Go to the Beginning of this Book Sola Scriptura or Prima Scriptura? (The Bible Alone or the Bible First?) – What Scripture Alone Testifies Concerning the Church as the Body of Christ Expressing Himself in Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium: The Biblical Basis for the Early Church’s Formal Repudiation of Heretics, Which Is the Biblical Basis for Refuting Modern Doctrinally Liberal Christianity Which Likewise Rejects or Doubts Traditional Christian Faith and Morality
The Principles Regarding Authority and Scripture Which Consciously or Unconsciously Underlie All Protestantism as a Basic Foundation Cannot Be Drawn from Scripture Alone
Above [in the book this excerpt is from] are some of the Scriptures and Scriptural principles which support the consistent ancient belief and practice of the Christian Church until the Protestant Reformation that there is legitimate and authoritative Sacred Tradition and Magisterium in addition to Sacred Scripture. Can the Protestant teaching that “Scripture is our only authoritative source of knowing true things” be found in the Scriptures? Former Fundamentalist Protestant David B. Currie defines the problem this way:
To paraphrase Protestants, only those doctrines taught in the Bible are to be trusted for our theology. This very statement, however, is logically self-destructive! The simple fact is that (according to your own criteria) this statement cannot be trusted, because it is not taught in the Bible. The Protestant view of the Bible is unbiblical. Your view of Scripture is unscriptural.”1
Currie notes that it is not just a lack of doctrinal terminology in the Bible, as with the doctrine of the Trinity. The word Trinity is not in the Bible, but the substance of the doctrine that bears that name is definitely in the Bible.2 In contrast, the Protestant “Pillar of the Reformation” that “Scripture Alone is our only authority and source of doctrine” is not substantially taught anywhere. The verses that Protestants typically use to show “Scripture Alone” are made to say something other than what they actually say. For example, “All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, etc.” (2 Timothy 3:16) in no way implies that only Scripture is useful for teaching, etc., and if it did, it would mean that the entire body of Protestant literature (Pilgrim’s Progress to Billy Graham) is useless for teaching and training in righteousness and so on.
The typical Protestant response to the Biblical challenge of the above verses [in the book this excerpt is from] which explicitly testify to Sacred Tradition is the theory that “by the time the New Testament was finished, the complete oral apostolic tradition Paul refers to would be written down,” is also not at all supported in Scripture. Scripture never says anything like “everything that is true and that you need to know will eventually be written down on paper.” This idea is in fact contradicted by John 21:24-25, since John’s gospel was one of the very last books of the New Testament written, and he tells us how it is impossible to write down everything.
The Scriptural challenge to Protestant Christians is this: Where is it substantially taught in Scripture Alone that the entirety of the Christian Revelation given to the Apostles through Christ and the Holy Spirit will be crystallized in written Scriptures by the time of the death of the last Apostle, so that the Scripture will after the death of the last Apostle be the only authority for the Christian, and there will be no more Authoritative Tradition and no Succession of the Apostolic Authority which the Apostles have used to lead and teach the Church up to this time? If Sola Scriptura (“Bible Alone” doctrine) is true, then every clause above should be clearly taught in Scripture Alone. This is quite a detailed Protestant (implicit) belief, but if Paul and the other Apostles believed this, they certainly give no clue in their Scriptural writings, much less Scriptural evidence of every clause in the above Protestant doctrine.3 Yet something close to the above is assumed or believed implicitly by all Protestants even if it is not in their formal teaching. So where does this teaching come from?
Honest Protestant Christians seeking the truth realize that the few Scriptures used in support of these ideas do not even come close to substantially defining the above doctrine. What Protestants are left with is that this doctrine, which is essential to justify Protestant Christian faith separate from the Catholic Church, is simply a Protestant tradition – and unlike Catholic Sacred Tradition, it is an under 500 year old tradition of men. This Tradition leaves those who grew up in the Protestant Reformer’s separate churches generations later with a strongly held implicit belief which has no root, and even contradicts itself, since this doctrine is not in Scripture Alone. This is what leads men like David B. Currie who were “born fundamentalist” to become “born again Catholic.”
© Peter William John Baptiste SFO