Why The Bible Alone?
Roman Catholic Objections to
Sola Scriptura (The Bible Alone)
Every Christian should pay careful attention to the Roman Catholic challenge that the Bible alone is not the only Word of God. If there are other sources of equal weight and magnitude as the Bible, then Christian doctrine, stemming only from Bible exegesis, must be open to correction from outside the Bible. For, if there are other Words of God, Christians need to re-evaluate all that they believe in light of additional revelation. But are there other Words of God? Here is a summary of the ongoing debate with the RC religion and others who claim additional God breathed authorities.
Here is the question posed by the Roman Catholic apologist, “Where in Scripture is the doctrine of Sola Scriptura taught?” Since you trust the Bible alone, where does the Bible say, “Trust me alone?”
Here are some answers that Christians need to articulate. The Christian needs to point out that not each and every doctrine taught in Scripture is taught explicitly by book, chapter and verse. Many doctrines are taught by way of logical and necessary deduction. For instance the word ‘Trinity’ is not used in the Bible. Few would argue that the Trinity is not more implicitly taught than explicitly. The same may be said of the righteousness of Christ imputed to the believer for justification. This doctrine surfaces in light of the overwhelming implicit evidence.
Furthermore, the Christian needs to point out that even Roman Catholicism admits that the Bible is at least one part of the inspired Word of God.
The Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God and, because they are inspired they are truly the Word of God. DV 24, NCC #135.
However, Roman Catholics maintain that the Bible is not the only Word of God.
Taking this admission, that the Bible is at least one part of the divinely inspired Word of God, it seems incumbent upon Rome, which does not accept the Bible as the only Word of God, to bear the burden of proving there are other sources of equal weight.
1. The Roman Catholic religion must prove that Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium are so closely connected that one cannot stand without the others. They must prove that Scripture and their Tradition and Magisterium must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments. Finally, Rome must prove that other sources can be summoned to give “certainty about God’s revealed truth” other than the Bible alone.
By definition, the Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Roman Religion consisting in :
“The totality of the Bishops is infallible, when they, either assembled in general council or scattered over the earth, propose a teaching of faith or morals as one to be held by all the faithful.” Ott page 299 from De Fide
“The Pope is infallible when he speaks ex cathedra.” Ott page 299 De Fide par. 8.
2. Rome has to prove their Magisterium has Divine Authority to produce Divinely inspired tradition which is equal to the Scripture. This is more than Apostolic Succession. This is a passing down of the gift of inspiration itself.
In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them “their own position of teaching authority.” This sacred Tradition, then, and the sacred Scripture of both Testaments, are like a mirror, in which the Church, during its pilgrim journey here on earth, contemplates God, from whom she receives everything...... Dei Verbum 8.
The Tradition that comes from the apostles makes progress in the Church, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
“The Catholic Church holds that in order for the meaning of Sacred Scripture to be properly understood, the Church must have recourse to its living Tradition- i.e., the infallible interpretation of the apostolic depositum fidei. And this interpretation is guaranteed by an infallible Magisterium.” Madrid Article on Sola Scriptura.
In light of such claims, the Christian needs to remind the Roman Catholic that the Apostle Paul gives fair warning in the Bible to not go beyond what is written:
1CO 4:6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.
3. By what source or method will Rome prove Apostolic Succession, Apostolic Inspirational Succession and Apostolic Infallible Teaching Succession? There is only one Standard that we know of that can qualify its equal. The genuine article is the only sure way of establishing the validity of an identical standard. Real Gold is used to expose Fool’s Gold. Real Treasury Notes are used to expose the Counterfeit. If everyone agrees that Gold is the standard, then it must be used to test the imitation. If everyone agrees that The Federal Government issues a real twenty dollar bill then it alone is the standard to show the forgery. Since Christians and Roman Catholics alike affirm the Bible as God’s Word, the Bible should be the standard against which all other alleged revelation should be measured.
For Roman Catholic claims to be true, the Bible should teach Apostolic Succession, Inspirational Succession and Apostolic Infallible Interpretational Succession . Rome cannot simply declare the right to Inspirational Succession anymore than Joseph Smith or May Ellen White can declare their own writings on a par with Scripture. But, Rome not only maintains Inspirational Succession, it declares Infallible Interpretational Succession as well.
Does the Bible teach that the apostles passed along to others an ability to interpret infallibly or to produce revelation on a par with Scripture? Where do the apostles give a command to their successors to speak as though they were inspired and to bestow onto themselves authority as though it was on a level of the apostles?
4. Furthermore, Rome claims that the ‘traditions’ mentioned by the apostle Paul in the Bible exist outside of the Bible as a separate source of divinely inspired writing. Rome has to prove that the Traditions mentioned in Scripture [as coming from an Apostle] were not incorporated into the text of Scripture. Here are the ‘tradition’ passages as they are found in the Bible.
“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which were taught, whether by word or by letter from us.” 2 Thess. 2:15
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. 2TH 3:6
Now I praise you because you remember me in everything, and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. 1CO 11:2
The Bible does not tell us that there is a pool of Tradition which exists separately from the Bible. Nor does the Bible give to this alleged tradition the weight of added certainty of the revelation of God that is necessary for our Salvation or Sanctification or Service. When things of substance are spoken of in the Bible, the apostles appealed to the Written Word and not to an alleged outside source of tradition.
ROM 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? "And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness."
ROM 10:11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed."
GAL 4:30 But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, For the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman."
MAT 22:29 But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God.
LUK 24:27 And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
JOH 5:39 "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me;
ACT 17:2 And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
JOH 20:30 Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
ROM 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith."
1JO 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.
It must be pointed out that the Bible foresees the real possibility of weakened minds being taken captive by the traditions of men. This is strictly forbidden in the Bible.
We are not to be taken captive by the traditions of men:
MAR 7:9 He was also saying to them, "You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. MAR 7:13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that. "
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. COL 2:8
In essence, Rome believes that the Apostles produced the inspired written Word and inspired Oral Traditions. Rome alledges these Oral Traditions are different from the written Word. However, Rome cannot produce anything material that can be identified as the “Oral Tradition” of Paul or Peter or Luke or John. Nobody can!
Witness the Catholic Encyclopedia:
“[Tradition]... is not an inanimate thing passed hand to hand; it is not, properly speaking, an assemblage of doctrines and institutions consigned to books or other monuments.... it must be represented as a current of life and truth coming from God through Christ and through the Apostles to the last of the faithful who repeats his creed and learns his catechism.” Taken from McCarthy: The Gospel According to Rome page 291. He quotes Catholic Encyclopeida. Page 9 of Volume 15.
In light of this, Rome takes the next step and asserts Inspirational Succession to manufacture revealed truth as well as Infallible Interpretation to construct yet more revelation. Rome, in effect, gives out Revelation from God on a level equal to the Bible [witness the alleged Assumption of Mary] under the delusion that it owns this superiority. In essence, since Rome has failed miserably to produce any material evidence of a Body of Revelation known as Apostolic Tradition, so, they have made up their own. Tradition has become what Rome says it is. The real position of Rome is Sola Ecclesia. Only the Church.
There are many voices claiming to be the Voice of God. There are many Traditions. By what shall we measure these many voices and many traditions?
Material Sufficiency and Formal Sufficiency:
Material Sufficiency means that the Bible contains all that is necessary for salvation.
Formal Sufficiency means that the Bible is clear and that no infallible teaching Magisterium is necessary to interpret it.
In reality, Rome believes in neither: Material and Formal Sufficiency are negated by the Roman Catholic contention that the Magisterium holds the same weight as Scripture and tradition. Material and Formal Sufficiency are further blocked by the RC insistence that their Magisterium alone can interpret Scripture. As an example, let us examine the Decree of Pope Pius XII on the Assumption of Mary as reported by a Roman Catholic writer. Notice how the RC Magisterium decree trumps tradition as well as Scripture.
“Pope Pius defined Mary’s assumption as a truth divinely revealed. Of the two sources of revelation, theologians commonly say the Assumption was implicit in Tradition, in spite of the practical absence of documentary evidence before A.D. 300. Yet the Pope finally declared that the doctrine was in revelation. How do we know? On the answer to this question rests a new insight into Christian Tradition that has been gaining momentum since the eighteenth century. Briefly stated, Tradition is coming to be identified more with the Church’s magisterium or teaching office and less exclusively as the source along with Scripture of the truths of salvation... “Together with the sources of revelation (Scripture and Tradition) God has given to his Church a living magisterium to elucidate and explain what is contained in the deposit of faith only obscurely, and, as it were, by implication.” The degree of obscurity, we may add, is unimportant. Given this faculty by her founder, whose Spirit of truth abides with her at all times, the Church can infallibly discern what belongs to revelation no matter how cryptic the contents may be.” John Hardon Catholic Catechism 1975 page 161.
We see quite a different story emerging from the New Testament: [67 A.D. Final Letter:]
2TI 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.
2TI 4:1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
2TI 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
Peter knew nothing of Apostolic Succession. [Last letter 64 A.D.]
2PE 3:1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,
2PE 3:2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
2PE 1:13 And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, 2PE 1:14 knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.
2PE 1:15 And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you may be able to call these things to mind.
Point: The Bible does not have to assert that it is the only source of Authority if no other source of equal authority can be produced. If it alone stands at the end of the day as the only Authoritative Word from God then it is Sola Scriptura by default!
Things which the Roman Catholic religion needs to show to the Christian:
- Show us from an Authoritative source Apostolic Succession.
- Show us from an Authoritative source Apostolic Tradition not already found in the Scripture.
- Show us from an Authoritative source that there is such a thing as an Infallible Magisterium.
- Show us in the Bible where the Bible declares that it shares authority with a Church Council or a Pope or a college of Cardinals.
Point: The recognition of the Word spoken by the Apostle Paul was not governed by Paul or a Council. It was a supernatural revelation brought about by the Holy Spirit.
1TH 2:13 And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. 2TH 2:13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
Point: In Acts 20 the Apostle Paul predicts the Chaos that would ensue at his departure. Did he commend them to the Magisterium or the Bible?
ACT 20:32 "And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Point: Patrick Madrid (RC Apologist) calls the Westminster Confession’s reliance upon the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit as our full persuasion and assurance that the Bible is the Word of God as nothing more than Mormonism. “I know it is inspired because I feel in my heart that it is inspired” is a useless bromide according to Madrid.
The obvious Christian question: What enabled mere men sitting at a table in the 4th Century. to be so sure that they could recognize exactly what books comprised the Word of God? This is the Roman Catholics understanding of how the Bible came into existence.
Point: It is not lost on Christians that what Patrick Madrid calls a “useless bromide” is precisely the manner in which Pope Pius IX describes the assembling of the books of the Bible by the Holy Spirit.
“But the Church holds these books as sacred and canonical, not because, having been put together by human industry alone, they were then approved by its authority; nor because they contain revelation without error; but because, having been written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and, as such, they have been handed down to the Church itself.” Pius IX Den 1787
The handing down of the Books of the Bible is through illumination by the Holy Spirit and is the reason why Christians accept the Bible as the only Word of God.
The net result of forsaking Sola Scriptura:
By going outside the safety of biblical revelation the Magisterium of the Romish religion produces a religion which is offensive to Christianity. Rome has utilized her self appointed authority to fashion a religion which keeps her adherents in fear, doubt and terror as to their final destiny. By combining a little Scriptura with a little “so called tradition” and a whole lot of Sola Ecclesia, Rome has set forth her own peculiar and bizarre religion:
Fully aware that neither the term nor the concept of “Sacramental Salvation” can be shown from the Bible, Rome keeps captive her people by insisting upon an incremental, sacramental salvation totally dependent upon the Romish priesthood. This man-made system of religion transfers trust from God’s Word to trust in a priestly class.
Here is a sampling of how Rome, relying upon the un-biblical dogma of Apostolic Succession, ruins the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Baptismal Regeneration and Progressive Justification. Totally opposite of the clear teaching of the Bible.
- Confirmation. A word found nowhere in Scripture and an RC ritual invented by Rome.
- Penance. Another word found nowhere in Scripture and RC ritual totally unsubstantiated by the Bible.
- Transubstantiation. Another word and concept totally foreign to the Bible. The idea of literally eating a piece of bread as the transformed Body and Blood of Jesus Christ after re-presenting it as a sin forgiving sacrifice on an un-bloody Roman Altar is repugnant to the Christian.
- Papal Infallibility. A concept unknown and utterly rejected by the early Christian community and rightly so. Papal decrees such as the Assumption of Mary have spawned their own cults and spin offs into Marian Adoration and Idolatry.
- Purgatory. This RC invention mutilates any semblance of Christianity. The threat of Purgatory is a slap in the face of Christ’s redeeming work. It is the epitome of religious enslavement.
- Marian Idolatry. The excessive promotion of Mary and elevation of her status far beyond all biblical and historical moorings is the commonplace declaration of modern Roman Catholicsim.
- Even the word ‘sacrament’ is borrowed from the pagan culture of Rome and has no place in the Bible as a term or a concept.
One of the Rome’s criticisms of Sola Scriptura is that it is un-workable. They say it is un-workable because it leads to countless denominations each claiming to have the truth as it is found in the Bible. Christians should point out that all Christians are united around the belief in Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide regardless of how different they may be in interpreting such things as Eschatology [study of end times] or Ecclesiology [the study of Church structure] or the Charismata [study of spiritual gifts].
But what has having an alleged Infallible Magisterium solved? Nothing. In fact, great confusion and embarrassment have ensued from the so-called teaching of the Magisterium. There seems to be no two Roman Catholics who think alike. Doctrinal diversity abounds in Rome!
There are pro-life Catholics and pro-choice Catholics. There are married priests and unmarried priests. There are Latin Only Mass type Catholics and English Only types. There are countless societies and fraternals each espousing its peculiar point of view. There are Roman Catholics who do not recognize Trent and those who do. There are those who take Vatican II as a teaching council only and those who view it as a Pastoral Conference only. Even in the question at hand we find evidence that Rome is divided over the partim/partim theory of tradition and the one stream concept of tradition. Perhaps the most telling observation is that no two Roman Catholics agree on any one definition of Tradition with a capital “T.” The list goes on and on. It is safe to say that the diversity which exists among Protestant Denominations, striving to follow the inspired Word of God as found in the Bible alone, pales into insignificance when compared with the endless divisions and immeasurable spectrum of ideas contained within American Roman Catholicism. We are staggered by the diversity of opinion and Bible interpretation among Roman Catholics if we take into account the rest of the world.
To further complicate things, there is an army of Roman Catholic theologians and apologists trying to put their own spin on the official teachings of the Roman Catholic religion. They have their work cut out for them.
Source: A Christian witness to Roman Catholics