I chose to start this blog to discuss a common issue- Sola Scriptura, or “Bible Alone,” which is repeatedly brought up in reference to the Catholic Church.
A poster on the discussion forum, stated,“I try to live by God's rules and not man's. Since the Bible is our only true reference and the history, and traditions of the Catholic Church go against that in many instances, I do not feel like any publication coming from the Catholic Church is necessarily "correct". Therefore it could be, and probably is, biased to get the results that the Pope wants.”
I do agree with the poster to a point- I believe that the Bible is part of the reference for Christianity. However, I believe that when she states that she refuses to take any publication coming from the Catholic Church as correct, then she should realize that this includes that self-same Bible she uses as a reference. It was the Catholic Church and its councils which determined which books of the present New Testament were inspired or not. History demonstrates this clearly.
Making the Bible the only reference is problematic from an historical point of view.
For the first approximately 400 years of Christianity, there was no New Testament Bible on which to base Sola Scriptura, and many of the texts the early Christians were reading at the Eucharistic celebrations were not inspired, though they were thought to possibly be so.
Also, interestingly, the Bible itself does not claim to be the sole source of the faith. One cannot find in the Bible where it states that it is the sole source of Christian revelation. So to adhere to sola scriptura is all actuality is not biblical. Finally, I will discuss with those who wish to comment on how Sola Scriptura works or fails to work in today’s society.
First, the historical point of view. For approximately the first 400 years of Christianity, the Church did not have the New Testament as we know it. The Bereans Paul speaks of in the Bible searched scripture, but they searched the OLD TESTAMENT for knowledge of God.
The New Testament (NT) was not collected as the twenty-seven books we know of until the year 393 a.d. at the Council of Hippo. Then, the Council of Carthage in 397 a.d. came along, and approved the decrees of the previous council.
According to the Right Reverend Henry G. Graham, “That collection is precisely that which Catholics possess at this day in the Douai Bible. That decree of
I add that the Catholic “
Before the councils, various local churches throughout Christian Europe and the
In the 1500s Martin Luther did want to throw out the book of Hebrews as he considered it a “book of straw” and the book of James he despised because of its emphasis on “faith without works is dead,” (James 2:26). His contemporaries helped to persuade him from ripping these books out of the NT canon.
The Catholic Church decided the canon (list) of the New Testament before the year 400. I find it difficult to dismiss “any publication coming from the Catholic Church” when the Church was the instrument through which God worked to determine the NT canon. Men present at the Council of Carthage of 419: Faustinus, Aurelius, Novatus, Augustine, Hosius, Alypius, Zosimus... were Catholic bishops, and there were 217 of them. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3816.htm
I am not writing this to be argumentative, simply to make a point. If you decide that anything the Catholic Church comes up with is suspect, then add to that list the New Testament canon of scripture, along with many other items in Christianity, such as the dates for Easter and Christmas, defining the Trinity, recognizing the nature of Jesus as both God and man, the use of the Gregorian calendar, named after Pope Gregory XIII, which the Western world uses today,...... and many other topics.
Secondly, the Bible itself does not claim to be the sole source of revelation. 2 Timothy is often quoted by people to substantiate that the Bible stands alone: “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching- for reproof, correction, and training in holiness so that the man of God may be competent and equipped for every good work.”
I agree that all scripture is useful for teaching and reproof, but I also notice that the Bible does not say ONLY scripture is useful for teaching and correction. Sacred Tradition, the oral tradition, also handed down the truths of Christianity.
God’s word was never understood to be only the written word, but it is also the spoken word.
In fact, in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, Paul tells the Thessalonians to “hold fast to tradition, whether oral or by letter.” Many people know of the oral tradition within Christianity. Indeed, Jesus didn’t command any scripture to be written, and the first letter written was this same letter to the Thessalonians written in 52 a.d. The faith was being handed down by the Word, indeed, by the spoken word.
Also, 2 Thessalonians 3:6 says, “shun those acting not according to tradition,” and Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 11:2, “hold fast to tradition that I have handed on to you.”
And the Church did.
Many good things have come from this tradition, including who wrote which books of the Bible so that they could be collected into the NT canon. The Church used Sacred Tradition in part to determine what books were inspired or not.
To categorically reject what is Catholic is to automatically reject the New Testament. History attests to this. As the Bible did NOT come with a table of contents, it was up to an outside group of men, inspired by the Holy Spirit (John ) to decide which books were canonical or not.
Catholics and Protestants share the same twenty-seven books of the Bible. I think they are a symbol or Christian unity- something which brings us together as the one Body of Christ. Paul did say that there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father. (Ephesians 4:3-6)
Does Sola Scriptura work? I say there cannot be such a thing as true Bible Alone practice, as whoever is reading the Bible puts his own interpretation and brings his or her own experiences when reading and explaining it.
Ask five different people who believe in Sola Scriptura what happens at the Last Judgement or after we die, and they can very possibly come up with five different answers. Also, some Bible Alone people say one can’t lose salvation, while others say it can be lost through grave sin, and one can repeat this with most of the major points of Christianity, such as Baptism, salvation, etc.
Since God is truth and he cannot contradict himself, something is seriously amiss here.
I welcome questions and civil discussion.
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