the Bible  - IS IT Alone Sufficient for Spiritual Truth? 

     According to Roman Catholicism, Sacred Tradition and the Bible together provide the foundation of spiritual truth. 
From this combination the Catholic church has produced many doctrines which it says are true and biblical.  Protestantism, however, rejects Roman Catholic Sacred Tradition and holds fast to the call "Sola Scriptura," or, "Scripture Alone."  Catholics then challenge, "Is Sola Scriptura biblical?"
     The Bible does not say "Do not use tradition" or "Scripture alone is sufficient."  But the Bible does not say "The Trinity is three persons in one God," either, yet it is a fundamental doctrine of Christianity. 
2 Tim. 3:16 says that scripture is inspired and profitable for correction and teaching.  Scripture states that Scripture is what is good for correction and teaching, not tradition. 
However, in its comments on tradition, the Bible says both to listen to tradition as well as warning about tradition nullifying the gospel -- which we will look at below.
     In discussing the issue of the Bible alone being sufficient, several points should be made:

    1 
  The method of the New Testament authors (and Jesus as well)  
  was to appeal to the Scriptures as the final rule of authority.  


Take, for example, the temptation of Christ in Matthew 4.  The Devil tempts Jesus, yet Jesus used the authority of scripture, not tradition, nor even His own divine power, as the source of authority and refutation.  To Jesus, the Scriptures were enough and sufficient.  If there is any place in the New Testament where the idea of extra-biblical revelation or tradition could have been used, Jesus' temptation would have been a great place to present it. 
But Jesus does no such thing. 
His practice was to appeal to scripture.  Should we do any less having seen His example?
     The New Testament writers constantly appealed to the scriptures as their base of authority in declaring
what was and was not true biblical teaching: 
Matt. 21:42; John 2:22; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 2:2; 2 Peter 1:17-19, etc.
 
Of course, Paul in
Acts 17:11 says, "Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so." 
Paul commends those who examine God's word for the test of truth, not for the traditions of men.  Therefore, we can see that the biblical means of determining spiritual truth is by appealing to scripture, not tradition. 
In fact, it is the scriptures that refute the traditions of men in many instances.

     2
  Many doctrines in the Bible are not clearly stated, 
  yet they are believed and taught by the church  


 For example, there is no statement in the Bible that says there is a
Trinity, or that Jesus has two natures (God and man), or that the Holy Spirit is the third person in the Godhead. Yet, each of the statements is considered true doctrine within Christianity, being derived from biblical references. Therefore, it is not required of Scripture to have a statement to the effect, "The Bible alone is to be used for all spiritual truth," in order for the statement to be true.  So, for the Catholic to require the Protestant to supply chapter and verse to prove Sola Scriptura is valid, is not necessarily consistent with biblical exegetical principles.

     3
    Godís word does not say that Sacred Tradition is inerrant or inspired  

In appealing to the Bible for authentication of Inerrant Sacred Tradition, the Catholics have shown that the Bible is superior to Sacred Tradition--for the lesser is blessed by the greater (
Heb. 7:7).  You see, if the Bible said do not trust tradition, then Sacred Tradition would be instantly and obviously invalid. If the Bible said to trust Sacred Tradition, then the Bible is authenticating it. In either case, the Scriptures hold the place of final authority and by that position, are shown to be superior to Sacred Tradition. If Sacred Tradition were really inerrant as it is said to be, then it would be equal with the Bible. But, Godís word does not say that Sacred Tradition is inerrant or inspired as it does say about itself (2 Tim. 3:16). 
To merely claim that Sacred Tradition is equal and in agreement with the Bible does not make it so.  Furthermore, to assert that Sacred Tradition is equal to Scripture is to effectively leave the canon wide open to doctrinal addition.  Since the traditions of men change, to use tradition as a determiner of spiritual truth would mean that over time new doctrines that are not in the Bible would be added and that is exactly what has happened in Catholicism with doctrines such as purgatory, praying to Mary, indulgences, etc.  Furthermore, if they can use Sacred Tradition as a source for doctrines not explicit in the Bible, then why would the Mormons then be wrong for having additional revelation as well?
     4)
  The Bible is what is inspired, not tradition 

If the Bible is not used to verify Sacred Tradition, then Sacred Tradition is functionally independent to the Word of God. If it is independent of Scripture, then it has no right to exist as an authoritative spiritual source since the Bible is what is inspired, not tradition.

     5)
  Sacred Tradition is invalidated automatically if it contradicts the Bible 

And it does. Of course, the Catholic will say that it does not.  But, Catholic teachings such as purgatory, penance, indulgences, praying to
Mary, etc., are not in the Bible.  
A natural reading of the Bible does not lend itself to such beliefs and practices. 
Instead, the Catholic Church has used Sacred Tradition to add to God's revealed word and then extracted out of the Bible whatever verses that might be construed to support their doctrines of Sacred Tradition.

     The Catholic apologist will state that both the Bible and Sacred tradition are equal in authority and inspiration and to put one above another is a false comparison. But, by what authority does the Catholic say this?  Is it because it claims to be the true church, descended from the original apostles?  In response, claims do not make it true.  Second, even if it were true, and I do not grant that it is, there is no guarantee that the succession of church leaders is immune to error. 
We saw it creep in with Peter in Acts.  Are the Catholic church leaders better than Peter?
     To continue, is it from tradition that the Catholic Church authenticates its Sacred Tradition? If so, then there is no check upon it. Is it from quotes of some of the church Fathers who say to follow Tradition? If so, then the church fathers are given the place of authority comparable to scripture. Is it from the Bible? If so, then Sacred Tradition holds a lesser position than the Bible because the Bible is used as the authority in validating Tradition.  Is it because the Catholic Church claims to be the means by which God communicates His truth?  Then, the Catholic Church has placed itself above the Scriptures.

     Finally, one of the mistakes made by Catholics is to assume that the Bible is derived from Sacred Tradition.  This is false. 

The Church simply recognized the inspired writings of the Bible.  They were in and of themselves authoritative.  Various "traditions" in the Church served only to recognize what was from God. 
Also, to say the Bible is derived from Sacred Tradition is to make the Bible lesser than the Tradition as is stated in
Heb. 7:7 that the lesser is blessed by the greater.
     Since the Bible is the final authority, we should look to it as the final authenticating and inerrant source of all spiritual truth. If it says Sacred Tradition is valid, fine. But if it doesnít, then I will trust the Bible alone. 
Since the Bible does not approve of the Catholic Church's Sacred Tradition, then neither should Christians.

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