Sunday, September 17, 2006

Debate with "Ricky" on Sola Scriptura: Part 4

Unless "Ricky" posts again, this will be the final installment in our debate. Also see Parts One, Two, and Three. His words will be indented and italicized.

The church can’t appeal to itself, this is circular and self- defeating. This is the bottom line then for Rome’s argument: we must believe Rome because Rome says so, huh? In the words of my hip hop urban brothas, this argument is WACK!
The circular argument is an interesting point. I have some thoughts on this, but if you don't mind, I would like to pass the mic to someone who can respond to this better than I can. I don't profess to be able to respond to every argument with precision, and I want to make sure I do this justice.
Moving on now ...

We must take heed to the Sola Scriptura or Scripture alone so we can act according to God’s standards not mans. Consider the Bereans in Acts 17:10-12. Paul went to the synagogue and preached their to many Jews and they responded to Paul's preaching with anticipation and we are told that when Paul finished they would go back to their home and would diligently search and examine the Scriptures to see if what Paul was teaching is true. What was Paul's reaction to all this? Did Paul take offense to this and tell them they were insulting his apostolic authority, and that they should just submit to his infallible interpretation of the bible? No. Did Paul state that the Scriptures were not clear enough and that he or as an apostle or the rabbi or the Sanhedrin could only tell them what the Scriptures really meant? No. Or did he say that they should go and refer to Peter as the only one who could interpret the bible? No. He never said any of these things. The careful practice of the Bereans is actually praised in the Bible and are called noble because they evaluated with great care everything Paul taught on the BASIS OF THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD.
I was wondering when you were going to bring up the Bereans, those darlings of Protestantism. I think that if you look closer at what took place you'll see that, if anything, the Thessalonians were more pseudo-Protestant than the Bereans.

First, we must ask: "What did the Thessalonians do that made them less noble-minded?" Note that it was not because they didn't look to the Scriptures. Acts 17:2 says that Paul argued "with them" (as in, they argued together) about Scripture for three weeks. We see in Acts 17:1-9 that the Thessalonians were in fact less esteemed because when they looked at the Scriptures with Paul, they weren't all persuaded. They rejected Paul and his message in favor of their own interpretation of the Scriptures. They were less noble because they rejected his teaching and rose up against him. In a sense, this is understandable. Afterall, it was new teaching that Jesus was the anointed one, and that he suffered and rose from the dead.

But, look at what the Bereans did. Verse 11 says "Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessaloni'ca, for they received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so." Look at the sentence. It is only a secondary point that they compared Paul's teaching with Scripture. It surely isn't the sole reason why they were more noble because the Thessalonians studied the Scriptures too!

What sets the Bereans apart from the Thessalonians is not that they examined the Scriptures but that they accepted Paul's revolutionary teaching. This is a new revelation, a new way to interpret the OT. These Berean Jews accepted oral teaching, the tradition of the apostles, as equal to Scripture, in addition to, and as an "extension" of, the Torah. This is further illustrated by the Christian community’s reception of Paul’s epistles as divinely inspired Scripture (see 2 Peter 3:16 -- here Peter seems to acknowledge Paul’s writings as equal to "the other Scriptures," presumably the Old Testament). The Catholic sees nothing wrong with turning to the Scriptures. He does it often. However, he does not pit it against apostolic teaching, like the Thessalonians did (and Protestants still today).

Before I close with a prayer of my own, I want to apologize for the length of my response, for the inconsistancies in capitalization, and for making you wait so long for me to reply. I thank you for your patience. I'm not the pre-eminent Catholic apologist, so there will surely be inadequacies in what I have written. I am every day trying to learn more about my faith, just like the rest of us.

Let us then stand together with the true apostolic tradition and proclaim with Paul in 1 Cor. 4:6 “…Do not go beyond what is written…”

For Christ and His precious name, amen
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and enkindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created,
and you shall renew the face of the earth.

Mary, seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.


  1. "The church can’t appeal to itself, this is circular and self- defeating. This is the bottom line then for Rome’s argument: we must believe Rome because Rome says so, huh? In the words of my hip hop urban brothas , this argument is WACK!"

    Here's a quick thought on the circularity argument: You could easily say the same thing about the Bible (and many non-Christians do)-i.e. "You must believe the Bible because the Bible says so." I don't see how that's any different.

    Nice blog!

  2. Good point ^


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