09 November, 2010

Response to "Got Questions" about Sola Scriptura


“Sola scriptura does not nullify the concept of church traditions.”

I would think not since this concept was foreign to the early Church. We do not see this concept at all in the early liturgical practice of the Church. Search as one might among the records of the Councils and Synods and even the writings of the Fathers and we find that an early origin of such a belief or practice is absent. Surely we do see the Scriptures being quoted to lend support to teachings found in pastoral letters or doctrinal directives but never independent of Sacred Tradition or the authority of the Magisterium.

“Rather, sola scriptura gives us a solid foundation on which to base church traditions.”

To the early Church they were only used as subsequent evidence of doctrines or teaching but never as the sole source of doctrine or pastoral teaching but instead in conjunction with the Magisterium and Sacred Tradition. So historically the concept of Sola Scriptura is a modernist idea based on the lack of any other authority like the Church which Protestants rejected; even though the Bible speaks to the Church as having all authority including even the power to bind and to loose. This is taught among them even apart from the Magisterium and the apostolic deposit of Sacred Tradition even though the Bible clearly contradicts such a departure from biblical truth. Sola Scriptura is thus not a “solid foundation” but instead a weakened foundation having been removed from the whole of the Church, the Scriptures, the Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium which describes a solid foundation of rock instead of a weakened foundation of sand that can be blown about by the whims of the reader in his eisegetical fanciful imagination. Wrested from the whole of the foundation of truth the truth becomes what ever one can imagine and the Bible becomes a collection of proof texts to guide the reader to destruction or to be used by the heretics to separate the seeking or the faithful from the truth.

“There are many practices, in both Catholic and Protestant churches, that are the result of traditions, not the explicit teaching of Scripture. It is good, and even necessary, for the church to have traditions. Traditions play an important role in clarifying and organizing Christian practice. At the same time, in order for these traditions to be valid, they must not be in disagreement with Gods Word. They must be based on the solid foundation of the teaching of Scripture.”

The Church agrees that the teaching of the Church must not disagree with Scriptures. We further would agree that not all teaching of the Church needs to be explicitly gleaned from Scriptures. Where we would strongly disagree would be in the assumption that the solid foundation for practices and doctrine comes solely from Scriptures independent of Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium.

“The problem with the Roman Catholic Church, and many other churches, is that they base traditions on traditions which are based on traditions which are based on traditions, often with the initial tradition not being in full harmony with the Scriptures.”

I do not know about the many other churches but I do know that this statement is totally false when speaking of Christ’s Church the Catholic Church. There is no doctrine or teaching of the Church that is not in complete harmony with Scriptures whether implicitly or explicitly.

“That is why Christians must always go back to sola scriptura, the authoritative Word of God, as the only solid basis for faith and practice.”

Of course this defense of Sola Scriptura as not made the case for the conclusion it reaches. The Word of God is not expressed solely in its written form but also in its oral form which is the apostolic deposit of Sacred Tradition. But even this is not sufficient because for an infallible understanding of Scriptures there must be an infallible interpreter with the authority from God Himself to teach and that is the Catholic Church represented by the foundation of the bishops who are the successors of the original twelve disciples and also of the leadership of Christ’s prime minister which is the successor of St. Peter and sit in his seat of authority presiding over and in accordance with the Magisterium. It is the Holy Spirit that ensures that the infallible truth in matters of faith and morals are fully contained in the teaching and doctrines of the Church. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph


  1. I wholly agree with you Father Joseph, and in a book I have in my library entitled "Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church - A 2000 Year History" by H.W. Crocker III, published in 2001, he says there were four "characteristics" (my word) of the early Church, one of which was that "the Church defined its doctrine by tradition, NOT sola scriptura". "The early tradition of the Church was oral rather than written, and the New Testament writings are supplementary to the basic knowledge which they presuppose." "For the first centuries of the Christian Church, it was tradition that was the Church's 'shield', NOT Scripture, and it was tradition-minded clerics who sifted through the competing documents to establish the Biblical canon that would be unchallenged for more than a thousand years." (p. 31)

  2. Is Half of The Story Sufficient For Salvation?

    How many sides are there to a story? If you say two, then you are wrong. If you had one side and I had one side that would make two sides. However, there is a third side, the side of truth.

    Rule # 1... One half of truth does not a truth make. Neither does one half of a story make the full story.

    No intelligent person can hear one side of a story and decide which side has the truth.

    Both sides have to be heard, then analysed, and then a decision has to be made as to which side (if either) has a valid story, and after that, the right side(s), or truth side, can be determined.

    This thinking holds true for discerning what Holy Scripture tells us.

    Throughout the Bible there are double standards, yet the fundamentalist thinking shows only one standard, or one side of the story, or only one half of the truth.

    Their thinking is in violation of rule # 1. With only one half of truth, you do not have truth. Anything less than the whole truth is error.

    In the following example, side 'A' is the first side, side 'B' is the second, and side 'C' is the right, or truth side.

    Sola Scriptura... Only the Bible.

    Fundamentalist thinking is that the Bible is sufficient and nothing else is needed for salvation. First of all, in order to believe in the 'Bible Only' philosophy, you have to show that Scripture says it. Is that not true? The doctrine of 'Sola Scriptura' is not to be found in Scripture.

    A. Tradition is condemned in many places in Scripture, such as Job 22:15, Mt 15:6, Mk 7:3-13, Gal 1:14, Col 2:8, 1Tim 1:4, Tit 1:14, and 1Pet 1:18. Look at these verses and grasp their meaning. They all address 'vain' human traditions and are rightly condemned. This is one half of the truth.

    B. Tradition is supported in more places in Scripture than it is condemned. Study Isa 59:21, Lk 1:2, 2:19,51, Lk 10:16, 2Thes 2:14-15 - "Stand firm and hold the traditions you have learned..", 2Tim 1:13,2:2, 1Pet 1:25, 1Jn 1:1,2:24, 2Jn 1:12, Rev 12:17,19:10.

    These are different traditions than mentioned in 'A'. These are the Traditions of GOD, or 'Apostolic' Tradition. Again, this is only half of the truth.

    C. The truth is, yes, we do condemn the vain tradition of men, as shown in 'A', and we must keep the Tradition of GOD, as shown in 'B'.

    Thus we have half the truth in 'A', and the other half in 'B', and combined we have the full truth. The false doctrine of Sola Scriptura adds A and B together and puts the total in A, rejecting all of tradition. A+B=C.

    1. Well said!

      God bless!

      In Christ
      Fr. Joseph

    2. Turning to the motives of Protestants…. Specifically the originator, Martin Luther. What were Luther’s motives for setting up Protestant faith? Were they for power, greed, control, self-promotion, etc? Is there any hint of selfishness? From the evidence I have found his motives were plain …his loathing of the immorality of the Catholic Church & most specifically the Pope. Is this a sinful motive or Godly motive? (note not that I’m going to try to portray Luther as a sinless man). If his motives were pure then what Catholics unwittingly say is ….. “God wanted an immoral Pope & the devil sought to undermine this in using a more righteous man”…. Not impossible
      I would say that in life & in the bible I have found that often contradictory elements that divide human thoughts & beliefs are entirely reconcilable in the mind of God. Thus Calvinism & Armenianism can live with one another (with compromise), one God can be three persons, tooth for a tooth can live with offer the other cheek, salvation is by faith but faith without works is dead, etc…. the church or God can be people from many denominations.
      If this were not true how can we explain that Jesus tells us we will be surprised by the people in heaven? Surprised by some who are there? (some non-Catholics?) Surprised by some who aren’t there? (some Catholics?

    3. I think Luther's motives were plain historically. He desired marriage and to abdicate his vows to God and still remain in ministry and have influence. He saw that there was an social atmosphere that was at least empathetic to his more worldly desires and justified His departure from his vows by attacking the foundation of Catholic teaching by his heretical teaching.

  3. You claim that Sola Scriptura is modernistic. This is an error. Isaiah wrote [8.20],"To the Law and to the testimony if they do not speak according to this word, it is because they do not have the beginning of light." The tradition of an alleged holy group of men determining the principles of God is not modernistic either, it was seen in Jesus' day in the groups known as Pharisees and Sadducees. They also developed alleged authoritative traditions and demanded that these traditions should be followed. Jesus had scathing warnings for them that apply to the Roman Church.
    The text of 2 Peter does not say that the followers of Jesus are constrained to follow a group of humans, it says that Scripture is not of anyone's personal interpretation. The Meaning based on Jesus promise of the Holy Spirit [who guides all disciples into all truth] is that the Holy Spirit can and will provide the humble human heart of every individual an ability to understand and interpret Scripture.

    1. Paul, are you ignoring what the Bible says about the Church being the "pillar and foundation of the truth" which is supported by the fact that Jesus gave all teaching authority to the Church and not to each individuals determination and imagination. Jesus did not give the authority or truth to one individual but corporeally to the Church defined as defined by the structure that Jesus established as Himself as the cornerstone, the disciples as the foundation stones to be built upon by apostolic succession and the Pope as the prime minister fulfilling the prophecy of of Isaiah ch. 22. While Jesus condemned the traditions of men when chastising the Pharisees He did not condemn the sacred traditions of the Church which are His teaching and His witness and not the traditions of men. You would be hard pressed to call any of the teachings of the Church to be contrary to the teaching of Christ. His warning does not apply to the Catholic Church but to those who cannot endure the sound doctrines of the Church which is represented by Protestants like yourself.

      Use some reason in your opinions...the bible says that the Church is the "pillar and foundation of the truth." One should logically and reasonable concur that is is the Church that teaches truth rather than the imaginations and prejudice of each individual which is an impetus for division rather than unity. The Bible calls those individuals who follow their own authority those who cannot endure sound doctrine. Jesus did not build His Church and not expect His faithful to form their own counterfeit to what He created. His prayer instead was that we have unity in this Church He founded. Your opinion is illogical and cannot be sustained by reason and certainly not in the teaching of Christ about His Church. God bless!

      In Christ
      fr. Joseph

  4. There are different understandings of sola scriptura. Fort Lutherans the function of holy scriptures is to serve the authenticity of the church's living experience in safeguarding the holy Tradition from all attempts to falsify the true faith (cf. Heb. 4:12, etc.), not to undermine the authority of the church, the body of Christ. The formula "sola scriptura" was always intended to point to God's revelation, God's saving act through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, and therefore to the holy Tradition of the church, against human traditions that darken the authentic teaching in the church. Pointing to scripture is pointing to the "euangelion" of salvation, to Christ and therefore to the holy Tradition which is the life of the church, to act as criterion of its authenticity and so to stress the church's unity and catholicity for the joyful common praise of the triune God.

  5. Thank you Joshua but please explain how there is unity in division. How do you justify being out side the unity that Jesus prayed for all of those that are His? I could not and that is why I went from the Moravian Church to Christ's own Church the Catholic Church.

    John 17:20-23 (KJV)

    20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

    21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

    22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

    23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

    God bless!

    In Christ
    Fr. Joseph