Round 4 - Antony's Closing Arguments
As previously mentioned, a virtual declaration of Sola Scriptura in principle, is found in 1 Corinthians 4:6, admonishing us to, ”not go beyond that which is written." Frustratingly, I received no reply. The Lord Jesus Christ gave us a brain and expects us to connect the dots (Jn 12:16; 13:19). For example, all the evidence for the Trinity is there, yet the actual word is not. But if my opponent doesn't object to Trinitarian phraseology, why should he object to Sola Scriptura? The persistent and unrelenting virtues of God's word overwhelm us like a flood and we drown in it’s irrepressible glory. All Verga has done is to propose drowning the gentle reader into an ocean of multiplied layers of bureaucracy and unidentifiable tradition that forms an impenetrable barrier between the believer and the will of God. Sounding the trumpet for the need of an infallible interpreter, we stand aghast that this man expects readers of this debate to understand what HE says and what HE means---but without an interpreter! One could only wish that he'd extend the same courtesy to the inspired writers of the Bible!
Connecting the dots to my opening statement that human memory in unreliable, the grandeur and lucidity of Sola Scriptura is captured in the rediscovery of the written law in 2 Kings 22:8 and following. The King of Judah was shocked no one had been obedient to it and he humbled himself to do what was written. Clearly, any oral tradition had completely failed. Humans were not given memory banks that resemble our computer's hard drive. They have restrictive boundaries. That being the case, God would never trust His testimonies be put into anything less than "tables of stone" (Deut 4:13, John 10:35)---since a propensity to forget God's word is epidemic (Deut 4:9; 23; 31; 6:12, 8:11, 8:14, 8:19, 9:7, 32:18, Judges 3:7, 1 Sam 12:9, Job 8:13, Psalm 9:17; 50:22; 78:7; 78:10-11; 103:2; 106:13; 21; 119:16; 139; Prov 3:1, Isa 17:10; 51:12-13, Jer 3:21; 13:25; 18:15; 23:27; Ezek 22:12; 23:35, Hosea 2:13; 4:6; 8:14; 13:6, Heb 12:5).
Connecting the dots, we witness the unreliability of human memory naturally resulting in the unreliablity of oral tradition found in John 21. While Verga mentioned this chapter, he neglected two key elements that dismantle his position. The record indicates that Jesus told Peter that if He desired that John should stay alive, that's the Lord's business. But the oral tradition that flurried about was incorrect! "So word went out among the brethren that this disciple should not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not going to die, but 'If I want him to live until I come, what is that to you?" (vs. 23). Instantly, we see that oral transmission was being corrupted even before the canon was completed. This proves what I've been saying all along about Tradition being indeterminate and liable to become adulterated with every form of error. This is one of the reasons why the Holy Spirit was sent: "to bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (Jn 14:26). My opponent cannot counter-point that those things brought to memory are the unwritten traditions of the RCC, for the simple reason that he has not and cannot identify what they are!
I am then referred to John 21:25, where "all the paper in the world" could not contain all the things done by Jesus Christ. But by connecting the dots, we discover that this is a completely gratuitous attempt to sneak extra-biblical tradition in through the back door. As a matter of fact, that Jesus did many other things which were not recorded, is completely irrelevant to disprove Sola Scriptura. Verga omits vs. 31: that while the Lord did many other things "not written in this book", THESE ARE written, that ye might believe." In other words, searching the infallible word is sufficient to find the answer to eternal life (Jn 5:39). Moreover, it would be an impossible task for the average person to search out tradition anyway, because
"By its sheer volume, Catholic "sacred tradition" outweighs the Bible by about 150 to 1. Not easily accessible to the average person (and much in dead and foreign languages) it consists of at least 35 volumes of Greek and Latin church fathers; another 35 volumes of church councils and decrees; about 25 volumes of papal sayings; about 55 volumes of the saints; some 150 volumes in all." All of this results in God's will becoming out of reach to the believer, not more so. ("A Woman Rides the Beast", by Dave Hunt, p. 519). http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_was_Luther's_notion_of_sola_scriptura_or_scripture_alone_a_challenge_to_the_Catholic_Church
T.V. then brings up some items that don't negate the lynchpin of my argument in the least; nevertheless they should serve to expose how weak his polemic really is:
1) I am accused of misquoting Psalm 19:7, saying that the "word" of the Lord is perfect, whereas the Text actually says "law". Technically, that's correct, but not substantially. If the law of the Lord is perfect, than the words OF that law are perfect also (Deut 17:19, 27:3, 8, 26; 28:58; 29:29; 31:12; 31:24; 32:46; Josh 8:34; 24:26).
We were answered in the interrogating phase that based on the a priori premise that "Jesus is with us until the end of the world", that THIS equals proof for a theopnuestos tradition! Amazingly absent however, was even one voice in history who ever understood Jesus to mean any such thing.
2) He says, "if the written word is so infallible, why speak or visit the various churches at all?
Answer? Hebrews 10:25: "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together...exhorting one another".
3) Verga thanks me for confirming angels were present at the giving of the law, which he says supports his agenda. On the contrary, it most certainly does not. What I was rebuking him for (not confirming) was his mis-statement that
"no where in the Old Testament is this recorded that the Mosaic covenant was given through angels"
He was proven wrong (Ex 19:9-25, Deut 33:2, Ps 68:17) and
refuses to retract. So be it. Furthermore, what he also fails to
admit is that he initially gave the impression that angels were the prime agents in giving the law, as if the Lord was eating popcorn in the background:
“Let's look at the Mosaic covenant. This covenant was given to Moses by mere creatures, the Angels...”
My opponent used this fishing rod as bait, to lure the reader into thinking that "angelic delivery" was equivalent to the delivery of unwritten tradition by the "inspiration of the Catholic Church". We now see this flawed logic must be thrown back into the murky waters where it belongs.
the utopian scenario that Verga imagines of a Magisterium being set up by Christ to interpret His word, falls prey to quite a few simple fallacies, not the least of which is connecting the dots to the fact that they have left 99% of the Bible UNINTERPRETED (paragraph 47..... http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius12/P12DIVIN.HTM).
Sola Scriptura wins by default because, "since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself". No ecclesiastical infrastructure is ever invoked to verify God's dictate, as the supreme authority is the Lord's own testimony (Heb 6:13). Second, the precedent for God's dealing with His people does NOT show that He saw fit to install an infallible Jewish magisterium in the O.T., and neither do we see Him in the N.T. economy setting up any religious party to speak for Him in any definitive sense. Need it be said that the religious leaders of the day sought to kill the Messiah? The church of the O.T. was subject to failure (Jer 5:31; 6:13; 8:10; 13:25; 14:14; 23:32; Isa 29:10, 59:14-15; Ezek 22:25; Judges 2:10, Ps 14:2-3). Neither was there any promise of doctrinal certitude given in the N.T. The presence of Christ amongst the apostolic churches in the midst of their shortcomings, did not guarantee any degree of infallibilty (Rev 2). And so, denominational diversity does not disprove Sola Scriptura. In the interest of "domestic tranquility", our Father has simply found it necessary to put the boys in separate bedrooms.
Word Count: 1500