Thursday, September 25, 2008

Why do Catholics reject Sola Scriptura?

Did you know that Catholics make up all kinds of random teachings and traditions? Did you know that, because our faith isn’t “rooted in the Bible” that we have opened ourselves up to false doctrines? After all, if something’s not in the Bible, the very Word of God, then how can it be true?

I’ve been asked many times why Catholics like me would ever believe something not explicitly in the Bible. Pretty much all non-Catholics hold to the principal of Sola Scriptura, which is Latin for Scripture Alone. They believe that if it’s not in the Bible explicitly then it cannot be from God.

For example, they would say that Purgatory is not in the Bible, nor is the pope, and neither is the Assumption of Mary. How can any of these things that the Catholic Church teaches be true if they’re not in the Bible?

They quote the very Word of God by saying:

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for
correction, for training in righteousness; “ (2 Tim 3:16 NAB)
Wow, that’s a serious charge. If Sola Scriptura is true, then Catholics are in a world of hurt, I’ll admit. But before we jump to conclusions, let’s see how this idea holds up.

First question. Where in the Bible does it say to use the Bible alone? The passage above says all scripture is profitable. That’s nice and true. But is only scripture profitable? Since when does “all” mean “only”? Besides, this would exclude the New Testament. When Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, the only “scripture” he could have been referring to would have been the Old Testament. Darn that context!

Second question. What about this verse?

“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught,
whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.” (2 Thes 2:15 NAB)

Doesn’t that look like we should hold fast to all that we learned both orally and written down? Does that mean that we have been taught things that aren’t written, or weren’t written at that time? That’s an odd thing to say if we only should look in the Bible.

Third question. Where’s the inspired table of contents for the Bible in the Bible? In the fourth century the Catholic Church picked which books went in and which didn’t go into the Bible based on the oral tradition of the Church. How could they have, from the books they selected, known those were the right books to pick? They only took 27 of the 250+ writings at the time that claimed divine inspiration!

Fourth question. Where do you find alter calls, age of accountability, saved by “faith alone”, symbolic baptism, permission for each individual to interpret the Bible independently, that it’s ok to disagree on non-essential doctrines as long as you agree on essential doctrines, or that there is even a non-essential doctrine in the Bible? None of those things are explicitly in the Bible so why do non-Catholics believe in them?

Things like the pope, Purgatory, and the Assumption are based in the Bible and each will get its own post here in good time. But as a Catholic, I don’t have to believe only in what is explicitly stated in the Bible. Catholics have Tradition, of which the Bible is a critical part, but still only part.

The early Christians didn’t hold to Sola Scriptura. Logic doesn’t support Sola Scriptura. The Catholic Church doesn’t support Sola Scriptura.

Have any thoughts on this? Post a comment and let us all know what you think!

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