in it by God, the Church can, if necessary, ‘call to mind’ teachings which were committed to the successors of the Apostles in order to give an explicit confirmation of a theological or moral truth (Cf. John 15:26, 16:12). This definition is then added to the pedigree of definitive Church teaching, otherwise known as Sacred Tradition.

I hope and pray you hear and let the Sacred Tradition guide you as St. Paul had adviced and not from the tradition of men or yourself.

lojahw said...

Ken (and Jae), our disconnects re: Scripture point to different underlying assumptions. Here are mine for your comments to agree / disagree / etc.

1. The Bible is God’s Book. Regardless of your view of the role of the human authors, I think we agree on this.

2. The Bible is God’s Story set in history because our God is incarnational – He has interacted with and entered His creation to “dwell among us” in space and time.

3. Like all history books, His Story is selective; it is not an exhaustive account of everything He has done or said in history, but He has selected those parts of His Story that He wants to preserve for all generations. His Story has always been first told orally by Prophets and lived out through His people, then written down for future generations to have an accurate account from those best qualified to tell it.

4. God’s Book was produced serially over many centuries, recorded by many human authors. As such, during its production, the “chapters” were written down by His chosen Prophets and those who heard them tell God’s Story. We know these “chapters” are authentic because they were preserved in writing by first-hand hearers of God’s unfolding story, and the community of faith in every generation has attested to the authenticity of the “chapters” as they were recorded. Every generation of the faithful has read those “chapters” of His Story with reverence as His very words.

5. God’s Book could not be completed until His Story for all posterity was finished with the story of His incarnate Son who spoke “in these last days.” He entrusted His “New Testament” to those who saw and heard Him; and the written record of eyewitnesses is key to our defense of the Gospel’s authenticity.

In view of the above, how can one say that God left out important parts of His Story from His Book? that things He wants to teach every generation of Christians to believe and practice would not be written down? What kind of author is that?

You assume that God did not inscripturate everything Christians need to believe and practice. That the Apostles and their contemporaries taught the Gospel first orally in no way denies that it was written down in sufficient detail to be taught to future generations. You say that Sola Scriptura is self-refuting? How so? Where in Scripture do you find: “Scripture will never record everything you need to believe and practice”? To the contrary, 2 Tim. 3:16-17 teaches “that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” as a result of the teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness that comes from God-breathed Scripture.

Blessings.

lojahw said...

Here's one for you, Jae:

"Maintain the TRADITIONS even as I have delivered them to you." (1 Cor 11:2b)

And what are those traditions? The very same traditions recorded in the Gospels and Epistles, e.g., baptism, the Eucharist, instructions for selecting presbyteroi/episcopoi/deacons, instructions about head-coverings in public worship, instructions about speaking in tongues and prophesying in the assembly, etc.

Were all of these traditions meant to be practiced in every later generation? Not necessarily. Many argue that head-coverings was culturally appropriate for Paul’s contemporaries, but not in today’s western cultures. In the early church baptism was performed (after days of fasting) in the nude with three total immersions in water, followed by putting honey on the tongue. Has your Church maintained that tradition?

Blessings.

Jae said...

Again, before His Ascension, Jesus didn't leave us with copies of the Bible and said, ok guys I gave you the book, now it's up to you to make sense and formulate your own ideas from it - and if your ideas are opposing to each other and a few hundreds more, then they are all ok, they are all truths.

I honestly think, Jesus didn't set it up like that.

But He left us with 12 sinners who have His authority by "sending" them to the world and still continues today.

Every blessing.

Jae said...

Assume a scenario:

Someone in America has violated the U.S. Constitution, say the 2nd Ammendment or Bill of Rights etc. the quilty party could then just throw the Book (U.S. Constitution) back to the Supreme Court and practically to any law-abiding citizen and proudly declared…”according to the AUTHORITY of that Book (U.S. Constitution) WHICH IN MY OWN INTERPRETATION IS VERY CLEAR, THAT I’am not quity of any wrongdoing and you, the Court of Law have No Authority over me to pass judgment ….my ONLY AUTHORITY is the BOOK.

We could have a nirvana right here in the U.S.A.

Ephesians 3:4-6

“When you read this you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which WAS NOT MADE KNOWN TO HUMAN BEINGS in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy APOSTLES and PROPHETS by the Spirit.”

We don't have the authority of Jesus to interpret His Word and make our own ideas as BINDING to all christians as revealed Truth.

In the end, this is what protestantism is all about, make yourself your own pope and Apostolic Tradition put together with Authority!

Ps. all the things you mentioned like baptism, Eucharist, Primacy of the Bishop of Rome (Pope) were all in the Scriptures and writings of the Early Church fathers.

Blessings.

Nick said...

L: You assume that God did not inscripturate everything Christians need to believe and practice.

N: No L, that's a spin on the argument: Scripture itself doesn't teach 'everything needed for belief and practice would be inscripturated;' you're assuming that. But assumptions are a violation of SS by definition. There is clear evidence teaching was done orally, and without (Biblical) evidence that oral teaching was eventually inscripturated, you cannot assume it was.

L: That the Apostles and their contemporaries taught the Gospel first orally in no way denies that it was written down in sufficient detail to be taught to future generations.

N: Where does the Bible indicate this took place? It doesn't. Thus, you're violating Sola Scriptura to prove Sola Scriptura. Something's not right here.
By your admission here, SS was not first practiced in the Church, so the burden is on you to demonstrate (from Scripture) that a change took place later on.


L: You say that Sola Scriptura is self-refuting? How so?

N: Yes. When something is "self-refuting" that means it's based upon something that violates it's own rules. So when SS teaches "all doctrines binding on Christians must be taught in Scripture," we had better find this mandate in Scripture itself, else it's self refuting for this teaching demands something Scripture itself doesn't mandate.


L: Where in Scripture do you find: “Scripture will never record everything you need to believe and practice”?

N: It doesn't, and it doesn't have to. What it does have to do (if SS is true) is say "everything necessary for faith and practice will be written in Scripture (and that Scripture is the only divine authority for the Christian)."

L: To the contrary, 2 Tim. 3:16-17 teaches “that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” as a result of the teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness that comes from God-breathed Scripture.

N: It doesn't say Scripture alone accomplishes that - only that Scripture is 'profitable' towards "teaching, reproof, etc." Prayer is certainly 'profitable towards' spiritual growth, discernment, and divine assistance, so that the Christian may be mature and alert - but that in no way implies or indicates prayer alone is what contributes towards those growth, discernment, etc.
Further, 2 Tim 3:16 was written by Paul to Timothy, which was during the period when Sola Scriptura was not in operation, and thus Paul couldn't have been teaching Timothy to engage in SS.

Jae said...

In John 20:19-23, Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace be with you. As the Father has SENT me, so I send you.” And when he said this, HE BREATHED on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are FORGIVEN them, and whose sins you retain are RETAINED.”

2 Very Important points:

1.) To SEND: means, authority was given to the apostles for their mission. In the upper-room where it happened ONLY the Apostles were present and this authority was not given to any fellow who professes to be a believer.

2.) GOD-BREATHED: means, inspired by God with His Own Authority – you know who He gave it to? ONLY 2 - Scriptures and His Apostles (12 human beings, with His Authority).

This moment, when Jesus breathed on his Apostles, constituted both the institution of the Catholic ministerial priesthood and the sacrament of confession. Christ gave his first priests, the apostles, the authority to forgive and retain sins. It was his intention that all sin be forgiven though the Church by aural confession of sins to the priests (auricular means: listening through the ears-how could one tell his confession without the other one hearing them?). We should realize that in Holy Scripture God breathed on man only twice: once when he breathed life into the clay of earth to create man (Genesis 2:7) and the second time when He breathed the life of grace into his Apostles with His authority. Both instances were that of an intimate, riveting moment between God and man. It is clear that the ability to forgive and retain sin given to the apostles, requires that each of us (even to this day) confess our sins to the priests of the Church so that our sins can be forgiven or retained and of binding and loosing.

The best protestant defense and reply to the passages above is that the authority Jesus gave to His Apostles the forgive sins had CEASE TO EXIST and DIED with them and not passed on to their successors. So, in other words they are saying, the Divinely inspired Command of God (God-Breathed) was not Eternal, ONLY TEMPORAL, powerful but with limitations. Are you really going believe men or God?

If you believe you have an authority from Jesus as binding then go in peace, brother - but for me I'll go with the historical, Apostolic Church of God.

lojahw said...

Ken, Have you ever heard of the logical fallacy known as an argument from silence? Your continued insistence that the lack of explicit self-affirmation = a self-refutation is just that.

I am only agreeing with Augustine and many other early church fathers. What is your problem with his statement below?

“But who can fail to be aware that the sacred canon of Scripture, both of the Old and New Testament, is confined within its own limits, and that it stands so absolutely in a superior position to all later letters of the bishops, that about it we can hold no manner of doubt or disputation whether what is confessedly contained in it is right and true; but that all the letters of bishops which have been written, or are being written, since the closing of the canon, are liable to be refuted if there be anything contained in them which strays from the truth, either by the discourse of someone who happens to be wiser in the matter than themselves, or by the weightier authority and more learned experience of other bishops, by the authority of Councils; and further, that the Councils themselves, which are held in the several districts and provinces, must yield, beyond all possibility of doubt, to the authority of plenary Councils which are formed for the whole Christian world; and that even of the plenary Councils, the earlier are often corrected by those which follow them" (On Baptism, Against the Donatists, 2.3.4)

Blessings.

lojahw said...

Jae, I'm not sure how to relate your comments to the topic, or why that particular verse is so important to you, but go in peace.

In the essentials, unity;
In the non-essentials, liberty;
In all things, charity.

Blessings.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

And the canon is, according to our friend, Augustine:

Now the whole canon of Scripture on which we say this judgment is to be exercised, is contained in the following books:— Five books of Moses, that is, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; one book of Joshua the son of Nun; one of Judges; one short book called Ruth, which seems rather to belong to the beginning of Kings; next, four books of Kings, and two of Chronicles— these last not following one another, but running parallel, so to speak, and going over the same ground. The books now mentioned are history, which contains a connected narrative of the times, and follows the order of the events. There are other books which seem to follow no regular order, and are connected neither with the order of the preceding books nor with one another, such as Job, and Tobias, and Esther, and Judith, and the two books of Maccabees, and the two of Ezra, which last look more like a sequel to the continuous regular history which terminates with the books of Kings and Chronicles. Next are the Prophets, in which there is one book of the Psalms of David; and three books of Solomon, viz., Proverbs, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes. For two books, one called Wisdom and the other Ecclesiasticus, are ascribed to Solomon from a certain resemblance of style, but the most likely opinion is that they were written by Jesus the son of Sirach. Still they are to be reckoned among the prophetical books, since they have attained recognition as being authoritative. The remainder are the books which are strictly called the Prophets: twelve separate books of the prophets which are connected with one another, and having never been disjoined, are reckoned as one book; the names of these prophets are as follows:— Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi; then there are the four greater prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel. The authority of the Old Testament is contained within the limits of these forty-four books. That of the New Testament, again, is contained within the following:— Four books of the Gospel, according to Matthew, according to Mark, according to Luke, according to John; fourteen epistles of the Apostle Paul— one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, two to the Thessalonians, one to the Colossians, two to Timothy, one to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews: two of Peter; three of John; one of Jude; and one of James; one book of the Acts of the Apostles; and one of the Revelation of John.
(St. Augustine, On Christian Doctrine (AD 397), 2.8.13, available at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/12022.htm )

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Dei Verbum is very clear on the relation between magisterium and scripture:

This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.

This is perfectly consistent with Augustine, who writes:

Cyprian writes also to Pompeius about this selfsame matter, and clearly shows in that letter that Stephen, who, as we learn, was then bishop of the Roman Church, not only did not agree with him upon the points before us, but even wrote and taught the opposite views. But Stephen certainly did not "communicate with heretics," merely because he did not dare to impugn the baptism of Christ, which he knew remained perfect in the midst of their perversity. For if none have baptism who entertain false views about God, it has been proved sufficiently, in my opinion, that this may happen even within the Church. "The apostles," indeed, "gave no injunctions on the point;" but the custom, which is opposed to Cyprian, may be supposed to have had its origin in apostolic tradition, just as there are many things which are observed by the whole Church, and therefore are fairly held to have been enjoined by the apostles, which yet are not mentioned in their writings.
( http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/14085.htm )

And this, also from Augustine:
For if the lineal succession of bishops is to be taken into account, with how much more certainty and benefit to the Church do we reckon back till we reach Peter himself, to whom, as bearing in a figure the whole Church, the Lord said: Upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it! Matthew 16:18 The successor of Peter was Linus, and his successors in unbroken continuity were these:— Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Iginus, Anicetus, Pius, Soter, Eleutherius, Victor, Zephirinus, Calixtus, Urbanus, Pontianus, Antherus, Fabianus, Cornelius, Lucius, Stephanus, Xystus, Dionysius, Felix, Eutychianus, Gaius, Marcellinus, Marcellus, Eusebius, Miltiades, Sylvester, Marcus, Julius, Liberius, Damasus, and Siricius, whose successor is the present Bishop Anastasius. In this order of succession no Donatist bishop is found. But, reversing the natural course of things, the Donatists sent to Rome from Africa an ordained bishop, who, putting himself at the head of a few Africans in the great metropolis, gave some notoriety to the name of mountain men, or Cutzupits, by which they were known.

Now, even although some traditor had in the course of these centuries, through inadvertence, obtained a place in that order of bishops, reaching from Peter himself to Anastasius, who now occupies that see—this fact would do no harm to the Church and to Christians having no share in the guilt of another; for the Lord, providing against such a case, says, concerning officers in the Church who are wicked: All whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. Matthew 23:3 Thus the stability of the hope of the faithful is secured, inasmuch as being fixed, not in man, but in the Lord, it never can be swept away by the raging of impious schism; whereas they themselves are swept away who read in the Holy Scriptures the names of churches to which the apostles wrote, and in which they have no bishop. For what could more clearly prove their perversity and their folly, than their saying to their clergy, when they read these letters, Peace be with you, at the very time that they are themselves disjoined from the peace of those churches to which the letters were originally written?


( http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102053.htm )

Hodge said...

Frank, a question. I'm wondering if the Fathers are mainly referring to Church order when they are talking about tradition that is not necessarily contained in Scripture. The Councils seem to be concerned with two areas: theology and Church order. I wonder if their statements confining theology to Scripture can be understood in this light and their statements that seem contradictory to that are really in reference to Church order. What are your thoughts on that?

Hodge said...

To clarify, my question concerns whether there are two types of paradosis: one which is interpretation of Scripture and one which is practical, dealing with Church order. Obviously, we would all call interpretation tradition too, but some of us would see the second kind of tradition (i.e., church order) as secondary to that. I'm just wondering if that holds any water in your view or if you have thought of that at all. It's just off the top of my head from reading your quotes and other patristic quotes that seem to be in conflict.

Jae said...

Bro lojahw,

The point I'm making is, Scripture Alone is not Scriptural..it is NOWHERE found in the Bible.

If you say that Bible alone is the sole authority then it is self-refuting - a contradiction by itself (as Nick illustrated above).

The citations I quoted prove the fact that Apostolic Tradition was handed down from the Apostles to the Bishops of every generation until the end of time as promised by Jesus in the Bible.

There should and must have an outside source (Living/organic Authority) to say and make the final judgment if they are Divinely Inspired including its subsequent interpretations as TRUE.

E.g. Miss Texas can not proclaim herself as the winner of Miss America contest, there should be an outside entity with authority to proclaim who's the real winner.

Proving and interpreting the Bible as the sole authority by using the Bible itself is circular logic.

Actually here's a good example taking place already of us taking opposite sides - no authority (like a referee in sports)to settle disputes.

I guessed Jesus overlook this kind scenario.

Blessing.

Jae said...

In the essentials, unity;
In the non-essentials, liberty;
In all things, charity.

I good quote from St. Augustine.

The problem is, Augustine was not the Magisterium of the Church.

The complete statement, "In Essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love" comes from Augustine (354-430 AD) over 1500 years ago. Such slogans should be avoided, or at best used very carefully, because they can be misleading.

This statement has mislead many in the past and is still doing it today. The Scriptures do not speak of some Bible truth as being essentials and others as non-essentials.

This is the slogan for most protestants who differ by themselves.

If we are real lovers of the Word of God, EVERYTHING is important.

Just by claiming which one is essential/important and NOT is already an affirmation of authority which protestants abhor the Catholic Church for.

By the way, where did they get the authority from?

lojahw said...

No one has yet refuted Augustine’s statement that the Scriptures “stand so absolutely in a superior position” to all other authorities, including all bishops and Church Councils. This is the essence of Sola Scriptura – and it was taught long before the Protestant Reformation!

In answer to your comment, Frank, about Augustine’s own version of the canon, he did not exempt himself from correction. I have elsewhere demonstrated that Augustine’s judgment on the deuteros was flawed since those books fail the tests of authenticity and truth.

But for a moment, let’s consider the proposal that the Word of God includes both the written Word as recorded in Scripture and the “Word of God spoken, and orally transmitted and handed down to the Church from the Apostles.” Even allowing for the oral transmission of the Apostles’ teaching alongside Scripture does not lead to the conclusions of faith and practice taught by Rome. The reason is simply that neither affirm - and the early church, those closest to the Apostles - denied things that Rome now holds dear.

For example, nowhere does Scripture teach that the catholic [universal] church is governed by the successor of Peter. Moreover, the tradition handed down by the Apostles explicitly denied universal governance by the bishop at Rome. Instead, self-governance of each locality (and later, each province) was explicitly taught by the Apostle Paul, by Clement of Rome, by Ignatius of Antioch (to Polycarp of Smyrna, whose bishop is Christ!), by the Didache [Teaching of the Twelve Apostles], by the Apostolic Traditions of Hippolytus, and by the first four Ecumenical Councils (read the canons if you don’t believe me!). The Council of Trent thereby proves the Westminster Confession’s assertion that Church Councils have erred (since Trent contradicted the teaching of the early Church Councils, either the former or the latter erred).

The same can be said for Rome’s teaching that all sins must be confessed to a priest ordained in Apostolic succession in order to be forgiven. Nowhere does Scripture say that only those sins confessed to a priest are forgiven by Christ. To claim that John 20:23 gave the exclusive right of forgiveness to the Apostles and their successors is a logical fallacy. It’s like saying that GM makes all kinds of cars and trucks, therefore, if one wants to buy a car or a truck, one must buy it from GM. Scripture does not say that ONLY the Apostles and their successors are delegated by Christ to forgive sins. James 5:16 explicitly refutes that notion – “anyone” is instructed to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.” The early church did not require everyone to go to their priest for confession; that practice only started in the third century – a discontinuity in time and practice from the Apostles. Even after aural confession to a priest or bishop began, it was only for minor transgressions: the greater sins were taught to be between person and God (e.g., Tertullian, On Modesty, 18; and Cyprian of Carthage, On the Lapsed, 17).

Blessings.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

If you're armed with the "authenticity and truth" criterion, who can argue with that?

I'm surprised no one ever thought of that criterion before.

I understand that in political disputes "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" does the trick just as well.

In marriage, "love and devotion."

In employment, "hard work"

In sports, "fair play."

Francis J. Beckwith said...

"The early church did not require everyone to go to their priest for confession; that practice only started in the third century – a discontinuity in time and practice from the Apostles."

So confession predates Nicea. Cool!

I'm not sure I get your point. For the Catholic, doctrinal and liturgical development is accepted.

BTW, the Jews didn't reject the deuterocanonical books, as you claim, until 100 A.D. So, apparently, that argument cannot be used, since it is post apostolic.

No offense, but your reasoning is a cherry-picking question-begging mess.

Nick said...

I've been in enough of these discussions to know that tossing Early Church Father quotes back and forth does no good.

Ultimately, what the ECFs taught is irrelevant to the Protestant, so their value in quoting them is not only limited, but it's an added burden.

The thing to realize is that even if every ECF and every Council trumpeted Sola Scriptura, the fact remains that if Sola Scriptura is not taught in Scripture, it's self-refuting and thus false. This is where the focus must remain, because anything else is bound to end up with the 'shifting the burden of proof' fallacy

Again, tossing ECF quotes back and forth does no good, because they aren't a real authority for the Protestant; there are plenty of times any given ECF can be ignored on the sole grounds that what he said was "unbiblical."

Here is a great page showing just how Catholic (and very un-Protestant) St Augustine was - the same guy who supposedly went by SS taught some pretty heretical doctrines from a Protestant point of view (yet somehow he remains respected):
http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/11/st-augustine-was-catholic-not-proto.html

This is why I've been careful in how I invest my time and energy since this discussion turned to this. No offense to anyone of course.

lojahw said...

Dei Verbum: “This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on…”

That’s a noble claim, but unfortunately it is not entirely true. By focusing on *who* has done the “handing on” without always examining carefully *what* has been handed on, there are a number of discontinuities between what the Apostles handed on and what the Magisterium subsequently handed on.

What Jesus handed on through the Apostles:
“The one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. . . . For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day. . . . Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life." (John 6:37, 40, 47)

And, “"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.” (John 10:27-29)

But your Magisterium has handed on the following:
“We declare, say, define and pronounce, that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff” (Pope Boniface VIII, Bull Unam Sanctam)

And, "Into this fold of Jesus Christ no man may enter unless he be led by the Sovereign Pontiff, and Only if they be united to him can men be saved." - Pope John XXIII

When did Jesus or the Apostles ever give the Roman Pontiff authority to deny salvation or entry into Jesus’ sheepfold those who come to Jesus in faith?

Frank, how do you argue that these papal teachings do NOT represent another Gospel? As my previous post showed, the papal statements have no foundation in either the Scriptures nor the Apostles’ teaching as handed on in the early church.

On another subject, what the Apostles handed down:
“For all have sinned … For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Rom. 3:23; Heb. 4:15)

As handed down by Pope Leo I:
“For the entire human race there was but one remedy … that one of the sons of Adam should be born free and innocent of original transgression, to prevail for the rest both by His example and His merits. Still further, because this was not permitted by natural generation, and because there could be no offspring from our faulty stock without seed… is it not Thou who art alone?'" (Sermon 28.3)

What the Magisterium subsequently handed down:
“…so wondrously did God endow her [Mary] with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect…” (Pope Pius IX, Ineffibilis Deus)

Who told Pius IX that Jesus was not *alone* born free and innocent of original transgression?

Again, what the Apostles handed down:
“This I have against you, that you have left your first love” (Rev. 2:5)
“. . . fixing our eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2)
“Whom have I in heaven but You?” (Ps. 73:25)

What the Magisterium has handed down:
Every Catholic should pray to and consecrate themselves and their families to Mary (John Paul II, “Totus tuus”).

Doesn’t it strike you as strange that the Bride of Christ should fix her eyes on her future mother-in-law instead of her bridegroom? What Gospel is this, Frank??? And, could there be a connection between RC teaching and Muslims thinking that the Trinity is Father, Mary, and Jesus?

Frank, I’m praying for you and those you influence. You, too, have been entrusted with God’s Word.

lojahw said...

Jae, you haven’t lived long enough if you say everything has equal importance! Why did Paul write to the Corinthians, “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (Isn’t it amazing how he keeps referring to the Scriptures?)

And why did Jesus identify the two greatest commandments? And why did He tell Martha, “Only one thing is necessary”? If you haven’t discovered what that is, read Matt. 7:21-23.

Blessings.

lojahw said...

Nick wrote: “the fact remains that if Sola Scriptura is not taught in Scripture, it's self-refuting and thus false. This is where the focus must remain, because anything else is bound to end up with the 'shifting the burden of proof' fallacy.”

Nick, you really need to go back to school on logical fallacies. The absence of an affirmation is NOT a denial. An argument from silence never proves anything.

I agree that the ECFs are not dependable doctrinal authorities – they, like Christians in every generation, are, in Augustine’s words, “liable to be refuted.” However, they do function as eyewitnesses to the beliefs and practices of their day. Therefore, when they consistently teach something, like the limited jurisdiction of bishops, including the bishop of Rome, one cannot ignore them. One cannot say both that the Apostles’ teaching was faithfully handed down and also deny what their successors consistently taught. If you insist on relying on tradition, you have no right to suspend the rules just because that source refutes your position.

Blessings.

lojahw said...

Frank, you’re not serious are you? What authorities on canonization do NOT consider authenticity and truth? Have you forgotten how many apocryphal books were rejected because their authenticity was questionable?

Furthermore, since Jesus said, “Thy Word is truth,” the principle of non-contradiction proves that anything that is not true cannot be God’s Word.

Jerome and the other church fathers before Augustine were right: the deuteros could be read by Christians for edification, but they were never considered on equal par – for good reason – with the Scriptures recognized by both Jews and Christians alike. As for your date of AD 100, where did you get that date? Josephus testified to the Jewish canon before then, as I mentioned in my post elsewhere in “Return to Rome.” Others note that the Jewish Council of Jamnia in AD 90 also documented the same Jewish canon during the Apostle John’s lifetime. In all of the extrabiblical writings of the Jews, there never was any hint of recognition of the deuteros as worthy of the canon.

It is also faulty reasoning and anachronistic to claim that because Christians accepted the deuteros, the Jews responded by rejecting them. According to that reasoning, the Jews would have nothing left for their own canon. There also would have to have been a first century Christian OT canon which was lost and then consistently contradicted by the early church fathers who published such canons for the first four centuries!

Please be more specific about doctrinal development. Jesus promised His Apostles that the Holy Spirit would lead THEM into all the truth (not delayed to future generations centuries later). Paul taught the “whole counsel of God” in Ephesus. Jude exhorts first century Christians to “contend earnestly for the faith which was ONCE FOR ALL DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS.” This is consistent with the teaching of the early church fathers, who like St. Vincent of Lerins, believed:

But the Church of Christ, the careful and watchful guardian of the doctrines deposited in her charge, never changes anything in them, never diminishes, never adds, does not cut off what is necessary, does not add what is superfluous, does not lose her own, does not appropriate what is another's…”- Vincent of Lerins, Commonitory, 23 (ca. AD 440).

It is one thing to make aural confession to a priest available to all as a liturgical and ecclesiastical development, it is entirely another thing to teach that this procedure from the third century onward is REQUIRED for the forgiveness of all sins! I have no problem with the practice of confession, it is the added dogma that lacks legitimacy.

Blessings.

lojahw said...

Oh, Frank, forgive me for not acknowledging my earlier error in a footnote on another thread about the inception of the practice of confession before a bishop for minor transgressions prior to Nicea. The fact that a prototypical liturgical development related to aural confession began in the third century does not legitimize the later developed dogma that aural confession to a priest is necessary for the forgiveness of all sins.

If so, every Christian who has ever lived - including the early centuries - that did/does not have access to the "sacrament" or failed/fails to confess every single sin would be denied the work of Christ on the cross. What kind of gospel withholds Christ's forgiveness promised in 1 John 1:9 unless a person has access to and utilizes your late-coming "sacrament"?

Where is the "good news" for all in this?

Blessings.

Nick said...

Nick wrote: “the fact remains that if Sola Scriptura is not taught in Scripture, it's self-refuting and thus false. This is where the focus must remain, because anything else is bound to end up with the 'shifting the burden of proof' fallacy.”

Lojahw: Nick, you really need to go back to school on logical fallacies. The absence of an affirmation is NOT a denial. An argument from silence never proves anything.

Nick: I don't want to resurrect 'dead' discussions, but I'll make this final response. My point stands whether Scripture responds in 'denial' or in 'silence' to the issue of SS. Your objection is a red-herring (making an issue of 'denial' versus 'silence' when my argument works either way).

Further, mine is not an argument from silence, where as yours is. An argument from silence means your proof for your argument relies upon unstated information.
My argument relies on the fact SS teaches "Scripture must teach X for X to be binding," thus if Scripture is silent on X, then X not binding by definition. (in this case X = SS) That is NOT an argument from silence!
Your argument says just because Scripture doesn't teach X doesn't mean X isn't true (which is logically accurate)...but that's building dogma from silence, which not only violates SS, but as you said "silence never proves anything" - translating to mean no proof for SS exists.

Hodge said...

Nick,
Prots believe that sola Scriptura is implied by the fact that it presents itself as the inspired Word of God. Sola Scriptura does not teach that every doctrine must be explicitly taught in Scripture in order for it to be binding. It teaches, based on the presentation of Scripture as the Word of God, that it alone has that status, and thus, it alone is the source (whether explicitly or implicitly taught) from which the Church should draw all of her doctrines. It sees the Scripture as Prophet and the Church as Teacher/Interpreter. As such, the teacher draws out doctrines from what is explicitly stated and from what is derived from implication. There seems to be a confusion on your part of the Prot doctrine here.

Hodge said...

Also, quoting Fathers is going to be irrelevant in the debate between RCs and Prots because the Prot believes the voice of the Church as a whole has authority, and therefore, considers it all; but the RC is inconsistent for doing this, as he or she is to listen only to the Church through the interpretation of the present Pope. As far as he is consistent with the Church of the past, as RCs would always believe that he is, RCs are free to look at those things in support of the Pope. However, apart from Papal interpretation on an ex cathedra subject, the RC is not free to re-examine what the CFs said on those subjects.
So the Prot that quotes CFs is going nowhere with the RC because the CFs are not his present authority; and the RC who quotes CFs to the Prot has misunderstood his own church's message. It is not the CFs with which the Prot must come to accept, but the Papal interpretation of that history. Hence, discussing CFs in this debate seems irrelevant.

Nick said...

Hodge,

Thank you for your comments, I'd like to respond.

You said: "Prots believe that sola Scriptura is implied by the fact that it presents itself as the inspired Word of God."

Nick: In my opinion, this is not sufficient grounds to build a cornerstone doctrine of the Christian faith. To say SS is "implied" rather than formally stated suggests its falsity rather than truth. As for the "Word of God," the Scripture is clear the oral teaching of the Apostles was clearly the Word of God: 1 Thes 2:13.


You said: Sola Scriptura does not teach that every doctrine must be explicitly taught in Scripture in order for it to be binding. It teaches, based on the presentation of Scripture as the Word of God, that it alone has that status, and thus, it alone is the source (whether explicitly or implicitly taught) from which the Church should draw all of her doctrines.

Nick: I understand this. I just don't think it is too much to expect that 'central' doctrines of the Christian faith lean more towards the explicit end than 'implicit'. After all, wasn't Luther's main beef that certain key doctrines didn't have sufficient Scriptural warrant? His own doctrines should be held to that same standard, especially the formal principle of the Reformation, SS.

You said: It sees the Scripture as Prophet and the Church as Teacher/Interpreter. As such, the teacher draws out doctrines from what is explicitly stated and from what is derived from implication. There seems to be a confusion on your part of the Prot doctrine here.

Nick: Hmm, you seem to have touched upon the greatest weakness of Sola Scriptura: the fact it doesn't address the issue of (authoritative) interpretation. Even saying the Church does the interpreting isn't enough in the Protestant scheme, for (1) they deny the Church authorities can authoritatively interpret, and (2) the Church consists of those who come together with those they agree with, making the "Church" relative to whatever each sect wants it to be.

Hodge said...

Hi Nick,

Just to respond to your response:

1. The statement that what is implied declares something's falsity has no basis in reality. That is just not logically the case.


Also no one said that the Apostle's oral teaching wasn't the Word of God; but the question Prots pose is whether that oral teaching is carried on in Scripture or also in tradition. We know Scripture claims to carry it, but whether tradition does (to the point that it carries things not carried in Scripture) is the point of debate.


2. It's a nice pie in the sky rule to say that a binding principle must be explicitly taught, but that is not a well-thought out stance. I would say that the Scripture condemns numerous things by way of implication (e.g. abortion for one) that it does not condemn explicitly; and through implication binds the believer.

3. a) You seem to be going back to the solo Scriptura view when you say "they" deny the church interpretive authority. I don't know who believes the Church does not have authority to interpret the text authoritatively, but I would not suggest that.
b)This historical judgment is made by everyone, including RC's and EO's. The Church existed as one body until the 11th Cent. Which body that split is the Church with the authority to interpret? The Western Church then split in 16th Cent. Which body is the real one there that has the authority to interpret? You have to make an individual historical judgment either way.
This is one of the most neglected aspects of the faith I think when RC's bring up this point. You also must make an individual judgment as to which Church is the right one and choose to believe in it. You have to make a Biblical judgment and an historical one that is based on your own reasoning out of the Scripture and history. Individual judgments are made all of the time within these churches. To place faith in the historic Church is not to give up individual judgment because one must make an individual judgment in order to place faith in a particular church that claims to be the Church.
So the real crux is for the RC who wants to make this argument and present Prots and being in some way less Christian for using individual judgment.
Now, for myself, being a Calvinist, I believe that God brings all of His people to the right decision in that. I believe He brings them into the truth through that promise given to the Apostles; so I don't believe that an individual makes this judgment from within themselves. Like sin, choosing a false church should be attributed to the falleness of the human; but like salvation, choosing the right Church ought to be attributed to the work of God.

Nick said...

Hodge: 1. The statement that what is implied declares something's falsity has no basis in reality. That is just not logically the case.

Nick: It's not that it absolutely demands its falisity, but (taking my thought as a whole) for a cornerstone doctrine to be FOUNDED upon implicit evidence does SUGGEST it is untrue more than anything.
The SS situation is especially unique and significant, because you must first assume SS is true and then look for implicit evidence, which is a backwards approach. Arguing from implicit evidence should only come AFTER a foundation is established, and yet you're establishing the foundation (SS) on implicit evidence.

The problem is that most don't realize the gravity of the claim. It is akin to believing in the doctrine of the Trinity based upon implicit evidence only. What kind of source of truth are we consulting when it doesn't even specifically lay out central dogmas? Isn't the whole point of Scripture to clearly instruct on the major doctrines, and then go after implicit evidence for the not so specific doctrines?


Hodge: Also no one said that the Apostle's oral teaching wasn't the Word of God; but the question Prots pose is whether that oral teaching is carried on in Scripture or also in tradition. We know Scripture claims to carry it, but whether tradition does (to the point that it carries things not carried in Scripture) is the point of debate.

Nick: Yes, it is a point of dispute; and that's why the Protestant position is in even more of a bind. You're stuck with the burden of proving that the oral teaching (Word of God) eventually all made it's way into Scripture and that the oral tradition 'expired' somehow. Without solid evidence for that, you're assuming what you needs to be true.


Hodge: 2. It's a nice pie in the sky rule to say that a binding principle must be explicitly taught, but that is not a well-thought out stance. I would say that the Scripture condemns numerous things by way of implication (e.g. abortion for one) that it does not condemn explicitly; and through implication binds the believer.

Nick: Two problems here:
1) Some denominations allow abortion because it is not explicitly condemned in Scripture.
2) Those who condemn it (and rightly so) based it upon the fact murder is explicitly condemned. Note what you're failing to do here with your SS argument: start from the explicit (murder) and work down to implicit (abortion).
Your foundation is exactly backwards: Implicitly prove SS, then from there find explicit doctrines binding on believers.


Hodge: 3. a) You seem to be going back to the solo Scriptura view when you say "they" deny the church interpretive authority. I don't know who believes the Church does not have authority to interpret the text authoritatively, but I would not suggest that.

Nick: Sola Scriptura by definition states it is the only and final dively inspired rule of faith. This means the Church through its body of teachers cannot finally bind and even be contradicted by an individual no so convinced. Martin Luther is the prime example, for he brushed off the entire church on the grounds they could be (and were) wrong and couldn't bind finally. So while it's a popular and seemingly sufficient answer, upon examination, the solO and solA distinction is actually a false one.

Nick said...

Hodge: b) This historical judgment is made by everyone, including RC's and EO's. The Church existed as one body until the 11th Cent. Which body that split is the Church with the authority to interpret? The Western Church then split in 16th Cent. Which body is the real one there that has the authority to interpret?

Nick: Ahh, but here is precisely where the Protestant position crashes and burns. The historical testimony (especially through ecumenical councils) shows a Church that looks very Catholic (or EO) and not very Protestant at all. Many Protestants recognized this difficulty the historical witness showed and in turn claimed the Church fell into apostasy and was only later on restored. Luther made such a claim when his view of imputation of Christ's Righteousness was not to be found in any teachers prior to himself. From Luther's view, the Church had been embracing a false gospel for centuries.

For a Protestant to appeal to the historical record is theological suicide. History teaches one thing very clearly: the Church at large has always been one of apostolic succession and hierarchy - which is precisely what Protestant threw out.


Hodge: You have to make an individual historical judgment either way. This is one of the most neglected aspects of the faith I think when RC's bring up this point.

Nick: No it is not neglected, because you're confusing issues. I can make a judgment based on history/scripture without at all claiming ecclesial authority. The historical evidence points directly to a body looking far more like the Catholic Church than Protestantism. There are numerous claims in history to a "Bishop of Rome," yet no such thing when it comes to Protestantism.
There is a difference between using personal judgment to track down the authority and claiming that authority for myself. And the fact SS is not directly taught in Scripture and that Protestant ecclesiology is not that of Church history are two very big factors against your position.

Hodge: You also must make an individual judgment as to which Church is the right one and choose to believe in it.

Nick: Agreed. The point is the Church was around before I was, so all I can do is track it down. I cannot be like Luther and essentially call myself the ecclesial authority of the Church. Did any Protestant who established their own denomination/sect/movement REALLY go looking to find the right church...or did they set up their own store as they saw fit? BIG difference.


Hodge: You have to make a Biblical judgment and an historical one that is based on your own reasoning out of the Scripture and history.

Nick: Agreed. And what's been presented 'in favor of' the Protestant view is both self-refuting and ahistorical.

Hodge said...

Nick: It's not that it absolutely demands its falisity, but (taking my thought as a whole) for a cornerstone doctrine to be FOUNDED upon implicit evidence does SUGGEST it is untrue more than anything.

Bryan: Nick, you really are making this up. Implicit teaching, according to the Lord Jesus Himself in the Sermon on the Mount, is just as binding as explicit teaching. If you want to disagree with the Lord on an illogical point, that's up to you; but the idea that what is implicit tends to be false is nonsense.

Nick: The SS situation is especially unique and significant, because you must first assume SS is true and then look for implicit evidence, which is a backwards approach. Arguing from implicit evidence should only come AFTER a foundation is established, and yet you're establishing the foundation (SS) on implicit evidence.

Bryan: No, you didn't listen to what I said. The Prot doctrine is based on induction, not deduction. It believes that Scripture is true, and therefore true when it claims to be the Word of God. It then takes that information and asks, What else is the Word of God? It finds evidence within the Scripture that teaching, not prophecy will describe the role of the Church, and sees only traditions that agree with those found in Scripture to be verifiably apostolic. So it starts with Scripture's claims. It doesn't work backward at all. You may think it falls short in identifying further extra-Biblical traditions as bearing more prophetic material; but the Prot is not being inconsistent with His use of Scripture at that point, since He sees Scripture as teaching that the Church after the apostles will be teacher, rather than prophet.

Nick: What kind of source of truth are we consulting when it doesn't even specifically lay out central dogmas? Isn't the whole point of Scripture to clearly instruct on the major doctrines, and then go after implicit evidence for the not so specific doctrines?

Bryan: No, I don't believe it is. I believe it uses both explication and implication to teach what is binding and so does the Lord. The Scripture teaches us a mindset, not a just a bunch of laws and propositions. The explicit only represents the larger principles taught by their implication.

Hodge said...

Nick: It's not that it absolutely demands its falisity, but (taking my thought as a whole) for a cornerstone doctrine to be FOUNDED upon implicit evidence does SUGGEST it is untrue more than anything.

Bryan: Nick, you really are making this up. Implicit teaching, according to the Lord Jesus Himself in the Sermon on the Mount, is just as binding as explicit teaching. If you want to disagree with the Lord on an illogical point, that's up to you; but the idea that what is implicit tends to be false is nonsense.

Nick: The SS situation is especially unique and significant, because you must first assume SS is true and then look for implicit evidence, which is a backwards approach. Arguing from implicit evidence should only come AFTER a foundation is established, and yet you're establishing the foundation (SS) on implicit evidence.

Bryan: No, you didn't listen to what I said. The Prot doctrine is based on induction, not deduction. It believes that Scripture is true, and therefore true when it claims to be the Word of God. It then takes that information and asks, What else is the Word of God? It finds evidence within the Scripture that teaching, not prophecy will describe the role of the Church, and sees only traditions that agree with those found in Scripture to be verifiably apostolic. So it starts with Scripture's claims. It doesn't work backward at all. You may think it falls short in identifying further extra-Biblical traditions as bearing more prophetic material; but the Prot is not being inconsistent with His use of Scripture at that point, since He sees Scripture as teaching that the Church after the apostles will be teacher, rather than prophet.

Nick: What kind of source of truth are we consulting when it doesn't even specifically lay out central dogmas? Isn't the whole point of Scripture to clearly instruct on the major doctrines, and then go after implicit evidence for the not so specific doctrines?

Bryan: No, I don't believe it is. I believe it uses both explication and implication to teach what is binding and so does the Lord. The Scripture teaches us a mindset, not a just a bunch of laws and propositions. The explicit only represents the larger principles taught by their implication.

Hodge said...

Nick: Yes, it is a point of dispute; and that's why the Protestant position is in even more of a bind. You're stuck with the burden of proving that the oral teaching (Word of God) eventually all made it's way into Scripture and that the oral tradition 'expired' somehow. Without solid evidence for that, you're assuming what you needs to be true.


Bryan: So if I say that the oral tradition of the apostles is expanded from what I know to contain it (i.e., the Scripture) to the Book of Mormon, you think the burden of proof would be on you to disprove it?
You seem to be assuming that because the Scripture says that the apostles have the word of God, and the word of God is spoken orally, that somehow automatically means that it will always remain oral, even when the apostles are no longer speaking it. Don't you have to prove that as well? Why can't I say that the JW's have oral tradition?


Nick: 1) Some denominations allow abortion because it is not explicitly condemned in Scripture.

Bryan: What does this have to do with what I said? "Some denominations" are wrong because they deny the implicit interpretation of Scripture drawn out by the historic Christian Church (i.e., the teacher/interpreter of the Scripture).


Nick: 2) Those who condemn it (and rightly so) based it upon the fact murder is explicitly condemned. Note what you're failing to do here with your SS argument: start from the explicit (murder) and work down to implicit (abortion).
Your foundation is exactly backwards: Implicitly prove SS, then from there find explicit doctrines binding on believers.

Bryan: Actually, it's the same. The explicit: the Scripture is the Word of God. The implicit: All doctrines should be based on the Word of God.
You're chastising Prots for not believing that extra-Biblical tradition (i.e., traditional teachings that are not taught in Scripture) is not also the Word of God when such is never explicitly told to us. Where does the Scripture say that the apostle's oral teaching is different or includes more than what we have in Scripture? It may, but it's not stated explicitly, is it?
I'm telling you, this explicit idea is nonsense, and you're going to end up refuting Roman Catholicism with it as well.

Hodge said...

Nick: Sola Scriptura by definition states it is the only and final dively inspired rule of faith. This means the Church through its body of teachers cannot finally bind and even be contradicted by an individual no so convinced. Martin Luther is the prime example, for he brushed off the entire church on the grounds they could be (and were) wrong and couldn't bind finally. So while it's a popular and seemingly sufficient answer, upon examination, the solO and solA distinction is actually a false one.

Bryan: Whereas this may work for the average evangelical, it holds no weight with me. I see the Church's authority as binding and infallible; and I truly believe that this is what the magisterial Reformers were getting at. Can a council be contradicted? Yes. Can Fathers be contradicted? Yes. Because it's the Church collective and what is consistent with that Church decided on issues concerning the gospel. So our difference is not how much authority the Church has. It is the "what" and "who" of the Church.

Nick: Nick: Ahh, but here is precisely where the Protestant position crashes and burns. The historical testimony (especially through ecumenical councils) shows a Church that looks very Catholic (or EO) and not very Protestant at all. Many Protestants recognized this difficulty the historical witness showed and in turn claimed the Church fell into apostasy and was only later on restored. Luther made such a claim when his view of imputation of Christ's Righteousness was not to be found in any teachers prior to himself. From Luther's view, the Church had been embracing a false gospel for centuries.

Bryan: Yeah, Nick, this is a bit historically naive. You want the historical situation to work in your favor, as do Prots, but in the end, you're only proving my point. You're trying to argue history with me. You are making an individual judgment as to what Church is the true Church (although you didn't say whether that was the EO or RC) by attempting to argue an historical fiction. The Pelikan quote quoted earlier is absolutely the case. I concluded that after teaching Church History as well. The two strains of synergism and monergism have always been in the Church. Some of the RC, EO, and Prots break into the former and the Reformed Prot and some RC's break into the latter. It would be convenient for you if Luther just made it all up, but it was Luther's readings of Augustine that caused him to interpret Scripture in the way that he did.
BUT, I digress, because my point was to show you what you inevitably had to do: make a personal, individual judgment as to what was true apart from the RC Church. What you should have said to me to try to negate my claim was "The RCC claims to be the true Church and therefore it is" without arguing any historical information with me. It does not matter what history says to you or me in the RC system. It only matters what it means to the Pope. So what you should say is that you just believe the Pope, but even then you are making an individual judgment and interpretation that the Pope is the rightful authority in which you must believe. Either way, it's you who are in a bind here if you want to keep making this argument.

Hodge said...

Nick: There is a difference between using personal judgment to track down the authority and claiming that authority for myself. And the fact SS is not directly taught in Scripture and that Protestant ecclesiology is not that of Church history are two very big factors against your position.

Bryan: Yeah, you're kind of drowning here. For one, I can, and have, argued many times that the historical form of orthodoxy, pertaining to the gospel, is preserved in Reformed Christianity. So if I can interpret the evidence this way and you can interpret it the other way, that can only mean one thing...we're both making historical judgments based on our other individual judgments on who is the true Church and therefore the rightful heir to orthodox history. So you can't just say history proves me wrong, because I know in fact that it doesn't. It contains things for your case and it contains things for mine. Once again, this black and white fictionalized version of the Church is what is fueling this sort of thinking. You really just need to get rid of this argument. It's not necessary to your position.

Nick: I cannot be like Luther and essentially call myself the ecclesial authority of the Church. Did any Protestant who established their own denomination/sect/movement REALLY go looking to find the right church...or did they set up their own store as they saw fit? BIG difference.

Bryan: The problem is a little more difficult that this though. Luther was already a part of the Church, and he viewed himself as preserving what had been suppressed by apostates that had taken over the political structure of the Church. I mean, I don't know what your view of Leo is, but there are other RC's who don't believe he was even a Christian, so on that point, Luther wasn't necessarily incorrect. So he's reading the Fathers along with their interpretations of Scripture (i.e., the Church authorities), and sees that this stuff going on is not of the true Church before him. That's a little different of a picture than the caricature often painted of him.

Hodge said...

Nick, if you lump all Prots in one basket then of course I can see where you are coming from, but they're not all in one basket. Some Prots, like myself, are very Catholic, even if we are not Roman Catholic. We do not make the arguments or consider the Church to be what you present some Prots as doing (and they do).

Nick: Nick: Agreed. And what's been presented 'in favor of' the Protestant view is both self-refuting and ahistorical.

Bryan: Nick, I would just ask that you try harder to understand the views of those in the Magisterial Reformed tradition. It is neither self refuting or ahistorical, although it is easy to believe such and dismiss what may be a much more complicated issue than what some would make it out to be.

Nick said...

Bryan (Hodge),

I don't know if I can keep up with 6 posts in a row, that's a lot to respond to. I can only make a general response here.

My general summary of your latest 6 posts:

Post 1/6: There wasn't much I could really say because nothing of substance was really mentioned, merely a denial.

Post 2/6: Again, merely a denial. When I say history proves Protestantism wrong, I'm thinking of clear examples like the Ecumenical Councils, which were prime examples of infallible teaching, authority of Bishops, Apostolic Succession, Roman Bishop Primacy, Efficacious Sacraments, etc, etc. All things repudiated by Protestantism.
Please, show me one Protestant denomination that claims authoritative roots by means of one of the historical Sees such as Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, etc.
I know of none, thus in my honest evaluation cannot accept Protestant ecclesiology as valid.

The "black/white" distinction in the historical record is far more predominant than the minority of grey that appears.

As for your comments on Luther, the historical record shows, clearly recorded as one of the documents of the Book of Concord, that Luther and his laymen overthrew the authority of every bishop in the world and in turn set up their own gatherings and formulas of 'orthodoxy'.

Luther was very free to feel like impostors had taken over, but he was not free to make himself the head and virtual super-pope that he became. His 'say so' became more powerful than any pope could ever dream of having.

And Luther was not reading the Fathers along with their interpretations of Scripture. Read his 2 page "Tower Experience" located online: He flatly says he discovered the notion of imputation of righteousness of God and that no father before him did, and Augustine only barely understood it.
That's some audacity.
Further, respected Protestant scholars like Alistar McGrath say Luther's view of justification was a theological novelty.

Post 3/6: You said: "I see the Church's authority as binding and infallible; and I truly believe that this is what the magisterial Reformers were getting at. Can a council be contradicted? Yes. Can Fathers be contradicted? Yes. Because it's the Church collective and what is consistent with that Church decided on issues concerning the gospel. So our difference is not how much authority the Church has. It is the "what" and "who" of the Church."

This is a pretty slippery description, and ultimately meaningless. Not only does your opening line contradict Sola Scriptura (the only thing that can bind), there isn't even a time when you can point out the Church acting infallibly, according to your description. And this all goes back to Luther's example; all it takes is one guy not happy and nobody else's authority matters. That's the Magisterial Reformers in action. Contrast that to the Ecumenical Councils, which were infallible and binding.

Bryan, with what you've said about history, I don't believe your teachers were giving you an honest look. The primary sources should especially include the definitions/canon given by the Ecumenical Councils themselves, which look nothing like Protestantism. Don't believe me, let's have a debate on the Third Ecumenical Council (Ephesus), you'll be shocked at just how unProtestant it is, and in genuine honesty will have to call it heresy from your perspective.

And as for whether Augustine was Protestant, again, that usually comes from people who havn't read Augustine directly. His writings (esp stuff like "On Spirit & Letter") leave no room for Luther's "doctrine by which the Church stands or falls."

Nick said...

(3 of 3)

Post 5/6: Implicit teaching is just as authoritative as explicit, I never denied that. What I point out is that implicit relies on an explicit foundation, else implicit means nothing (so murder is explicitly condemned, meaning abortion while not explicitly named is implicitly condemned as well). Sola Scriptura has nothing explicit to build from, so any 'implicit' evidence given merely begs the question.

You said: "No, you didn't listen to what I said. The Prot doctrine is based on induction, not deduction. It believes that Scripture is true, and therefore true when it claims to be the Word of God. It then takes that information and asks, What else is the Word of God? It finds evidence within the Scripture that teaching, not prophecy will describe the role of the Church, and sees only traditions that agree with those found in Scripture to be verifiably apostolic. So it starts with Scripture's claims."

Everything after your first sentence is deduction, that's what "it then takes this and asks" is doing. It starts off with an undefined canon of Scripture as true. That's the only induction. Your 'proof' also ignores the fact Scripture calls the Apostles oral teaching the "Word of God," causing difficulties for the rest of your case. Your proof in no way establishes Scripture is the only authority, at most it says Scripture is AN authority. Your logic is further refuted by the fact many early Christians only had and went by oral teaching for their "New Testament", yet according to your logic they would have to rule out anything written because the Apostle's oral teaching must be the only authority.


Post 6/6: A double post of post #5.

All in all, I'm taking the more fair approach here. What is granted by all, and at most all you've proven, is that Scripture is AN authority. That's a far cry from Scripture being the ONLY resource carrying divine authority.

Nick said...

(2 of 3)



And you're wrong about the RCC claiming to be the One True Church without giving historical proof; it does give proof. What no Protestant denomination will do is even make the first claim, that they are the One True Church, automatically disqualifying themself from the title.

Post 4/6: I'm not sure you read me right, I said you have to prove oral tradition 'expired', not 'expanded'. But even given your Book of Mormon claim, in a way the burden is very much on you because the argument would essentially be which oral teaching of the canon was correct, your 66 book one or 66+Mormon. You'd have no way to say the canon stops using Scripture alone.

And the oral teaching has it's authority because it's the Word of God, not because the Apostles spoke it. Nothing indicates that message would be lost the second the Apostles weren't around to speak it, as if Truth only remains True as long as someone is alive. I have proven the existence of divinely inspired oral teaching, to say it 'expired' or was eventually all written down is your burden.
As for the JWs, they don't have oral tradition in so far as they embrace SS - though technically every group is going by some oral tradition (e.g. Protestants following Luther's de facto authority).


You said: "What does this have to do with what I said? "Some denominations" are wrong because they deny the implicit interpretation of Scripture drawn out by the historic Christian Church (i.e., the teacher/interpreter of the Scripture)."

You're forgetting the historic Christian Church can be wrong according to Protestantism, and you've got to realize that if it was wrong on major doctrines like Sola Fide, it surely can be wrong on doctrines requiring implicit evidence. And there is no 'historic Christian Church' you can point to without exposing Protestantism as a fraud, for the second you point to a visible historical body, the Protestant Reformation is a schism from that.


You said: "Actually, it's the same. The explicit: the Scripture is the Word of God. The implicit: All doctrines should be based on the Word of God."

The error with this argument is that the oral teaching is the Word of God as well. And, further, the 'implicit' you claim here doesn't address the issue of infallible authorities, because nobody claiming the Bible as an authority would say their doctrines are not based on Scripture at least implicitly.

You said: "Where does the Scripture say that the apostle's oral teaching is different or includes more than what we have in Scripture? It may, but it's not stated explicitly, is it?"

The problem with your argument is that it is assuming the premise, that SS is true, then trying to find proof for it. Scripture doesn't have to say those things IF one does not believe in Sola Scriptura. Where as the flip side is not the same: IF you believe in SS, then it must say the oral teachings is the same (i.e. eventually was written down) or else you position is self-refuting. And 2 Thess 2:15 (1 Cor 11:2, etc) mentioning the oral and written distinction indicates there was some degree of difference between the two mediums. It could have been simply a difference of emphasis, but even then that's not SS, and in fact can contain emphasis on denying SS.

Hodge said...

Nick,
Let me try to respond to some of this as you did post by post.

Concerning post 1:

I actually taught Early Church History straight out of the Ecumenical Councils. I had my students read through them and we re-read through them in class, read secondary literature concerning them, and discussed the relevant Greek (and Latin translations). I can only say that if you think they are Roman Catholic and speak against Protestantism then you really are only familiar with popular forms of Protestantism and not the richer heritage of Reformed Christianity. There's absolutely nothing in them that is anti-Prot. That's simply a fiction of yours.

Second, I didn't say all of Luther's theology came directly from Augustine. I said he was reading Scripture together with Augustine and other Church Fathers. I actually agree with Mcgrath that Luther's view of justification was a novelty because the view of Trent was also a novelty. There was no official Church doctrine on the subject of justification. Salvation was always spoken of as a whole, and salvation itself was always defined as redemption from the clutches of the devil to becoming a son of God. The eschatological emphasis of heaven and hell in the Middle Ages was not the emphasis of the Fathers. They still believed all of that of course, but salvation was seen very differently. The question was not "How do I get to heaven?" but "How am I saved from the sin and dominion of the devil in this world to the lordship of Christ and the next?" The answer, of course, is faith working through love, believing and doing the will of God. There is no split between justification and sanctification, not because they did not see them separately if you had asked them in terms of the later Middle Ages, but because the answer to the question is justification and sanctification. This is always a massive mistake made by people who do not look deeply into Patristic soteriology.
The question then becomes, when we do emphasize salvation in the sense that those in the Middle Ages did, "How would the Fathers answer that question." Luther's point in Bondage of the Will is that he believes, based on Augustinian monergism, that the question must be answered by separating justification and sanctification precisely because monergism applied correctly does not allow for a merit-based system; and therefore, the good works that we do in sanctification must be as acts of gratefulness for having been saved, rather than working toward that salvation.

Now, you can say that you disagree with Luther's, and numerous others in his day with him, assessment of these things; but it is not appropriate to pretend that the historical situation sits so favorable on your "side" simply because that's the way "you" personally see it.

But, as I said before, it is futile for me to argue history with you because you HAVE to conclude against Luther no matter what. It doesn't matter if the historic situation allows for understanding why he might conclude the way that he did in continuity with the Church because you have to conclude, along with the Pope, that he was wrong irregardless. My only point here is that Prots make personal judgments about Church history that are also consistent with what they believe. The difference is that I realize I'm making a personal judgment and you seem to not be aware of this in your own case (or you simply do it and then like to mock Prots for doing, which is a bit dishonest is that is the case).

Hodge said...

So I like to view salvation like this: The more extensive operation of freedom implies that a more complete subjection and affection towards our Liberator had been implanted within us, since He didn't set us free for the purpose that we should depart from Him, but that the more we receive His grace the more we should love Him. So he has first set us free, but He has set us free to acknowledge that freedom from sin and love Him by doing good. We don't love and subject ourselves to Him in order to be free, but because we are free already. I hardly think that this Prot concept is not historical, since most of this paragraph was said by Irenaeus.

Of course, an RC could interpret it consistently within the 16th Cent novelty of Trent as well. It's not whether the doctrine is a novelty. It's whether it is consistent with previous doctrines, so once again, we are back to the "who" and the "what" of the Church that is left up to each of our personal judgments.

As a side note, if you reject things because they're novelties, not only would you have to reject the declarations of Trent that were not declared to be official before, but also the newer Marian doctrines that have no major basis in history. Did you want to do that?

Then you go kind of go off on something I never said. First, I never said that Augustine was a Prot because it is anachronistic to say that Augustine was a Prot or an RC as defined by Trent. Augustine is Augustine. He is Catholic, neither Prot nor Tridentine Roman.

Second to this, you still are defining sola Scriptura in a conveniently straw-like fashion. No one ever said that the Bible was the only binding authority. Sola Scriptura maintains that only the doctrines taught in the Church that come from Scripture ought to be considered as authoritatively binding. Prots see the Church as having authority that binds. They see the Church as having authority to interpret both explicit and implicit teachings. The DO NOT say that only Scripture has authority. It is the source from which the authority (i.e., the Church that is able to recognize the Word of God and the truth within it) draws out its doctrines. So your whole idea that sola Scriptura is self refuting because one needs to have authority in order to say that the Scripture is the only authority is a straw man.

Nick said: And you're wrong about the RCC claiming to be the One True Church without giving historical proof; it does give proof. What no Protestant denomination will do is even make the first claim, that they are the One True Church, automatically disqualifying themself from the title.

Well, 1. I didn't say that the RCC doesn't give "proof" to her claim. I said an RC shouldn't be arguing history, but instead that a Prot needs to submit his personal judgment to the Pope, since the Pope is the ultimate authority in interpreting that history.
I also said that both RC's and Prots give "proof" for their positions because both positions exist in the Church during the Middle Ages.

Hodge said...

2. Prots don't see apostolic succession in denominations. They see it in theology that is past down. So one's theology must be inline with the historic Church's theology, or his claim to authority is invalid (like what the Fathers believed with Stephen and Honorius). Anyone can get in power and claim anything he wants. He can make up any doctrine he wants. Anyone can take control of an office or position or occupy a palace. It is one's theology that determines his qualifications for the office, not vice versa. So your asking the wrong question there.

Nick said: You're forgetting the historic Christian Church can be wrong according to Protestantism, and you've got to realize that if it was wrong on major doctrines like Sola Fide, it surely can be wrong on doctrines requiring implicit evidence. And there is no 'historic Christian Church' you can point to without exposing Protestantism as a fraud, for the second you point to a visible historical body, the Protestant Reformation is a schism from that.

Saying that a person didn't fully realize something, and saying they're wrong, are really two different things. Luther believed Augustine was saved. If Luther really thought Augustine was wrong in the sense that you're espousing then such a belief would seem rather out of place.
You should be able to understand this as an RC, who believes in the deposit of faith. I don't condemn the earliest Fathers for their sometimes confusing views of how the Trinity exists anymore than I would condemn them for blending salvation into one whole rather than foreseeing a necessary distinction that must be made, in answering a completely different question of salvation, a thousand years later.

Hodge said...

Nick: The problem with your argument is that it is assuming the premise, that SS is true, then trying to find proof for it.

Actually, it's assuming the premise given to us by Scripture (i.e., that the Word of God is true, and doctrines should be based upon it). Then it draws from that Scripture its ecclesiology that teaches that the Church is no longer prophet, and will not carry revelation after the apostles. Therefore, it concludes that Scripture alone contains the Word of God, and all doctrines must be based on it.

You are simply trying to get the doctrine of sola Scriptura to be illogical, and I agree with Frank. Even though we hold different positions, I cannot say that RC is illogical and therefore not true. You cannot say that Protestantism is illogical and therefore not true. It would be so nice and easy if all things that were false were also disproved by a logical fallacy; but such is not the case.

Nick: Scripture doesn't have to say those things IF one does not believe in Sola Scriptura. Where as the flip side is not the same: IF you believe in SS, then it must say the oral teachings is the same (i.e. eventually was written down) or else you position is self-refuting.

Well, if one does not believe in sola Scriptura then one can believe any extra-biblical doctrine. The point is that Prots usually argue from what they know is revelation (i.e., the apostolic teaching contained in Scripture) and place that against anything oral that claims to be apostolic teaching, but seems contradict that which is in Scripture. Remember, sola Scriptura doesn't have a problem with all tradition. It has a problem with extra-biblical tradition that either counters it or places binding laws upon the believer that are not found in its explicit or implicit teaching. I don't find Gnostic traditions to be compelling, even though they claim to be apostolic traditions passed down orally, precisely because they contradict the apostolic tradition we know we have in Scripture. If you were in the early Church, how would you answer Gnostic claims other than just saying you didn't believe them? Or would you become a Prot at that point and argue that your tradition was the right one because of what the Scripture taught (thus basing your argument on Scripture, since the Gnostic also has a claim to tradition)?

Furthermore, Scripture doesn't have to say that the oral teachings are not the same. It doesn't have to explicitly say that they are. Sola Scriptura does not require this as you seem to think it does. It makes the claim that it is the Word of God. I believe it. It teaches that the Church has authority to recognize and interpret Scripture. I believe it. It does not indicate that it is deficient or carrying only a deposit of faith that further revelation must bear out; but instead claims to have the full and everlasting gospel contained within it; that is able to equip a person for every good deed (which means it doesn't lack anything, since every good deed is covered by it). I then conclude, based on my belief, as all must do, that whatever oral traditions may be left floating around in the community, the Church has everything it needs in the Scripture, without additional teachings from tradition, to preach the full gospel and everything pertaining to life and godliness. So regardless of what position you want to take, the position of sola Scriptura is not self refuting or begging the question. It argues from the claims of Scripture itself, includes the authority of the Church in its understanding of Scripture, and through these concludes that the Scripture is prophet/revelation and the Church is teacher/interpreter of THAT revelation.

Hodge said...

Nick: And 2 Thess 2:15 (1 Cor 11:2, etc) mentioning the oral and written distinction indicates there was some degree of difference between the two mediums. It could have been simply a difference of emphasis, but even then that's not SS, and in fact can contain emphasis on denying SS.

A different medium is not an indication of different content. In fact, this verse brings up a great point. Notice that Paul tells them to hold fast to these traditions. They are the same traditions to which they are to hold fast. So the content, according to Paul, is the same. The medium of communication during the apostolic age could have come in either form; but the traditions to which they are to take hold are the same traditions.

Nick: Sola Scriptura has nothing explicit to build from, so any 'implicit' evidence given merely begs the question.

I've already answered this. The explicit is in the claim that it is Scripture, and sola Scriptura recognizes and believes the authority of the Church to recognize and interpret Scripture. Therefore, the premise that the Scripture is the Word of God is its foundation.

You then say that my argument is deductive instead of inductive. That's fine. I'm, however, going with this definition: "Deductive reasoning applies general principles to reach specific conclusions, whereas inductive reasoning examines specific information, perhaps many pieces of specific information, to derive a general principle."

In any case, I wasn't trying to "prove" anything. I was simply stating that Prots recognize the authority of the Scripture and of the Church. This question isn't about authority. It's about the kind of authority each body has. The Prot sees revelatory authority for the Scripture and only interpretive authority for the Church. Therefore, the Church cannot be a source of revelation to be interpreted, since it is the interpreter. Scripture then stands alone as the source from which the Church ought to draw out all of her binding doctrines.

Nick said...

Hodge,

There is too much to respond to and not enough time for me to do so. Here are my final thoughts, thank you for the conversation.

Regarding whether the Ecumenical Councils were anti-Protestant or not, take two quotes from the Council of Ephesus:

QUOTE: "Philip the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See [ie Rome] said: There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the Apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to to-day and forever both lives and judges in his successors. The holy and most blessed pope Cœlestine, according to due order, is his successor and holds his place, and us he sent to supply his place in this holy synod, which the most humane and Christian Emperors have commanded to assemble, bearing in mind and continually watching over the Catholic faith. For they both have kept and are now keeping intact the apostolic doctrine handed down to them from their most pious and humane grandfathers and fathers of holy memory down to the present time, etc.
(Council of Ephesus, Session III)

Here is a clear reference to Papal Supremacy, something Protestantism would never accept. Yet the very councils that discussed (and somehow got right) key issues like Christology somehow got these other things "wrong".
And Ephesus didn't stop there:

QUOTE: Proclaiming the death, according to the flesh, of the Only-begotten Son of God, that is Jesus Christ, confessing his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into heaven, we offer the Unbloody Sacrifice in the churches, and so go on to the mystical thanksgivings, and are sanctified, having received his Holy Flesh and the Precious Blood of Christthe Saviour of us all. And not as common flesh do we receive it; God forbid: nor as of a man sanctified and associated with the Word according to the unity of worth, or as having a divine indwelling, but as truly the Life-giving and very flesh of the Word himself. For he is the Life according to his nature as God, and when he became united to his Flesh, he made it also to be Life-giving, as also he said to us: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood.
(Council of Ephesus, Epistle of Cyril)

There is no way Ephesus could be Protestant after these two quotes, in fact Protestants - IF they are honest - must say these "Christians" were in fact false Christians. Here the (1) sacrifice of the Mass is affirmed, (2) the very real presence, and (3) a clear reference of John 6 being on the Eucharist.