2 Timothy 3:16 and Sola Scriptura

Minh

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi there,

I am struggling with the issue as to 2 Timothy 3:16 [1] strongest verse in supporting the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura. I am find it hard to accept that the word "profitable" would automatically mean sufficient. A Roman Catholic argument put it this way:

" This passage doesn’t teach formal sufficiency, which excludes a binding, authoritative role for Tradition and Church. Protestants extrapolate onto the text what isn’t there."[2] (Emphasis mine)

Please help me resolve this conflict.

In Christ

For reference:

[1] “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17)

[2] https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/a-quick-ten-step-refutation-of-sola-scriptura
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
" This passage doesn’t teach formal sufficiency, which excludes a binding, authoritative role for Tradition and Church. Protestants extrapolate onto the text what isn’t there."[2] (Emphasis mine)
Read verse 17.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
The RC logic is unable to affirm v17. Because if the extreme case, one where there was absolutely no recourse to the "binding authority," that is the Magisterium, then the man of God would not be complete, not finished out (thoroughly equipped), and not able to fulfill every good work--RC teaching says the church (actually THEIR church alone) is absolutely necessary for those good works.

The Protestant understanding of the church does not deny the vital necessity of the church; but the Bible being the source of the church--and here RC is 180deg. opposite; their exact doctrine is that their Church is the source of the Bible--but we say the Bible can reconstitute the church where necessary, that being among the first good works for which it exists.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Furthermore, RC apologists seem constitutionally incapable of representing the strong Protestant position accurately, and regularly set up straw men. Protestants do not deny the church or its authority, nor the value of tradition within the church. It's RC that turns a blind-eye to the numerous contradictions within the church's tradition, a fact that forces the present hour to sift the past.

In the end, RC simply says "tradition" is whatever they SAY it is, a say-so they may (if they desire) change tomorrow. DTK had one delicious quote from a major bishop to that very effect not too long ago. https://puritanboard.com/threads/cardinal-newman-said-“to-be-deep-in-history-is-to-cease-to-be-protestant-”.102523/#post-1245606

Sometimes Rome is honest enough to make the bald declaration. However, Protestants say that the rule for judging the tradition (which is what it is, warts and all, the whole imperfect affair), is the flawless Bible.

Every authority short of the Bible is a "normed norm." The true doctrine of Scripture sufficiency is not that there are no other authorities, but that the Bible is the Final Authority, the "norming norm." The Spirit of God is present with the word (his product!) to guide and help even the individual believer to enough of an understanding for his salvation, even if there is no other nearby to assist him.
 

Minh

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you very much!

To be honest, I find one line responses distasteful and sometimes provocative (not to offend anyone with such tendency to write a response) but @Ed Walsh 's reply really open my mind, though I would prefer at least a short exposition as a refutation to the Romanist argument. And many thanks to other responses.

I would affirm the Protestant view of the authority of the Scripture and other theological traditions. It just that sometimes I can't find (or at least misunderstand) an explicit verse to support it.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
In the end, RC simply says "tradition" is whatever they SAY it is, a say-so they may (if they desire) change tomorrow.
Carl Trueman recently shared a humorous anecdote illustrating your point from his time teaching at the University of Nottingham alongside a Catholic nun...

 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
The Roman apologist either 1) denies the patristic witness on the exegesis of this passage, or 2) seeks to subject it to the death of a thousand qualifications as he does with so many other issues on which we vehemently disagree. Not only does this Roman apologist ignore the patristic exegesis of this passage, but they also ignore in context its connection with v. 15 wherein Scripture states explicitly its own inherent power (δύναμαι) to make one wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. If this was true of Timothy who was taught the Old Testament Scriptures from childhood by the "magisterium" of his godly mother and grandmother, then how more more are the Scriptures of the New Testament sufficiently powerful to make one wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. This is an explicit affirmation of Holy Scripture itself which the Roman apologist conveniently ignores to the collapse of his impious apologetic. There is nothing more destructive of the Roman apologetic than the treatment which Holy Scripture receives in the hands of a Roman apologist. I add below a few instances of patristic exegesis of this passage.

Clement of Alexandria (150-c. 215): “Thou, O Timothy,” he says, “from a child hast known the holy letters, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith that is in Christ Jesus.” For truly holy are those letters that sanctify and deify; and the writings or volumes that consist of those holy letters and syllables, the same apostle consequently calls “inspired of God, being profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work.” No one will be so impressed by the exhortations of any of the saints, as he is by the words of the Lord Himself, the lover of man. ANF: Vol. II, Exhortation to the Heathen, Chapter 9.

Basil of Caesarea (329-379): All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful, composed by the Spirit for this reason, namely, that we men, each and all of us, as if in a general hospital for souls, may select the remedy for his own condition. Fathers of the Church, Vol. 46, Saint Basil: Exegetical Homilies, Homily 10 on Psalm 1 (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America, 1963), p. 151.

John Chrysostom (349-407): For this reason he writes: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” All what Scripture? all that sacred writing, he means, of which I was speaking. This is said of what he was discoursing of; about which he said, “From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures.” All such, then, “is given by inspiration of God”; therefore, he means, do not doubt; and it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” “For doctrine.” For thence we shall know, whether we ought to learn or to be ignorant of anything. And thence we may disprove what is false, thence we may be corrected and brought to a right mind, may be comforted and consoled, and if anything is deficient, we may have it added to us. “That the man of God may be perfect.” For this is the exhortation of the Scripture given, that the man of God may be rendered perfect by it; without this therefore he cannot be perfect. Thou hast the Scriptures, he says, in place of me. If thou wouldest learn anything, thou mayest learn it from them. And if he thus wrote to Timothy, who was filled with the Spirit, how much more to us! “Thoroughly furnished unto all good works”; not merely taking part in them, he means, but “thoroughly furnished.” NPNF1: Vol. XIII, Second Timothy, Homily 9.

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) on 2 Timothy 3:15-17: He reminds him [i.e. Timothy] of his upbringing in piety. And the facts that from a child you have known the sacred writings, which are capable of instructing you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (v. 15). And since he had borne further witness to the extent of the power in the sacred writings, he emphasizes the as well the benefit stemming from them. All Scripture is divinely-inspired and of benefit (v. 16). Making a distinction, he set the writings apart from the works of human wisdom, referring to the spiritual Scripture as divinely-inspired; the grace of the divine Spirit spoke through the inspired authors of Old and New Testaments. If follows that the Holy Spirit is God if the Spirit’s Scripture is, as the apostle says, divinely-inspired. He brings out the kinds of benefit. For teaching: what we did not know we learned from there. For censure: it censures our lawless life. For correction: it urges the backsliders to return to the straight and narrow. For training in righteousness: it drills us in the forms of virtue. [and then notice how Theodoret understands “Man of God”] So that whoever belongs to God may be well-prepared, equipped for every good work (v. 17). All these virtues bring about perfection and relate us to the God of all.
Having thus brought out the benefit of the divinely-inspired Scripture, he [Paul] bids him [Timothy] make it available to everyone, and instills dread by adjuration. I adjure you, therefore, in the presence of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is due to judge the living and the dead: in view of his coming and his kingdom, preach the word [4:1-2]. See Robert Charles Hill, Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Vol. 2 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001), pp. 245-246.

Cyril of Alexandria (patriarch 412-444): Sufficient, sufficient for this [i.e. for obtaining a knowledge of the faith] are the Scriptures of the holy Fathers, [i.e., as the words following show, the inspired writers] which if any one would diligently study and vigilantly attend to, he would immediately have his mind filled with divine light. For, they did not speak of themselves, but ‘all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable.’ Trans. by William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., 3 Vols. (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, pp. 281-282.
Greek text: Ἅλις γάρ, ἅλις αἱ τῶν ἁγίων Πατέρων εἰς τοῦτο συγγραφαί, αἷς εἴπερ τις ἕλοιτο νουνεχῶς ὁμιλεῖν καὶ ἐγρηγορότως προσφέρεσθαι, φωτὸς ἂν τοῦ θείου τὸν οἰκεῖον εὐθὺς ἀναμεστώσειε νοῦν. Ἦσαν γὰρ οὐκ αὐτοὶ λαλοῦντες ἐν αὐτοῖς· «Πᾶσα δὲ Γραφὴ θεόπνευστος καὶ ὠφέλιμος.» De SS. Trinitate Dialogus I, PG 75:665.

Cyril of Alexandria (patriarch 412-444):
B. And which of these originates faith?
A. The sacred Scripture, God–breathed Scripture clearly, and being accurate has united with God his Spirit. Trans. by William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., 3 Vols. (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, p. 184.
Greek text: {Β.} Καὶ τίς ἂν γένοιτο τούτων ἡ πίστις;
{Α.} Τὸ Γράμμα τὸ ἱερόν, ἡ θεόπνευστος Γραφὴ σαφῶς καὶ ἠκριβωμένως ἑνοῦσα Θεῷ τὸ Πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ, De SS. Trinitate Dialogus VII, PG 75:1092.

There should be no conflict in the mind of the Christian who is in union with the Lord Jesus Christ. The conflict which exists in the minds of Roman apologists is more imaginary rather than real, and is thus employed by them for the sake of of a self-serving apologetical narrative.
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
And when Roman apologists say things like "it doesn't teach the formal sufficiency," ask them what they mean by that. Unless they are specifically trained in apologetics and philosophy, they probably don't know, either.
 

Minh

Puritan Board Freshman
@DTK Thank you very much David.

I am curious as to what is your opinion on this quote by Augustine:

"For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church."
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I've tried five times to post a reply, and each time this board tells me that an error has occurred, the nature of which is beyond me. It reads "Oops! We ran into some problems. Please try again later. More error details may be in the browser console." The board's present platform will not permit my post.
I get this error when I cut and paste text that has formatting in it. Not sure what formatting is getting the error but I paste it back into Word with the paste as plain text option, copy it again and paste it to PB and there is no longer an error.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
I get this error when I cut and paste text that has formatting in it. Not sure what formatting is getting the error but I paste it back into Word with the paste as plain text option, copy it again and paste it to PB and there is no longer an error.
Thanks Chris. Apparently this new platform doesn't like footnotes either, so I was forced to remove them. The older platform that the Puritan Board used was not a pain like this one.
 
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DTK

Puritan Board Junior
I am curious as to what is your opinion on this quote by Augustine:

"For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church."
I agree with Calvin's assessment of the specious use of that citation from Augustine...

John Calvin (1509-1564): Indeed, I know that statement of Augustine is commonly referred to, that he would not believe the gospel if the authority of the church did not move him to do so. But it is easy to grasp from the context how wrongly and deceptively they interpret this passage. Augustine was there concerned with the Manichees, who wished to be believed without controversy when they claimed, but did not demonstrate, that they themselves possessed the truth. Because in fact they used the gospel as a cloak to promote faith in their Mani, Augustine asks: “What would they do if they were to light upon a man who does not even believe in the gospel? By what kind of persuasion would they bring him around to their opinion?” Then he adds, “Indeed, I would not believe the gospel,” etc., meaning that if he were alien to the faith, he could not be led to embrace the gospel as the certain truth of God unless constrained by the authority of the church. And what wonder if someone, not yet having known Christ, should have respect for men! Augustine is not, therefore, teaching that the faith of godly men is founded on the authority of the church; nor does he hold the view that the certainty of the gospel depends upon it. He is simply teaching that there would be no certainty of the gospel for unbelievers to win them to Christ if the consensus of the church did not impel them. And this he clearly confirms a little later, saying: “When I praise what I believe, and laugh at what you believe, how do you think we are to judge, or what are we to do? Should we not forsake those who invite us to a knowledge of things certain and then bid us believe things uncertain? Must we follow those who invite us first to believe what we are not yet strong enough to see, that, strengthened by this very faith, we may become worthy to comprehend what we believe [Colossians 1:4-11, 23] — with God himself, not men, now inwardly strengthening and illumining our mind?”
These are Augustine’s very words. From them it is easy for anyone to infer that the holy man’s intention was not to make the faith that we hold in the Scriptures depend upon the assent or judgment of the church. He only meant to indicate what we also confess as true: those who have not yet been illumined by the Spirit of God are rendered teachable by reverence for the church, so that they may persevere in learning faith in Christ from the gospel. Thus, he avers, the authority of the church is an introduction through which we are prepared for faith in the gospel. For, as we see, he wants the certainty of the godly to rest upon a far different foundation. I do not deny that elsewhere, when he wishes to defend Scripture, which they repudiate, he often presses the Manichees with the consensus of the whole church. Hence, he reproaches Faustus for not submitting to the gospel truth so firm, so stable, celebrated with such glory, and handed down from the time of the apostles through a sure succession. But it never occurs to him to teach that the authority which we ascribe to Scripture depends upon the definition or decree of men. He puts forward only the universal judgment of the church, in which he was superior to his adversaries, because of its very great value in this case. If anyone desires a fuller proof of this, let him read Augustine’s little book The Usefulness of Belief. There he will find that the author recommends no other inducement to believe except what may provide us with an approach and be a suitable beginning for inquiry, as he himself says; yet we should not acquiesce in mere opinion, but should rely on sure and firm truth. Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 1, ed. John T. McNeill and trans. Ford Lewis Battles, (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, reprinted 1977), Book I.7.3, pp. 76-78.

In this latter passage of Augustine quoted by Calvin, we read Augustine expressing himself more clearly:

"You can find nothing better than to praise your own faith and ridicule mine. So, after having in my turn praised my belief and ridiculed yours, what result do you think we shall arrive at as regards our judgment and our conduct, but to part company with those who promise the knowledge of indubitable things, and then demand from us faith in doubtful things? while we shall follow those who invite us to begin with believing what we cannot yet fully perceive, that, strengthened by this very faith, we may come into a position to know what we believe by the inward illumination and confirmation of our minds, due no longer to men, but to God Himself." See NPNF1: Vol. IV, Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental, Chapter 14. Nihil aliud elegisti, nisi laudare quod credis, et irridere quod credo. Cum igitur etiam ego vicissim laudavero quod credo, et quod credis irrisero; quid putas nobis esse judicandum, quidve faciendum, nisi ut eos relinquamus, qui nos invitant certa cognoscere, et postea imperant ut incerta credamus; et eos sequamur, qui nos invitant prius credere, quod nondum valemus intueri, ut ipsa fide valentiores facti, quod credimus intelligere mereamur, non jam hominibus, sed ipso Deo intrinsecus mentem nostram illuminante atque firmante? Contra Epistolam Manichaei Quam vocant Fundamenti Liber Unus, Caput XIV, PL 42:183. (emphasis mine)

We see, then, it is the Reformed position, rather than the Roman, that expresses the Augustinian perspective. Elsewhere in his Confessions, Augustine described essentially the same effect of God’s Truth on him inwardly:

"Let me hear and understand how in the beginning Thou didst make the heaven and the earth. Moses wrote this; he wrote and departed, — passed hence from Thee to Thee. Nor now is he before me; for if he were I would hold him, and ask him, and would adjure him by Thee that he would open unto me these things, and I would lend the ears of my body to the sounds bursting forth from his mouth. And should he speak in the Hebrew tongue, in vain would it beat on my senses, nor would ought touch my mind; but if in Latin, I should know what he said. But whence should I know whether he said what was true? But if I knew this even, should I know it from him? Verily within me (Intus utique mihi), within in the chamber of my thought, Truth, neither Hebrew, nor Greek, nor Latin, nor barbarian, without the organs of voice and tongue, without the sound of syllables, would say, “He speaks the truth,” and I, forthwith assured of it, confidently (et ego statim certus confidenter) would say unto that man of Thine, “Thou speakest the truth.” As, then, I cannot inquire of him, I beseech Thee, — Thee, O Truth, full of whom he spake truth, — Thee, my God, I beseech, forgive my sins; and do Thou, who didst give to that Thy servant to speak these things, grant to me also to understand them." See NPNF1: Vol. I, The Confessions of St. Augustine, Book XI, Chapter 3. Audiam et intelligam quomodo in principio fecisti coelum et terram (Gen. I, 4). Scripsit hoc Moyses, scripsit et abiit, transivit hinc a te ad te; neque nunc ante me est. Nam si esset, tenerem eum, et rogarem eum, et per te obsecrarem ut mihi ista panderet; et praeberem aures corporis mei sonis erumpentibus ex ore ejus. Et si hebraea voce loqueretur, frustra pulsaret sensum meum, nec inde mentem meam quidquam tangeret; si autem latine, scirem quid diceret. Sed unde scirem an verum diceret? Quod si et hoc scirem, num ab illo scirem? Intus utique mihi, intus in domicilio cogitationis, nec hebraea, nec graeca, nec latina, nec barbara veritas, sine oris et linguae organis, sine strepitu syllabarum diceret, Verum dicit: et ego statim certus confidenter illi homini tuo dicerem, Verum dicis. Cum ergo illum interrogare non possim, te, quo plenus vera dixit, Veritas, rogo te, Deus meus, rogo parce peccatis meis; et qui illi servo tuo dedisti haec dicere, da et mihi haec intelligere. Confessionum liber XI, Caput III, PL 32:811. (emphasis mine)

And again, in his work On the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins (written around the year 411 A.D.), he expressed his mature thoughts in this manner:

"That statement, therefore, which occurs in the gospel, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every one that cometh into the world,” has this meaning, that no man is illuminated except with that Light of the truth, which is God; so that no person must think that he is enlightened by him whom he listens to as a learner, although that instructor happen to be — I will not say, any great man — but even an angel himself. For the word of truth is applied to man externally by the ministry of a bodily voice, but yet “neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” Man indeed hears the speaker, be he man or angel, but in order that he may perceive and know that what is said is true, his mind is internally besprinkled with that light which remains for ever (sed ut sentiat et cognoscat verum esse quod dicitur, illo lumine intus mens ejus aspergitur, quod aeternum manet), and which shines even in darkness. But just as the sun is not seen by the blind, though they are clothed as it were with its rays, so is the light of truth not understood by the darkness of folly." See NPNF1: Vol. V, On the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins, and on the Baptism of Infants, Book I, Chapter 37. Itaque illud quod in Evangelio positum est. Erat lumen verum, quod illuminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum, ideo dictum est, quia nullus hominum illuminatur nisi illo lumine veritatis, quod Deus est: ne quisquam putaret ab eo se illuminari, a quo audit ut discat, non dico, si quemquam magnum hominem, sed nec si angelum ei contingat habere doctorem. Adhibetur enim sermo veritatis extrinsecus vocis ministerio corporalis, verumtamen neque qui plantat est aliquid, neque qui rigat, sed qui incrementum dat Deus (I Cor. III, 7). Audit quippe homo dicentem vel hominem vel angelum; sed ut sentiat et cognoscat verum esse quod dicitur, illo lumine intus mens ejus aspergitur, quod aeternum manet, quod etiam in tenebris lucet. Sed sicut sol iste a caecis, quamvis eos suis radiis quodam modo vestiat, sic ab stultitiae tenebris non comprehenditur. De Peccatorium Meritis et Remissione, Liber Primus, Caput XXXVIII, PL 44:130. (emphasis mine)

Augustine could not have expressed himself clearer; his epistemology regarding spiritual truth is rooted in the immediate and eternal influence of the light that only God can give. Even Ambrose (339-397), in addressing the Arian heretics, scolds them saying, “Judge not, Arian, divine things by human, but believe the divine where thou findest not the human.” See NPNF2: Vol.: Volume X, Of the Christian Faith, Book I, Chapter 13, §79. Noli, Ariane, ex nostris aestimare divina: sed divina crede, ubi humana non invenis. De Fide Ad Gratianum, Liber Primus, Caput XIII, §79, PL 16:547.

Yet, it is the practice of modern-day Roman apologists to ridicule the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in confirming the hearts of believers, or to pretend that it was a novel concept initiated by the Reformers. But Augustine expressed it long before the 16th century reformers.

To be sure, We acknowledge with Augustine that the Church is most often the initial and outward means by which men are called to faith in Christ. With respect to the above passage from Augustine, Heiko Oberman explains that he never exalted the authority of the Church over the Scriptures: While repeatedly asserting the primacy of Scripture, Augustine himself does not contrast this at all with the authority of the Catholic Church [as Roman apologists assert]: ‘…I would not believe the Gospel unless the authority of the Catholic Church moved me.’ The Church has a practical priority; her authority as expressed in the direction–giving meaning of commovere , to move, is an instrumental authority, the door which leads to the fulness of the Word itself.

Scripture furnishes us with a clear illustration of this in the fourth chapter of John’s gospel. After being confronted by Christ, the woman of Samaria returns to her city, bearing witness to him: And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, ‘Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world’ (John 4:39–42). Though it was the woman’s witness which intially induced belief in Christ, nonetheless, confirmation of their faith rested finally in the testimony of Christ’s own word. While the woman’s witness was true and sufficiently credible to move the inhabitants of the city, it does not follow that she became the infallible bulwark of their subsequent faith. They came to trust, not in her word, but Christ’s. Answering the argument proposed by the Roman apologist Stapleton regarding this comment by Augustine, William Whitaker replied, ‘The church does indeed deliver that rule [i.e. the Scriptures], not as its author, but as a witness, and an admonisher, and a minister.’ This is what Scripture means when it speaks of the Church as ‘the pillar and support of the truth’ (1 Tim. 3:15). The Church’s role is to be a support to the truth by faithfully holding forth the message and authority of the written Scriptures. It is not independent of, or above Scripture, but beneath it.

Oberman further comments, ‘The moving authority of the Church becomes in late medieval versions the Church’s approval or creation of Holy Scripture.’ He notes that ‘the lonely voice of the fourteenth–century Augustinian, Gregory of Rimini (d. 1358), protesting that Augustine meant merely a practical priority of the Church over Scripture, went unheard.’ After all, what Christian would dispute that the Church has been granted divine authority under God to proclaim the Gospel of Christ as he is freely offered in Holy Scripture (Matt. 28:18–20; Acts 1:8)? But Calvin’s emphasis on the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit, as the means by which believers come to recognize and embrace the divine authority of the inscripturated Gospel, was a patristic principle as seen in Augustine’s statement above. Faith comes, not by the Church as the origin of faith, but by hearing the word of God empowered by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 10:17). Thus, the Apostle Paul explained concerning the faith of the Thessalonians: ‘For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe’ (1 Thess. 2:13). He had occasion to remind the Corinthians that his speech and his preaching ‘were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God’ (1 Cor. 2:4–5).

I would encourage you to acquaint yourself with the literature of our esteemed reformers, rather than listening to the ravings of Roman apologists. These same sophistries were employed against our reformers before us, and they answered them well! Read Calvin, Whitaker, etc., and even the evangelical Anglican William Goode's massive three volume work, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice. Invest a little of your own resources. Moreover, William Webster and some other nobody published a three volume work in defense of sola Scriptura back in 2001, titled Holy Scripture: the Ground and Pillar of Our Faith. If you want to engage Roman apologists, then you need to invest some of your own resources, namely reading time and money, in order to be able to respond to them appropriately. That's my advice, which is admittedly *cheap*. If you do not have the time or money, then perhaps your energies would be better spent elsewhere. But don't be impressed by the shallow sophistries of this or that Roman apologist. They are like the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees whom our Lord rebuked, who travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, they make him twice as much a son of hell as themselves (Matthew 23:15).
 
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Minh

Puritan Board Freshman
@DTK Thank you very much for your in-dept response.

I have already brought some ammunition for this. William Goode's treatise, which can be found on Google Book, should help. And I have also brought Keith Mathison's The Shape of Sola Scriptura.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
I have already brought some ammunition for this. William Goode's treatise, which can be found on Google Book, should help. And I have also brought Keith Mathison's The Shape of Sola Scriptura.
Mathison's work is excellent, but is not as useful for an apologetic perspective.
 

joep

Puritan Board Freshman
I agree with Calvin's assessment of the specious use of that citation from Augustine...

John Calvin (1509-1564): Indeed, I know that statement of Augustine is commonly referred to, that he would not believe the gospel if the authority of the church did not move him to do so...
Here's the source for Augustine's quote: https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf104.iv.viii.vi.html

I do wish he'd expressed himself differently, or even that he'd relied on better arguments, but we have hundreds of years of church history for hindsight. It is also asking too much of the Fathers (and maybe most men?) to expect them to be consistent throughout their writings and lifetimes -- that's one of the issues with tradition. Interestingly, one of the attractions of the Reformed faith for me was its greater tradition: it seemed to have a tradition that was at once ancient, seeing as it didn't slice off church history at the Reformation but interacted with the writings from the very beginning, but that was also living and continuing in that there was nothing remotely alarming in viewing, say, Warfield, Calvin and Athanasius' opinions as being of equal weight.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Minh, the short answer to your question is that Protestants do not locate the sufficiency of Scripture in the word "profitable" but in the purpose (or result) clause of verse 17. Scripture makes the man complete and able to do every good work.
 

RWD

Puritan Board Sophomore
I would affirm the Protestant view of the authority of the Scripture and other theological traditions. It just that sometimes I can't find (or at least misunderstand) an explicit verse to support it.
Minh,

I find your reservations understandable and even reasonable. We may not deny that the early church was bound by oral apostolic tradition. Coupled with that, Rome makes some pretty dogmatic claims that can seem to solve many problems. If only Rome would produce those traditions, by grace we’d gladly submit!

First, maybe we might revisit how we can know we have the canon. It might be relevant for context. I personally think it’s an embarrassment to place our confidence in apostolic authorship (lest we deny Luke, Acts, Hebrews etc.). Yet if we move to “close association“ to an apostle, then what about Barnabas and anything Timothy or Titus might’ve written? If we base our confidence upon marks of divinity, then we move from arbitrariness to subjectivity. The point is, the canon question has a unique epistemic quality about it. If the canon is our ultimate authority, then mustn’t our confidence in the canon come from the canon? Here we go...

Jesus promised to build his church (Matt. 16:18). Jesus also told his apostles that those who received them received Him (Matt. 10:40). With Jesus having already placed his imprimatur upon the law and the prophets (and not the apocrypha) the implication is that the building project of the Lord was to be founded upon the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus being the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20). Consequently, regarding the canon, the words of the apostles and Christ had to be received without error because Jesus promised to build his church upon them, which is now a matter of history given the passing of the apostles. Therefore, the canon is closed, lest the church has no foundation. We don’t need an infallible magisterium to give us confidence that the church received the Word of God. The church’s 2,000 year edifice is built upon it.

Now here comes the rub. The apostolic tradition was both oral and written (II Thess. 2:15). We needn’t avoid that Scriptural fact. Yet we have an answer. What Rome refuses to come to grips with is that only the written apostolic tradition was providentially preserved. All we have left is Scripture. Accordingly, Scripture alone is what the church is built upon, which must have been God’s intention all along since Scripture alone is all God left us in keeping with Christ Jesus’ promise to build his church. Again, if only Rome would produce such oral traditions, by grace we’d gladly submit. Thoughts?
 

RWD

Puritan Board Sophomore
@DTK Thank you very much David.

I am curious as to what is your opinion on this quote by Augustine:

"For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church."
Minh,

Augustine’s words are at best ill chosen or they’ve lost much in the translation. For one thing, the church’s influence is ministerial and declarative. When one savingly believes, the gospel message is believed to be true on the authority of God alone speaking in Scripture (John 4:42; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; WCF 14.2). Added to that, saving faith entails knowledge of the truth of the gospel. Knowledge entails warrant or justification for one’s true belief. Whether Augustine understood or not, his justification (for believing the gospel is a true message) came from God, though he might have been moved by the testimony of the church. (See also WCF 1:4)
 

Minh

Puritan Board Freshman
@RWD

Well, your words on post #19 isn't really convincing. At this moment I have considered the doctrine of Sola Scriptura a falsehood and Reformation novelty. I find that the Catholic church that is living will produce a more certain pronouncement of what is true revelation. Therefore, I just decide to go to see archbishop John Doe and recant of my heresy.

....just kidding!


I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment. It grieves me that Roman Catholic are more zealous for their episcopacy than the doctrine of the Triune God or Christ's divinity. With respect to your argument that the Rome should produce a written form of oral tradition, I would also concur since there are uncertainties and debates within the church as to what should constitute it. It took nearly two millenniums for Rome to declare the immaculate conception and the assumption of Mary along with papal infallibility, which was considered by the Keenan catechism as a "Protestant invention" prior 1870, as the revelations of God. Other than glad, I am grateful that you help resolving my conflict and edifying this board. Much appreciated!
 
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