Is Sola Scriptura Biblical?

Opening Statement

Micah Antony

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Besides Scripture, non-Catholics vigorously oppose any co-supreme norms in the form of any ruling class judiciary, primary monarchies, secondary interpreters, self-appointed co-expositors, vice-regent explicators,  official censors, or infallible  foot-soldiers.   When we say we affirm the binding authority of apostolic tradition, we mean that which was delivered by the apostles and prophets via the super-imposing influence of the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:21).   Ergo,  the content of this infallible tradition is what which  they preached and taught, and was subsequently codified in the Scriptures.  Hence, if the church is  built  upon their teaching per Ephesians 2:20,  this must have elite authority before the church began to exist.   So the central issue that Protestants affirm and Catholics deny, is God's general pattern of revealing His word orally and temporarily through prophets and apostles, and then, permanently, via  "indelible ink" with no appeals to  oral transmission (Heb 1:1-2).  Thus, when Protestants speak of the Scriptura of God, we use it synonymously in referring to His word, whether oral  or  written.  This is significant because my opponent made the comment to me recently that,

"In Leviticus 19:1, God told Moses to "speak" to the Israelite community. I didn't see any thing about "take a letter"; The same thing in Numbers 6:1."

Despite the fact that some Roman Catholic apologists assume Sola Scriptura  rules out any appeal to divine oral revelation, no
Protestant advocate of this doctrine ever held that view because  as our debate topic defines it, Scripture is the very speaking of God.   "Thus saith the Lord" or its equivalents are mentioned over 3,000 times.   Hence, no one denies the historicity of God revealing His will by means of oral transmission.  For example, no Protestant would claim that the immediate hearers of Moses' pronouncements, such as in Verga's example, were free to disregard his prophetic utterance simply because he had as yet written it down.  Thus,  it is a false understanding of Sola Scriptura  which denies that any oral disclosures were ever normative.    That being so,  Verga's unwarranted criticism, in that God  "spoke" instead of giving a mandate to "take a letter", shows an abysmal lack of comprehension as it regards our debate topic.  Just because God first spoke orally, does NOT,  ipso facto,  provide proof of an alternative source of revelation viva voce, as Catholicism would have us believe.  The biblical precedent of transforming oral revelation into written form has a wide range of support, coming up shortly.  On top of this, I would like to thank my opponent for instantly proving my thesis to be true because the very thing he submits--- was later put into Scripture itself!  

Roman Catholics maintain that some oral teaching authority continues as a norm on an equal rank with Scripture, although they don't claim this "sacred tradition" is actually any new revelation; it is only "explicative".   As RC apologist Peter Kreeft asserts: "The Catholic Church does not claim to be divinely inspired to add any new doctrines; only divinely protected to preserve and interpret the old ones, the deposit of the faith" ("Fundamentals of the Faith", p. 275).    In response, I would suggest the reader recall the negative reaction Jesus had to jewish tradition (Mark 7, Matt 15, Col 2:8).  Why?  Because  the content of these jewish traditions which He eschewed were the jewish explication of the law; the very thing we are told is the content of Roman Catholic Tradition, only in their case, they are claiming to explicate from the New Testament.  Thus, Christ's thumbs down to Pharisaical tradition must also apply to Roman Catholic ones as well.   Sola Scriptura  reigns because, "the words of this law [are]  your life"  (Deut 32:46-7).

In essence, Roman Catholic "explications" on the Bible are nothing more than the reincarnation of  "The Oral Torah".  These were explanations of the written Torah,  originally passed down verbally from generation to generation.  Did anybody in all of history ever consider these  non-revelatory explications infallible?  Definitely not.  But the Roman church has the nerve to mandate  her explicative traditions  be esteemed with equal reverence to the Divine Word.     Eventually, it was decided the Oral Torah should be written down so it would not be forgotten.  It became known as the Mishnah.   But in Catholicism,  we do not receive the same courtesy.  These "unwritten traditions" were allegedly "dictated" by the Holy Spirit,  handed over to the apostles, asserted to have equal authority with Holy Writ and must  be believed even though nobody can say for sure what they are!
Sola Scriptura  begins to take shape at the beginning of redemptive history with the fall of man, which amounted to loyalty to God's word alone,  apart from any supernatural interpreter. Adam & Eve placed themselves as judges over God's revelation in order to reject it.  But the fact is they didn't need any subordinate interpretations or else their sin would have been excusable.  Satan convinced them (as Catholicism tries today) that additional understanding awaits the one who frees himself from the "burden" of strict conformity to the sufficiency of God's word,  tempting them with,  "your eyes shall be opened"  per  Genesis 3:5.  This single, deceitful suggestion from the serpent; namely, that further information would provide A & E with the ability to improve their lives,  plunged the human race into chaos. Thus, like a ball of yarn, the string of Sola Scriptura  begins to unravel at the dawn of creation.

As God's revelation is confined to written form in the Mosaic era, Sola Scriptura  continues in practice.  "All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do".  And Moses wrote down  all the words of the Lord  (Ex 24:3-4).   Here we see the general transformation of God's word from the orally temporary, to the written. Therefore, common sense teaches us that the Lord had no intention of trusting the truths of history  ("His-story") to such a medium as oral tradition, which suffers from a high decay rate and is no substitute for a permanent record.    "Write thou these words, for after the tenor of these words  have I made a covenant with thee and with Israel"  (Ex 34:27).  Human memory is too untrustworthy to rely on oral transmission over the long haul.  It results in inaccurate and fluctuating data, and was never intended to supply a common norm for future reference. This is precisely why revelation was committed to writing and which makes my opponent's dismay at not seeing  instructions to "take a letter" at every turn, completely irrational because in fact, that very thing is done quite frequently!     (Ex 17:14; 24:4, 34:1, Deut 13:4; 31:9; 26; Josh 24:26; Ps 102:18; Isa 8:1, 30:8, 34:16, Jer 25:13, 30:2, 36:1-32, 36:2-3, 51:50, Rev 1:11,19; 21:5).  

The Bible never displays an ecclesiastical infrastructure as having joint solidarity with the Scriptura of God.   Repeatedly, the admonition points to the written record, "for after the tenor of these  words have I made a covenant with thee..."  (Ex 34:27).  The Israelites were told not to go beyond the word which was commanded (Deut 4:2; 12:32; 13:1-4).   Balaam could not go beyond the word (Num 22:18).  The man of God could not  go beyond the word (1 Kings 13:7-8).  The waves of the sea were told not to go beyond the word (Job 38:11).  Satan was told not to go beyond the word (Job 2:6).  And thus, the new covenant bids us, "not to think of men beyond that which is written"  (1 Cor 4:6).  Such  unequivocal prohibitions  not to go beyond the Scriptura  of God eliminates any outside source of "infallible, living tradition"  which stands in honor  alongside  the solitary majesty of the Divine Edict.   Psalm 138:2  is a shining indicator that God has magnified His word even above His very name.   Therefore, it is the height of absurdity to assume  a nebulous "unwritten tradition" should sit on the same  throne with Scripture over and above the very name of the Lord!

I reminded my opponent (in the same link above) that Psalm 119 extolls the merits of Scripture in practically all of its 176 verses, the longest chapter in the Bible!   His reply was that

"it is not only referring to Scripture. The Words it uses are  1) Teaching, 2) Decrees, 3) God's ways, 4) Precepts, 5) Laws,
6) commands, 7) Edicts , 8) Word(s)
Silly me I don't see the word "Writings" in there. Let me ask you, where did God write down the laws regarding slaves in Exodus 21, how about the social laws from Exodus 22:15, the religious laws from Exodus 23: 10?"

Aside from the fact  that the  things Verga wonders, "where are they written?"---  are in fact, written in the very verses he cites;  the doctrine of Sola Scriptura  does not deny for a moment that God "SPOKE" in times past unto the prophets per Hebrews 1:1---so the above comment is equally naive as his other one.   Furthermore, the 8 words he gives from Psalm 119 which he supposes have nothing to do with the written word, is beyond ridiculous.  Beginning with verse 1, "Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord":  
The law means torah, and we are to "keep all the words of this [written!] law" (Deut 17:19) which is the primary name for the written Old Testament canon combined.   The other phrases are synonyms, conclusively proved by 1 Kings 2:3:
We are to, "Walk in his ways,  keep his statutes and his commandments, and his judgments and his testimonies, as it is  written  in the law of Moses." (1 Kings 2:3, 2 Kings 17:37; 23:3, 2 Chron 34:31, Deut 30:10, Ez 37:24).   Truly, the Master Conductor has orchestrated  a symphony of praise to the melodious  principle of Sola Scriptura  in Psalm 119.  All we have to do is follow the sheet music.  

In summary, the principle of Sola Scriptura  is  a theological tapestry that runs non-stop from Genesis to Revelation when we compare  spiritual things with spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:13).   The logical ramifications of this doctrine are consistent with the very way in which we are told His word is  to be interpreted, whereas the Roman Catholic way is not consistent at all.    How so?  Psalm 36:9 explains,  "in  thy  light,  we  see  light."    In other words, the guiding source of our interpretations must NOT be derived from those claiming a pedigree from a "magisterial mafia",  but must come from the same pure light source as the origin of the Scripture itself, which is the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:21).    Hence, in the light of the Holy Spirit, we see the light of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.
While Catholicism may claim the Holy Spirit "dictated" another infallible source of communication to the apostles, this simply cannot be so because since this data is unwritten,  we are unable to put into practice 1 Corinthians 2:13, let alone "testing" what we hear per 1 John 4:1.  Indeed,  how can one  "see light"  per Psalm 36:9,  if the Roman Catholic Church will not tell us exactly what that light is?     Therefore, the light of Scripture eclipses all other rules of faith, period.    Each dispensation was aggressively instructed to seek their knowledge in the unique splendor  of Him, "in whom are hid  ALL  the treasures of wisdom and knowledge"  (Col 2:3).   And where do we find this distinctive treasure chest of wisdom and knowledge?
Answer:  In the Scriptures  alone,  where the light of knowledge shines out of darkness and in our hearts, coming directly out of the mouth of the glory of God found in the face of Jesus Christ  (2 Cor 4:6, Ps 119:130).

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