Thursday, November 01, 2007

Scripture vs. "Sola Scriptura" (The Bible Alone)

Authority of the Church

Beginning with the Reformation, Protestants (and now also other churches) have advanced the principle of sola scriptura (Latin: by Scripture alone). Ironically, this notion is itself nowhere to be found in the Bible.
In order for it to be a valid proposition (i.e., that althings revealed by God that are necessary for salvation are readily found in Scripture alone, apart from and without the necessity of recourse to the authority of the Magisterium to authentically interpret Scripture, and apart from the Church’s authoritative, living Tradition), Sola Scriptura itself must be located in Scripure. But it is not.
On the contrary, Scripture nowhere claims to be the sole, sufficient rule of Faith for Christians (as most Protestants and Christians from other churches suppose). Instead, it affirms its own importance and authority as well as that of Sacred Traditon and the Magisterium of the Church.

* Matthew 16:18-19:
“On this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it,. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

*Luke 10:16:
“He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who send Me.”

In addition to the New Testament passages that demonstrate that Scripture doesn’t teach sola scriptura, we find a warning to those who would ignore the teaching authority of the “priests” who are charged by God with the obligation to authentically interpret and transmit the Faith. In the Old Testament, the Lord endowed his priests with the authority to interpret his laws (religious, civil, and criminal: cf. Leviticus 20:1-27, 25:1-55) and issue binding decisions based on those interpretations.

Deuteronomy 17:8-13
“If in your own community there is a case at issue which proves too complicated for you to decide, in a matter of bloodshed or of civil rights or of personal injury, you shall then go up to the place which the LORD, your God, chooses, to the levitical priests or to the judge who is in office at that time. They shall study the case and then hand down to you their decision. According to this decision that they give you in the place which the LORD chooses, you shall act, being careful to do exactly as they direct. You shall carry out the directions they give you and the verdict they pronounce for you, without turning aside to the right or to the left from the decision they hand down to you. Any man who has the insolence to refuse to listen to the priest who officiates there in the ministry of the LORD, your God, or to the judge, shall die. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst. And all the people, on hearing of it, shall fear, and never again be so insolent.”

Similarly, as the verses above demonstate, the Lord established the priestly Magisterium of His Church with various authority to teach (cf. Matthew 28:20), interpret Scripture (cf. Acts 2:14-36), bind and loose (Matthew 18:18: Acts 15:28-29), and otherwise excercise teaching authority in His Name (Luke 10:16).

Jude 10-11:
“But these people revile what they do not understand and are destroyed by what they know by nature like irrational animals. Woe to them! They followed the way of Cain, abandoned themselves to Balaam's error for the sake of gain, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.”

The “rebellion of Korah”(Korah was e great grandson of Abraham) that Jude speaks of is described in Numbers 16:1-35. Korah and his cronies rebelled against the lawful authority of Moses and the priests.

Other Citations

1 Corinthians 11:2
“I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you.”

1 Corinthians 10:8
“Let us not indulge in immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell within a single day.”

1 Timothy 3:14-15
“I am writing you about these matters, although I hope to visit you soon. But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.”

1 Thessalonians 2:13
“And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly, that,in receiving the word of God from hearing us, you received not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now atwork in you who believe.”

2 Thessalonians 2:15
“Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.”

2 Peter 3:15-17
“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.”

2 Peter 1:20-21
“Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.”

2 Peter 2:1
“There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will introduce destructive heresies and even deny the Master who ransomed them, bringing swift destruction on themselves.”