Why The Bible Alone?
Roman Catholic Objections to
Every Christian should pay careful attention to the Roman Catholic challenge that the Bible alone is not the only Word of God. If there are other sources of equal weight and magnitude as the Bible, then Christian doctrine, stemming only from Bible exegesis, must be open to correction from outside the Bible. For, if there are other Words of God, Christians need to re-evaluate all that they believe in light of additional revelation. But are there other Words of God? Here is a summary of the ongoing debate with the RC religion and others who claim additional God breathed authorities.
Here is the question posed by the Roman Catholic apologist, “Where in Scripture is the doctrine of Sola Scriptura taught?” Since you trust the Bible alone, where does the Bible say, “Trust me alone?”
Here are some answers that Christians need to articulate. The Christian needs to point out that not each and every doctrine taught in Scripture is taught explicitly by book, chapter and verse. Many doctrines are taught by way of logical and necessary deduction. For instance the word ‘Trinity’ is not used in the Bible. Few would argue that the Trinity is not more implicitly taught than explicitly. The same may be said of the righteousness of Christ imputed to the believer for justification. This doctrine surfaces in light of the overwhelming implicit evidence.
Furthermore, the Christian needs to point out that even Roman Catholicism admits that the Bible is at least one part of the inspired Word of God.
However, Roman Catholics maintain that the Bible is not the only Word of God.
Taking this admission, that the Bible is at least one part of the divinely inspired Word of God, it seems incumbent upon Rome, which does not accept the Bible as the only Word of God, to bear the burden of proving there are other sources of equal weight.
1. The Roman Catholic religion must prove that Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium are so closely connected that one cannot stand without the others. They must prove that Scripture and their Tradition and Magisterium must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments. Finally, Rome must prove that other sources can be summoned to give “certainty about God’s revealed truth” other than the Bible alone.
By definition, the Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Roman Religion consisting in :
2. Rome has to prove their Magisterium has Divine Authority to produce Divinely inspired tradition which is equal to the Scripture. This is more than Apostolic Succession. This is a passing down of the gift of inspiration itself.
The Tradition that comes from the apostles makes progress in the Church, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
In light of such claims, the Christian needs to remind the Roman Catholic that the Apostle Paul gives fair warning in the Bible to not go beyond what is written:
3. By what source or method will Rome prove Apostolic Succession, Apostolic Inspirational Succession and Apostolic Infallible Teaching Succession? There is only one Standard that we know of that can qualify its equal. The genuine article is the only sure way of establishing the validity of an identical standard. Real Gold is used to expose Fool’s Gold. Real Treasury Notes are used to expose the Counterfeit. If everyone agrees that Gold is the standard, then it must be used to test the imitation. If everyone agrees that The Federal Government issues a real twenty dollar bill then it alone is the standard to show the forgery. Since Christians and Roman Catholics alike affirm the Bible as God’s Word, the Bible should be the standard against which all other alleged revelation should be measured.
For Roman Catholic claims to be true, the Bible should teach Apostolic Succession, Inspirational Succession and Apostolic Infallible Interpretational Succession . Rome cannot simply declare the right to Inspirational Succession anymore than Joseph Smith or May Ellen White can declare their own writings on a par with Scripture. But, Rome not only maintains Inspirational Succession, it declares Infallible Interpretational Succession as well.
Does the Bible teach that the apostles passed along to others an ability to interpret infallibly or to produce revelation on a par with Scripture? Where do the apostles give a command to their successors to speak as though they were inspired and to bestow onto themselves authority as though it was on a level of the apostles?
4. Furthermore, Rome claims that the ‘traditions’ mentioned by the apostle Paul in the Bible exist outside of the Bible as a separate source of divinely inspired writing. Rome has to prove that the Traditions mentioned in Scripture [as coming from an Apostle] were not incorporated into the text of Scripture. Here are the ‘tradition’ passages as they are found in the Bible.
The Bible does not tell us that there is a pool of Tradition which exists separately from the Bible. Nor does the Bible give to this alleged tradition the weight of added certainty of the revelation of God that is necessary for our Salvation or Sanctification or Service. When things of substance are spoken of in the Bible, the apostles appealed to the Written Word and not to an alleged outside source of tradition.
It must be pointed out that the Bible foresees the real possibility of weakened minds being taken captive by the traditions of men. This is strictly forbidden in the Bible.
We are not to be taken captive by the traditions of men:
In essence, Rome believes that the Apostles produced the inspired written Word and inspired Oral Traditions. Rome alledges these Oral Traditions are different from the written Word. However, Rome cannot produce anything material that can be identified as the “Oral Tradition” of Paul or Peter or Luke or John. Nobody can!
Witness the Catholic Encyclopedia:
In light of this, Rome takes the next step and asserts Inspirational Succession to manufacture revealed truth as well as Infallible Interpretation to construct yet more revelation. Rome, in effect, gives out Revelation from God on a level equal to the Bible [witness the alleged Assumption of Mary] under the delusion that it owns this superiority. In essence, since Rome has failed miserably to produce any material evidence of a Body of Revelation known as Apostolic Tradition, so, they have made up their own. Tradition has become what Rome says it is. The real position of Rome is Sola Ecclesia. Only the Church.
There are many voices claiming to be the Voice of God. There are many Traditions. By what shall we measure these many voices and many traditions?
Material Sufficiency and Formal Sufficiency:
Material Sufficiency means that the Bible contains all that is necessary for salvation.
Formal Sufficiency means that the Bible is clear and that no infallible teaching Magisterium is necessary to interpret it.
In reality, Rome believes in neither: Material and Formal Sufficiency are negated by the Roman Catholic contention that the Magisterium holds the same weight as Scripture and tradition. Material and Formal Sufficiency are further blocked by the RC insistence that their Magisterium alone can interpret Scripture. As an example, let us examine the Decree of Pope Pius XII on the Assumption of Mary as reported by a Roman Catholic writer. Notice how the RC Magisterium decree trumps tradition as well as Scripture.
We see quite a different story emerging from the New Testament: [67 A.D. Final Letter:]
Peter knew nothing of Apostolic Succession. [Last letter 64 A.D.]
Point: The Bible does not have to assert that it is the only source of Authority if no other source of equal authority can be produced. If it alone stands at the end of the day as the only Authoritative Word from God then it is Sola Scriptura by default!
Things which the Roman Catholic religion needs to show to the Christian:
Point: The recognition of the Word spoken by the Apostle Paul was not governed by Paul or a Council. It was a supernatural revelation brought about by the Holy Spirit.
Point: In Acts 20 the Apostle Paul predicts the Chaos that would ensue at his departure. Did he commend them to the Magisterium or the Bible?
Point: Patrick Madrid (RC Apologist) calls the Westminster Confession’s reliance upon the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit as our full persuasion and assurance that the Bible is the Word of God as nothing more than Mormonism. “I know it is inspired because I feel in my heart that it is inspired” is a useless bromide according to Madrid.
The obvious Christian question: What enabled mere men sitting at a table in the 4th Century. to be so sure that they could recognize exactly what books comprised the Word of God? This is the Roman Catholics understanding of how the Bible came into existence.
Point: It is not lost on Christians that what Patrick Madrid calls a “useless bromide” is precisely the manner in which Pope Pius IX describes the assembling of the books of the Bible by the Holy Spirit.
The handing down of the Books of the Bible is through illumination by the Holy Spirit and is the reason why Christians accept the Bible as the only Word of God.
The net result of forsaking Sola Scriptura:
By going outside the safety of biblical revelation the Magisterium of the Romish religion produces a religion which is offensive to Christianity. Rome has utilized her self appointed authority to fashion a religion which keeps her adherents in fear, doubt and terror as to their final destiny. By combining a little Scriptura with a little “so called tradition” and a whole lot of Sola Ecclesia, Rome has set forth her own peculiar and bizarre religion:
Fully aware that neither the term nor the concept of “Sacramental Salvation” can be shown from the Bible, Rome keeps captive her people by insisting upon an incremental, sacramental salvation totally dependent upon the Romish priesthood. This man-made system of religion transfers trust from God’s Word to trust in a priestly class.
Here is a sampling of how Rome, relying upon the un-biblical dogma of Apostolic Succession, ruins the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
One of the Rome’s criticisms of Sola Scriptura is that it is un-workable. They say it is un-workable because it leads to countless denominations each claiming to have the truth as it is found in the Bible. Christians should point out that all Christians are united around the belief in Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide regardless of how different they may be in interpreting such things as Eschatology [study of end times] or Ecclesiology [the study of Church structure] or the Charismata [study of spiritual gifts].
But what has having an alleged Infallible Magisterium solved? Nothing. In fact, great confusion and embarrassment have ensued from the so-called teaching of the Magisterium. There seems to be no two Roman Catholics who think alike. Doctrinal diversity abounds in Rome!
There are pro-life Catholics and pro-choice Catholics. There are married priests and unmarried priests. There are Latin Only Mass type Catholics and English Only types. There are countless societies and fraternals each espousing its peculiar point of view. There are Roman Catholics who do not recognize Trent and those who do. There are those who take Vatican II as a teaching council only and those who view it as a Pastoral Conference only. Even in the question at hand we find evidence that Rome is divided over the partim/partim theory of tradition and the one stream concept of tradition. Perhaps the most telling observation is that no two Roman Catholics agree on any one definition of Tradition with a capital “T.” The list goes on and on. It is safe to say that the diversity which exists among Protestant Denominations, striving to follow the inspired Word of God as found in the Bible alone, pales into insignificance when compared with the endless divisions and immeasurable spectrum of ideas contained within American Roman Catholicism. We are staggered by the diversity of opinion and Bible interpretation among Roman Catholics if we take into account the rest of the world.
To further complicate things, there is an army of Roman Catholic theologians and apologists trying to put their own spin on the official teachings of the Roman Catholic religion. They have their work cut out for them.