Friday, April 16, 2010

Lively Debate on Sola Scriptura and the Perspicuity (Clearness) of Scripture With Two Protestants in the CARM Chat Room

This took place in the wee hours of the morning on 9 April 2010, in the CARM chat room. The Protestant organization CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry) runs what is probably the largest theological discussion forum on the Internet.

For some reason (probably boredom), last week I got in the mood to do some live chat on theology again. I used to do this quite a bit when I first went online in 1996 (on the old Compuserve Religion Forum), but I haven't done it for years (nor do I frequent discussion forums anymore: having long since become fed up with all of them: even Catholic ones, due to the low level of both ethics and substance). I had gotten into some good discussions the night before, and so went back again and got into this rip-roarin' spontaneous discussion about one of the fundamental issues that divides Catholics and Protestants.

Diane S is the head moderator of all the CARM forums, and second in authority after the Big Cheese, Matt Slick. She is an evangelical of some sort. Thomas is a Presbyterian (PCA) seminarian and card-carrying Calvinist. Diane gave me permission to post this and even did some work to dig up the transcript and send it to me, at my request (many thanks).

I think this was an absolutely classic, textbook case of the shortcomings of the Protestant position on sola Scriptura, and illustrates how it is ultimately self-defeating. I won't summarize what happened here, but I will say that the general thrust of my argument is one that I have used in the past, especially in one exchange with two of the most zealous anti-Catholic Protestant apologists from way back in 1996, and a fictional dialogue of mine:

Dialogue on the Alleged "Perspicuous Apostolic Message" as a Proof of the Quasi-Protestantism of the Early Church (vs. Eric Svendsen and James White)
Fictional Dialogue on Sola Scriptura ("Bible Alone")

You'll see the same exact dynamics and modes of thinking occurring here. As I have argued many times, I consider sola Scriptura a viciously self-defeating position. I think that was (with all due respect to my worthy and cordial opponents) demonstrated in this exchange better than I could ever argue in a 100 papers or ten books on the topic. There is nothing like seeing advocates of a fatally flawed position try to defend it. I give 'em an "e" for effort.

See also the highly related papers:

* * * * *

MitchLeBlanc So Dave, what are you general opinions on sola Scriptura?

DaveArmstrong I think sola Scriptura is unbiblical, unworkable, and self-contradictory

oh brother, here they go. Yawn

Interesting =)
DaveArmstrong hey, I was asked! I didn't start the Protestant-Catholic disputes!!!

MitchLeBlanc And Diane, what are your thoughts on sola scriptura?

Diane_S as for your sola Scriptura statement,
yawn again. I think you know already my thoughts: the exact opposite of the Roman Catholic. Big surprise!

MitchLeBlanc Had I known, I'd not have asked. =(

DaveArmstrong He is a rather direct fellow, ain't he? He knows what one key dispute is, though. I think it is central to everything.

MitchLeBlanc Perhaps you and Dave should dialogue on this?

Diane_S of course it is authority;
the only real debate; the rest is just gravy

DaveArmstrong I've written a book about it, and more papers about it than anything else, and I have over 2500 online

Diane_S Diane is not going to debate sola Scriptura in a chat room at 1 AM

DaveArmstrong LOL
And I ain't gonna beat up a woman in a chat room at 1 AM LOL

MitchLeBlanc Because Dave is here?

Diane_S but I do invite Dave to call the radio station, number to the left. Matt [Slick] will correct all of Dave's errors :)

MitchLeBlanc Diane, Dave just implied that he could beat you up. I think that means theologically. Thoughts?

Diane_S I taught Matt everything I know, I think Matt can handle that for me, :)

DaveArmstrong I don't call [in] where a "debate" is controlled by one party. Debates have to take place in neutral territory.

Diane_S after all, I have more important work to do, like dealing with trolls, moderating forums, and chatrooms
and on and on

MitchLeBlanc Dealing with trolls is more important than talking to Dave? =(

Diane_S I leave the easy stuff, like debating Catholics to Matt

MitchLeBlanc You've spent four lines of text being snarky to Dave, those lines could have contained arguments!

DaveArmstrong Mitch is quite the provocative one.

Diane_S Dave does not want to debate Diane;
he has been there and done that, years back

MitchLeBlanc Did you refer to yourself in the third-person?

Diane_S he is afraid to debate me, :)

DaveArmstrong what's your belief, Mitch?

MitchLeBlanc I am an agnostic, good sir.

DaveArmstrong I am kind to nice ladies, and slaughtering them in a debate is ungentlemanly. I would never do that.

Diane_S Dave, seriously,
you should call the station, has been a while, you and Matt could talk. I'll bet people will enjoy the debate or discussion, not formal debate

DaveArmstrong I don't do that, never have. I did the one Paltalk with Matt. I tried to get him to do a live chat afterwards, and he declined.

Diane_S no, he didn't decline;
the two of you could not agree to the terms

DaveArmstrong I don't debate anti-Catholics anymore, anyway, as a matter of principle and policy and stewardship.

Diane_S already then
. Well we were prepared to give an answer, but not typing in chat at 1 AM. You should visit earlier evening

DaveArmstrong I'll have to come in earlier. Usually [I am] watching TV with the family. Tonight I was at a late Easter / birthday party

Diane_S well, this room is just starting to get people, we had another chat, moved to this room and not many here yet

MitchLeBlanc Dave are you a Catholic apologist in that you defend Catholicism against critics or are you also a theistic apologist?

DaveArmstrong I do both Mitch. I have lots of posted dialogues and debates with atheists.

MitchLeBlanc What are your favored arguments?

DaveArmstrong for theism?

MitchLeBlanc Yes sir.

DaveArmstrong I like cosmological, teleological [theistic arguments] the best, I think; I've even explored the ontological argument a bit.

MitchLeBlanc Cool.
Any particular version of the Cosmological argument Dave?

DaveArmstrong Kalam is cool. I like William Lane Craig a lot. But I also like how Alvin Plantinga argues (and he doesn't even think that the cosmological argument succeeds).

MitchLeBlanc Righty-o

DaveArmstrong I haven't done much of that in the last few years, but I really wanna do some critiques of deconversion stories again. When I did that with John Loftus' deconversion I thought the man would explode, he got so angry.

MitchLeBlanc Haha!

DaveArmstrong That is fun: take apart these stories that atheists think are so compelling. I've yet to find one that is that, by a long shot . . .

you wanna see angry; visit our forum atheism section

DaveArmstrong I can imagine. I've seen it all with the atheists.

Diane_S there are 50 at a time viewing that forum and talk about angry;
keep me busy

MitchLeBlanc Dealing with atheist arguments would surely be more fruitful of an endeavor.

DaveArmstrong But on the other hand I've had some of my most fun and challenging debates with atheists. You gotta find the friendly, respectful ones.

thomasjg did it demonstrate that deconversion is a myth? :)

Diane_S liberals and their politics and the atheists;
such fun :)

DaveArmstrong you should shut it down if they are acting like jerks. Hats off to you though.

Diane_S well we moved them all to their own forums, so Christians not forced to post on those boards

DaveArmstrong I do the philosophical discussion off and on, time-permitting.

MitchLeBlanc Diane, have you engaged with atheist arguments of substance at all?

Diane_S our politics section
and atheism section [are] busy; didn't used to be that way

DaveArmstrong Deconversion would be a myth for a Calvinist, yes . . .
it shows that these people were almost always ignorant of basic things in Christianity. That was certainly true for Loftus.

Diane_S it is not a "myth"
-- it is Scripture Dave, 1 John 2:19

thomasjg deconversion would be untrue for a consistent biblicist...:)
Regeneration is not reversible .. we can't be unborn

Diane_S Amen thomas

DaveArmstrong there is plenty in Scripture about falling away from the faith

Diane_S "if they had been of us, they would have remained"
or, "they'll be back" :)

thomasjg Dave there is covenantal language used in scripture that demonstrates the dual aspects of the Covenant of Grace.
Those are usually misread by those that are not covenantal :)

DaveArmstrong Galatians 5:1,4 . . . stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery . . . You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

1 Corinthians 9:27
but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

Diane_S um Dave, you are posting verses that are evidence of the RCC being off;
yoke of slavery

DaveArmstrong 1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.

1 Timothy 5:15
For some have already strayed after Satan.

Hebrews 3:12-14
Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day . . . that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Diane_S come on Dave, you know the answers to that

DaveArmstrong what answers?

thomasjg I graduate RTS next year and am pastoral intern for the next year here local

Diane_S to those verses;
if they fall away

DaveArmstrong I'm glad to be "off" if by that you mean following what Scripture teaches. May I be off the planet to do that!

Diane_S they were never of us to begin with
and Christians do sin........obviously

thomasjg Dave: your answer to that lies in a proper exegesis of Galatians 4:8-11

Diane_S I am talking about the verses to obeying law

DaveArmstrong that ain't what it sez. Gal 5:4: they fell away from grace. You say they never had it. I'll follow Paul, thank you.

thomasjg Dave: again... I would risk presupposing that you are not covenantal

DaveArmstrong Heb 3:12-13, "fall away from the living God." You and Calvinists say they never were with God in the first place. I'll follow the Bible, not false traditions of men.

Diane_S thomas, Dave is Roman Catholic apologist

thomasjg ahh, then he is inconsistent in his covenantalism;
no disrespect

DaveArmstrong Hebrews 6:4-6 For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God, and the powers of the age to come, if they then commit apostasy . . .

thomasjg Dave Jesus loses not one...

DaveArmstrong of course He doesn't. They lose themselves.

thomasjg well that would be impossible for then Jesus would not be doing the will of the Father

DaveArmstrong 2 Peter 2:15,20-21 Forsaking the right way they have gone astray; they have followed the way of Balaam, . . . For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them

thomasjg for it is the Father's will that he lose not one.
Remember, all given will come.. and of those that come He loses not one. Again, covenant inclusion is on two levels.. those that profess and those that actually are; the two not being mutually exclusive. Ask Ishmael :)

DaveArmstrong I know the Calvinist arguments pretty well, I think. I just spent the last eight months critiquing Calvin's Book IV of his Institutes and then writing a 388-page book about Calvin. I'm in a debate right now on my blog about TULIP.

thomasjg then explain to me the dual aspects of the Covenant of Grace as it now sits with Christ as a second Adam having fulfilled the Covenant of Works

DaveArmstrong could you rephrase that in English, Thomas?

thomasjg Dave: I am sorry I thought you were familiar with the Calvinist arguments :)

DaveArmstrong but they mean different things by the same thing oftentimes. I was just writing about this yesterday in my latest blog post.

thomasjg I would say anthopocentric autonomy would be more apt to fit that branding :)

DaveArmstrong what is your denomination, thomas?

thomasjg I am Presbyterian (PCA); Confessional...Westminster [Confession]; Covenantal and Calvinist

DaveArmstrong Okay. Are Arminians Christians?

thomasjg sure many are

DaveArmstrong doctrinally?

thomasjg psst... there are some Calvinists that are not...

DaveArmstrong can one reject all five points of TULIP and still be a Christian?

thomasjg qualify the rejection..

DaveArmstrong as in the Remonstrants at Dort in 1619?

thomasjg I would say the remonstrants of Dort were more in line with heretical teaching

DaveArmstrong so they aren't Christians?

thomasjg as was stated by the Synod; I would say that a willful rejection of biblical truth is a mark of an unbeliever..

DaveArmstrong who determines what biblical truth is?

Diane_S um thomas that was great

thomasjg now an unknowing rejection of doctrine can be debated

Diane_S that was good too; glad thomas is here

DaveArmstrong see how Calvinism bores folks and they leave? :-)

Diane_S no, it is late; that is why they are leaving. Me toooooooooo. Night folks

thomasjg Dave do you know what the perspicuity of scripture is ?

DaveArmstrong who determines what biblical truth is?

Diane_S God Bless, say hello to your family Dave

DaveArmstrong nitey nite; will do; you too

thomasjg Scripture does... it is self attesting :) Remember Sola Scriptura :)

DaveArmstrong why couldn't Luther and Calvin agree on baptism, then? Why did they both have Anabaptists killed for beliving in adult baptism?

thomasjg ohh wait... you are sola ecclesia :)

DaveArmstrong no, I am "three-legged stool"

thomasjg and clarity does not necessitate agreement

DaveArmstrong third time now: who determines biblical truth; biblical orthodox doctrine?

Diane_S I have to answer; supposed to be gone
DaveArmstrong LOL. Couldn't sleep huh?

thomasjg Scripture does for the third time now, not fallible man :)

Diane_S this question gets on my last nerves; wakes me up. Dave, when You stand before God who will be with you?

DaveArmstrong Scripture does not. Protestants disagreed on baptism from their very beginning, and never have been able to resolve their differences. Scripture Alone is not enough. They can't do it.

thomasjg so who is right.... Orange or Trent?

Diane_S hello; when you stand before God, who is with you?

DaveArmstrong I ain't gonna change the topic because you guys have no answers to my hard questions.

Diane_S I am answering

thomasjg Actually Scripture is enough... according to scripture..?

Diane_S the reason it is the Word of God is because that is what you will be judged by; you are fallible, so are we; God's word is not. That is your answer

thomasjg Who determines when the church is lacking truth?

DaveArmstrong Scripture is materially sufficient. It does not, however, bring folks to agreement simply because it is inspired and infallible. History has shown this. What does Scripture teach about baptism then?

Diane_S who said we all have to agree on everything?
DaveArmstrong Paul: "one faith, one baptism, one Lord"

Diane_S wrong; he praised the church for their disagreements, because why?

thomasjg Dave for the second time... Who determines when the church is lacking truth?

DaveArmstrong he [Paul] repeatedly refers to "the truth" and "the doctrine" and "tradition", etc.

Diane_S he sure does

thomasjg Dave the perfect has come and it is not the RCC :)

Diane_S and I answered you about 6 years ago on this

DaveArmstrong I asked who is it that determines what is biblical truth. People disagree. How do we know what the truth is?

thomasjg It is Scripture alone

Diane_S "if even "we" or an angel give you a different gospel, let them be eternally condemned

thomasjg Dave lets go for three times... Who determines when the church is lacking truth?

Diane_S the apostles were subject to the Word of God

DaveArmstrong Luther sez this, Calvin sez that. Zwingli sez a third thing. They anathematize each other. Luther and Calvin have Anabaptists drowned for believing what every Baptist believes today (adult baptism).

Diane_S the "we" are the apostles

DaveArmstrong I asked the question, that has not yet been answered. I don't go down rabbit trails.

Diane_S it is your answer

thomasjg this pope said that... this pope issued a papal bull.. this pope later recognized it as greed...

Diane_S men are not going to agree. They are not; period

thomasjg you cannot appeal to agreement

DaveArmstrong exactly, my point [Diane], but men have to interpret Scripture.

thomasjg so let's go for four

Diane_S individuals stand before God

DaveArmstrong they can't agree; therefore, the common man doesn't know which school to follow

thomasjg Who determines when the church is lacking truth... can you please answer?

Diane_S the answer I gave you above that you rejected last time

DaveArmstrong not until I am answered [will I answer your question].

Diane_S individual names written in the book of life; God gave His word to us

thomasjg hehe.. you mean you cannot answer without supporting sola Scriptura. It is a classic failing in the RCC view :) When the church errs the word of God has the final say

Diane_S the RCC uses "development" of doctrine as their excuse for disagreement; beliefs changing

thomasjg hence Sola Scriptura :)

Diane_S we gave you the answer: men are going to disagree till the day they die; and you know that Catholics also disagree

thomasjg But the word of God never changes :)

DaveArmstrong so the Scripture determines what is the biblical doctrine?

thomasjg Actually yes... it is the only rule of faith and life

Diane_S Jesus did say "all things will pass away, but my Words will never pass away"

DaveArmstrong then why can't Protestants agree?

thomasjg Why can't Catholics agree?

DaveArmstrong where does Scripture say it is the only rule?

thomasjg and by Catholics I mean RCC

Diane_S same place it says the RCC is the only rule, :)

thomasjg err Catholics

Diane_S you can paste it here :)

DaveArmstrong another unanswered question? You guys are walking caricatures of evasiveness

thomasjg there was no RCC, not even a bishop in Rome when early councils of elders were called.
Dave: you have Yet to answer the question.

DaveArmstrong is there a way to cut-and-paste this dialogue to my blog? This is classic

Diane_S Dave for pete's sake, if the Bible said there was final authority in the RCC, we would all be there :)

thomasjg and seek to use your falure to accept our answers as an excuse..

Diane_S and not arguing

thomasjg Dave: 5th time now.. Who determines when the RCC is lacking truth?

Diane_S do you think a Christian seeking to follow Christ, should go against what they read in God's word?

DaveArmstrong and what does that word say about the Eucharist and baptism? You tell me, since you claim to know

thomasjg rabbit trail. Come on Dave. Man up my friend. Say it.

DaveArmstrong You say follow the Word, I say, okay, tell me what that Word teaches about a, b, c. You evade

Diane_S we can tell you what we believe that God has revealed in His word

DaveArmstrong okay, please do

thomasjg Dave: we are on the topic of what is our final authority..

DaveArmstrong . . . about baptism

Diane_S that you should believe and be baptized and we do and are

thomasjg and you cannot answer simply

DaveArmstrong infants?

thomasjg Dave: strawman; rabbit trail; lets ask again shall we?

DaveArmstrong no it's not. If the Bible is so clear, then we will know this. I'm only following your method.

thomasjg Who determines when the RCC is lacking truth?

DaveArmstrong I won't be led astray from the conversation.

Diane_S well, show me the verse that says infants were baptized?

thomasjg The Bible is clear.

DaveArmstrong Diane is at least answering some things

Diane_S if you go to the family verses, doesn't do it for me

DaveArmstrong so you say the Bible rules out infant baptism?

Diane_S however, it is a non issue Dave, for me

thomasjg Diane: that is a rabbit trail meant to divide.. and not answer

DaveArmstrong even Thomas disagrees with you. You two can't even agree, and you're here telling me the Bible determines all these things for the honest seeker?

thomasjg The Bible states exactly what we are to believe converning baptism

Diane_S since a RC doesn't believe it will ultimately save the child anyway, I didn't baptize my infants

thomasjg Diane: he should answer the question at hand

DaveArmstrong there are verses where families are baptized; almost certainly including children. Calvin makes an elaborate argument from the analogy of circumcision, that I think is excellent

thomasjg Dave: rabbit trail.

Diane_S but I have no problem with those that do :) . That is my answer

thomasjg we are talking about authority

DaveArmstrong the Bible says that baptism saves; it is certainly a hugely important issue to understand biblical truth on that

thomasjg Dave lets go for 7 times I have asked..

Diane_S nah; you don't even really believe that Dave

thomasjg Who determines when the RCC is lacking truth? 7 times and no answer.. I can tell you.. Scripture does

Diane_S since a Catholic is not guaranteed heaven if they are baptized or are you? :)

DaveArmstrong what does it state about baptism, Thomas? Good, now we're getting somewhere

Diane_S answer Thomas

thomasjg The Bible states exactly what God has revealed we are to believe concerning Baptism... There.. Now.. who determines when the Rcc is lacking truth?

Diane_S please answer Thomas, Dave

DaveArmstrong Yes, of course, all Catholic beliefs must be consistent with Scripture. They are. One of the major themes in my apologetics is demonstrating that.

thomasjg so then where they are Not the church is in error?

DaveArmstrong and what is that Thomas? What does it state [about baptism]?

thomasjg and that would mean that the church is only as true as it conforms to the Word of God.. and that the Scipture is the ultimate authority.. Sola Scriptura. Thanks Dave

[later note: this is not sola Scriptura at all. To say that Catholic doctrine must agree with Scripture and to hold that Scripture is the only infallible ("ultimate") authority are two completely different things. Thomas absurdly collapses them into one, and so he thinks that to assert one is automatically to assert the other, which is utterly false]

DaveArmstrong I'm not talking about the RCC. The topic has been from the beginning the Bible as the standard of truth. I am only following your own presuppositions.

thomasjg now to answer regarding Baptism...

DaveArmstrong infant, non-regenerative? (Calvin). Infant, regenerative (Luther)? Adult, non-regenerative (Baptist)? Adult regenerative (Churches of Christ)? No baptism (Quakers, Salvation Army)?

thomasjg Specifically.. The Bible states that Baptism is a sign and seal of the new covenant... it replaces circumsicion and as a sign represents an outward act signifying an inward reality... as a seal it represents the covenantal promises of God and is not ties therefore to the time of the application.. as a sacrament is for the Church and since the new birth is an act of the Spirit alone it cannot be regenerative. There you go :) short answer

DaveArmstrong that's simply what Calvin thinks. Even Diane doesn't agree with that. Yet you two tell me the Bible is so clear, including on baptism. Luther disagrees. He thinks it is a sacrament of regeneration. The Anabaptists disagreed (which is why Luther and Calvin had them killed).

thomasjg Calvin's thought are only as good as the Scripture :) The Westminster Confession is worth nothing if it does not accuratly summarize what Scripture teaches..

DaveArmstrong so this illustrates my point perfectly. You merely give me one interpretation from one Protestant school. Others disagree. And that goes back to my question: how do we determine which interpreter to choose? Why should Calvin be superior to Luther?

thomasjg and again the perspicuity of scripture does not necessitate agreement..

DaveArmstrong granted. How does one choose who to believe?

Diane_S and why should the RCC be superior to Luther or Calvin? That is the point. Christians disagree

thomasjg since we see the RCC in error and disagreement throughout history

DaveArmstrong the problem is competing schools all appealing to a perspicuous Scripture.

Diane_S and so?

thomasjg but scripture is the same..

Diane_S right thomas

thomasjg it never changes that what truth is..

DaveArmstrong back to the RCC again. I'm not talking about "RCC." I'm disputing your opinions. The old, tired techniques don't work with me.

thomasjg that which corresponds to reality..

Diane_S and I am telling you it is supposed to be that way Dave. We are each to study on our own

thomasjg the RCC would not have liked the Bereans :)

Diane_S love the Lord your God with heart, soul and mind; we are to use our mind

DaveArmstrong I use more Scripture in defending my beliefs than any Protestant I have ever come across.

Diane_S the Holy Spirit teaches us

thomasjg Dave: then you must not have come across many

Diane_S have you ever changed your mind on what you believe? Of course you have. That is how He made us

DaveArmstrong I have a 445-page book of virtually all Scripture, showing that Catholicism is biblical and true.

Diane_S yes in your opinion right now. That could change

thomasjg Dave and I have 66 books that are 100% scripture that disagree :)

DaveArmstrong so why am I to believe Calvin's take on baptism over Luther's and the Anabaptists? Did I miss an answer to that?

Diane_S you have to be convinced in your mind Dave. You are no different than Thomas or I. You simply agree with whoever you agree with. Since I am not permitted to say the Rcc, I won't. hehehe

thomasjg and what [sic] should I believe the RCC in light of 1054

DaveArmstrong so the Bible is crystal clear but it is okay to disagree, which demonstrates precisely that the clearness of the Bible is not sufficient in and of itself to resolve the disputes; yet you cling to that anyway, despite the vicious self-contradiction.

thomasjg and in light of Orange / Trent

Diane_S wrong

DaveArmstrong right

Diane_S the Scripture is clear; we are not. We are fallible. How can the fallible know the infallible? Takes time, study, prayer

thomasjg only by the Spirit

DaveArmstrong but we can disagree; that is fine. It's the new Protestant "quest for uncertainty" that is presently quite fashionable.

Diane_S spiritual growth

thomasjg There is uncertainty in the RCC

DaveArmstrong Luther and Calvin said those who disagreed with them were damned. You guys say, "ah, who cares? We can't reach an agreement anyway; that is the human condition."

Diane_S so, who cares what they said? What does the Bible say? I started it with the bottom line Dave

thomasjg Dave you would have to actually qualify that

DaveArmstrong they can know the infallible by being led by the Holy Spirit, just as the Jerusalem Council was (acts 15:28).

Diane_S it wasn't a rabbit trail

thomasjg that blanket statement is dishonest :)

Diane_S I am not going to place my eternal soul in the hands of other men

thomasjg It is ok.. since Dave agrees.. Dave said and I paraphrase... the Bible gets the last word

Diane_S we have to study ourselves; we are judged as individuals. I believe you believe your church is right

thomasjg It is the Scripture alone that will ultimately determine a lack of truth in the RCC.

DaveArmstrong The Bible is materially sufficient. Every true doctrine must be in harmony with it. That is not the same as saying that every doctrine must have explicit biblical proof.

Diane_S but you could be wrong, :)

thomasjg it is ok ... I am now content since Dave ultimately agrees with us

Diane_S it is God's opinion that matters

[ . . . deleted off-topic diversion about the term "Roman Catholic"]

DaveArmstrong can I post this on my site? But I haven't figured out how to copy it.

thomasjg but Dave all in love it has been a pleasure :)

DaveArmstrong the pleasure was mine . . .

thomasjg night guys and gals

Diane_S if you people are going, I will log out

DaveArmstrong Nitey; can I paste this?

Diane_S to copy Dave, highlight and use ctrl c

thomasjg God's blessings in all!

DaveArmstrong this is classic: one for the ages.

Diane_S doesn't seem that interesting


Nick said...

I'd like to get people's take on 2 Tim 3:16 where it says "all Scripture" is inspired. I can't find much info on this, though I see some Catholics saying "all" in Greek more accurately means "ever" and that "Scripture" here in Greek is singular. Thus, it more accurately means "every individual Scripture" and not "all the Scriptures".

A.T. Robertson is a well respected Protestant historian who comments on this and agrees it can mean "Every Scripture" but seems to try and get away from this due to the obvious implications:

Clearly, if 2 Tim 3:16 is actually saying "every Scripture" - as in "every individual book or verse of Scripture" - is 'sufficient', then the Protestant argument is refuted instantly. For they certainly deny every individual book (or even verse) is sufficient to make the man of God complete.

But even if "every Scripture" doesn't end up being the *only* option, the fact that it's *a* fair and possible option is equally as damning to SS, for the Protestant must approach 2 Tim 3:16 with a bias.

THAT SAID, if Paul is saying "all Scripture" as in "Scripture as a whole" is sufficient - meaning anything less than the full canon is insufficient - then the Protestant is still in a bind, for they must prove all the NT had been completed, and many NT Scholars actually say Revelation was the last to be written. Thus Paul was giving Timothy an impossible demand.

Dave and others, what do you guys think? To me, this is a simple and yet powerful refutation of 2 Tim 3:16 for Sola Scriptura.

Dave Armstrong said...

I think it is a very interesting argument and could and should be developed.

I have always thought that the passage proved nothing whatever about sola Scriptura because it talks about Scripture as inspired, but doesn't rule out an authoritative Church and Tradition. Protestants simply assume it is doing that because they always think in either/or terms.

In other words, it tells us nothing whatever about Scripture as the only infallible authority, which is what SS is.

I never thought about it the way you are here. That's a great insight.

Adomnan said...

When Paul speaks of the Scriptures in general (just what we call the Old Testament, of course), he uses the plural: "And what was written of old was written for our instruction that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." (Romans 15:4)

Therefore, when Paul uses the singular "scripture" in 2 Tim 3:16, he must be referring, as you say, to "'every Scripture' - as in 'every individual book or verse of Scripture'." He refers to the collection as the Scriptures, plural, and to every individual book as scripture, singular.

You probably also know that the word "inspired" may either be attributive or predicative in this passage. I believe it is attributive. Thus, Paul is not saying "every scripture is inspired and useful;" he is saying rather that "every inspired scripture is useful."

But for me, the key thing about this passage is that it is NOT saying that scripture makes a man fit, prepared for every good work. Rather, Paul is saying that an "education in righteousness" makes a man fit, etc. Studying the scripture is a "useful" element in this education, but it's the education as a whole that results in the preparation to which Paul refers.

The larger context of this education -- not just the scriptures -- is described in 2 Tim 3:14-15}, the passage just preceding the one under discussion, including: "You remain in those things that you learned and about which you have become convinced. You are aware of the ones from whom you learned them."

In other words, the education in righteousness is not just a matter of studying the scriptures -- "useful" as that is. It is a matter of what Timothy learned from Paul, from his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice (2 Tim 1:5) -- let's not forget the ladies! -- and from others involved in his upbringing.

Adomnan said...

I should have written that the education in righteousness of which Paul speaks "is ALSO a matter of what Timothy learned, etc."

Shane said...


I have an argument that I like to use that I think really cuts through some of the types of stuff you saw in that debate. I put it this way:

Assume, for a moment, that Scripture is indeed all we need if we are to know God's revelation. Now, we do have these problems that you cite: how do we know what is true? Is baptism regenerative or not? That's a very important issue. If it is, then we'd better baptize people. We need to know the answer to this question. Supporters of Sola Scriptura will tell us that we coem to the truth by studying God's word and by trusting in the Holy Spirit to lead us. OK - let's assume that to be correct.

Now, there are plenty of Protestant denominations in the world, many of them very, very big. There are several Lutheran Synods. There are different Methodist bodies, different presbyterean bodies, a whole smattering of non-affiliated evangelicals, etc. Let's just pick two of the larger bodies for a moment. Choose any two Christian bodies that are big enough to have a few million members and which disagree about Baptism.

Now, can we assume that in each of these bodies there are several thousand sincere, prayerful, devout people who are truly open to God's leading? In fact, entirely forgetting about the human aspect, can we not assume that God would have put at leasta few thousand in them?

Yet let us make it hard on ourselves, and say there are less than a few thousand. Are there not a few hundred? One would think, but let's not even give ourselves that leeway, nor that of a few dozen or even a few. Let's assume there is only one. Yes, only one in each body.

They disagree about baptism, though. One says it is necessary for salvation. The other says it is not. Both have sincerely studied and prayed about this issue, and it is a critical issue! If the one who says it is not necessary is wrong, then souls can wind up in Hell over it! What could be more important?

Thus, we have a problem. One of a few things has to be going on here. It could be:

A) There is not even one sincere, true, honest Christian out of the millions in one of these two bodies.

This is seriously doubtable, as well as problematic on several levels.

B) The Holy Spirit has led one of these persons into error.

I need not explain the grave nature of the problems with this assertion.

C) There is something else, beyond what these two individuals have, by which the truth must be known.

This is the only viable option. The believer in Sola Scriptura must be able to come up with some forth possibility, or else his belief must be rejected.

Nick said...

This is good to hear. I found a great article by Jimmy Akin who addresses this issue as well:

This seems like one of the most under appreciated arguments against 2 Tim 3:16, yet it's pretty dang powerful!

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Shane,

Yes, I think yours is an excellent argument. I have done a variant of that through the years. I go through all that and tgh4en submit that the Protestant solution is to say that the other guy who disagrees is somehow in sin or blinded to the truth.

There has to be some strong criticism of opposing positions, given the premise that Scripture is self-interpreting and self-sufficient to resolve the issue.

The earliest Protestants simply consigned different Protestant parties to hell. The Calvinists and Lutherans executed Anabaptists for believing in adult baptism. Luther thought Zwingli was damned. Various other "reformers" thought he was, etc.

That doesn't happen today. Now, we hear either the "sin argument" or we hear that a trifling thing like baptism isn't important enough anyway to worry about disagreements (Diane S in my dialogue took this slant).

That, of course, runs up against many dozens of Scriptures about truth and one doctrine, and also about baptism as directly tied to salvation. It is supremely important, as is the Eucharist: also tied to salvation in John 6.

Any way one looks at this, it doesn't add up. There has to be a final say outside of Scripture, but consistent with it, and that is apostolic tradition and succession, and Holy Mother Church.

Nick said...

I have finished and posted my newest article against Sola Scriptura.

Adomnan said...

Good article, Nick.

I particularly liked your endnote, where you point out that 2 Tim 3:16 merely calls scripture "profitable." It is the four ends, as you put it, that are "sufficient" to equip a Christian man. These four ends sum up Timothy's upbringing and serve as a model for all Christian education.

Dave Armstrong said...

Excellent work, Nick. Keep it up!

James Rinkevich said...

Isn't the answer to thomasjg's silly question(s) another question: "Who is Lord of the Church which Jesus founded?"
Is Jesus not that Lord, too? Does he deny Jesus His Lordship?