Archive for March 26th, 2012

A Christian needs to pay careful attention when the Roman Catholic Church challenges sola Scriptura.  When they are challenging the Bible alone as the only Word of God, we as Christians need to ask them, “What other sources do you have that are equal in weight of authority to the Bible?”  If they say that there is a source outside the Bible that is equal in weight to the Bible, then we as Christians should let the Roman Catholic present his or her case.  At the same time, we need to ask them, “Are there other words of God outside of Scripture that is inspired by God?”

The topic of Scripture alone (sola Scriptura) as being the only source of authority, is a big deal to the Catholic Church.  When the belief of sola Scriptura is presented to them, there is a question that often arises, “Does the Bible teach sola Scriptura?” That is a good question because that leads into a discussion of the implicit versus explicit method.  According to New Oxford Dictionary, the word implicit means that something is implied but not expressed clearly; and explicit means something is stated clearly. When it comes to sola Scriptura, the Christian should consider the dichotomy surrounding the implicit and explicit method.

When articulating sola Scriptura, one must consider using logic and necessary deduction.  Logic and necessary deduction should be considered because sola Scriptura is not explicitly taught in Scripture.  For example, there is not one Scripture in the Bible that will use the expression, “the Bible alone is the Word of God.”  But just because the Bible does not explicitly use the expression, “the Bible alone is the is the Word of God,” does not mean that sola Scriptura is not a fact in the Bible.  Sola Scriptura is taught, but it is demonstrated implicitly. So the question that arises is this, “Does implicit evidence teach sola Scriptura?”  The answer to that is yes!  Just like how the Trinity is proven implicitly by overwhelming evidence, sola Scriptura is proven implicitly too with overwhelming evidence.

When it comes to sola Scriptura, there are two different viewpoints from the Catholic Church.  For example, the traditional viewpoint believes that the pope and bishops have power over the body of beliefs and practices from Jesus Christ.[1]  People are called to obey the written Word of God and also the unwritten word of God—tradition (with a capital T).[2]  In other words, this viewpoint believes that God passed down the written and unwritten word of God to the Roman Catholic Church.  According to the nontraditional viewpoint, the Roman Catholic Church believes that divine revelation is taught within the pages of Scripture and is also taught within tradition.[3]  This viewpoint believes that tradition is taught implicitly in Scripture.[4]  This means that their teachings such as the immaculate conception of Mary, papal infallibility are taught implicitly.[5]  At the end of the day, whatever viewpoint a Roman Catholic adheres to, it is transparent that the Roman Catholic Church rejects sola Scriptura.  This is evidential because their presupposition is rooted in sola ecclesia.

When discussing sola Scriptura, point out to the Catholic person that the Roman Catholic Church admits that the Bible is one source that God sees as inspired.  Tell them that according to their dogmatic constitution on divine revelation that was solemnly promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 18, 1965, the DV 24, NCC #135, says, “The Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God and, because they are inspired, they are truly the Word of God.”[6]  This is an important quote to help stir them to search the Scriptures.  But since DV 24, NCC #135, believes the Bible is the written Word of God, they will still need to dig through Scripture in order to have an cogent and logical conversation.

When Roman Catholics makes the claim that the Bible is not the only source of authority, the burden of proof falls on their shoulders because they are the ones that will need to show us how their tradition, Scripture, and the magisterium cannot stand without another.  They will need to show us if there are others sources that can give people “certainty,” besides the Bible.  As Christians, we believe the Word of God is the only source of revelation that has absolute certainty.

[1] Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics (Eugene, Or.: Harvest House, 2000), 48.

[2] Ibid, 48.

[3] Ibid, 48.

[4] Ibid, 48.

[5] Ibid, 48.

[6] Pope Paul VI, “Dogmatic Constitution On Divine Revelation: Dei Verbum,” Vatican, http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651118_dei-verbum_en.html (accessed December 1, 2011).

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