Roman Catholics vs. Sola Scriptura Pt.1
As mentioned in the previous post there are two major groups that attack Sola Scriptura. Liberals tend to simply dismiss it on the basis of culture change and Roman Catholics need to deny it to uphold the Pope’s authority. This post will focus on the latter. Before we dive into the first common Catholic attack I want to first define Sola Scriptura. I will be using the same definition as the previous post because some people may not read the “Liberals vs. Sola Scriptura” article. Kenneth R. Samples gives this definition of Sola Scriptura in the Christian Research Journal:
Sola Scriptura- A Definition
By sola Scriptura Protestants mean that Scripture alone is the primary and absolute source for all doctrine and practice (faith and morals). Sola Scriptura implies several things. First, the Bible is a direct revelation from God. As such, it has divine authority. For what the Bible says, God says.
Sola Scriptura- The Sufficiency of Scripture
Second, the Bible is sufficient: it is all that is necessary for faith and practice. For Protestants “the Bible alone” means “the Bible only” is the final authority for our faith.
Sola Scriptura- The Authority of Scripture
Third, the Scriptures not only have sufficiency but they also possess final authority. They are the final court of appeal on all doctrinal and moral matters. However good they may be in giving guidance, all the fathers, Popes, and Councils are fallible. Only the Bible is infallible. – “What Think Ye of Rome?” from the Christian Research Journal DC170-3
With that definition fresh in our minds we will look the “oral tradition” argument against Sola Scriptura.
Oral Tradition is the “Word of God”
Oral tradition is the basis for many teachings in the Catholic church. Things like the Marian Doctrines, papal infallibility, veneration of icons, purgatory, and indulgences are all said to come from oral tradition. In order to assert this the Roman Catholic is forced to place these doctrines and dogmas on the same level as those taught in Scripture. That means that Scripture an oral tradition have the same weight of authority. In an article entitled “A Quick Ten-Step Refutation of Sola Scriptura”, Dave Armstrong writes this about oral tradition:
“When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thess. 2:13).
If we compare this passage with another, written to the same church, Paul appears to regard oral teaching and the word of God as synonymous:
“Keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us” (2 Thess. 3:6).
Paul is telling the Thessalonians to hold to the traditions that he taught them. What were these traditions? Well, Rome would have you believe that what they teach is what Paul taught. This brings up many difficult questions. #1 How could the church ever know what Paul actually taught when the church has never authoritatively defined a single word of any Apostle that isn’t found in Scripture? #2 Paul wrote extensively, as we see in Scripture, so why are the doctrines and dogmas taught by Rome absent from the copious amount of Paul’s writings?
These are questions that need to get answered but I have never heard a satisfactory answer to them. Along with those questions there is a text of Scripture that the Roman Catholic needs to address. Mark 7:8-13 says:
7:8 ‘Having no regard for the command of God, you hold fast to human tradition.’ 9 He also said to them, ‘You neatly reject the commandment of God in order to set up your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever insults his father or mother must be put to death.’ 11 But you say that if anyone tells his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you would have received from me is corban’ (that is, a gift for God), 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like this.’ -NET
Here we see a very interesting interaction between Jesus and the religious authorities. The corban rule was a Jewish tradition that allowed people to give their funds to the temple instead of caring for their parents. In the Jewish culture “honoring your father and mother” meant more than simply respecting their opinions or correction. It was a life-long commitment to care for one’s parents in their old age. This meant that funds would go to caring for them when they could not earn a day’s wage. This rule was a tradition passed down and the jewish authorities claimed it was oral tradition. Well, Jesus corrects the religious teachers by telling them that they “nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.”
Jesus admits that this tradition was handed down through the generations however, he gives us direction in how to test traditions. If a tradition nullifies the word of God then we are to reject it. So, if the Roman Catholic church teaches traditions no where found in Scripture or contradict Scripture then why should I be bound to their doctrines? Jesus wouldn’t have accepted them on the basis of his own teaching shown by his condemnation of the corban rule.
Follow Jesus by testing tradition by Scripture.
Thanks for reading.
Posted on March 8, 2012, in Christianity, Theology and tagged Bible, Catholic Church, Christianity, Oral tradition, reformed theology, Roman Catholic Church, Scripture, Sola Scriptura, theology, truth. Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.