Denying Sola Scriptura: The Attempt to Neutralize the Bible

I was raised Roman Catholic. My religious upbringing included Catholic school through the fifth grade and service as an altar boy through my teen years. My first dose of a foreign language was Latin, a necessary prerequisite if you wanted to be an altar boy. There is much I appreciate about my Catholic training. I was taught the cardinal doctrines of the faith as expressed in the Apostles’ Creed. The ethical precepts I had been taught in Catholic school kept me from straying too far in my rebellious years. Guilt and fear of judgment are strong motivators when it comes to keeping young people in moral check. Of course many children raised in Protestant homes can make similar claims. So my experiences perhaps are not unique to Catholicism.

Many of the basic tenets of Catholicism are biblical. One of the distinguishing characteristics of a cult is the denial of the divinity of Christ. There is no such denial in Catholicism. Roman Catholics teach and adhere to the Apostles’ Creed. This is why men like Luther and Calvin are called Reformers: they wanted to reform the church, not replace it. They recognized that not everything within Catholicism was in error. On another level, the same can be said about Judaism. There is truth within Judaism because Christians and Jews share a portion of the same revelation the Hebrew Scriptures or what Christians call the Old Testament. But as system of theology both Catholicism and Judaism fall short of the whole truth, Judaism because it does not recognize the revelatory status of the New Testament and Catholicism because it puts tradition on an equal footing with both the Old and New Testaments.

Questioning Catholic Doctrine

After becoming a Christian in February of 1973, I began to question a number of Catholic doctrines. The Bible had become the standard of faith for me. It was sola scriptura — Scripture alone — not the Bible plus anything else that led me to reconsider what I had been taught as a child about Catholicism. Those doctrines that lined up with the Bible, I retained. Those doctrines that could not be supported by an appeal to the Bible, I rejected. Again, sola scriptura was the reference point.

The doctrine of sola scriptura has been questioned by a number of former protestants who have embraced the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Once the doctrine of sola scriptura is rejected a Pandora’s Box of doctrinal additions is opened. As one Catholic writer asserts, “Scripture has been, and remains our primary, although not exclusive, source for Catholic doctrines.”[1] This is the nature of the dispute. While the Protestant believes that Scripture is the “exclusive” source for doctrine — what the Westminster Confession of Faith calls “faith and practice” — the Catholic Church asserts that extra-biblical tradition plays an equal role.[product id=”1152″ align=”right” size=”small”]

Former Protestants Speak

Former protestants Scott and Kimberly Hahn have written a book that is getting a great deal of praise from Catholics and Protestants. The Hahns have become effective apologists for the Catholic position. Scott, a former Presbyterian minister, and his wife consider their embrace of Catholicism as a homecoming. In fact, the title of their book is Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism.[2] While there are many issues in this book that I would like to address, my goal is to concentrate on the central issue — sola scriptura.

Roman Catholic Propaganda

There is no doubt in my mind that Rome Sweet Home is a cleverly devised piece of propaganda published mainly for Catholics. Very few Protestants would ever be convinced by the arguments put forth by the Hahns.

The book is designed to keep Catholics in check, most of whom do not know their Bibles. The reasoning goes something like this:

Consider the Hahns. Scott and Kimberly were forceful Catholic antagonists while they studied in one of America’s leading Protestant seminaries. Scott had a promising career as a pastor and seminary professor. But as the Hahns studied the Bible more closely they found that they could not answer the most basic objection to Roman Catholic doctrines. In time they began to see what you already know: The Roman Catholic Church is the true church.

After reading Rome Sweet Home I came away bewildered. I could not believe how poorly the Hahns argued Catholic dogma.

Justifying Praying the Rosary

Kimberly Hahn discusses her struggle saying the Rosary, a belabored recitation of the “Hail Mary” and other prayers. She had always thought that the practice was “vain repetition” (Matthew 6:7). After some instruction by a nun, Kimberly saw the error of her ways. The nun told Kimberly that we are like children. Would parents consider it “vain repetition” if they heard their child repeat the same request over and over again, day in and day out, with little or no variation? Speaking as one parent, I would consider such a monotonous and persistent request annoying and childish. While I might tolerate my children speaking this way when he was first learning to talk, I would instruct him as he grew in understanding that such “vain repetition” is not acceptable for a child of his age.

The Bible tells us that we are to “grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2; also Ephesians 4:15). Consider these passages that speak about spiritual maturity:

  • “For every one who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14)
  • “Therefore, leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1)
  • “When I was a child I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11)

While we are God’s children, we are not encouraged to act childish. More importantly, the “Hail Mary” must be rejected based on its unbiblical line of “Holy Mary Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”[3] If any prayer is to be repeated over and over again, why not use the one Jesus taught His disciples to pray? Why not the Lord’s Prayer? When Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He didn’t teach them the “Hail, Mary.”

An Appeal to “Tradition”

No biblical justification can be found for praying the Rosary. But this does not matter to Catholics since they claim the authority of tradition. The real debate is whether sola scriptura is a doctrine that is taught in the Bible. Does the Bible teach that the Bible alone is the Christian’s “only rule of faith and obedience?” Scott Hahn and other Catholics maintain that it does not.

[product id=”1232″ align=”left” size=”small”]The issue that sent Scott Hahn over the edge into considering Roman Catholic doctrine was a question a student asked him about sola scriptura. Here is how Scott recounts the confrontation:

“Professor Hahn, you’ve shown us that sola fide isn’t scriptural [sic] — how the battle cry of the Reformation is off-base when it comes to interpreting Paul [sic]. As you know, the other battle cry of the Reformation was sola scriptura; the Bible alone is our authority, rather than the pope, church councils or Tradition. Professor, where does the Bible teach that ‘Scripture alone’ is our sole authority?”[4]

What was Scott’s response? “I looked at him and broke into a cold sweat.” Scott writes that he “never heard that question before.” This encounter shook Scott. He writes that he “studied all week long” and “got nowhere.” Then he “called two of the best theologians in America as well as some of [his] former professors.”[5] I must admit that if I were to accept the answers that Scott received from these “two best theologians in the country” I too would have to give up the doctrine of sola scriptura.

Jesus and Sola Scriptura

What amazes me is that a seminary-trained scholar like Scott Hahn had to make these calls. Demonstrating sola scriptura from the Bible is not very difficult. Jesus used the Bible to counter the arguments of Satan. Scripture was quoted, not tradition (Matthew 4:1-10 and Luke 4:1-12). The same can be said about His debates with the religious leaders. He asks them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures?” (Matthew 21:42). He appeal is not made to any ecclesiastical body, the priesthood, or tradition.

The Sadducees, who denied the doctrine of the resurrection, hoped to trap Jesus with a question that seems to have no rational or biblical answer. Jesus, with all the prerogatives of divinity, could have manufactured a legitimate and satisfactory answer without an appeal to Scripture. He did not. Instead, he tells them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). Here we find Jesus rejecting ecclesiastical opinion — as represented by the Sadducees — in favor of sola scriptura.

To whom does Abraham appeal in the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus? Does he point to tradition? He does not. Ecclesiastical Authority? No. A saint? (Abraham himself may have qualified.) No. Abraham answers, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (Luke 16:29). The rich man is not satisfied with this response. “No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!” (verse 30). Maybe a miracle is in order, the rich man suggests. Abraham’s appeal, however, is to Scripture: “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead'” (verse 31).

On the road to Emmaus Jesus presents and argument to explain His death and resurrection: “And beginning with Moses and the with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27). No mention is made of tradition. If you want eternal life, what are you to search? The Bible says, “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of me” (John 5:39). The religious leaders were searching the correct revelation, but they were looking for the wrong savior.

The Pharisees, who were notorious for distorting the Word fo God by means of their “tradition” (Mark 7:8), still could speak the truth as long as they stuck with sola scriptura. When the “scribes and the Pharisees” seat “themselves in the chair of Moses,” that is, when they are faithful in their use of Scripture, “do and observe” what they tell you (Matthew 23:2-3).

Paul and Sola Scriptura

When Paul “reasoned” with the Jews, what revelational standard did he use? “And according to Paul’s custom” he “reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (Acts 17:2). Paul, who claimed apostolic authority (Romans 1:1; 11:13 1 Corinthians 9:1; Galatians 1:1), did not rebuke the Berean Christians when they examined “the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things” he was telling them were so (Acts 17:11). Keep in mind that the Bereans are described as “more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica.” Could a Roman Catholic put the Pope on the spot like this? Could a Catholic challenge a Church doctrine with such an appeal? Notice that the Bereans were equal to Paul when it came to evaluating doctrine by means of Scripture.[product id=”1234″ align=”right” size=”small”]

Paul’s argument for the defense of sola fide is an appeal to Scripture: “For what does the Scripture say?” (Romans 4:2). Roman Catholic doctrine would add, “and Church tradition.” Paul “opposed” Peter, supposedly the first Pope, “to his face” on this doctrine (Galatians 2:11), demonstrating that “a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith [fide] in Christ Jesus” (verse 16).

Acts and Sola Scriptura

When church leaders met in Jerusalem to discuss theological matters, again, their appeal was to Scripture. Their deliberations had to “agree” with “the words of the Prophets” (Acts 15:15), The Book of Acts is filled with an appeal to sola scriptura: the appointment of a successor to Judas (1:20); an explanation of the signs at Pentecost (2:14-21); the proof of the resurrection (2:30-36); the explanation for Jesus’ sufferings (3:18); the defense of Stephen (7); Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian and the explanation of the suffering Redeemer (8:32-35): “Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture [Isaiah 53] he preached Jesus to him” (verse 35). In the Book of Acts the appeal is always to Scripture (10:43; 13:27; 18:4-5; 24:14; 26:22-23, 27; 28:23). The word tradition is nowhere to be found.

Scripture and Tradition

But what of those verses that discuss the validity of tradition? These were very troubling to Scott and Kimberly Hahn, especially 2 Thessalonians 2:15: “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.” Before we look at this verse, consider the Old Testament. Prior to its inscripturation, most people heard God’s Word “in many portions and in many ways” (Hebrews 1:1). Some of this revelation came by way of oral instruction and written communiques. Over time this revelation came together in inscripturated form designated “Scripture” in the New Testament. By the time of Jesus’ birth this body of written revelation was recognized as being authoritative (Matthew 2:5; Luke 2:22-24). No church council was called to place its imprimatur on these Old Testament books. The Old Testament canon — Scripture — was not the product of the Old Testament church. “The church has no authority to control, create, or define the Word of God. Rather, the canon control, creates and defines the church of Christ.”[6]

Once the completed written revelation was in the hands of the people, appeal was always made to this body of material as Scripture. Scripture plus tradition is not a consideration. In fact, Jesus condemns the Pharisees and scribes because they made the claim that their religious traditions were on an equal par with Scripture (Mark 7:1-13). The Roman Catholic answer to this is self-refuting: “Jesus did not condemn all traditions; he condemned only erroneous traditions, whether doctrines or practices, that undercut Christian truths.”[7] Precisely. But how does one determine whether a tradition is an “erroneous tradition”? Sola scriptura! The Catholic Church maintains that the appeal must be made to the Church whose authority is based on Scripture plus tradition. But this is begging the question. How could anyone ever claim that a tradition is erroneous if the Catholic Church begins with the premise that Scripture and tradition, as determined by the Catholic Church, are authoritative?

[product id=”1181″ align=”left” size=”small”]How, then, is Paul using tradition in 2 Thessalonians 2:15? New Testament tradition is the oral teaching of Jesus passed down to the apostles. This is why Paul could write:

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which you also stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

In time, these New Testament doctrines — traditions — became inscripturated in the same way Old Testament doctrines became inscripturated. When the Old Testament canon closed, the canon was referred to as Scripture. The same is true of the development of the New Testament canon. After a complete end had been made of the Old Covenant order in A.D. 70, the canon closed. All New Testament books were written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. All that God wanted His church to know about “faith and life” can be found in Scripture, Old and New Testament revelation. The Westminster Confession of Faith states it this way:

All synods and councils, since the Apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both (Ephesians 2:20; Acts 17:11; 1 Corinthians 2:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14) (WCF 31:4).

Any “tradition” that the church develops after the close of the canon is non-revelational. Its authority is not in any way equal to the Bible. All creeds and confessions are subject to change based on appeal to Scripture alone.

The denial of sola scriptura is Roman Catholicism’s foundational error.

End Notes:

[1] Bob Moran, A Closer Look at Catholicism: A Guide for Protestants (Dallas, TX: Waco, 1986), 60.
[2] San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1983.
[3] This line is not found in the Bible. Most of the “Hail Mary” is a patchwork of Scripture verses that are descriptive of Mary and her special calling (Luke 1:28, 30, 48). The angel Gabriel is not uttering a prayer, nor does he encourage anyone to turn his words into a prayer.
[4] Hahn, Rome Sweet Home, 51.
[5] Ibid, 52.
[6] Greg L. Bahnsen, “The Concept and Importance of Canonicity,” Antithesis 1:5 (September/October 1990), 43.
[7] Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on “Romanism” by “Bible Christians” (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1988, 141.

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The problem is, about the only thing that Solo Scripturo has resulted in is MUCH confusion, division and disagreement within Protestantism. gay clergy, female clergy, abortion, homosexuality, divorce, adultery, denying the deity of Christ and on and on. If Protestantism was unified with one voice (clearly demonstrating that it is led by the one Holy Spirit) than I would give it further consideration but if you go to Protestant blogs and read the debates they agree on very little other than that Jesus is the son of God and died for our sins. Martin Luther could not cope with the reality of Hell and sadly his mind invented the ideas of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide. If Martin Luther truly was restoring the true Gospel and reforming the church why did he have to introduce something? How do you introduce something that already exists? Also the writer makes a point of Jesus always quoting the scriptures, that is because the Pharisees were hypocrites who knew scripture well but didn't follow the teachings of scripture. You cannot find one single verse in scripture where when Jesus was asked what one must do to have eternal life He said "read scripture" or "study the scriptures" or "learn the scriptures" or "follow the scriptures" not one. You cannot find one verse in scripture where any of the Apostles taught anyone that in order to be saved they must read the scriptures. Lastly the "scriptures" during Jesus time were the Septuagint which included the 7 "Apocrypha" (which were in the original 1611 version of the King James Bible) and were later removed (around 1854) Jesus never told anyone to write anything down. The Catholic church determined the 2nd canon and Protestants accept the 2nd canon and the teaching on the Trinity but reject the authority of the church that gave them these 2 pillars of Christianity. No where in scripture is there an official list of books that are considered scripture. So if scripture is the sole rule of authority for Christians why doesn't scripture tell us what is scripture? Jesus didn't establish a Bible He established a church. Jesus never said that every single person who reads scripture should start a new church according to their interpretation of the scriptures. Jesus said do as they say, not as they do. Even Paul himself after hearing Gods voice did not go and start His own church, he met with the Apostles to verify that he was not teaching in error. When some where saying that Christians must be circumsized the Apostles did not appeal to scripture (for scripture was clear that circumcision was necessary to enter into covenant with God) they held a council and said that it seemed fitting to them and to the Holy Spirit. If scripture alone was the sole authority there would have been no need for a council. It's easy for us in hindsight to say well the answer was obvious and to overlook that first council but it speaks volumes. Also the teaching of the trinity was never taught by Jesus or the Apostles and came LONG after Jesus death and resurrection and just like the teaching on circumcision we overlook the fact that no where in scripture does Jesus or the Apostles use the word TRINITY or teach anything about the Trinity. Even today some Christian sects deny this teaching. Even today some Christian sects reject Sunday worship. Even today some Christian sects deny Jesus Divinity. The that anyone and everyone can pick up the Bible and come to the fullness of the truth has not been demonstrated by the division and confusion that is rampant in Protestantism. From the rising of the sun to it's setting in every place in every nation a perfect offering is being made and the exact same Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament and Gospel readings are read in every single Catholic church throughout the world 365/24-7. That is unity, only God can maintain this level of unity over 2000 years. The gates of hell will not prevail. PAX CHRISTI


I'm not sure if Gary's conclusion, "The denial of sola scriptura is Roman Catholicism’s foundational error." is correct. The Christ that Roman Catholicism created has blood that must be repeatedly applied to Catholics through their Eucharist/Mass ceremonies in order for their sins to be cleansed. If a sacrifice can actually cleanse a person from sin, then it doesn't need to be repeated again and again and again....Hebrews 10:2 makes this point. The blood of the Roman Catholic's "Christ" has no more power than that of bulls and goats. I think the Catholic's version of Christ didn't come from traditions, but simply the abusive handling of Scripture. I believe that is their foundational error. If you get Christ wrong, then you get the foundation wrong. Thus the Roman Catholics are worshiping a false Christ. I love Gary's response to Catholics who say, "Jesus did not condemn all traditions; he condemned only erroneous traditions, whether doctrines or practices, that undercut Christian truths.” He nailed it about determining whether a tradition is an “erroneous tradition” or not by sola scriptura. But did Gary nail the definition of the word, tradition, in 2 Thessalonians 2:15: “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.”? Gary said New Testament tradition is the oral teaching of Jesus passed down to the apostles, but the word for tradition in that verse is the Greek word for tradition -- not doctrine or teaching. I think a case can be made that the apostles laid down traditions for the Church and expected believers to follow them, but what are those traditions? They can only be found by sola scriptura ... such as church meetings once a week .... having church leaders .... meeting in homes. Notice there are no commands in the Bible for every church to have church leaders, to meet once a week, or to meet in homes, but when we look at the Scriptures we see that's how the apostles had the Church do things. How can a mega church follow Matthew 18:15-17 in its entirety? Imagine a church trying to stay strong if it gathered only once every two months. Imagine the kind of condition a church would end up in if it didn't have any leadership and it made no plans to get any. This is where apostalic tradition seen in sola scriptura helps the Church.


It is my understanding that the Catholic Church teaches there is ONE source of revelation, not two--that is, not Scripture and Tradition, as if these were two streams of revelation, but Scripture AS Tradition. Here it is in a nutshell: Scripture, the New Testament in particular, is a part of the Church's Tradition, and "Tradition" is defined as the Deposit of Faith which Christ gave to the Church. In other words, Christ gave the Faith (Truth) to the Church (through the apostles), and the Church produced the New Testament and canonized the Scriptures for the benefit of the faithful. The Church also defined the doctrine of the Trinity and the relationship between Christ's humanity and divinity (with language not found in the Bible), and put the first day of the week (in place of the seventh) into the Ten Commandments. If the Church can do all that, does this not mean the Church must have at least some kind of God-given authority? If so, define it for us.

Michael Riemer
Michael Riemer

I agree brother, sola scriptura is what is taught in Scripture. Now, I wonder if you could use that teaching to defend the doctrine of the trinity? The Encyclopaedia Britannica states, and I agree; “The Christian Bible, including the New Testament, has no Trinitarian statements or speculations concerning a trinitary deity…”2 It is true, the word “Trinity” is never used in Scripture to describe God. The terms three persons, three distinct hypostases (“substance”, as it denotes an actual concrete existence), three simultaneous persons, distinctions, plurality of persons, multiple centers of consciousness, 1st Person, 2nd Person, 3rd Person; the phrase God the Son, Eternal Son, co-eternal, co-equal, co-ordinate, consubstantial and uncreate (see the Athanasian Creed), are never used in reference to Christ or God. I have a “slight” problem using terms and language that is not derived in whole or in part from the Scriptures to describe the one true God. I have a real problem with a doctrine that is “indiscoverable” by reason and incapable of proof from reason. This indiscoverable “truth”, this doctrine incapable of proof from reason has not been revealed to me, nor was it revealed to the authors of Scripture. I do not believe God is a three headed monstrosity, in which each head contains a consciousness that is distinct and separate from the other two. The three persons could not be in three forms, for then you would have three distinct entities (Gods), with each one denying that they were the other two. They cannot be three distinct personalities, each with a “personal” consciousness, for behind each personality (consciousness) there would have to be a distinct and personal being or entity; and three personal beings, entities, consciousness’s, spirit forms or divine persons is two too many. For any rational being to believe it is inhabited by two other independent distinct minds, would, it seems to me, to be a debilitating mental condition. Schizophrenia is one of the major psychoses. It is a Greek term meaning “split mind.” It might be caused by an organic condition; it may be hereditary, neurological, behavioral, maybe even demonic, or it may have some other cause. But whatever the cause or reason, it is a debilitating condition for the one who is afflicted with it. I refuse to believe that God has this kind of psychoses. The Trinity is an alien idea and concept which is outside of the realm of reason, logic and Scripture. It is a doctrine built upon mans reasoning, which has been divorced from all the Scripture relates and teaches about God’s nature and divinity. Which is the reason that all the terms and ideas used to describe the concept of the Trinity are never found in Scripture. Sola scriptura brother, is the only way to go!!!!


How can you ask if the Catholic Church is "biblical" when the Church itself compiled the Bible as we know it, except that the Protestant versions omit 7 books?

Jose Sanchez
Jose Sanchez

Sola Scriptura What is Scripture? The Words of God What are the Words of God? John 1:1-5,14 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." Sola Scriptura = Jesus Christ Only. John 5:39;14:6b "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 14:6b I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." To approach God by any other means is to go against Sola Scriptura, more specifically is to go against Jesus Christ himself. Catholics believe the battle is only between Scripture and other writings, but this is just the "surface" level of the battle. In the Spiritual, the battle is between Jesus Christ and all other spirits who want to take his place... As Paul the Apostle Said: Galatians 1:6-8 "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" This is why we reject the traditional teachings of Catholicism as Anathema. It is eternally condemned. We want no part of it, we will not bow down to it, we will obey God not men. Acts 5:29 "29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!" How did the Priests of the time respond to Peter? "35 Then [Gamaliel] addressed them: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men... in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” But of course the wicked slaughtering of so-called heretics during the Reformation only reveals that the Roman Catholics never read this part of the bible. The Jews were merciful to the First Pope and his disciples, yet the Roman Catholics turned around and slaughtered anyone who went against them? Should those who received mercy, then later on reveal a lack mercy, be given even more mercy once again? Where was Mercy during the time of the Reformation? The Collapse of the Roman Catholic Church is God paying them back for the debts that they owed. Take a deep hard look at Matthew 18:21-35. Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. I guess I still carry this resentment of the RC from my Pentecostal up bringing...

E Harris
E Harris

"Any “tradition” that the church develops after the close of the canon is non-revelational." I wouldn't say non-revelational. ALL learning from nature, from God, from each other (when true) is revelational!! We're always learning and growing. But no truth is socially BINDING unless it is in complete agreement with all scripture. And scripture clearly prioritizes: as when Jesus' disciples picked corn on the Sabbath, and Jesus talked about how people did things that were 'unlawful for them to do' but it was still ok in God's eyes! So, for the most part, it boils down to this: the scripture is like a matrix. You got to find your way through it, and it helps you remain humble as you mature. Western Civilization has been developing and wrestling and maturing within this matrix for some time. Words are written down, to HELP little children better understand, repeat, and study the wisdom that the sages & prophets knew (who KNEW God and walked with Him). The scripture is supposed to open us up to the living prophetic: Jesus Himself, with us, within us, God talking to and through us. Since there is evil and flesh, we must learn to discern: and that is what scriptures are recorded for! They are like yardsticks whereby to measure future revelation against the reality of truth.

E Harris
E Harris

In regards to Sola Scriptura, oneness pentecostals teach that as well: in all matters related to universal doctrine. This is one of their reasons for REJECTING the trinitarian language employed at the Council of Nicaea by the academics of that time. Onenss folks do not deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. The PERSON of Jesus Christ is the Father. But Jesus' outward form (the flesh, mind, soul, will) was the Son, and had to pray to the Spirit. They are not equal: they are Father and Son. One originates and sends the other, who serves. But I also grew up with a firm conviction that the prophetic is real: even in the present-day. Unlike the Papacy, Muhammad, or Joseph Smith... the TRUE prophetic never contradicts the scriptures. We learn all the time, every day: about people, nature, atoms & galaxies & computers, about taxes and religions and history and friends... it's not all diagrammed out in the Bible. If all the things were written about Jesus Christ that could be written: the earth itself couldn't hold all the books! If you believe in the prophetic, it is just another layer of learning: by acknowledging that some knowledge takes a more direct route from God to us. Now, God never contradicts Himself. The same God who established nature, and established the Scriptures, establishes our mind in Him (over time). The prophetic (the partial) is to raise us up to full maturity, toward KNOWING HIM who speaks. We got the original scriptures via the prophetic spirit, and those who believed in its treasures. It's the same today. We build precept upon precept, making sense of the scriptures, with the prophetic as a guide and a tool for these ends. We desire to know the God of the Scriptures...and the Scriptures are REAL HISTORY. Next to the Bible, all other books must bow down!!! And there are plenty of books (even those claiming to be prophetic) which must bow and admit they are wrong. (We should not burn these books, however. They are a testament to why others made the mistakes they made. They are a testimony of evil in the name of God and goodness.) The christian walk is a spiritual one. We must learn to discern beyond the visible, and beyond mere logic and surface-level Bible study. The Bible says that if we will to DO what God says, and serve how God wants, we shall know about the truth of doctrine. Is your heart in the right place, concerning God and fellow men? It's got to be in our willing hearts, first. The sign that it is not in our willing hearts: is when we are so easily led astray, and our minds grasp at straws when looking for the obvious! Our minds can be sharp, but our hearts must be sharp as well. For out of the abundance of the heart, things are brought to our mind and attention by God. If we're asking the right questions, but not waiting in the proper manner as to receive a proper answer... our minds & hearts have been tricked. Even the most knowledgeable among us is blind by comparison to God (and even sometimes the devil who sees all the imperfections and chinks in our armor). And it's not enough simply to point to a big, black book and say that you've studied it. If your heart isn't right, you won't understand the deep meaning of its words! Such deep meaning comes into our hearts softly and prophetically. The testimony of Jesus Christ (not the papacy or whatnot) is the sure Spirit of prophecy.

E Harris
E Harris

Vance, that seems reasonable, even from a prophetic point of view (that God does speak to people, in all time periods, if they are obedient and open to receiving). But two clarifications are needed: 1) What is the proper form and functioning of 'ekklesia'?? What we call 'church' can practically mean anything we "construct" it to mean. That's why, if you're going to borrow biblical terms, you should stick within that word's biblical parameters and context, rather than warping it to suit your doctrine, heirarchy or structure. The ekklesia is certainly NOT the official Roman Catholic Heirarchy. It may (at times) be IN that heirarchy, but the church IS NOT the "Roman church" or any other sect with a man-made leadership post. Such leaders are, at best, entrepreneurial servants of the church, and their traditions are often in conflict with the logic of earlier "tradition" (Scripture). 2) God does not change, nor does His logic. How is it that later tradition or prophetic revelation (papacy) can trump earlier tradition or prophetic revelation (scriptures)? When in doubt, go back to Jesus. And the ministry & teachings of Jesus would invalidate the whole RCC and most sectarianism in general.


Michael Riemer, Unfortunately, we want *competent* interpretation of scripture. Sola Scriptura does not mean that anyone's interpretation of the scriptures is the ultimate authority. It means that the interpretations that match the *intent* of the authors are the ultimate authority. For example, the notion that certain terminology such as "Trinity" is not found in scripture is hardly an argument, since the word "theology" is likewise not found in scripture, and no one would argue that doing theology is wrong [otherwise, they wouldn't be on this board]. Also, all the Encyclopedia Britannica is saying is that there is no specific doctrinal formulation of the Trinity in the Bible. In other words, you don't have a particular section of scripture that lays out every aspect of the doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity is predicated on the fact that there is one God [Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:5, 21], that three different persons are presented as "God" [John 1:1, 20:28; John 17:3; Acts 5:3-4] and that these persons are not the same since they have fellowship with and relate to one another [John 17, 8:16ff, 14:16 20:22]. This is all that is required to establish the doctrine of the Trinity. If the scriptures teach each of these truths, then the Trinity is Biblical because it matches the intent of the authors of scripture. Also, you have no clue what Schizophrenia is, since I have a friend who developed Schizophrenia. The notion of always being afraid that people are trying to hurt you, and hearing and seeing things that aren't really there is an absurd parallel to the Trinity. More than that, the main problem with that section of your post is that the Bible says that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit do everything together [John 5:19, 30, 8:28]. Hence, although they are distinct in their roles, they are unified in their purpose, and all work together to do the same thing. Hence, the notion of a "divided mind" is simply not consistent with the way the Bible and even the creeds present the Trinity. So, yes, we want to follow the Bible alone, but we want to interpret it competently so that it speaks of its own accord. Anti-Trinitarianism has huge linguistic and methodological flaws, which was the reason it ended up loosing to orthodoxy over time. We must be diligent to present ourselves approved to God a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.


cathyann, The problem is that Jesus held the people of his day responsible for knowing what scripture is. How would a Jew living 200 years before the time of Christ know that Isaiah and 2 Chronicles were scripture? If the Catholic Church "compiled the Bible," why were the Jews of Jesus' day expected to know what was scripture and what wasn't scripture? More than that, the threefold division of the canon that gives us the 66 books of the Old Testament can be traced clear back to the time of Siriach, on the basis of a preface by the translator Jesus ben Siriach. That threefold division is likewise found on the lips of Jesus in Luke 24:44, and is expressed by Josephus as being the very Old Testament canon Protestants have today. Likewise, the apocrypha were never stored up in the temple, and they were never seen as "making the hands unclean." The canonization of the apocrypha is utterly indefensible. There is no reason whatsoever that it should be excepted as canon outside of the ipse dixit of a church. More than that, the first dogmatic declaration of the scriptures from the Roman Catholic church came in April of 1546. We all had our Bibles and knew well what scripture was long before April of 1546. In fact, Athenasius, in his 39th festal letter gives us the same canon of the NT long before even the provincial councils of Hippo and Carthage gave a canon including the apocrypha. In fact, you can document multiple church fathers and leaders from beginning of the church age up until the time of the reformation who denied the apocrypha including such notables as Pope Gregory the Great and Cardinal Cajatan, the Cardinal who was sent to interrogate Martin Luther: The denial of the apocrypha was a part of Roman Catholic tradition clear up until the time of the reformation when the church, by its own ipse dixit, decided that the apocrypha should be part of the canon. The inclusion of the apocrypha largely followed Augustine, who did not even know Hebrew. The more a person in church history knew the Hebrew language and culture, the more likely they were to reject the apocrypha. As I said, there is simply no way to defend the inclusion of the apocrypha as scripture, other than by a simple "because we say so." So, no, the Catholic Church did not compile the Bible, and their attempt to do so on the part of the apocrypha has resulted in all kinds of historical problems.


I'm not Catholic. I just wanted to clarify a point: the Catholic Church does not teach the "two streams of revelation" idea (i.e., Scripture plus Tradition), as many people think. I also wanted to ask a question to (hopefully) spark a thought for another post along these lines (perhaps from Joel's point of view). By "Church," I meant the historic, visible Church. The Church includes all its members as well as the bishops and elders. (Different members of the Body have different responsibilities, so all members are not equally equipped to interpret the Deposit of Faith.) By referring to the development and defining of Trinitarian and Christological dogmas, I was alluding to the Catholic Church's teaching on how Christ, through the college of bishops, preserves the Truth He deposited in the Church and guides the Church as dogma develops due to the rise of various heresies along the way. It would seem logical that if Protestants accept the Trinitarian and Christological creeds (which use extra-biblical terms to define relationships within the Godhead) of the historic Councils, and if they accept the insertion of the Lord's Day (Sunday) in place of the Sabbath (seventh day) in the Decalogue (though no NT passage mentions this), then it seems they would have to include some form of Holy Tradition and divinely guided development of doctrine in their understanding of revelation. I think some Protestants do have something like that (Joel's denomination, perhaps [?], since it is connected with the Continuing Anglican movement).


LoL. Case in point. Here are 2 Solo Scripturo-ists who can't even agree on the teaching of the Trinity which is not explicitly found anywhere in scripture. I think your statement brilliantly clarifies my point "we want to interpret it competently so that it speaks of its own accord" And according to you, your interpretation is the only competent interpretation. Luther, Calvin, Knox, Zwingli, Russel, Semple, Smith, Roberts, Graham, Bell, Driscoll, White and a slew of others over the centuries have believed as much, nothing but division and confusion has resulted. THE CHURCH IS THE PILAR AND BULWARK OF TRUTH AND THE GATES OF HELL WILL NOT PREVAIL. DO NOT REST ON YOUR OWN INSIGHT, DO AS THEY SAY NOT AS THEY DO. PAX CHRISTI

Michael Riemer
Michael Riemer

Adam I am sorry about your friend. But my analogy to Schizophrenia does hold true. Your friend has just one form of that malady. Others who have that disorder truly exhibit a split mind, for more then one personality does seem to emanate from one body. A more accurate description might be called (DID) Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder. There is even a 1957 film, “The Three Faces of Eve” based on the true story of Chris Costner Sizemore, who truly had a split mind. “The doctrine of the Trinity is predicated on the fact that there is one God [Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:5, 21], that three different persons are presented as “God” [John 1:1, 20:28; John 17:3; Acts 5:3-4] and that these persons are not the same since they have fellowship with and relate to one another [John 17, 8:16ff, 14:16 20:22].” I think that statement is without logic and absurd. There is one God, but he is a trio made up of three different persons or personalities? Which each person or personality denying he is the other two? “that three different persons are presented as “God” Three persons are presented as God? No, Scripture does not present that anywhere! What is your definition of the word person? Without a clear understanding of that word as you apply it to God, there can be no discussion. Acts 5:3-4 shows two persons? There is one, and one only in those two verses. God and the Holy Ghost are not two separate beings or persons. God is a Holy Spirit. If you believe that the Holy Ghost in verse 3 is a different person, then what does that make the “God” in verse 4, another spirit or different person? But God is not a PERSON, He is Spirit. He is a Holy Spirit. Are you telling me that there are two spirits that are God? You may call me a man, husband or a son, but I am one and one only. Christ was a man, and in that respect there can be fellowship between both, the God, who is a spirit and the being who was flesh. Two separate beings, God who is Spirit and Jesus who was flesh. Jesus was the Son of God, not God the Son the second or third person of the trinity. Jesus was God, but the flesh was never called God, for the flesh was subordinate to the Spirit. “…my Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). God who is a Holy Spirit dwelt in the flesh which was not God. And it was all the fullness of the Godhead that dwelt in Christ, not one third. Colossians 1:19, 2:9 God the Son, did not dwell in the Son of God! Since our posts are really off the subject of brother DeMar’s post, if you would like to have a deeper discussion, please email me.