Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Debate with "eve" on Sola Scriptura: Part 2

Here is Part 2 in my short exchange with "eve" on Sola Scriptura. Also see Part 1. Her words will be indented and italicized.

well ... first i want to say i don't believe the scripture you posted about us holding to tradition means what you said mainly because (1) scripture warns against the "traditions of men" and (2) "as it is written" is mentioned so many times. the Word doesn't contradict itself and the fact that "traditions of men" are warned against and "as it is written" (suggesting that written scripture holds much weight) are there would suggest such a conflict if the "holding to traditions" clause is interpreted as you interpret it.
How else would you interpret it then? Paul is telling people all over the place to maintain the traditions. He presents Scripture and Tradition 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). What else could this mean then that they are to maintain the traditions?

The reason that Paul's words don't contradict what Jesus says about "the traditions of men" (Mk 7:8) is that the tradition he refers to is not the novelty of man, nor does it "leave the commandments of God." Instead, they are the teachings of Christ. "For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word; but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ" (2 Cor 2:17). "And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers" (1 Thes 2:13).

but let me tell you my main concern with this notion that God's Word comes in both the written scripture and in oral traditions: it is vveeerrrrryyyyyy dangerous. reason number one: you've played the game, "telephone," right? oral passing-down doesn't always work. you may ask if i trust God will be sure it does. well, the fact that God allowed scribal errors or various translations (including the message bible) shows that this has nothing to do with trust. oral traditions shift and change between the first speaker and the last listener. reason number two: people saying they "heard from god" has led to much mischief from seeing a dude on tv who blows on people to give them their healing yet won't go to every children's hospital in sight to heal them ... to folks engaging in crazy dramatics and acrobatics to get a "blessing" a fly-by-night profit told them about.
This all assumes that God has not put anything in place to ensure that the Tradition of the Church remains inviolate. We know in fact that he has. For one, we have the succession of authority established by the apostles. We also have the promise of Christ that the Holy Spirit will be with the Church, and He will guide her into all truth (cf. Jn 16:13). Finally, we have Jesus' promise to Peter that whatever he binds on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever he looses on earth will be loosed in heaven (Mt 16:19). All of this ensures that nothing unorthodox will creep into the teaching of the Church.

that's why it's sooo important for everything to be checked against the written Word of God. it doesn't change. you may feel one way about an issue, but the bible on your shelf says what it says what it says. and when you check it again next year, it will still say it. no room for our naturally wicked motives and shady interpretations. no room for "hearing" that which could very well be in ones imagination.
I disagree wholeheartedly. Men are everyday picking up the bible one year and understanding a passage one way, and then picking it up the next year and understanding it a different way. Men are everyday approaching the Bible with wicked motives and deriving from it shady interpretations. People "hear" things all the time from the Bible that are not in fact true.

The fact is that Scripture, by itself, does not prevent heterodoxy and schism. If that were true then there would be no division in Protestantism. An infallible book requires an infallible interpreter. Without this, the Bible is simply subject to misrepresentation by fallible men. Surely you agree that it would be very negligent of the Lord to say, "Ok man, here's my perfect Word in written form. Go have fun." I can imagine man standing there, with a puzzled look on his face, thinking, "Ummm, ok, you're leaving it up to me to properly interpret all of this?" Praise God that he gave us the Church and Her Tradition of thinking, believing, and worshiping throughout the years as a guide when we sit down to see what God is trying to tell us with His written Word.

Pax Christi,


  1. You're exactly right. Sola Scriptura is better labeled 'Sola my Opiniona'

    It would be like America with only a constitution and no courts to interpret it. It would be effectively useless.

  2. Great Job!

    The error of sola scriptura lies within it sola scripture.

  3. It seems Eve doesn't understand that nothing in Tradition contradicts Scripture and vice versa... or that Tradition does not change with the whim of society etc.

    That "telephone game" analogy is a common one... But one thing is forgotten about this. In the game, once you get to the end, the person who stated the sentence first, corrects everyone who got it wrong, just as the Church corrects those who start to become heretical. The Truth is still known by the "original person" or, in this case, the original Church. That analogy actually bites them back!

  4. that's an excellent point amber! i had never thought of that! thank you :D


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