Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sola Scriptura Debate Complete

I'm pleased to announce that the very prolonged debate with Matthew Bellisario on Sola Scriptura is now complete (link to debate).

-TurretinFan

11 comments:

Nick said...

Cool. I appreciate when these kinds of resources are posted freely for inquiring minds to look into for themself.

I believe MB won the debate 75% MB to %25 TF. Of course, I speak as a Catholic here, but still, I am not convinced that a doctrine like SS can only be proven by implication (eg prove another authority exists), rather than by a clear Scriptural mandate.


Would you be willing to do a Sola Fide debate against me using a similar format to this MB SS debate?

Turretinfan said...

Nick,

Thanks for your comment. As you know, I have emailed you regarding your debate offer.

You wrote: "I am not convinced that a doctrine like SS can only be proven by implication (eg prove another authority exists), rather than by a clear Scriptural mandate."

Do you agree (yes or no) that Scripture teaches that it is inspired by God?

Do you agree that Scripture never speaks of anything else as inspired by God?

If you agree, why should the burden be on the Reformed person to prove that your church doesn't have authority, instead of on your church to prove that it does have authority?

But, even if it were the Reformed person's burden to do that, why would it be the Reformed person's burden to go beyond that and prove that no only was the Vatican not a second infallible authority, but that there weren't any other infallible authorities lurking around the corner waiting to be discovered?

Wouldn't it be the responsibility of the advocate of this third allegedly infallible authority to step forward and demonstrate it?

Do you think the burden is on Catholicism to prove that Mohammed and Joseph Smith were lacking in authority, or on them (and their followers) to prove that they had authority?

Hopefully you see that the burden is on them. If you do, then why don't you apply the same principle to your own church that you apply to those other groups?

And to say, "Well, but Catholicism does prove its own authority," isn't a valid answer here. Bellisario has demonstrated the difficulty that the Vatican has in validating any such claim to be an infallibility authority. Even if he had done an excellent job, though, the proper way to evaluate his job is not whether he was able to provide a reasonable doubt that his church might not be lacking authority, but rather he would have to prove that it did have authority.

That gets us back to the standard for evaluating authorities. It also helps to get to the root of the false presentation we get from folks like Bellisario who try to claim that it is the Reformed side's duty to prove a universal negative, rather than duty of the proponent to prove the existence of his additional authority.

-TurretinFan

Nick said...

Thank you for the debate offer, I am pretty sure I will be going through with it (I have emailed you).

Regarding your questions above, I will do my best to respond:

TF: Do you agree (yes or no) that Scripture teaches that it is inspired by God?

N: Yes, all Scripture is inspired.

TF: Do you agree that Scripture never speaks of anything else as inspired by God?

N: No. I believe oral teachings are the "word of God" (1 Thes 2:13), and thus inspired, and the same goes for dogmatic Church decrees (Acts 15:28; 16:4). At that point, your job is extended now to show where Scripture says these vanished or would be confined to Scripture (leaving only Scripture in the end), but I know of no such passages.

TF: If you agree, why should the burden be on the Reformed person to prove that your church doesn't have authority, instead of on your church to prove that it does have authority?

N: Obviously, I disagree, so your question is moot. Also, it is incorrect to assume if Catholicism is false that Sola Scriptura is automatically true. All it means is Catholicism is false. If a JW proves LDS false, that does not automatically make the JW position true.

Further, it is inconceivable to me that Sola Scriptura would have to be proven by implication, rather than direct Scriptural mandate.

Another problem is the category mistake of putting Scripture and Church authority in a power struggle. Take this example: a painting on a canvas is the Gospel, the paint is Scripture, the brush is the Church, and the artist is God. Is not the brush just as necessary as the paint? Thus it is false to put the Church and Scripture at odds as if ONLY Scripture can be infallible.



TF: But, even if it were the Reformed person's burden to do that, why would it be the Reformed person's burden to go beyond that and prove that no only was the Vatican not a second infallible authority, but that there weren't any other infallible authorities lurking around the corner waiting to be discovered?

N: It is the Reformed position's burden to show, esp from Scripture, that Scripture is the ONLY infallible authority. The Apostles certainly were not operating according to SS in Acts 15 (Council of Jerusalem), thus it is your duty to show where this practice stopped.

If Catholics say other authorities exist, and you prove that Scripture teaches IT ALONE is the only infallible authority, you win and the Catholic side is wrong. You would not need to do what you said and go proving the Catholic Church wrong.

TF: Wouldn't it be the responsibility of the advocate of this third allegedly infallible authority to step forward and demonstrate it?

N: It depends on the question/debate. IF the question is advocating the Catholic Church is true, then the burden is on the Catholic to prove it. IF the question is about proving SS is true, then the Protestant must prove, esp from Scripture, that SS is true. The burden is upon the one making the assertion.

It is a common, but invalid, tactic to shift the burden from the Protestant proving their SS assertion onto the Catholic proving the CC is true (and, just as bad, forcing the Protestant to prove the CC false).


TF: Do you think the burden is on Catholicism to prove that Mohammed and Joseph Smith were lacking in authority, or on them (and their followers) to prove that they had authority?

N: No, the burden is not on the Catholic because the LDS or Muslim is the one asserting a new prophet in town.

TF: Hopefully you see that the burden is on them. If you do, then why don't you apply the same principle to your own church that you apply to those other groups?

N: It all depends on the context of how the debate is proposed. It is wrong for a Catholic to shift the burden, just as it is a Protestant. IN a SS context, the burden is on those asserting SS that IT ALONE is the only infallible authority. It is false until proven true. And if the Scriptures don't clearly teach they alone are the only infallible authority, then the advocate of SS is in a bind.

TF: And to say, "Well, but Catholicism does prove its own authority," isn't a valid answer here.

N: You are right, but that is not the issue at hand. The CC can be false as well as SS. The context of the debate is whether SS is true, not where the CC is true. On the Mar 1, 2008 post this is what it says:

"Resolved: That Sola Scriptura (as expressed in the Westminster standards) is properly derived from Scripture."

That's the context.

TF: Bellisario has demonstrated the difficulty that the Vatican has in validating any such claim to be an infallibility authority. Even if he had done an excellent job, though, the proper way to evaluate his job is not whether he was able to provide a reasonable doubt that his church might not be lacking authority, but rather he would have to prove that it did have authority.

N: Again, that is a valid demand/question but a different debate. The debate was whether Scripture taught SS, affirmed by you, thus the burden is on you. He doesn't have to prove the Catholic Church is true. I don't think it is an unreasonable demand by any means for a doctrine as foundational as SS to not have a clear Scriptural mandate.

If the debate were expanded to include the fact Luther came out of the Catholic Church, and if Luther was shown to be wrong, then the Catholic Church would be the correct path by default.

TF: That gets us back to the standard for evaluating authorities. It also helps to get to the root of the false presentation we get from folks like Bellisario who try to claim that it is the Reformed side's duty to prove a universal negative, rather than duty of the proponent to prove the existence of his additional authority.

N: The "universal negative" charge fails because it is shifting the burden, and in this context the Catholic does not need to prove the CC true. The Catholic job is quite simple and far, far from demanding a universal negative, in fact the Catholic says don't leave the pages of Scripture! Remaining in the Bible alone, where does the Bible give the teaching that Scripture alone is the only infallible authority? That is the question, short, sweet, and to the point.

I hate to repeat myself, but if I were in a Protestant's shoes, it would be troubling to me that a doctrine so foundational to Protestantism would have to be proven by implicit evidence rather than a clear Scriptural mandate.

steve said...

Nick,

I think TF crushed MB like the proverbial bug. If you disagree, you need to specify where and why TF's counterarguments were unsound.

zog said...

TF,

I believe (as the Scriptures state and as you quoted) that "the law of the Lord is perfect" and it is to be desired more than gold. The RCC puts itself on par with these statements? Rubbish, debate over for me.

Zog

natamllc said...

Nick,

I want to thank you for your clear responses and the demeanor I sense coming from you!

Are you making the point that Sola Scriptura is "only" in written form?

I would disagree with that, if in fact that is your assertion that you believe the Reformers attempt is to bring to bear upon my spirit, soul and body that idea? I am suited for the Reformed mindset. I have been a part of a long standing tradition on my Indian Reservation that the RCC is the only game in town. It's not.

What does the Scripture teach about Sola Scriptura then that I mean to emphasize hereon?

The Scripture and the teaching of sola Scriptura is more than what is "written" or taught.

The Scripture is the written reflection of Three Eternal Beings.

I would agree that there are many, many good writings that bring that reflection to the reader. It seems that that is your major point with the Theology of Sola Scriptura, is it not?

The Scripture reflects what transforms when the Three Eternal Spirits, Our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Blessed Holy Ghost move upon our spirit, soul and body and flesh. Jesus said we are to test the "spirits". We are also to "know" them by their "fruits".

So, you are right to say that the Scripture is more than just a group of elected writings gathered together at a point in history, tested by those "filled" with the Holy Ghost, who then cannonized those 66 books of the Bible which are readily accepted worldwide as the written proofs of Who God is and what His "fruit looks like in the elect believer. The Bible is accepted worldwide, those 66 books, as proof text for this Truth.

What the RCC has done is clear to me as well when looked at through the lens of the Scriptures found here and it is because of these Scriptures, that, I would assert, is the same error you are making hereon by defending the error that riddles RCC theology:

2Jn 1:4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.
2Jn 1:5 And now I ask you, dear lady--not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning--that we love one another.
2Jn 1:6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
2Jn 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
2Jn 1:8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.
2Jn 1:9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

As you can read and I note for emphasis, John has written about speaking orally the writings of the "Word" of Truth that we are all called to "walk" in. The fruit of "walking" in the Truth as John emphasizes here comes from oralling hearing the "spoken" Word of God or "reading" the Word of God. Also note that John "ties" walking in the "Truth" with the "Father" together with walking with the historical man, Jesus Christ, who came in the "flesh" and walked among those historically. Scripture does not show that He wrote anything down for us to "read" so by we walk in the Truth. His role, as is the True Church's role, is to "walk in the Truth". Walking in the Truth comes in written form as this debate underscores, from oral debates and from living in spiritual unity with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

He further amplifies that "walking" in the Truth is not this:

"....Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God....".

Granted, the oral traditions were "written" down. What the Word also teaches is this, found at 2 Cor. 3:::>

2Co 3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you?
2Co 3:2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all.
2Co 3:3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
2Co 3:4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.
2Co 3:5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,
2Co 3:6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.


So, the purpose of those later "writings" compiled with earlier writings making up the 66 books, is so that the "hearer", however they "hear", from personal reading and the Holy Ghost causes the spirit, soul and body to "come alive" to walk in Their Life or, in the case of the blind, from "hearing" the Spirit/Word of Life, so that their spirit, soul and body comes alive to walk in the Truth too.

At the end of the day, the purpose of the "writings" is to cause the Father's, the Son's and Holy Ghost's "fruit" to become manifest in us so that there is judgment and unity in fellowship one with another.

You have to admit that the only purpose of the Written, the Spoken and the visible Word of God in a Believer, both known and read visibly, is so that the one who hears and sees it, will also begin to "walk" in it, that is, the Truth.

When I was walking in the theology of the RCC, I can attest, I was not walking in that narrowly defined "Spirit" of Truth. In fact, I went way way beyond the Truth and now I sorrow and suffer for it!

The purpose of Sola Scriptura "truth" establishes the "Truth" in the elect Believer by Truth Himself.

I cannot say that about RCC theologies. In fact, recent published articles about your current Pope with regards to embracing Islamic ways within your institutions of learning brings confusion to me! Doesn't that underscore what John was writing about as cited above at 2 John?

Nick said...

Steve,

I'm not going to go through someone else's debate and give them a detailed criticism for the simple fact that I wasn't part of the original debate.

I will give one specific point, which I have already mentioned above (as well as responded to TF's direct questions).

The main point is that it was TF's duty to show where Scripture *itself* taught it alone was the only and final infallible authority (SS derived from Scripture). Yet, from the very first essay (1AC), I never saw that actually proven from Scripture. Instead, the doctrine was set out to be proven by implicit arguments and philosophy (eg make the Catholic prove a 2nd inspired authority exists*) rather than a direct Scriptural mandate (eg "Thou shalt turn only to Scripture for matters of doctrine").


* From the Affirmative Rebuttal by TF we read: "I trust that the reader will rightly conclude that the burden of proof and persuasion has not moved, but remains on the advocate of this alleged further source of authority."

Now, if you want to put forth some serious blunders that MB made, I would be fine seeing what case you made for this and try to defend my Catholic brother. We can do it via email if you want.

Nick said...

Natamllc,

"I want to thank you for your clear responses and the demeanor I sense coming from you!"

N:Thank you.

"Are you making the point that Sola Scriptura is "only" in written form?"

N:I'm not quite sure what you are asking. The whole point of Scripture is "written form," so I don't see what else it could be. IF you are addressing the issue of whether all necessary apostolic teaching was (eventually) made into Scripture, I would disagree with that on the simple fact Scripture says no such thing.

"The Scripture and the teaching of sola Scriptura is more than what is "written" or taught."

N: I'm not sure what you are getting at thus far (I've only been quoting parts of what you wrote, but I have read it all).

"The Bible is accepted worldwide, those 66 books, as proof text for this Truth."

N: I honestly don't understand where you are going with this. Your points are not really focused on proving the doctrine of SS. Much of what you said is broad enough that I could easily agree with.

You go onto quote 2nd John, but I fail to see how this proves SS. It is general information of how to act as a Christian, in a very short hundred words or so.

"Granted, the oral traditions were 'written' down."

N:What is this supposed to mean? I never granted that notion (quite the opposite).

"What the Word also teaches is this, found at 2 Cor. 3:::>"

N: Again, nothing about SS specifically in 2 Cor 3.

"At the end of the day, the purpose of the "writings" is to cause the Father's, the Son's and Holy Ghost's "fruit" to become manifest in us so that there is judgment and unity in fellowship one with another."

N: You seem to be extending "writings" to that which is written in the heart...but that is not what Sola Scriptura is about. Sure a Christian needs to be guided by the Holy Spirit when reading Scripture, but as far as proving the doctrine of SS, that is a different story.

"You have to admit that the only purpose of the Written, the Spoken and the visible Word of God in a Believer, both known and read visibly, is so that the one who hears and sees it, will also begin to "walk" in it, that is, the Truth."

N: Admitting this is fine, but it says nothing about SS specifically and is so broad/vague that I could interpret it to mean many things.

"In fact, recent published articles about your current Pope with regards to embracing Islamic ways within your institutions of learning brings confusion to me! Doesn't that underscore what John was writing about as cited above at 2 John?"

N: This has nothing to do with SS specifically. Also, I don't really follow that kind of news, it is really unimportant to me and often too much gossip behind it to spend the time. That does not mean Church leaders have not acted in a scandelous way, they certainly could have, but there is always 'tares' among the 'wheat' for 2000 years. And it isn't like scandelous things don't happen in Protestant churches.

Turretinfan said...

Although the comments weren't directed specifically to me, since it is my blog, I'll interject a few responses:

NatAmLLC: "Are you making the point that Sola Scriptura is "only" in written form?"

Nick: "I'm not quite sure what you are asking. The whole point of Scripture is "written form," so I don't see what else it could be. IF you are addressing the issue of whether all necessary apostolic teaching was (eventually) made into Scripture, I would disagree with that on the simple fact Scripture says no such thing."

I answer: This is a very odd response. Since when did something have to be written in Scripture for you to accept it? But in fact, Scripture does say such a thing, which makes your statement all the more confusing.

NatAmLLC: "The Bible is accepted worldwide, those 66 books, as proof text for this Truth."

Nick: "I honestly don't understand where you are going with this. Your points are not really focused on proving the doctrine of SS. Much of what you said is broad enough that I could easily agree with."

So just agree already! :)

Nick: "You go onto quote 2nd John, but I fail to see how this proves SS. It is general information of how to act as a Christian, in a very short hundred words or so."

May I suggest trying to see, not how this proves SS, but how it relates to SS.

NatAmLLC: "Granted, the oral traditions were 'written' down."

Nick: "What is this supposed to mean? I never granted that notion (quite the opposite)."

Why not? Why wouldn't people write down the oral traditions?

NatAmLLC: "What the Word also teaches is this, found at 2 Cor. 3:::>"

Nick: "Again, nothing about SS specifically in 2 Cor 3."

Again, I think it would be helpful to try to look beyond a strict proof of SS, to reading the chapter carefully to see how it relates to that doctrine.

NatAmLLC: "At the end of the day, the purpose of the "writings" is to cause the Father's, the Son's and Holy Ghost's "fruit" to become manifest in us so that there is judgment and unity in fellowship one with another."

Nick: "You seem to be extending "writings" to that which is written in the heart...but that is not what Sola Scriptura is about. Sure a Christian needs to be guided by the Holy Spirit when reading Scripture, but as far as proving the doctrine of SS, that is a different story."

Maybe you think it doesn't prove Sola Scriptura, but surely you can see how it supports Sola Scriptura, right?

NatAmLLC: "You have to admit that the only purpose of the Written, the Spoken and the visible Word of God in a Believer, both known and read visibly, is so that the one who hears and sees it, will also begin to "walk" in it, that is, the Truth."

Nick: "Admitting this is fine, but it says nothing about SS specifically and is so broad/vague that I could interpret it to mean many things."

So just agree already! :)

NatAmLLC: "In fact, recent published articles about your current Pope with regards to embracing Islamic ways within your institutions of learning brings confusion to me! Doesn't that underscore what John was writing about as cited above at 2 John?"

Nick: "This has nothing to do with SS specifically. Also, I don't really follow that kind of news, it is really unimportant to me and often too much gossip behind it to spend the time. That does not mean Church leaders have not acted in a scandelous way, they certainly could have, but there is always 'tares' among the 'wheat' for 2000 years. And it isn't like scandelous things don't happen in Protestant churches."

Protestant churches, though, don't claim to be their own rule of faith. The pope does. So scandals for the papacy (especially doctrinal scandals like fellowship with Islam) have a one-sided impact.

And actually this does have to do with Sola Scriptura. It is by reading Scripture that we are able to discern the spirits, to see the difference between true and false teachers, so that we can follow the true and reject the false.

But if teachers (such as the Vatican) must be followed as a matter of faith, it is impossible to follow Scripture and to practice the Biblical doctrine of Sola Scriptura.


-TurretinFan

Godismyjudge said...

Hi TF,

I just wanted to give you a heads up that I referenced your debate(here)

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Duly noted. You state in that post: "Turretinfan argued that Sola Scriptura (as expressed in the Westminster standards) is properly derived from Scripture." While the Bible claims its own infallible authority, it does not renounce all others." You go on to say, "So while I agree with Michael and Turretinfan on sola scriptura, I disagree with them on how to explain it. Scripture, and scripture alone, demonstrates itself to be God's Word."

I'm not sure, though, that you have actually disagreed with any expression of Sola Scriptura that I presented. I think you may possibly have read something into the resolution of the debate that isn't there.

-TurretinFan