Saturday, September 16, 2006

Debate with "Ricky" on Sola Scriptura: Part 3

This is Part 3 in my debate with "Ricky" on Sola Scriptura. Also see Parts One and Two. His words will be indented and italicized.

Some arguments Roman apologist use

They will try to argue that the phrase “Word of God” can mean more than just the Scriptures. That’s a straw man for we all believe that and don’t argue against it. The question is whether or not God today uses anything other than Scripture to know the truth of God for salvation. The passages that I presented teach that nothing else is needed. Our opponents need to show not that Paul gave reference to his preaching as well as his writing as the Word of God, we grant that, but what they need to show is that Paul taught that the oral teachings of the apostles would be needed to supplement the Scriptures for the Church through all the ages. But wait they can’t for Paul does not teach that, and the Scriptures as a whole doesn’t either.
This is the first good point you've made in the whole debate. Props to you. I do have some thoughts on this though.

Sure, Paul never says anything as explicit as "supplement Scripture with Tradition," but he does present the two as standing alongside each other (2 Thes 2:15; 2 Tim 3:10,14-15). He affirms the Tradition they have received (Rom 10:8,17; Gal 1:11-12; Eph 1:13-14; Col 1:5-7; Titus 1:3), commands them to follow it (Phil 4:9; 1 Thes 4:1-2; 2 Thes 3:6-7; 2 Tim 1:13), and praises them when they do (1 Cor 11:2; 15:1,3,11; 1 Thes 2:13). There is simply no indication from his writing that he wished for them to do away with Tradition, especially when he is affirming it around every corner. There is also no indication that this Tradition would somehow cease to exist or to be authoritative. Instead, his words indicate that it will continue forever (1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 2:2; cf. 1 Pet 1:25; 2 Pet 1:12,15).

They will make much of tradition but will NEVER clarify or define for us what the heck they mean by tradition. I mean tradition can be used in several different ways like when referring to a certain school of thought like saying the “reformed tradition” or in the “Lutheran tradition” or “Baptist tradition” etc…. It can be in reference to traditions in worship services like reciting the apostles creed or standing up and sitting down when it calls for it or your tradition order of worship. Or can mean traditions supposedly from the apostles that are not in scripture. What do they mean? Its is never clear.
First of all, I see this whole section on tradition as a diversion tactic. You can focus the spotlight off yourself, but that doesn't change the fact that your defense of Sola Scriptura is inadequate. This debate isn't about my rule of faith, it's about yours ... and yours is tenuous at best. I have brought up Tradition only to show that Scripture was not the only rule of faith of early Christians, or even of the people of God in the OT. However, I am not here to give a defense of Tradition beyond what I have already written. You may see this as "dodging" but I see it as staying on topic, focusing the spotlight squarely on you and watching you sweat under it.

Now, for informational purposes, and purely as an aside, I will direct you to some resources where you can learn more about the Church's position. for what the Church means by "tradition," see this from the index to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Tradition, 81
-- apostolic,
-- deposit of faith contained in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition,
84, 97
-- of faith and prayer,
2651 (see also Prayer)
-- liturgy as a constitutive element of,
-- one and the same content of,
-- oral tradition in the formation of the Gospels,
-- and Sacred Scripture,
80-83, 95, 97, 113, 120
See also the entries on Tradition in the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia and the Pocket Catholic Dictionary [choose "Tradition" from the drop-down menu].

They have never agreed amongst themselves as to the nature of their tradition. We Presbyterians have tradition, nothing wrong with that but we also recognize that it MUST agree with scripture and not vise versa. But what do they mean by giving authority to tradition?
For the relationship between Scripture and Tradition, see Dei Verbum, articles 7-10, and the CCC 80-83, 95, 97, 113, 120.

I'm skipping much of the rest of your post because it's just a big, fat, juicy red herring. Personally, herring doesn't suit my pallet.

The Reformers discovered this contradiction of tradition and Scripture as they took greater care in searching the Holy Writ, for example….

A. Tradition teaches that Mary was sinless, but the Scriptures teach that all have sinned except for Christ(Rom. 3:10-12, Heb. 4:15)
I'm sorry, I just couldn't pass this one up! You might not realize this, but Luther and Zwingli believed in the sinlessness of Mary. For evidence of this, see the following articles:
Differences in doctrine should be humbling and drive us back to the Scriptures to test all claims of truth. If we do not accept Holy Writ as our only standard and judge then there will never be hope for unity.
But don't you see? It's each man turning to Scripture and interpreting it for himself that causes the very division you are trying to avoid. I can't understand why that is not blatantly obvious. It's like the big, pink elephant in the room of Protestantism

We must have a standard by which to test all claims of truth. The body of Christ the church must have a standard of truth to refer to so it can reform and purify itself from error when divisions surface.
AMEN! However, I assert that the Church is this standard. Let me ask you this: What good is an infallible work if it comes without an infallible interpreter? It would be entirely negligent of the Lord to say, "Ok, here's my written word, have fun!" Instead, he gave us the Church to safeguard His word in all its forms and to be the final arbiter when two people disagree on what the Bible teaches (just like the priests did in the OT, cf. Deut 17:8-12). You said yourself in the beginning of your defense that ...
We are not arguing that the Church, both the people of God and the ministerial office, is not of great importance, value and help in understanding the Scriptures. We believe that the church universal(not Rome) is the interpreter of Scripture and that the church is the only institution that has been gifted with interpreting Holy Writ. (see here)
... yet, you complain when I assert that the Church is the interpreter of Scripture? The problem with your paradigm is that when you don't like what the Church teaches, you just discard it. What kind of a "help" is that? Protestants like to say that they don't reeeally believe in the Bible alone ("We use tradition too!!"), but when it comes down to it they're just as dismissive of tradition as protestants who disregard it altogether.

I end my rebuttal with a fourth and final post ...


  1. I'm sorry, I just couldn't pass this one up! You do realize that in the least, Luther believed in Mary's sinlessness, right? For evidence of this, see the following articles:

    Previous to 1532, Luther held to a position similar to the Roman Catholic understanding of the Immaculate Conception. I use the word “similar” because it is a strong possibility Luther never held a position exactly the same as the 1854 dogma.Luther put forth this similar position in the 1527 sermon “On the Day of the conception of the Mother of God”. Luther abandoned this earlier position.

    Secondly, the later position Luther held was that Mary was purified at Christ’s birth. The emphasis is not at all on Mary, but rather the blessed child.Mary’s conception was no longer the focus of Luther’s thinking: Rather than Mary’s immaculate conception, Luther spoke of Christ’s immaculate conception.

    Third, I would be cautious in using Dave Armstrong to prove your point. Rather, why not go do some research and read Luther's Works? The 50+ volumes are availabe in most college libraries.

    FWIW, the way to find answers as to "what" Luther believed, is to go do ad fontes research, not post links to Catholic apologists, or even my own work that is floating around cyber-space. This takes time, but in the long run, you will "know" the answer, rather than knowing someone else's answer.

    James Swan

  2. Mr. Swan,

    It appears that both you and David Armstrong have made a substantial contribution to the debate. I will read your responses to him with interest. Thank you for your own interest in my blog. Perhaps we could enter into a dialogue of our own, whenever time permits. Are you still a seminary student? For my part, I am currently pursuing my M.A. in Theology. Good luck with your studies.

    Pax Christi,

  3. If you have any relevant information on Luther's Mariology from a primary source (of Luther's writings) with a context (and by context I mean: actual, historical, and theological), I would be willing to dialog with you on this subject. By the way, that this criteria is not met by Dave Armstrong is the reason I no longer dialog with him on this subject.

    Yes, i'm still a seminary student, though not full time.



Related Posts with Thumbnails