Friday, July 22, 2011

Books by Dave Armstrong: 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura


[Book contract with Catholic Answers, dated 7-12-11; publication date: mid-May 2012. Edited by Todd Aglialoro: who was the editor of A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, The Catholic Verses, and The One-Minute Apologist. I completed my work on the book on 9-19-11, with further revisions on 11-4-11. The book is 135 pages long, with a low list price of $12.95]

--- For purchase information, go to the bottom of the page ---


TABLE OF CONTENTS



Dedication

Introduction [read a very similar version online]

I. The Binding Authority of Tradition


A. Biblical and Apostolic Tradition Contrasted with the False and Corrupt Traditions of Men (1-12)

1. The Bible Contains Much Information on Sacred Tradition
2. Good (Apostolic) Tradition is Superior to Bad Traditions of Men, According to the Bible [read very similar excerpt online]
3. St. Peter Dramatically Exercises Apostolic Authority in Acts 2
4. The Bible Explicitly Teaches about a True and Unchangeable Apostolic Tradition
5. Tradition is Inevitable (and a Fact) for All Christians
6. “Biblical,” “Unbiblical,” “Extra-Biblical” and Similar Terms Defined
7. Covenants and Sacred Tradition Are Perpetually Binding
8. Apostolic Tradition is in Harmony with Scripture
9. Authoritative Interpretation of the Law Was Normative and Required in Ancient Israel
10. The Infallible Nature of Pauline Tradition Is Taken for Granted
11. “Commandment” and “Command” Are Synonyms for Tradition
12. Even Pauline Tradition Was Shared With and By Other Apostles

B. Oral and Deuterocanonical Tradition (13-21)

13. The New Testament Cites Traditions that Are Not Spelled Out in the Old Testament
14. Informal Discussions of Jesus and the Apostles Are Dynamically and Organically Related to Tradition and Scripture
15. The Bible Never Says that Oral Tradition Would Cease
16. Deuterocanonical Books Are Frequently Cited in the New Testament
17. Competing Schools in Judaism Are Akin to Denominations in Protestantism
18. Prophetic, Divine Truth is Always Present Alongside Written Scripture
19. Inscripturation Is Not the Final Determinant of Binding Truthfulness
20. Oral Tradition is Wider in Scope than Written Scripture
21. Authoritative Oral Tradition Frequently Appears in the New Testament

C. Continuing Christian Adherence to Jewish (Pharisaical) Tradition and Mosaic Law (22-35)

22. Jesus Doesn’t Overturn or Reject the Mosaic Law
23. Jesus Sanctions the Extra-Biblical Tradition of “Moses’ Seat”
24. Paul Identified Himself as a Pharisee after His Christian Conversion, Signifying a Link to Jewish Tradition
25. Paul Worships at Synagogues
26. Paul Acknowledges the Authority of the Jewish High Priest Ananias, Even at His Own Trial
27. Jesus Participates in the Old Testament Sacrificial System
28. Jesus Follows Pharisaical Traditions
29. Christians Call Jews “Brethren” and “Fathers”
30. The Galatians Were Even Bigger Hypocrites than the Pharisees
31. Caiaphas the High Priest “Prophesied”
32. Christianity Adopted Late Pharisaical Traditions and Doctrines
33. The Sadducees were the “Liberals” and Sola Scriptura Advocates of Their Time
34. Christians Continued Temple Worship and Participation in Sacrifices
35. Ancient Judaism is Analogous to, and Was Organically Developed by Catholicism, Not Protestantism

D. Prophecy and Proclamation: “Word of God” and “Word of the Lord” (36-39)

36. “Word of the Lord” and “Word of God” Are Not Usually a Reference to Scripture
37. Oral Prophecy Was an Ongoing New Testament Charism
38. Tradition and Scripture Both Derive from the Larger Category of “Word of God”
39. Paul Frequently References Tradition and Rarely Alludes to Scripture in his Epistles to the Thessalonians

E. The Alleged Perspicuity of Scripture and the Necessity of Authoritative Interpretation (40-53)

40. “Desert Island” Minimalistic Christianity Is Not the Biblical Norm
41. The Historical Wisdom of the Church Is a Better Interpreter than Any Individual or Denomination
42. False Assumptions Can Lead Biblical Exegetes Astray, but the Church is a Sure Guide
43. The Bible Itself Teaches that it Can be Misinterpreted
44. Perspicuity and Denominationalism are at Odds
45. Protestantism is Radically Contradictory in How it Harmonizes and Systematizes “Plain” Scripture
46. The Bible Teaches that Biblical Interpretation is Inherently Necessary
47. Jesus Reveals Hidden Scriptures to the Disciples at Emmaus
48. Sincere Study Alone Does Not Guarantee Correct Interpretation of Scripture
49. Sola Scriptura Means It’s Always the Other Guy’s Problem
50. The Bible Never Lists Its “Essential” Teachings
51. The Bible Asserts that Its Teachings Have to Be “Opened”
52. Many Things in the Gospels Are Difficult to Understand: John 6 for Example
53. In the Old Covenant, Authoritative Teaching Authority Was Constantly Exercised

F. General or Miscellaneous Arguments Relating to Sola Scriptura (54-60)

54. The Bible Never Teaches That Oral Tradition Would Cease and Sola Scriptura Become the New Rule of Faith
55. The Very Nature of Sola Scriptura Requires It to Be Explicitly Found in the Bible Itself
56. Scripture Alone May be Sufficient for Much and Many, but Not for All Doctrines
57. The Trinity Was an Early Test Case for Tradition Versus Sola Scriptura
58. Church and Scripture Not a Zero-Sum Game (False Protestant Dichotomies)
59. In Ephesians 4, Paul Shows No Awareness of a Supposed Sola Scriptura Rule of Faith
60. Paul Uses Tradition and Church Motifs More Often than “Scripture” and “Word of God” [read very similar excerpt online]





II. The Binding Authority of the Church


A. New Testament Evidences for a Hierarchical, Visible Church with Strong Authority (61-67)

61. The Church Can “Bind and Loose”
62. The Bible Presents a Universal, Visible, and Hierarchical Church
63. Anathema and Excommunication are Most Definitely Biblical Concepts
64. Both Scripture and Church History Have Problematic Areas to Work Through
65. Jesus’ Mention of “Sheep and Shepherd” Does Not Imply an Invisible Church
66. Authority Has to Have “Teeth” or it Makes Little Sense
67. The Role of the Bishop, According to Holy Scripture, is Very Definite, Distinct, and Important

B. Biblical Indications of Apostolic Succession (68-71)

68. Paul Passed on His Office to Timothy
69. The Bible Explicitly Demonstrates Apostolic Succession
70. Neither Scripture nor the Church Fathers Rule out Tradition or Apostolic Succession
71. Catholic “Epistemology of Authority” is a Combination of Faith, History, and Reason

C. The Jerusalem Council and its Implications for Subsequent Catholic Ecclesiology (72-74)

72. Participants at the Jerusalem Council Felt Guided by the Holy Spirit, and Thus Asserted a Binding Authority
73. The Jerusalem Council Made Binding Decisions with No Great Reliance on Scripture
74. Paul’s Apostolic Calling Was Subordinated to the Larger Church and Was in Harmony With St. Peter

D. Biblical Analogies for an Infallible Church (75-83)

75. Old Testament Levites Were Granted the Gift of Special Protection from Error
76. Prophets Exercised Binding Teaching Authority and Possessed Virtual Infallibility
77. Prophets Proclaimed the Inspired “Word of the Lord”
78. God Uses Fallible Men to Sustain an Infallible Church, Just as He Did with the Bible
79. Is God Unable to Preserve His Church from Error, Just as He Preserved His Bible from Error?
80. Messy Deliberations and Other Difficulties Do Not Disprove the Infallibility of Councils
81. Biblical Truth and Tradition Are Much Larger Than Just the Gospel Message
82. 1 Timothy 3:15 Is a Virtually Invulnerable Biblical Proof for the Infallibility of the Catholic Church [read very similar excerpt online]
83. The Church is Indefectible, Because Jesus is Its Foundation and Because God Dwells Within Us, His “Temple”

E. The Biblical Prohibition of Denominationalism, Theological Relativism, and Indifferentism (84-86)

84. Protestant Institutional Sectarianism Contradicts Biblical Requirements of Doctrinal Oneness and Agreement
85. Protestantism’s Resignation to Uncertainty Leads to Theological Relativism
86. The Bible Assumes One Truth, Not a Multi-Level Notion of Central Truths, Secondary Truths, and Disposable Opinions

III. Counter-Arguments Against Alleged Sola Scriptura Prooftexts

87. Deuteronomy 6:6-9: “These Words Which I Command You”
88. Psalms 119:159-160: “Thy Word is Truth”
89. Proverbs 30:5-6: “Every Word of God Proves True”
90. Isaiah 40:8: God’s Word “Will Stand Forever”  
91. Matthew 24:35: “My Words Will Not Pass Away”
92. John 20:30-31: “These Are Written That You May Believe”
93. Acts 15:15 “The Words of the Prophets Agree”
94. Galatians 1:8-9: “A Gospel Contrary to That Which You Received”
95. 2 Timothy 3:15-17: “All Scripture is Inspired by God”
96. James 1:18: “The Word of Truth”
97. 1 Peter 1:23: “The Living and Abiding Word of God”
98. 2 Peter 3:15-16: Paul’s Letters Described by Peter as Scripture
99. 1 John 2:27: “No Need That Anyone Should Teach You”
100. Revelation 22:18-19:  Adding Words to the Book of Revelation Forbidden

IV. Conclusion

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Misc. Materials on the Book 

Lively discussion of the book and some of its arguments (Facebook thread)




***

Book Reviews

Devin Rose (St. Joseph's Vanguard; also on amazon) [28 May 2012]

Jeff Miller [aka "the Curt Jester"] cross-posted in three places (one / two / three) [12 June 2012]

Matt C. Abbott (Renew America website): "Biblical Arguments Against 'Bible Only'" [20 June 2012] -- contains the entire Introduction: my latest manuscript version. 

Fr. Dwight Longenecker (Standing On My Head blog) [29 June 2012]

Nick Hardesty (phat catholic apologetics blog) [2 July 2012]

(Vivificat! blog) [3 July 2012]

Brandon Vogt (on his website) [15 August 2012]


Stephen Spiteri (The Spirit Magnus blog) [31 October 2012] 

Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas (The Catholic Response) [Nov / Dec 2012, Vol. IX, No. 3, p. 58]



Purchase Info. 

Be sure to patronize your local Catholic bookstores. They can order any book of mine for you.

(Paperback, $12.95 list)

$9.95


$9.95 

(E-Book, $9.99)

(Paperback, $12.95 list)

(Paperback, $12.95 list)


Updated on 6 December 2012.


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18 comments:

Brian said...

If it's not too late, I think you should include a more detailed treatment of 1 Cor. 4:6 in your upcoming book, then you did in 501 Biblical Arguments... especially since Chrysostom interprets the phrase "above what is written" with quotations from New Testament Scriptures. Thanks.

Dave Armstrong said...

I don't think it was discussed much, if at all. Probably too late, yes.

Brian said...

Oh well, too bad, maybe next time. I actually think it is the strongest verse in support of sola scriptura, because of the preposition "above" and the context of dealing with sectarianism, i.e. "I am of Peter," "I am of Paul."

akismet-0777d064d2f4faeee7c8ee3fea015790 said...

Dear Brian,

I know I'm a few years late to the discussion, but I was intrigued by your comment that 1 Cor 4:6 is the strongest argument for Sola Scriptura.

So, I looked up some commentary on that verse and this is what I found:

"Interpretations of this verse that suggest Paul is restricting the basis for Christian doctrine and morals to what is explicitly set forth in the books of the Bible (sola scriptura) are misleading and untenable. Nothing in the context points to such a broad concern, and in any case Paul insists elsewhere that even the inspired preaching of the apostles is on par with the written word of God (1 Thess 2:13; 2 Thess 2:15; 3:6)."

Brian said...

Thank you for your comment akismet. But your choosing to quote a human authority is a good example of Paul's point. The Corinthians were choosing human authorities - "I am of Paul, I am of Apollos" and Paul wants to curb that dependence on human authority by placing the Scriptures "above" it.

Apostolic preaching was authoritative, but it was more commendable not just to accept it on face value, but to "search the Scriptures" to see if that preaching was valid (Acts 17:11).

Jesus gave us the best example when He rebuked Satan, not with His own authority as the Son of God, but with "it is written", the highest authority to which any human can appeal, the Scriptures.

Adomnan said...

Brian,

The verse you are relying on to support sola scriptura is too uncertain in meaning to be used as a prooftext for anything. The footnote on 1 Corinthians 4:6 in the Jerusalem Bible sums it up:

"Obscure. Perhaps a citation of a proverb familiar to the Corinthians Jews; perhaps a gloss deprecating some insertion by a copyist."

No one knows.

Oh, and you told akismet,"your choosing to quote a human authority is a good example of Paul's point." Yet, earlier you wrote, "especially since Chrysostom interprets the phrase 'above what is written' with quotations from New Testament Scriptures," thus yourself citing a "human authority," namely, Chrysostom. So why do you do what you say akismet shouldn't do?

There's nothing wrong with human authority, as long as it's true authority. People who deprecate authority are always simply privileging their own interpretations, which are supposedly directly from God. They don't appeal to the scriptures; they appeal to their own interpretation of the scriptures, unless, for example, you think that an exegesis of 1 Cor 4:6 that differs from yours is impossible.

In short, the appeal to sola scriptura is always an appeal to the lowest authority to which any human can appeal: himself.

The Bereans are commended not because they searched the scriptures, but because they "welcomed the word readily;" i.e., they agreed with Paul's teaching. After all, "the Jews in Thessalonica" also searched the scriptures with Paul (Acts 17:2-4), but they are not commended because they rejected Paul's gospel. It wasn't holding Paul to the standard of the scriptures that made the difference (all did that), but rather acceptance of the gospel.

Brian said...

Adoman, Thank you for taking the time to reply to each point that I was trying to make. If you would like to carry on this conversation outside of this blog, my email is brian.wagner@vbc.edu. But here are my responses to what you have just said.

Your quote from the notes in the Jerusalem Bible are just quotes of another human authority that does not possess any divine inspiration that would have guarded him from error as the apostles were guarded in their writings.

To say no one knows what 1Cor. 4:6 means, assumes that the meaning that Paul had, and the meaning that the Corinthians evidently recognized, has been lost and cannot be recovered by looking at the whole context and the normal meaning of words and the grammar used in this verse. Really? Look again at what Paul was trying to correct, i.e. the Corinthians being proud of different human authorities.
You make a good observation about my mention of Chrysostom. I should have been clearer as to why I mentioned Chrysostom. I am actually not appealing to him as an authority in support of my argument, but because the Roman Catholic religion holds him as a “Father”. I could also have pointed to Athanasius or Origen in the same regard (though Origen’s “Fatherhood” is a little suspect, I know).

The US Catholic Bishops website should also be considered. On this verse it states – “ It probably means that the Corinthians should avoid the false wisdom of vain speculation, contenting themselves with Paul’s proclamation of the cross, which is the fulfillment of God’s promises in the Old Testament (what is written).” http://www.usccb.org/bible/scripture.cfm Since Catholics set sacramental human authority over a Christian’s conscience for understanding Scripture, I felt that it was appropriate to point to some prominent authorities they recognize who saw the natural meaning of Paul in this verse.

I agree that “there's nothing wrong with human authority, as long as it's true authority.” But the only human authorities who had their writings inspired by the Holy Spirit so that those writings would become an inerrant superior authority to anything else were the prophets and apostles of Scripture.

Your statement that “the appeal to sola scriptura is always an appeal to the lowest authority to which any human can appeal: himself” was the most disconcerting statement you made. Sola Scriptura is not the appeal to oneself, but to any objectively clear teaching from the writings of the prophets and apostles. Certainly some things written in Scripture are not on the surface clear for understanding, and therefore those passages should not be chosen to define necessary doctrine for faith and practice.

1Corinthians 4:6 may be such a passage, but I don’t think so for the following reasons. 1.) Look again at the context (1:10-4:6). Paul is trying to correct the Corinthians’ division over which human authority to follow. 2.) The Greek word gegraptai (what has been written) always points, in the NT, to divine writing in every context (67x), and in fact it always points to Scripture except for Rev 13:8 and 17:8 where the Book of Life is indicated. 3.) Paul’s view of the sufficiency of Scripture for determining every good work is clearly revealed in 2Timothy 3:15-17.

Finally, though you are correct that the commendation the Bereans received was for their reception of Paul’s teaching with a willingness to learn, the participle phrase– describing their “searching the Scriptures daily” to confirm Paul’s teaching – explains more fully that reception, and directly infers that they would have rejected Paul’s teaching if it did not match what Scripture clearly said.

Adomnan said...

Brian: Adoman, Thank you for taking the time to reply to each point that I was trying to make.

Adomnan: You're welcome.

Brian: If you would like to carry on this conversation outside of this blog, my email is brian.wagner@vbc.edu.

Adomnan: No, thanks. I prefer to discuss this publicly, here on Dave's blog. The subject we're discussing certainly fits under Dave's post.

Brian: But here are my responses to what you have just said.
Your quote from the notes in the Jerusalem Bible are just quotes of another human authority that does not possess any divine inspiration that would have guarded him from error as the apostles were guarded in their writings.

Adomnan: Your interpretation of the verse does not possess any divine inspiration either. It's just your opinion, not guarded from error. The translators of the JB are expert and well-educated exegetes. Their opinions are thus worth citing and are certainly no less weighty than yours.

You're puzzling. On the one hand, you tell us to dismiss human authority and, on the other, you expound scripture to us based on your authority.

Brian: To say no one knows what 1Cor. 4:6 means, assumes that the meaning that Paul had, and the meaning that the Corinthians evidently recognized, has been lost and cannot be recovered by looking at the whole context and the normal meaning of words and the grammar used in this verse. Really?

Adomnan: Yes, really. And we'll see in a moment (below) that you yourself agree that the meaning of a verse can be lost. Besides, what we have is not necessarily what Paul wrote and what the Corinthians read. As the JB footnote pointed out, it could also be a matter of a gloss that was mistakenly included in the text in the process of transmission. (I'm not saying this is the case; I'm simply saying it's a possibility.) It may also be a proverb current in Corinth at the time, the meaning of which has been lost.

Brian: Look again at what Paul was trying to correct, i.e. the Corinthians being proud of different human authorities.

Adomnan: Not exactly. Paul is concerned about factionalism. However, he does not accuse Apollos, say, of any heterodoxy. In other words,this passage does not concern doctrinal authority or disputes, to which scripture might apply, but concerns rather pure factionalism, people identifying with certain personalities and using that identification to create division. Given that Paul is not discussing differences in doctrine, there is no reason for him to bring up the subject of scripture as a source of doctrine, and in fact he does not allude to this subject at all. This is the real context of the passage.

Brian: You make a good observation about my mention of Chrysostom. I should have been clearer as to why I mentioned Chrysostom. I am actually not appealing to him as an authority in support of my argument, but because the Roman Catholic religion holds him as a “Father”.

Adomnan: This is questionable debating point to make. If you do not regard Chrysostom as an authority -- and you are very much against quoting "authorities," judging by your reply to akismet, then you shouldn't cite his exegesis in your argument, as you told akismet that he shouldn't cite authorities. Moreover, Chrysostom did not believe in sola scriptura. However he understood the words under discussion, he did not see them as implying sola scriptura, as you do. Thus, on a couple of counts, your use of Chrysostom is not sound argumentation from your perspective.

Brian: I could also have pointed to Athanasius or Origen in the same regard (though Origen’s “Fatherhood” is a little suspect, I know).

Adomnan: Perhaps, but then you have the same problem of citing to us authorities you don't recognize, which is a dubious tactic, especially given how you chide others for citing "human authorities."

Adomnan said...

Brian: The US Catholic Bishops website should also be considered. On this verse it states – “ It probably means that the Corinthians should avoid the false wisdom of vain speculation, contenting themselves with Paul’s proclamation of the cross, which is the fulfillment of God’s promises in the Old Testament (what is written).” http://www.usccb.org/bible/scripture.cfm

Adomnan: Well, here's another possible interpretation: Five or six sentences before the obscure statement "nothing beyond what is written (gegraptai)" Paul actually cites a couple of sayings from the Old Testament (Job 5:13 and Psalms 94:11), using the very same verb (gegraptai). Thus, the most reasonable thing in context would be to assume that Paul was referring the Corinthians back to the OT lines he had just quoted. In other words, what "has been written" (gegraptai) refers not to scripture in some general sense but to the two verses Paul earlier cited as "gegraptai." The repetition of the same verb "gegraptai" in such close proximity would certainly suggest that the word refers to the same texts.

This is just a conjecture. Take it or leave it. I still think 1 Cor 4:6 is obscure. Your exegesis, however, is impossible.

Brian: Since Catholics set sacramental human authority over a Christian’s conscience for understanding Scripture,

Adomnan: Translation: "Since Catholics set sacramental human authority over me (or over their own consciences) for understanding Scripture." You have just admitted here that your interpretative authority is "a Christian's conscience," which is, of course, merely yourself.

This does not bode well for the continuation of this discussion. If you regard your "conscience" as an oracle of God, then there is obviously no point in engaging you.

Brian: I felt that it was appropriate to point to some prominent authorities they recognize who saw the natural meaning of Paul in this verse.

Adomnan: Authorities whom you do not recognize as authorities, paradoxically. Of course, none of these authorities believed in sola scriptura. Therefore, whatever "natural meaning" they saw in the verse, it wasn't your meaning.

Brian: I agree that “there's nothing wrong with human authority, as long as it's true authority.” But the only human authorities who had their writings inspired by the Holy Spirit so that those writings would become an inerrant superior authority to anything else were the prophets and apostles of Scripture.

Adomnan: Why then do you call these people "human authorities"? If the Spirit speaks through them, are they not in effect divine authorities?

The fundamental problem is that you believe that you have direct access to the meaning of scripture, even obscure scripture, an ability you don't ascribe to any human authority, implying that you regard yourself as a divine authority.

Brian: Your statement that “the appeal to sola scriptura is always an appeal to the lowest authority to which any human can appeal: himself” was the most disconcerting statement you made.

Adomnan: I'm glad you found it disconcerting. It was meant to be.

Adomnan said...

Brian: Sola Scriptura is not the appeal to oneself, but to any objectively clear teaching from the writings of the prophets and apostles.

Adomnan: You contradict yourself, Brian. You just said above that your interpretative authority was your Christian conscience; that is: you -- and there is nothing "objective" or "clear" about you or your conscience. Or to put it another way, you are making your interpretation of Scripture, not Scripture itself, your supreme authority. This is especially odd given that the very passage, 1 Cor 4:6, on which you're resting your "objectively clear teaching" is one of the most obscure passages in the New Testament.

Thus, I repeat, the appeal to sola scriptura is always an appeal to the lowest authority to which any human can appeal: himself.

Brian: Certainly some things written in Scripture are not on the surface clear for understanding, and therefore those passages should not be chosen to define necessary doctrine for faith and practice.

Adomnan: You just conceded that some passages of scripture are obscure, which is to say their meaning may be lost and is perhaps irretrievable, a view you seem to have rejected earlier. After all, if the meaning of a text were not lost, then it would not be obscure at all, would it? And if a text is not obscure, but clear, then why not use it to define necessary doctrine?

Brian: 1Corinthians 4:6 may be such a passage, but I don’t think so for the following reasons.

Adomnan: It is such a passage, and so should not be used to establish any doctrine, by your own admission. I'll show how each of your reasons is invalid.

Brian: 1.) Look again at the context (1:10-4:6). Paul is trying to correct the Corinthians’ division over which human authority to follow.

Adomnan: I've shown that in this context it is more likely that the text in question refers only to the two verses of scripture Paul quoted a few sentences earlier, not to scripture in general. Again, Paul is not concerned here with doctrinal divisions, but with personality-based factionalism. You use the word "authority" equivocally, confounding partisan factionalism with competing teaching authorities. In this part of 1 Corinthians, Paul is taking issue with the first thing, not the second.

Brian: 2.) The Greek word gegraptai (what has been written) always points, in the NT, to divine writing in every context (67x), and in fact it always points to Scripture except for Rev 13:8 and 17:8 where the Book of Life is indicated.

Adomnan: You just undermined your point while making it. If Rev has two places where gegraptai doesn't refer to scripture, then ipso facto, gegraptai doesn't always refer to scripture, thus invalidating your initial observation. Obviously, 1 Cor 4:6 could be a third instance. It's obscure. Who can say? Or it could refer to a particular scripture, but not scripture in general. After all, doesn't every (or almost every) use of gegraptai in the New Testament refer to a particular scripture, the one being cited?

Therefore, even if gegraptai does refer to a scripture or scriptures in 1 Cor 4:6, then it most likely refers back to the specific scriptures Paul just quoted, and not to scripture in general.

In any event, there is enough confusion about this text to render it useless in establishing any doctrine.

Brian: 3.) Paul’s view of the sufficiency of Scripture for determining every good work is clearly revealed in 2Timothy 3:15-17.

Adomnan: This is another text that believers in sola scriptura misinterpret. What Paul characterizes as equipping Timothy for every good work is not scripture, but Timothy's upbringing and education ("instruction, debate, correction, upbringing/education (paideia) in righteousness"). Scripture is merely a "useful" element in this education. (By the way, Paul is speaking here only of the education of pastors, not of Christians in general, but this is a secondary point.)

Adomnan said...

Brian: Finally, though you are correct that the commendation the Bereans received was for their reception of Paul’s teaching with a willingness to learn, the participle phrase– describing their “searching the Scriptures daily” to confirm Paul’s teaching – explains more fully that reception, and directly infers that they would have rejected Paul’s teaching if it did not match what Scripture clearly said.

Adomnan: Both the believing Bereans and the unbelieving Thessalonians searched the scriptures with Paul. Therefore, these examples show that it is quite possible to search the scriptures and yet reject the gospel. This fact can hardly be used as some sort of argument to bolster sola scriptura, and so I don't know why you even bring it up.

I suppose you could claim that Paul commended the Bereans for interpreting scripture correctly, although Luke doesn't actually say this. However, interpreting scripture correctly is hardly the same thing as believing in sola scriptura.

Nor does this passage imply that one must always question authority by comparing it to scripture. When someone you never met before (Paul) shows up and introduces a revolutionary new spiritual message, which he claims fulfills the Old Testament scriptures, you had better verify that what he is saying is true! It does not follow from this that one must constantly subject an established and accepted authority to the same scrutiny -- although I have no objection to doing so in the case of the Catholic Faith, because it is in fact the only truly scriptural faith (along with Orthodoxy, aside from their position on the Petrine office). After all, isn't Dave Armstrong's site called "Biblical Evidence for Catholicism?"

Still, we Catholics use scripture more for edification and inspiration than for disputation. The endless wrangling of some Protestant sects over the meaning of scripture strikes us as a symptom of heresy, especially in view of the fact that, whenever the sectarians insist a scripture (prooftext) has some peculiar meaning (as you're doing now), they're invariably wrong.

Dave Armstrong said...

Bravo, Adomnan!

Brian said...

Adoman, thank you again for taking the opportunity to respond to each of the points that I was trying to make about the meaning of 1Corinthians 4:6 especially, and also Acts 17:11 and 2Timothy 3:15-17. I will let my comments stand on those verses without too much more explanation, and I hope that our dialog will be a blessing to those who read all you and I have shared. I do, however want to comment on one of your points and make some final remarks.

Reading the context again before 1Cor. 4:6 will reveal, especially chapter 2, that Paul was not talking about factions around men who taught the same thing, but those who were following the wisdom of men’s words over the words provided by the Spirit of God against which all teachings should be judged (2:13). Some of them were rejecting the apostle’s teaching and following the teaching of others who were building upon his foundation. Paul corrects a lot of this false teaching in the rest of the book and and says that what he has written should be recognized as “the commandments of the Lord” (14:37).

Both your attempt and mine at representing the truth, and trying to persuade and help others, indirectly points to our affirming that each man’s conscience must be the final judge at to what statements best represent God’s truth. Jesus told the unbelievers of His day to “Search the Scriptures” (John 5:39). Paul told the professing believers in Thessalonica to “Test all things” (1Thess 5:21). And John told professing believers to “Test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out.” (1John 4:1) Each individual must be obedient to those commands. I think you would agree.

But my conscience has been led, after such testing, to believe that all necessary teachings for faith and practice are found in Scripture (Sola Scriptura). And I assume your conscience has been led, after such testing, to believe God’s Word is the Scripture and is also what Roman Catholicism calls Divine Tradition, both to interpreted under the teaching authority of Roman Catholicism which you believe is ordained by God to be the final authority for determining God’s truth.

In my testing I have read in Scriptures how I can recognize God’s qualified leadership. Jesus taught His disciples not to be like the Pharisees who loved their robes, seats, and public greetings. He commanded them not to use greetings based on the titles of their spiritual leadership, like “Father” (Matt. 23:8-10). Paul taught Timothy that those who want to be bishops “must be blameless, the husband of one wife” (1Tim 3:1-2). I know that the Roman Catholic denomination has allowed their interpretation of tradition to reject those commands for leadership, but my teaching authority for recognizing who God has qualified for leading His people are these teachings of Jesus and Paul as well as other Scriptures that specifically teach about leadership.

Paul gave instruction about leadership in 1Corinthians 4:6 –
“…that you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written,* so that none of you will be inflated with pride in favor of one person over against another.” (RNAB)
“…that you can learn how the saying, 'Nothing beyond what is written' is true of us: no individual among you must become filled with his own importance and make comparisons, to another's detriment.” (NJB)
“…that in us you may learn, that one be not puffed up against the other for another, above that which is written.” (DRB)

Each man’s conscience must decide which authority they wish to follow, and if this instruction by Paul points to the teaching Sola Scriptura.

Adomnan said...

Brian: (re Acts 17:11 and 2Timothy 3:15-17): I will let my comments stand on those verses without too much more explanation.

Adomnan: You didn't provide any explanation at all of your comment on 2 Timothy 3:15-17, and you've pretty much conceded that Acts 17:11 has nothing to do with "sola scriptura."

Brian: Reading the context again before 1Cor. 4:6 will reveal, especially chapter 2, that Paul was not talking about factions around men who taught the same thing,

Adomnan: He wasn't? He mentions factions forming around himself, Apollos and Cephas (Peter). They all taught the same thing.

Paul and Peter evidently taught the same thing, as we see from the Jerusalem Council in Acts. (Paul's dispute with Peter in Galatians had to do with conduct, not doctrine.)

As for Apollos, Paul writes in the passage under discussion, in 1 Cor 3:5-6: "For what is Apollos and what is Paul? The servants through whom you came to believe, and each has only what the Lord has given him. I did the planting, Apollos did the watering, but God gave growth."

So then, according to you, Brian, Paul was saying that Apollos and he taught different things. And yet, Apollos was a servant through whom the Corinthians came to believe (false teachings?), and the different -- and so presumably false -- things that you claim Apollos taught "watered" the Corinthian community and caused it to "grow."

Evidently, Paul was in fact talking about "factions around men who taught the same thing."

Brian: but those who were following the wisdom of men’s words over the words provided by the Spirit of God against which all teachings should be judged (2:13).

Adomnan: Brian, in 1 Cor 2:13 Paul
says that "we" have received the Spirit of God. This "we" includes not only Paul -- otherwise he'd say "I"-- it includes Apollos. This passage has nothing to do with the scripture, but refers rather to the inspiration Paul (and Apollos and others) had immediately available to them in their preaching and teaching.

The worldly wisdom with which Paul takes issue ("for the wisdom
of the world is folly to God," 1 Cor 3:16) is not "human wisdom." It is the way of the world, the way people who have no spiritual vision believe that it is "wise," or cunning, to act. Such worldly wisdom promotes factionalism around personalities. That this is Paul's meaning is evident from his comments and from the Old Testament quotes he adduces: "He traps the crafty in the snare of their own cunning" and "The Lord knows the plans of 'the wise' and how insipid they are." These observations have nothing to do with true human authority and Spirit-inspired wisdom, which is indeed available to men, and not only in the scriptures.

Brian: Some of them were rejecting the apostle’s teaching and following the teaching of others who were building upon his foundation.

Adomnan: Wrong. Not according to Paul, whose chief example of a man around whom a faction was forming was Apollos, who watered the good seed with true doctrine and helped it to grow.

Brian: Paul corrects a lot of this false teaching in the rest of the book and and says that what he has written should be recognized as “the commandments of the Lord” (14:37).

Adomnan: Paul corrects bad conduct and false ideas, but he doesn't ascribe these to Apollos or Cephas, the men around whom factions were forming. Paul says that his instructions should be recognized as the commandments of the Lord based on his own authority as an apostle, not on the supposition that he happened at that moment to be acting as a ventriloquist's dummy for the Holy Spirit, "inscripturating." This is a fantasy imposed on the text.

Adomnan said...

Brian: Both your attempt and mine at representing the truth, and trying to persuade and help others, indirectly points to our affirming that each man’s conscience must be the final judge at to what statements best represent God’s truth.

Adomnan: At least you admit that what you call your "conscience" is the supreme authority ("final judge") for you, and not the scriptures. After all, you can't have two "final judges as to what statements best represent God's truth."

But please don't ascribe this view to me. I don't share it, and I'm certainly not constrained to. As a faithful Catholic, I subordinate my private judgment to the magisterium. (This is another discussion, though, off the topic of sola scriptura, the subject of Dave's initial posting.)

Brian: Jesus told the unbelievers of His day to “Search the Scriptures” (John 5:39).

Adomnan: To find Him in them: ("These scriptures testify to me.") Fine. What does this have to do with sola scriptura?

Brian: Paul told the professing believers in Thessalonica to “Test all things” (1Thess 5:21).

Adomnan: Paul doesn't say, "test by the scriptures." Irrelevant.

Brian: And John told professing believers to “Test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out.” (1John 4:1)

Adomnan: Again, no mention of scripture here. (Dear readers, this is the point where the sectarian piles up irrelevant prooftexts that demonstrate his point only in his own mind, but which a more discriminating reader has to investigate and dismiss one by one as irrelevant to the discussion at hand. This almost always happens in exchanges with sectarians, and is quite tiresome. It's apologetic drudge work.)

Brian: Each individual must be obedient to those commands. I think you would agree.

Adomnan: Yes, of course I agree. However, I don't think those texts say or imply what you think they say or imply.

Adomnan said...

Brian: But my conscience has been led, after such testing, to believe that all necessary teachings for faith and practice are found in Scripture (Sola Scriptura).

Adomnan: So what? I'd suggest that you revisit the promptings of your conscience. They have misled you.

I will observe, however, that you appear to confuse "conscience" with mind or intellect. What enables us to understand a scripture is not conscience, but analysis, logic, intuition, context, grammar, guidance from legitimate authorities, and even imagination, but certainly not "conscience," which is not an interpretative or analytic faculty, but rather "the faculty of recognizing the distinction between right and wrong in regard to one's own conduct." Conscience is much more a matter of feeling than of analysis or interpretation.

I'll take you at your word, though; namely that you interpret scripture with your conscience, which is to say, your feelings. Thus, I reiterate what I said earlier: You rely on the lowest form of authority, yourself; that is, on your feelings, not your mind.

Therefore, Brian evidently interprets scripture in light of what he feels it ought to say, which explains a lot.

Brian: And I assume your conscience has been led, after such testing, to believe God’s Word is the Scripture and is also what Roman Catholicism calls Divine Tradition,

Adomnan: In matters of interpretation, my mind leads me, not my conscience. My conscience leads me in matters of morality. (Of course, both are subject to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. Whom am I to arrogate ultimate authority to myself?) And to forestall any rhetorical attack on the mind that Brian may consider launching, let me just quote Romans 12:2: "Let the renewal by your mind transform you, so that you may discern for yourselves what is the will of God."

Brian: Jesus taught His disciples not to be like the Pharisees who loved their robes, seats, and public greetings. He commanded them not to use greetings based on the titles of their spiritual leadership, like “Father” (Matt. 23:8-10). Paul taught Timothy that those who want to be bishops “must be blameless, the husband of one wife” (1Tim 3:1-2).

Adomnan: Now we're playing "spot the Pharisee." Hm. Paul called Abraham "our forefather" in Romans 4:1. Oops! "Call no man 'father.'" Paul blew it. Wait, no! He wrote "forefather," not "father." You can call men "forefather," but not "father." So Paul is off the hook. Uh, but can you be a "fore"-father without being a father? Oh, I give up.

And what about Paul calling Timothy and Titus "true child of mine in the faith (1 Tim 1:2)," "dear son of mine (2 Tim 1:2), "Titus, true child of mine in the faith that we share"? And here's the kicker: Philemon 10: "I am appealing to you for a child of mine, WHOSE FATHER I BECAME, while wearing these chains." So Paul evidently sees himself as a spiritual father with spiritual children, and so calls himself "father." Evidently, Christ's saying was not meant to be taken literally. Thus the clergy are our "fathers In the faith, and legitimately so called.

Jesus had a problem with titles and the Catholic Church uses titles like "bishop"? Again, take it up with Paul:

Adomnan said...

I somehow published that last comment without editing it. Oh well, there it is, maybe showing more frustration than I would have evinced in an edited version.

It should be "Who am I to arrogate ultimate authority to myself?," not "Whom am I..." The "m" in "whom" came from running "who" into "am" while typing a slightly earlier version. Thus it was a typo, not a grammatical error. I would never, even for a moment, actually confuse "who" and "whom" in any context.

Back to the last point I was making:

Jesus had a problem with titles and the Catholic Church uses titles like "bishop"? Again, take it up with Paul:

1 Timothy 3:1: "This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work."

Adomnan: Oh, I suppose Brian might argue that Paul thinks it's okay for someone to desire the office of bishop as long as he
doesn't use the title "bishop."

Finally, for good measure, Brian throws in the claim that Paul insists bishops have to be married, even though Paul himself was not married. I can't get my head around that one.

In other words, Brian is resorting to the usual inane accusations that Fundamentalists hurl against the Catholic Church; and so this discussion, which was supposed to be about whether some passage in the Bible teaches sola scriptura, has degenerated into the standard recitation of anti-Catholic claptrap.

Brian: Paul gave instruction about leadership in 1Corinthians 4:6 –
“…that you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written,* so that none of you will be inflated with pride in favor of one person over against another.” (RNAB)
“…that you can learn how the saying, 'Nothing beyond what is written' is true of us: no individual among you must become filled with his own importance and make comparisons, to another's detriment.” (NJB)
“…that in us you may learn, that one be not puffed up against the other for another, above that which is written.” (DRB)

Adomnan: The wording of all these translations shows that Paul was complaining about factionalism, cults of personality, and not about teaching authority. A legitimate hierarchy or church order, with offices and titles, is not at all the same thing as parties in the church or factionalism centered around charismatic individuals.

Brian: Each man’s conscience must decide which authority they wish to follow, and if this instruction by Paul points to the teaching Sola Scriptura.

Adomnan: And your conscience decided that you, or it, should be the authority you follow.

It is not "conscience" that decides if Paul is "pointing to" sola scriptura (whatever you mean by "pointing to": He doesn't teach it outright but he gestures toward it?). It is careful exegesis, not some "burning in the bosom," that reveals that Paul betrayed not an inkling of belief in sola scriptura, here or anywhere else.

Adomnan said...

Thanks for the thumbs up, Dave.