A friend of mine asked if I would respond in a short reply to a local column found in the Asbury Theological Seminary’s paper. Below is my reply.
The Historical Facts
–Sola Scriptura is not found in Christian history prior to the Reformation. Not a single Church father can be used to justify its existence.
-Fourth century Catholic Bishop St. Athanasius was the first person to acknowledge the 27 books of the New Testament as we have it today.
-For centuries, the Church was unclear as to what precisely constituted the Word of God in Holy Writ. The Bible was first given by the authority of the Catholic Church affirming the Canon of Scripture in 380 AD at the synod of Rome.
Two Brief Arguments against Sola Scriptura based on the Facts
-There is no inspired table of contents. Therefore, no authority could definitively provide a Canon of Scripture. An infallible collection of infallible books is impossible without an infallible authority outside of Scripture. Sola Scriptura-ists must hold that the Bible is a fallible collection of books necessarily leaving no absolute assurance that the Bible is God’s Word. A sure belief in the Bible is essentially groundless.
-The quantifying state of sola is one. The person interpreting Scripture or what Scriptures interpret others necessarily comes into play. The final authority simply comes down to the individual doing the interpreting. Practically speaking, it doesn’t work for a unified Church.
-Sola scriptura is a tradition of men that nullifies the Word of God, because the Word of God provides information that the Church makes the final decisions, not each individual (I Tim. 3:15, Matt. 18:17-18, Titus 2:15, Matt. 16:18).
The Historical Alternative
-Believe that the Word of God is contained in both the Bible and in Sacred Tradition which is found in the practice of the Church and the oral traditions not written down (II Thess. 2:15).
-Accept the fact that Christ established one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church unified in faith doctrinally with the successors of St. Peter as the visible head of the Church. Believe the Catholic Church is infallible so that it can provide the infallible interpretation of the Word of God and the parameters thereof. This is the logical extension of Christ’s established authority. Since God can give fallible men the ability to write down the infallible Word of God, would God not grant His Church’s established authority the ability to provide the faithful the infallible interpretation of it? After all, Christians accept the Church’s authority in its decision on the Canon of Scripture.