Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Goode Defense of "Sola Scriptura" the Best? We Shall Examine It and See!

By Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong (6-27-12)

In my eternal and perpetually disappointing search for Protestants who actually try to make a serious rational defense of the Protestant doctrine of sola Scriptura from Scripture itself, I have now (almost desperate to find something; anything!) arrived at William Goode (1801-1868): an English evangelical Anglican. His relevant work is, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, originally two volumes in 1842, and then revised and enlarged to three volumes in 1853. I have located them online (Vol. 1Vol. II / Vol. III), and of course they are in the public domain.

Recently, I was crushed yet again when I discovered that David T. King, despite the title of his book (A Biblical Defense of the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura), did not make such a case from Scripture, apart from a few (very weakly argued) instances, which I replied to.

I've already done an 18-part reply to the work of William Whitaker, a highly-touted 16th century advocate of sola Scriptura. No doubt this will be a book at some future date: my replies to both Whitaker and Goode [see later note below].

As we would expect, Goode, like Whitaker -- both Protestant "champions" over against the lowly, wicked papists -- , receives glowing accolades from today's Protestants (particularly the fringe anti-Catholic ones) who follow sola Scriptura, and/or seek to justify it themselves:

But of all the treatments dealing with sola Scriptura, the work of William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, has never been surpassed. (David T. King, ibid. [2001], p. 17)

. . . classical works on . . . sola scriptura, such as William Whitaker’s late 16th century classic, Disputations on Holy Scripture, or William Goode’s mid 19th century work, Divine Rule of Faith and Practice. (James White, blog post, 8-18-10)

I heartily commend to your reading William Goode's The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice  . . .  a genuinely scholarly work on sola scriptura.  . . . Everywhere I turn, William Goode is referenced in the literature. (D. Phillip Veitch, Anglican message board, 3-20-09)

I will be examining these volumes specifically to see how Goode makes his case from Scripture. That is my sole interest. I will offer up rebuttals to any significant biblical argument that actually deals with the heart and stated definition or essence of sola Scriptura: the notion that only Scripture is the sole infallible guide for the Christian: to the exclusion of an infallible tradition or infallible Church (the latter two notions both accepted by Catholics). I have no interest in arguments for inspiration or material sufficiency or other relative side issues, because Catholics already agree with those.

The five installments of this series are listed below:

Reply to William Goode, Contra Sola Scriptura, Part 1 (Definitions and Premises; Ezekiel 3)

Part 2 (Concession That the Bible Contains No Precise Statement of SS; OT Jews Accepted SS?; Jesus vs. Tradition?)

Part 3 (Oral Tradition in the NT; Fathers vs. Tradition?)

Part 4 (Goode Denies the Infallibility of the Church; Is the Bible Its Own Judge, Minus the Church?)

Part 5 (Perspicuity; Goode's Logic & Standards for All Doctrines [Minus SS] Self-Destruct)

Book Planned:

As I hinted at above, I have decided to create a new book about sola Scriptura, incorporating my replies to Goode, with earlier ones responding to William Whitaker; adding additional material, mostly about sola Scriptura "prooftexts" used by Protestants. The title of the book is Pillars of Sola Scriptura: Replies to Whitaker, Goode, & Biblical “Proofs” for “Bible Alone”. As currently conceived, it contains 26 chapters: 15 devoted to Whitaker, five for Goode, and six additional ones, including a detailed, lengthy reply to Keith A. Mathison: widely renowned as the best and most sophisticated defender of sola Scriptura today. I'm not sure when it will come out, due to various factors, but eventually it will in one way or another.

* * *


Nicholas Hardesty said...

I look forward to it!

Ken said...

Interesting that you will only deal with his arguments from
Scripture only. Budding up the classic straw man definition of sola scriptura of course. I can't help but notice that with Salmon and Goode you have not addressed the entirety of their arguments but only pick and choose whatever suits your own agenda. Hopefully the book you publish will be more comprehensive.

Dave Armstrong said...

Yes, of course, because if he can't produce biblical argumentation, the case collapses, per the reasoning I expressed in my Part II:

1. It is altogether to be expected that a source that is claimed as the only infallible one, would make the claim in the first place, and not simply assume its own status as self-evident, and thus requiring interpreters to dig deep to find such a supposed teaching only indirectly or by complicated deductions.

2. Such a plain assertion is the only way that the claim can escape vicious self-contradiction:

A) There is but one infallible source of Christian authority (thus saith sola Scriptura).

B) The claim of A is either infallible or fallible.

C) In order to be infallible, by the system's own criteria, it must be in the Bible itself (A).

D) But it is not. Therefore, Protestants are relying on a fallible assertion of men (no different than any other tradition) in order to establish that a document is infallible. This makes no sense. It's thoroughly incoherent and inconsistent. Protestants rail against tradition and then turn around and are forced to use one in order to supposedly overthrow all tradition as authoritative. It's ludicrous.

E) Moreover, Protestants claim (as part and parcel of the myth of sola Scriptura) that all the most essential teachings of the faith are plainly spelled out in Scripture. They make sola Scriptura the pillar and support of their entire system of theology and authority. Obviously, then, it is a supremely important and "essential" principle to them. Therefore, by their own claims for sola Scriptura in this regard, we would fully expect that they could come up with some evidences for it from Scripture: and indeed, direct, explicit, plain ones. But Goode admits (with rather spectacular honesty) that there are none! This is, I contend, a fatal blow to the whole superstructure of sola Scriptura. Protestantism (almost unbelievably so, given all the high and sublime claims) rests entirely on an arbitrary and unbiblical tradition of men. There is no way out of the conundrum.

F) Lastly, Goode compounds his manifest absurdity and illogic by objecting at great length, later in this same volume, to various arguments from Catholics and Anglican Tractarians, suggesting that Scripture is not explicit enough regarding certain particular doctrines and practice. In other words, he argues that the Bible is always explicit enough in every case, to allow a solid conclusion. He fights at every turn against the Bible being only implicit or relatively less developed. Yet when it comes to sola Scriptura (of all things), he makes a tacit exception (with no basis for doing so), and openly admits that there is no direct biblical evidence. Is this not remarkable? On the one thing upon which he bases everything else (the "pillar" or "foundation" of Protestantism), he makes this exception, yet he holds it with absolute dogmatism nonetheless. It's the one tradition (with no direct, express biblical support) that he will arbitrarily adhere to no matter what, come what may. In effect (in practice), he makes it a binding, infallible tradition, while at the same time admitting (in so many words) that it is a fallible tradition (not being in the Bible). There is no end to the logical nonsense in all of this. It's always the case with sola Scriptura. It's built on a foundation of sand. It's like an onion, that you keep peeling, only to find that it has nothing at its core.

Salmon is an idiot and an unscrupulous liar, who misrepresents th positions of others (notably, Cardinal Newman, as I proved in a critique). I know his work, because I used it myself when I was fighting against infallibility as a Protestant, back in 1990.

Goode is a serious scholar; he simply fails in his defense of SS. He gave it the old college try, but no cigar. It's a spectacular failure, and I give him an "E" for effort.

Dave Armstrong said...

I may check back with Salmon, though, to see if he thinks (unlike Goode) that there are direct biblical evidences for SS. I'm getting desperate.

Goode is supposedly the best defender and he conceded the biblical case altogether.

Dave Armstrong said...

"Budding up the classic straw man definition of sola scriptura of course."

Not of course. I'm not saying that only biblical arguments can be made for SS. I'm saying that it is one requirement of SS that it produces some biblical arguments in order to not be self-defeating.

But it IS self-defeating, as we saw in Goode's failure to produce.

Once this is established, it is destroyed as a legitimate, compelling position.

Paul Hoffer said...

Ken, since you claim that Dave has not addressed the "entirety" of Goode's arguments which I assume means that he has left out something substantive. Can you give us an example of that or is that mere posturing on your part?

God bless!

romishgraffiti said...

Ed Feser ran into this stuff when dealing with atheists. He answered one completely and someone complained that it was a waste of time.

Get it? Give a full treatment and you are wasting people's time; treat only the salient parts and it's, "You didn't fully respond!" Oi vey.


Dave Armstrong said...

Yep; that's always an issue in apologetics: what to reply to; whom to respond to, how much length, and what particular arguments to use.

Dave Armstrong said...

I get accused of both things myself, as we see in Ken's remarks above. Anti-Catholics have often mocked my verbosity (despite the fact that several of them far outwrite me n average wordage and total numbers of posts).

Then I also get accused of ignoring other things or missing lots of it in particulars.

It's all about obfuscation and throwing anything up besides rational response.

Ken said...

Dear Dave,

You are currently my second favorite catholic apologist (right behind Sungenis) and I think that you usually do a great job. Unfortunately, I feel like you often miss the forest for the trees. Several months ago I was about to convert to catholicism when an email dialog with Dr. James White stopped me in my tracks. He recommended reading for me..... you guessed it.... Salmon, Whitaker and Goode. I am still currently stuck somewhere in the Tiber trying to figure out who to trust. So I have a vested interest in getting the best response possible to these books. (I've discovered that virtually all of Dr. Whites Anti-catholic ammo comes verbatim from these works.)

I just wanted you to know that I am not "anti-catholic" and will not be counting your wordage LOL Still, I think you have missed the mark here.

This syllogism in your first comment is horrendous. Let us say that I accept your statement that there are no scriptures that teach sola scriptura. You still have to explain WHY it is inconsistent, incoherent and ludicrous for Protestants not to have infallible knowledge of sola scriptura!

1. There are good reasons to believe that the bible is "god breathed" and therefore an infallible rule of faith. Catholics and protestants agree on this point.

2. There are not similarly good reasons to think that any other source is infallible.

3. Therefore, one is justified in trusting scripture alone as the only infallible rule of faith.

Notice how everything hinges on the second premise? This is the place where Catholic apologists should be focusing all of their attention. I believe that the burden of proof is on the Roman Catholic to produce other infallible sources.

your statements in letter D do not effect the argument in the way that I have formed it. The fact that one MIGHT be wrong does not mean one can never know the truth. We live our lives everyday in a fallible manner. The fact that I could be wrong doesn't throw the world into relativism. We protestants accept that we have a "fallible collection of infallible books" in the Canon. We look at the same criteria the early Church did and agree with their conclusion. The only difference is that you baptize their arguments with infallibility and we do not. This actually works AGAINST the Church as much as you imagine it helps. If I am not mistaken Roman Catholics are forever bound to the "long ending of Mark" which is almost certainly not in the original inspired manuscript.

Best of luck with your published work! I know that you will do an excellent job. Catholic apologetics has been needing a response to these authors. I would encourage you to take Salmon more seriously. Phil Poraznik has a page dedicated to refuting Salmon and I think he more accurately deals with the heart of his arguments (just not in a very convincing fashion). If you shut down these authors you shut down the bulk of the vast majority of anti-catholics.... surely you can find the time eh?

God Bless!

Maroun said...

Ken . You said this : There are not similarly good reasons to think that any other source is infallible.
With all my respect but what about the magesterium of the Church ? what about the Church ? a fallible Church cannot give us an infallible scripture ... cant you see ? that once you accept :the bible is "God breathed" and therefore an infallible rule of faith. The necessarily you must accept also the Church and the magesterium as infallible , and when you do that ( because you must ) then you will automatically also accept the infallible oral tradition also . Our Lord Jesus Himself said :(Luke 10:16 ) The person who listens to you listens to me, and the person who rejects you rejects me. Otherwise how could saint Paul or saint Peter or saint John or saint Jude or saint James teach or correct or even anathemize anyone ? maybe they were wrong too? (but you already said they were not because you said that is "God breathed" and therefore an infallible rule of faith.So because the Church is the one which received authority from our Lord to teach everyone whether orally or by written , this means that both traditions are infallible . GBU

Maroun said...

Ken . I am going to make it even more simple for you to understand : How can you really trust the Church which gave you the books and letters and told you this is the bible , and you accept it , but still refuse to accept the same Church when it teaches something which is not from written tradition but from oral tradition?If you accept A as infallible then you must accept also B as infallible , but if you refuse to accept B as infallible then you must also refuse A as infallible .GBU

Ken said...

Maroun- I have already addressed the canon in my previous comment. It is NOT a logical necessity that a collector of infallible items must also be infallible. It would be wonderful and awesome... But it doesn't logically follow that MUST be the case. In other words, simply saying "wouldn't having a infallible interpreter be great!" is not an argument for another infallible source.

The canon is not really the point of the post though. I was simply pointing out to Dave that his argument is weak and ungrounded at (E).

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Ken,

If you give me an e-mail address, I'll send you three e-books: this brand-new one contra Whitaker and Goode (and Mathison and others), my book on the infallibility of the Church and papacy, and 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura. If those don't convince you, then you won't become a Catholic anytime soon: at least not based on apologetics. People believe what they want to believe, and the Holy Spirit leads as he wills. My job is to simply make the best arguments I can for my position. You can lead the horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

Ken said...

I appreciate the help Mr. Armstrong. I've recently built a small family (wife and two beautiful babies) and want to make the best possible decision for everyone. Stressful stuff.... I would love to read your books.

Dave Armstrong said...

You got 'em! May our good Lord lead all of us into the fullness of truth, wherever it lies. Seek and ye shall find . . .

Roberto Jung said...

Interesting conversation going on here.


If I may ask, have you considered Eastern or Oriental Orthodoxy as well as Catholicism? :)