Sola Scriptura (by Scripture Alone)

Author’s Note:  Below is a section of a book I am working on, which I call “Thoughts of an Average Catholic”.  The book is not going to be published in the traditional sense, but rather handed on to my children and their children.  Parts of the book, such as Sola Scriptura, I will share online.

Sola Scriptura (by Scripture Alone)

In 1517 A.D., Martin Luther ushered in the Protestant Reformation with two main ideas – Sola Scriptura (by Scripture Alone), and Sola Fide (by Faith Alone).  Sola Fide ushered in the idea that a man was saved through faith in Jesus Christ, and no good works were necessary for salvation.  Sola Scriptura dealt with the idea that the only teachings that could be used to define Christian faith and morals were those that were written down in Holy Scripture, rather than the age-old traditions of the Church.  In this section of my book, I will be dealing with the 2nd teaching of Martin Luther – Sola Scriptura.

A way to think of Sola Scriptura, and what it means, is to consider how most Christians today, including many Catholics, approach moral teachings, such as those against divorce and abortion.  Most Christians today, whenever they are confronted with a moral teaching they don’t like, demand “Where is that said in the Bible?”  It has become commonly understood that Christ’s teachings on Earth are all contained in the Bible, and that the New Testament is His definitive teaching.  The purpose of the various churches is to study the Bible, figure out what the teachings are and how they apply to modern life.  If it isn’t in the Bible, then we do not have to follow that moral.

There is a problem with this though.  Whoever said the Bible was to be our sole source of moral and theological teachings (doctrines)?  Whoever said that only the Bible should be our sole source of information about Who God is, and what His incarnation, death, and resurrection mean?  Many Protestants will pull out various passages in the Bible to try to force their “Bible-alone” view onto the Bible, stating that “The Bible says that it is the only source of Truth”.

To refute Sola Scriptura, I will approach the subject from the following angles:

1)  I will ask my primary question on the subject – Where does Jesus explicitly state that He will give us a New Testament, and that this New Testament, along with the Scriptures in the Old Testament, will be our sole source of inspiration.  I will compare this with the very explicit authority that Jesus Christ gives to the Church, and the passage where He explicitly creates a Church.

2)  I will go over the historical reality of the New Testament – when the New Testament scriptures were written, when they were compiled into a single book known as the New Testament, whether the time in-between there were any “Sola Scriptura” Christians, and whether Christians became Sola Scriptura after the New Testament was defined.

3)  I will discuss the chaos using “Sola Scriptura” causes within Christianity, with the tens of thousands of Protestant denominations , all claiming that they have the interpretation of the Bible correct, and how Sola Scriptura leads to varying and contradictory interpretations of Scripture.

4)  I will deal with passages that some Protestants will try to use to say “The Bible teaches only to believe what is in the Bible”.

5)  Finally, I will deal with passages where the Church is given authority, and where it the Church is declared to be the “pillar and foundation of Truth”.

Where does Jesus explicitly state that He will give us a New Testament, and that this New Testament, along with the Old Testament scriptures, are to be our sole source of inspiration?

Protestants often challenge the authority of the Church, stating that all one needs to believe is what is in the Bible.  To challenge this assertion one only needs to ask a very specific question – “Where does Jesus ever say that He will give us a New Testament, and that the New Testament, along with the Old Testament, is all that we need to believe?  Where does Jesus tell us that the Bible will be our sole authority?”

This is a “red letter text” question (some Bibles have the words of Jesus written in red text).  The question is “Where does Jesus say…”.  This is a trick question.  Jesus never claims that new scriptures will be written, and that those are to be our sole authority, our Truth.  Jesus does, however, within the pages of Holy Scripture set up a Church.  This Church, and the head of the Church, is to be our authority:

Matthew 16:13-19

And Jesus came into the quarters of Caesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?

Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.

According to the Bible, Jesus explicitly says that He will have a Church.  In addition to this, He endows that Church with authority.  The head of the Church is one person, Peter (the first Pope).  Jesus, within Scripture, gives to Peter the “keys of the kingdom of heaven”.  Peter is given the authority to bind and loose.  Peter is given the authority to say “you may do that, but not this”.  “You must do that, and not this.”

As shown, the Bible does not support  Sola Scriptura.  The Bible does show that Jesus started a Church, and that this Church is endowed with authority over men.

The Historical Reality of the New Testament

It is my experience that most Christians know little about history.  This goes for all Christians – Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant alike.  We are uneducated.  Christians are not alone in this state, of course.  Modern public school systems do a poor job of educating children.  Many children, and adults, have little idea of what happened before they were born.

This lack of historical knowledge is important, and relevant, when dealing with the subject of Sola Scriptura.  Historically Christians did not believe in the authority of “Scripture Alone”.  To the ancient Christian, Sola Scriptura would not have made any sense.  The primary reason for this is that a) the Old Testament does not explain Jesus Christ, His life, His miracles, or that salvation comes through Him, and b) the New Testament did not come about for hundreds of years after Jesus Christ died.

Now if there were not a New Testament, would Christians claim that they believe “Scripture Alone”?  If Jesus meant for people to only believe what was in Scripture, and that was to be our belief system, yet there was no Scripture (New Testament Scripture, that is), then what Jesus would have been asking us to believe would have been a contradiction.

Protestants will quickly point out that, yes, of course there was New Testament Scripture.  It was written by the immediate followers of Jesus Christ, the first Christians.

They are correct in that the New Testament Scripture we have comes from the 1st century Christians, the immediate followers of Jesus Christ (the Apostles), or the Apostles’ immediate followers.  Specifically, the Gospels were written by Matthew (Apostle), Mark (Peter’s disciple – disciple means “student”), Luke (Paul’s disciple), and John (Apostle).  The Acts of the Apostles were written by Luke.  Then there are the Epistles (epistle means “letter”) of Saint Paul, the “Apostle to the Gentiles” who was converted by Jesus Himself, on the road to Damascus.  The Epistles of Saint Paul take up much of the New Testament.  There are also the Catholic letters (letters to the whole, universal Church) – written by James (Apostle), Peter (first Pope!), John (Apostle), and Jude.  The New Testament ends with the Apocalypse, also known as Revelations, written by Saint John (Apostle).  There has been much debate about whether Saint Paul wrote The Letter to the Hebrews, and whether Saint John (author of the 4th Gospel) wrote the Apocalypse.  Personally, I believe those are the authors, and regardless they are both 1st century documents.

I want to deal quickly with the languages of the Bible.  The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew.  During the days of Alexander the Great, the Hebrew language was outlawed in Palestine.  All subjects of Alexander’s empire were to speak, read, and write in Greek.

Thus, the Greek Old Testament was born, known as the Septuagint.  Several books were written exclusively in the Greek language due to Hebrew, under the reign of Alexander, falling into disuse.  Included in these Old Testament writings were the books 1st and 2nd Machabees, which chronicle the Jewish revolt against the Greeks, among others.

The New Testament scriptures were written in Greek.  While Latin was the universal common language of the Roman empire, Greek was the universal intellectual language.  Most well-educated people in the days of the Roman empire were familiar with both Greek and Latin.

Shortly after defining the New Testament, which is dealt with below, the Catholic Church translated all of Holy Scripture into Latin.  This was done by Saint Jerome.  Many Protestants claim the Bible was translated into Latin so that the average person could not understand it.  Yet this claim is false, and doesn’t even make much sense.  Why?  Well, what was the language of the Roman Empire in the year 400 A.D., when the Bible was translated, by Saint Jerome?  The language of the Roman Empire was Latin.  By translating the Bible into Latin, the Catholic Church was making Holy Scripture more accessible to the men of the day, not less.

Getting back to the question of who wrote the New Testament, the question is not who wrote the New Testament, or whether the Scriptures are inspired by God, but when those documents were compiled into a single volume known as the New Testament.

For those who believe in Sola Scriptura, Scripture Alone, I ask questions such as these – “How do you know that the documents included in the New Testament are the correct ones?  Why wasn’t the Gospel of Judas included, for example?  How come other Christian writings from the first century, such as the Didache (The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles) were not included in Sacred Scripture?  Who made the decisions as to what books were to be included in the Bible?  How do you know those people got it right?”

In my experience most people do not consider these questions.  For those who do answer, I get an answer like “We don’t worry about these historical questions.”  It is the case of people not knowing history.  Instead, people would rather just follow whatever Protestant denomination they want, declaring the denomination to be correct.  Most likely, people follow whatever Protestant denomination claims that the sins they are committing are not really sins.

Let us return to the primary questions.

When was the decision made as to what 1st century Christian documents would be included in the New Testament?  Who made those decisions?

I will give three different dates as to when the books that would go into the New Testament were defined.  First, there was the decision made by the Council of Rome in the year 382 A.D, which was presided over by Pope Damasus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Rome).  The council declared what books of Holy Scripture would go into the New Testament.  Note, it was a Pope, a Pope of the Catholic Church, and a Catholic Council, that made this decision.  The books of the New Testament that we have are a result of this decision.

The other dates are the year 393 A.D, when the Council of Hippo defined what books would go into the New Testament, and 397 A.D, when the Council of Carthage also came to the same decision as to what books to include in the Bible. Both of these councils had their decisions affirmed by the Pope.  (Rome Sweet Home, Ch 5, Scott’s Search For the Church). For the latter two councils Pope Siricius now led the Catholic Church.  Pope Siricius confirmed the councils’ decisions.  Again, the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, the head of the Catholic Church decided, what the books were that would go into the New Testament.

A question is just begging to be asked.  How do we know that the Catholic Church, when it stated what books would go into the New Testament, got it right?  By what authority did it have to make this decision?

The Catholic Church, started by Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:13-19), was given the authority to bind and loose, and given the “keys to the kingdom of heaven”.  The keys to the kingdom were not given to a book, even a book of Sacred Scripture, but to the Church.  The Church calls the teachings of Jesus Christ entrusted to it “Sacred Tradition”.  The Church recognizes two sets of authority – Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.  Sacred Scripture is part of Sacred Tradition.  Not all of the teachings of Jesus Christ are included in the New Testament.

What conclusion can be drawn from this?  The conclusion is that if you reject the teachings of the Catholic Church, the Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church, you are rejecting the authority that declares what is Sacred Scripture in the first place.  Put another way, if the Catholic Church does not have authority, if its Sacred Tradition is false, there is no reason to believe in the Bible.

Let us proceed to the next question. Were the first Christians, the Christians of the first centuries of Christianity, “Sola Scriptura” Christians?  Did they  believe that the Truths of their faith came from “Scripture Alone”?

The answer is “no”, the first Christians were not Sola Scriptura Christians.  The first Christians learned about Jesus Christ, the Truths of the Christian faith, and the morals that went with those Truths, not from Sacred Scripture, but from the Church.  First there were the Apostles, then the Apostles’ immediate followers, and then followers of the followers, etc.  Time goes on.

If there is no Scripture (no New Testament Scripture), why would Christians believe in “Scripture Alone”?

The last New Testament text, the Gospel of John, was written somewhere between the year 90 A.D, and the year 100 A.D.  By the year 100, all New Testament text was written, yet it was not defined.  As shown above, decisions as to what books would comprise the New Testament would not be finalized for hundreds of years.

In the year 100 A.D., before the New Testament was defined, did Christians say “all I need to believe is what’s in the Bible”?  No, they followed the Church, led by the Bishop of Rome (at the time it was Saint Clement I).  In the year 200 A.D., before the New Testament was defined, were Christians claiming Sola Scriptura?  How about the year 300 A.D.?  Again the answer is “no”.  Early Christians followed the Church that Jesus set up for us.

Before the year 382 A.D, when Pope Damasus I first defined what books should go into Holy Scripture, the idea of Sola Scriptura would not have made sense.  Without a defined set of Scripture to turn to, how can you claim that the only Truth is that contained in Scripture?  Neither does it make sense to claim Sola Scriptura after the Holy Catholic Church defined the New Testament, because if you get rid of the authority of the Catholic Church, you get rid of the authority that was used to define the Holy Scripture in the first place.

No one taught to use Scripture Alone as our sole source of truth for the first 1,500 years of Christianity.  Martin Luther invoked this concept, a theory he came up with, because he did not like the leadership of the Catholic Church.  Yet if this concept were true, then Jesus Christ was pretty ineffective, since Christianity would have been lost for well over 1,000 years.  To invoke the parable of the tower builder, He would have been the “foolish builder” (Luke 14:28-33).  I will not suggest that Jesus was foolish.  He knew exactly what He was doing as He taught his disciples, and what it took to build a Church.  That is exactly what He was doing, building a Church, not a book-club.

The Chaos Using “Sola Scriptura” Causes in Christianity

There are over 33,000 Protestant denominations in the world (World Christian Encyclopedia by Barrett, Kurian, Johnson (Oxford Univ Press, 2nd edition, 2001) ).  If “Sola Scriptura”, that “the Truth of Jesus, of Christianity, of morals is known through Scripture Alone”, is the way that God intended Christianity to be understood, then how is it to be explained that there are over 33,000 Protestant denominations all with different and contradictory teachings?  Some denominations teach that Infant Baptism is good and necessary.  Others teach that this leads souls into hell.  Some teach the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist (such as through consubstantiation).  Others teach that it is nothing more than a symbol, though a pretty symbol.  The majority now teach that abortion is a legitimate “choice”.  Others (correctly) teach that it is murder.  Most teach that use of contraception is a responsible and necessary behavior.  A very few side with the Catholic Faith in that it warps the meaning of the marital embrace (please see my chapter on contraception).  Most Protestant denominations warp the Bible’s teachings on divorce and remarriage.

On and on the list goes.  The exact nature of the Trinity, the formula used for Baptism, the nature or reality of Sacraments, how many sacraments there are, what constitutes sexual sin, and so on.

To put the question another way, if someone said, “You have to convert to the Protestant Faith in order to be saved” or “You have to be a Sola Scriptura Christian in order to be saved”, then what would I believe in?  There is no unity of belief within Protestantism, or within “Sola Scriptura” Christianity.  What would a person who claims Protestant beliefs actually believe?  How should they behave?  The result of Sola Scriptura as applied to Christianity is that there is no longer any Christianity to believe in.

The truth of the matter is that Sola Scriptura Christians believe whatever they want to believe, and then call that Christianity.  In doing so, they define away sinfulness of all their favorite pet sins, declare that they are no longer sinful, and then claim that this is what Christianity was meant to be.

Is this confusion what Christianity was really meant to be?  Is this confusion the fruit of the Holy Ghost?  I much rather suspect that this “Sola Scriptura” chaos is the fruit of the evil one, of Satan.  This “Smoke of Satan”, the Father of Lies, swirls around Protestant communities, blinding them so they do not see.

If the idea of Sola Scriptura is false, where then do we find truth?

Let us turn to the Catholic Church.  The Catholic Church, as shown in Scripture, was given the authority to “bind and loose”.  It was given this authority by Jesus Christ.  It is also, as the Church of Our Lord, the true and valid interpreter of Sacred Scripture.  The Catholic Church has one set of doctrines.  The strongest teachings of the Catholic Church, those that are considered dogma, cannot change.  They are true.  They were true 2,000 years ago, and they will be true 2,000 years from now.  While the teachings can become richer, such as we are always discovering new depths to the love Jesus Christ gives us, the teachings as to what are good and evil, right and wrong, will never change.   Why?  Already being perfect, God does not change His mind.  Jesus Christ, Son of God and God Himself, does not change His mind.  The Catholic Church, the one true Church of Jesus Christ, passes on the teachings of Our Lord to His followers.

Passages that some Protestants Cite to support Sola Scriptura

In my conversations with Protestant friends, some Biblical passages are used to support the idea of Sola Scriptura.  In this section,  I will give commentary on each passage. Yet without my commentary most readers can see why these passages do not support the idea that Scripture is to be our only source of Truth.

“You shall not add to the word that I speak to you, neither shall you take away from it: keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” (Deut. 4:2)

There are two points here.  First, my Protestant friends try to equate God’s Word only with Holy Scripture.  This does not take into account that God can communicate with His people, Israel, in other ways such as through the prophets, or through God’s Church, the Catholic Church.  Yet God Himself does not restrict His revelation in this way.

Also, this is an Old Testament passage, and a very early one at that.  If the passage was to be taken in the Protestant interpretation, then no books after Deuteronomy should have been written.  No one should have listened to the prophets, or even to Jesus Christ, because it was not in the currently existing Word of God.  Jesus should have been ignored completely, since He was adding to the Word of God.  The entire New Testament would need to be discarded.

“If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to that doctrine which is according to godliness, He is proud, knowing nothing, but sick about questions and strifes of words; from which arise envies, contentions, blasphemies, evil suspicions, Conflicts of men corrupted in mind, and who are destitute of the truth, supposing gain to be godliness.” (1 Tim. 6:3-5)

This passage has been cited to me in support of Sola Scriptura.  Yet to me it does not make sense.  It does not really have to do with Sola Scriptura.

“If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him, God speed you.” (2 John 1:10)

My Protestant friends have quoted this one as well.  But it does not make sense.  Really, it more supports the Catholic Tradition than that of the Protestants’ position.  The Catholics faithfully passed on the teachings of Jesus Christ since the beginning of Christianity.  It is the Protestants that have grabbed the Bible, and completely twisted the doctrines therein to justify their sins.

“For I testify to every one that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from these things that are written in this book.” (Apocalypse 22:18-19)

In support of Sola Scriptura, this is the passage I have heard quoted most often.  It is right at the end of Holy Scripture, and easily found.  Yet it does not, at all, support Sola Scriptura.  The passage addresses a book of prophecy

If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from these things that are written in this book.

There were many books of prophecy in the Old Testament, but only one in the New Testament.  The book this passage was written in, the Apocalypse, is the only book of prophecy (foretelling the future) contained in the New Testament.  Trying to apply that line to the entire New Testament is intellectually dishonest.  Also, while the Bible on the shelf has the Apocalypse as the last book, as far as when it was written it was not so.  Saint John wrote the Apocalypse when he was exiled on the island of Patmos.  It was after his exile, when he returned to Ephesus, that he discovered Christians had abandoned what he had taught them about Jesus and Christianity, and warping the definition of Christianity.

In answer to this, he wrote his letters, correcting the Church he was in charge of.  His last writing was his Gospel, the Gospel of Saint John.

So if the passage – If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book – referred to the whole Bible, then Saint John would have incurred the curses upon himself, since he himself added text to the New Testament after writing this line.

Also, Martin Luther would have also contracted the curses, as he added text to the Bible, by adding the word “alone” after the word “faith”.

“For we account a man to be justified by faith, without the works of the law.” (Romans 3:28)

While this passage was dealing with whether gentile converts had to follow Jewish law, Martin Luther translated this as “man to be justified by faith alone”.  Thus it was the one who launched the Protestant rebellion, Martin Luther, that would incur the penalties.  The word for “alone” in Greek was nowhere to be found in the original Biblical texts.  There is more on this in my “Sola Fide” section.

The Book of the Apocalypse is one of the New Testament books Martin Luther wanted to exclude from the Bible.  The other was the Epistle of Saint James, because of the following line –

For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:26)

These are the main passages that get quoted at me in my discussion with Protestants about Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. As you can see, they do not state, anywhere, that we are to believe in “Scripture Alone”, much less that believing in Scripture Alone was ever a command of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Passages where the Church is Given Authority

The New Testament does not support Sola Scriptura. It does, however, over and over again, show that Jesus Christ was setting up a Church, a world-wide Christian family, and that he gave this Church authority over moral teachings, the ability to forgive sins, and more. I will briefly cover a few of these Scripture passages. Yet the evidence that Jesus was setting up a Church, a Church with authority, pervades all of the New Testament Scripture. I will give a brief commentary on each passage as well.

Matthew 16:13-19

And Jesus came into the quarters of Caesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?

Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.

I discussed this passage earlier.  In it, Jesus Christ clearly states that He is starting a Church, and has put Simon, renamed Peter, as the head of the Church.  Peter is given authority, given the power to “bind” and to “loose”, and is given the “keys of the kingdom of heaven”.  Hence, the Church, and the head of the Church, is given much authority.

Matthew 18:16-18

And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican. Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.

Here Jesus is speaking not just to Peter, but to the other Apostles as well.  Notice the importance of the Church given in resolving one’s sins.  Also, the Apostles are given the ability, again, to bind and to loose.

John 20:22-23

When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

This passage is important as it takes place after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In this passage, Jesus is speaking to the Apostles, and He gives His Apostles, the heads of His Church, the ability to forgive sins.  Again, the Church is given a tremendous amount of authority over men.

1 Timothy 3:14-15

These things I write to thee, hoping that I shall come to thee shortly. But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

To the Protestant, the pillar and ground of Truth is Sacred Scripture.  Yet is was not so to the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul.  To Paul, as shown above, the pillar and ground of truth is the “church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth”.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-16

Whereunto also he hath called you by our gospel, unto the purchasing of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God and our Father, who hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation, and good hope in grace,

Exhort your hearts, and confirm you in every good work and word.

Finally, in this passage from 2 Thessalonians, notice that Paul is calling his followers to follow the “traditions that you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.”  “By word” refers to the traditions as they are handed on in spoken form, that is, Sacred Tradition.  By epistle, that is “by letter”, are those traditions that are written down, Sacred Scripture.  We are to abide by them both, not just to Sacred Scripture (Sola Scriptura), but rather both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

Conclusion

In this section of my book, I have attempted to examine one of the two core pillars of the Protestant Reformation.  Protestantism rests on two premises, that men are saved through “Faith Alone”, something that in this chapter I touched on but did not examine in depth.  The other premise that Protestantism rests on is Sola Scriptura, or “Scripture Alone”.  I have examined the historical reality of the Church.  I have examined whether the first Christians believed in Sola Scriptura, and shown how Sola Scriptura did not make logical sense for the first Christians, since there was no defined New Testament.  The scriptures, as it were, were not yet “set in stone”.

I examined the fact that the Church, the Catholic Church, defined which books would be defined as New Testament scripture.  I asked the obvious question.  If the Catholic Church has no authority from Jesus Christ, how can we know that the Catholic Church got what books go into the New Testament right?  If we do not trust the authority of the Catholic Church, we have no reason to believe that the scripture of the New Testament is accurate, that the correct books were included.

The question was asked – If Sola Scriptura is what God meant for His people, for Christians, why are there thousands upon thousands of Protestant denominations, all teaching contradictory things?

I examined some of the Biblical passages cited by Protestants to support Sola Scriptura, and shown why they do not support that position.  I also went through a few of the Biblical passages that show explicitly that Jesus Christ started a Church, and that this Church was given immense authority, the authority to “bind and loose”, the authority to forgive sins, and possesses the “keys of the kingdom of heaven”, given to the Church by Jesus Christ.

The conclusion is this – Sola Scriptura, one of the pillars that Protestantism is built upon, is false.  Sola Scriptura is not a position supported by history.  It is not a position supported by Sacred Scripture.  The results of Sola Scriptura are chaos in Christianity, whereas Protestant Christianity really does not stand for anything.

Instead of Protestantism, and Sola Scriptura chaos, Jesus gave us a visible Church in our midst.  He gave us pastors to teach and guide us.  He gave His Church powerful authority to define what we must do, what we must not do.  Jesus gave His Church, led by Peter and His successors, the popes, the “keys of the kingdom of heaven”.  Jesus gave His Church, the Catholic Church, the power to forgive sins!

When we look at what Jesus left us, a community of love, a world-wide Christian family, we see that the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ is awesome indeed.  He did not leave us alone, to fend for ourselves and fight over a book, even a wonderful book of Holy Scripture.  Jesus gave us spiritual fathers in the Pope, the Bishops, the priests.  He gave us brothers and sisters, in our fellow Christians throughout the world.  As the Father is Our Father, Jesus Christ is our brother.  He gave His Mother, Mary, as our mother, giving her to His “beloved disciple” (we are all His disciples) as he was dying on the cross (John 19:26-27).  The saints are our brothers and sisters.  We have become part of a world-wide family of God, a universal family, a Catholic family.

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One Response to Sola Scriptura (by Scripture Alone)

  1. Sylvia Walker says:

    This is the clearest explanation of Sola Scriptura that I have ever read! We touched on this in my adult CCD class, but not in this detail. I especially liked the last paragraph, about the Catholic family to which we all belong; I find it a huge comfort. Mom

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