Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Is Sola Scriptura a Protestant Concoction?

Dr. Greg Bahnsen's lecture by the above title is now available thanks to the transcription by Pastor David King and the editing of James Anderson (link). Thanks to monergism.com for bringing this to my attention.

14 comments:

John said...

"Because Paul doesn’t say, “Make sure you hold on to the oral traditions and to the written traditions,” does he? He says, “Hold fast to the traditions whether you heard them orally or in writing." Can you see the difference there? Do you have one thing that comes to the Church in two ways? Or do you have two things that come to the Church?"

So his big argument is that "traditions" is one thing? Last I checked, "traditions" is a plural, and therefore not one thing as Paul categorises it here.

"They believe that the tradition of the Apostles (or the authority of the Apostles) can be passed through the office, particularly, of the vicar of Christ on earth, the pope, and the pope has been ordained by previous popes ordained by previous popes, the vicar of Christ, the deputy of Christ on earth. The problem is, that’s not biblically founded! "

Roman Catholics don't say that tradition is passed down by the Pope only, so that's a pretty straw man argument.

"The Apostles are dead! They don’t orally instruct us!"

The apostles weren't present in Thessaloniki when they received Paul's letter! And many in that church weren't there when Paul was there, but were expected to still hold to his oral teachings as passed on to those who were there.

And in any case, the epistles to the Thessalonians were probably the first NT scripture written. So to argue that Paul was in fact teaching, or even believing that all Christian doctrine, and all the teachings of Christ was in scripture is to speak utter nonsense.

"the Apostles who had the authority of Christ nevertheless appealed to inscripturated revelation as the basis for what they taught."

Obviously, But not in a sola-scriptura formal sufficiency kind of way.

"Why did Paul commend the Bereans? What were the Bereans doing? In Acts 17:11, you’ll read of this commendation because (he says) “they examined the Scriptures daily whether these things were so,”"

The Bereans had no scriptures on baptism and the eucharist, but presumably they accepted these teachings anyway.

"that in us you might learn not to go beyond the things which are written"

Given that this was written prior to the Gospels, are we to gather that the early church ignored the orally passed down teachings of Christ? That's not even a little bit believable.

"If the Roman Catholic Church intends to be taken seriously when it tells us that tradition supplements Scripture, then it should be able to offer an example of something that is not in the Bible, that’s not contrary to the Bible, it’s part of what’s properly considered tradition, is necessary for the Church but could not be revealed in the days of the Apostles."

Wha....? Roman Catholics specifically claim that tradition was revealed in the days of the apostles. So why would they want to demonstrate something they don't claim?

In verse 23, we already have an indication in the New Testament of the unreliability of oral tradition. Right there, it’s called down!

Of course this assumes that this "saying that went forth" spread in oral form and not written form, so it assumes what it wants to prove. It also proves too much since the Gospels themselves circulated in oral form for decades prior to being written down. To assume that only the enscripturated form can become inspired and passed down accurately is to assume what one wants to prove.

"What do we do about the use of images as a help to worship, or a help to prayer? Some traditions in the Church endorse the use of images; other traditions in the Church condemn the use of images! If tradition is authoritative, what are we to do with conflicting traditions?"

Exodus condemns images and it also commands images of Cherubim. This argument also proves too much.

Turretinfan said...

"So his big argument is that "traditions" is one thing? Last I checked, "traditions" is a plural, and therefore not one thing as Paul categorises it here."

That's a rebuttal that shows that you haven't understood the argument. The points it not that there is only one tradition, but that the same traditions are handed down two ways.

"Roman Catholics don't say that tradition is passed down by the Pope only, so that's a pretty straw man argument."

Actually, he doesn't say "Pope only" so your rebuttal is the straw man argument.

"The apostles weren't present in Thessaloniki when they received Paul's letter! And many in that church weren't there when Paul was there, but were expected to still hold to his oral teachings as passed on to those who were there."

a) Why do you assume there were no apostles there and what difference would it make if there were none there?

b) Does Paul actually say that people should hold fast to traditions that others had received or that they had received?

"And in any case, the epistles to the Thessalonians were probably the first NT scripture written. So to argue that Paul was in fact teaching, or even believing that all Christian doctrine, and all the teachings of Christ was in scripture is to speak utter nonsense."

Another straw man.

(from the article) "the Apostles who had the authority of Christ nevertheless appealed to inscripturated revelation as the basis for what they taught."

John's response: "Obviously, But not in a sola-scriptura formal sufficiency kind of way."

That's an assertion that you make, but there's really nothing backing it up.

"The Bereans had no scriptures on baptism and the eucharist, but presumably they accepted these teachings anyway."

a) You assume too much based on your ignorance of the Old Testament.

b) More importantly, however, they judged the apostle's teaching according to the Scripture and were commended for this. The point is not that the Bereans derived all their views (in the end) from the Old Testament alone.

"Given that this was written prior to the Gospels, are we to gather that the early church ignored the orally passed down teachings of Christ? That's not even a little bit believable."

a) Your "given" is another one of these appeals to speculation about the order of writing of the New Testament Scripture.

b) And what is unbelievable is treating the gospels as though they were not Scripture, but simply writings that happened to come later.

"Wha....? Roman Catholics specifically claim that tradition was revealed in the days of the apostles. So why would they want to demonstrate something they don't claim?"

RCs make more than one claim about tradition.

"Of course this assumes that this "saying that went forth" spread in oral form and not written form, so it assumes what it wants to prove."

What a wild assumption to suggest that a "saying" is something said.

"It also proves too much since the Gospels themselves circulated in oral form for decades prior to being written down."

No, they weren't.

"To assume that only the enscripturated form can become inspired and passed down accurately is to assume what one wants to prove."

a) That's not what he wants to prove.

b) Only Scripture is described by Scripture as inspired.

"Exodus condemns images and it also commands images of Cherubim. This argument also proves too much."

The rebuttal appears to be an appeal to ignorance - i.e. ignorance of how to reconcile the secret cherubimic elements of the ark with the prohibition on making images.

-TurretinFan

beowulf2k8 said...

Marcion taught Sola Scriptura. Of course, he uses a different Scriptura though.

Turretinfan said...

b2k8:

a) I suspect you're just making this up, as I seem to recall Marcion pretending to be some sort of prophet himself.

b) But, if you're telling the truth, could you please point us to something from Marcion's writings (or those of his followers or contemporary opponents) that evidences this?

-TurretinFan

beowulf2k8 said...

Hmmm...He was kinda understood by his followers to be the apostle Paul, wasn't he? Ok, so maybe he didn't teach Sola Scriptura. Oh wait, if claiming to be an apostle means you didn't teach Sola Scripture then how could the apostles have taught it? Its obvious that Marcion taught Sola Scriptura. Why else produce an authoritative canon? The only reason to produce an authoritative canon is if you intend it to contain everything and be the be-all-end-all. If once you produce that canon things go horribly awry and your followers invent all sorts of oral traditions to blame on you (or credit you with) and idiotic notions of apostolic succession and blah blah blah....Do you see what I'm saying? The very notion of a canon indicates Sola Scriptura. Mentioning Marcion is just a way to move us one step away from what we are talking about so we can look at it rationally. The production of a canon indicates that a group intends to move away from rogue prophesizing to Sola Scriptura. If they don't succeed in this move, its because of greedy Augustines, I mean ecclesiastics.

Turretinfan said...

b2k8:

Are you under the impression that Trent (which promulgated a canon of Scripture) was an advocate for sola scriptura?

Marcion's reason for what he did is that he wanted to avoid some of the teachings of God, and consequently wanted to deny their inspiration.

- TurretinFan

John said...

"That's a rebuttal that shows that you haven't understood the argument. The points it not that there is only one tradition, but that the same traditions are handed down two ways."

I understand his CLAIM, the problem is the grammatical argument fails to support the claim. His argument rests on claiming tradition is "one thing" in this context, when it is not. If tradition is not one thing, but many things, then there is not grammatical justification for claiming that all those things are present in oral and written.

I mean really, the Greek fathers understood this from 2Th 2. Does he understand Greek grammar better than they?

"Actually, he doesn't say "Pope only" so your rebuttal is the straw man argument."

He spends an awful lot of time waffling on about how the Pope claims to do it, so the claim of intention to mislead sticks.

"a) Why do you assume there were no apostles there "

Because Paul would have certainly greeted them by name, as was his custom. If there were apostles there and Paul was unaware of it, then it doesn't matter as far as interpreting Paul.

"what difference would it make if there were none there?"

The point is, those people not there when Paul was there had to accept the traditions second hand, which is exactly the same process whether the apostles are alive or dead. Thus the dead apostle argument fails as irrelevant.

"b) Does Paul actually say that people should hold fast to traditions that others had received or that they had received?"

"They" in the context is the church as a whole. If you want to make it individuals, then the church disintegrates the minute Paul leaves and a new convert joins who didn't hear Paul and has no rule of faith.

"(from the article) "the Apostles who had the authority of Christ nevertheless appealed to inscripturated revelation as the basis for what they taught.""

THAT's a straw man. That they appealed to scripture does not mean they appealed to scripture alone. AGAIN, do you want to claim the Church didn't follow Christ's teachings until Matthew or Mark got around to writing them down? Christ was just this anonymous figure for the Church until a gospel was written?

John said...

"That's an assertion that you make, but there's really nothing backing it up."

Already backed it up. The disciples were baptised, but there is no OT teaching for that. Epic failure for sola scriptura.

"b) More importantly, however, they judged the apostle's teaching according to the Scripture and were commended for this."

Actually they were commended for taking the apostles seriously enough to investigate their claims, as opposed to other cities which just rejected them outright. For a group claiming historical grammatical analysis, your inability to realise the situation has nothing to do with scripture alone is amazing.

Now, do you recommend that Christians judge everything the apostles said on the basis of OT scripture and reject what can't be found there? Didn't think so. Obviously "judging" apostles is not the commendable thing here, rather it is investigating and reading the scriptures.

"a) Your "given" is another one of these appeals to speculation about the order of writing of the New Testament Scripture."

It's way beyond mere speculation to note that Paul shows pretty much no knowledge of the canonical gospels. You can't seem to distinguish between speculation and obvious inferences.

"b) And what is unbelievable is treating the gospels as though they were not Scripture, but simply writings that happened to come later."

Wha...?

"What a wild assumption to suggest that a "saying" is something said."

λέγω 1. to express oneself orally or in written form

"No, they weren't."

Oh really. You were there were you?

Odd that Luke 1:2 contradicts you.

"b) Only Scripture is described by Scripture as inspired."

Not even nearly true if you search your bible for "word of God". Unless you want to claim the word of God isn't inspired.

"The rebuttal appears to be an appeal to ignorance - i.e. ignorance of how to reconcile the secret cherubimic elements of the ark with the prohibition on making images."

That's because the argument appeals to ignorance. One appeal to ignorance deserves another.

Turretinfan said...

John:

On grammar, the article you are responding to is correct. That doesn't require us to assume that Bahnsen was in every way better at Koine Greek than the Greek fathers (like Chrysostom and Basil).

""They" in the context is the church as a whole. If you want to make it individuals, then the church disintegrates the minute Paul leaves and a new convert joins who didn't hear Paul and has no rule of faith."

You mean, no rule of faith, except Scripture, right?

"(from the article) "the Apostles who had the authority of Christ nevertheless appealed to inscripturated revelation as the basis for what they taught.""

John writes: "THAT's a straw man."

It is definitely not a straw man. It's simply a statement of historical fact.

"The disciples were baptised, but there is no OT teaching for that. Epic failure for sola scriptura."

Again, you argue from your ignorance of Scripture.

"Obviously "judging" apostles is not the commendable thing here, rather it is investigating and reading the scriptures."

If you say so - but if so, it is still commendable while holding some later authority (valid or not) in doubt. Will you at least concede that?

"It's way beyond mere speculation to note that Paul shows pretty much no knowledge of the canonical gospels. You can't seem to distinguish between speculation and obvious inferences."

a) that wasn't your claim; and

b) he does show knowledge of Luke's gospel.

"Oh really. You were there were you?"

Amazingly, there are other ways of knowing something than by being there.

"Odd that Luke 1:2 contradicts you."

In fact, it confirms what I said.

I wrote: "b) Only Scripture is described by Scripture as inspired."

John responded: "Not even nearly true if you search your bible for "word of God". Unless you want to claim the word of God isn't inspired."

What I said is true, quite regardless of whether I want to claim or not that other things are inspired. You need to try to think more clearly before you make your claims.

"That's because the argument appeals to ignorance. One appeal to ignorance deserves another."

No, the original argument did not appeal to ignorance.

-TurretinFan

beowulf2k8 said...

"Are you under the impression that Trent (which promulgated a canon of Scripture) was an advocate for sola scriptura?"

Trent had its hand forced by the Reformation. That was not an honest argument on your part, TF. Afterall Trent was not promulgating the idea of the canon for the first time but was officializing the exact contents for the first time. The canon had been established long ago, but never universally with any central authority, and so various versions had existed, including as we find in the so-called Apostolic Constitutions, a version of the canon that was exactly like today's except that it included several books by Clement which were only to be included in copies for the clergy. Have you ever read this document???? The Ecclesiastical Canons of the Same Holy Apostles Here is the relevant text:

"Let the following books be esteemed venerable and holy by you, both of the clergy and laity. Of the Old Covenant: the five books of Moses—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; one of Joshua the son of Nun, one of the Judges, one of Ruth, four of the Kings, two of the Chronicles, two of Ezra, one of Esther, one of Judith, three of the Maccabees, one of Job, one hundred and fifty psalms; three books of Solomon—Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs; sixteen prophets. And besides these, take care that your young persons learn the Wisdom of the very learned Sirach. But our sacred books, that is, those of the New Covenant, are these: the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the fourteen Epistles of Paul; two Epistles of Peter, three of John, one of James, one of Jude; two Epistles of Clement; and the Constitutions dedicated to you the bishops by me Clement, in eight books; which it is not fit to publish before all, because of the mysteries contained in them; and the Acts of us the Apostles."

Due to such variations existing locally throughout time Trent made a definitive pronouncement for Catholicism to clear out the confusion that is left from all these sorts of documents. Yet the confusion will never end because what Trent means by "the old Latin Vulgate" is up for debate.

The point is that Trent was a cleanup crew, not the original putting forth of the canon, so it doesn't mean anything in the context of this discussion.

I'll leave aside the interesting idea here of Clement putting forth the notion that there is one canon for the laity, and another for clergy which includes books by himself, but that's such an interesting topic. How would we ever know if any Catholics still ascribed to it? They wouldn't admit it, for "it is not fit to publish before all, because of the mysteries contained in them."

Turretinfan said...

So then, you must concede that simply because Marcion identified a canon doesn't mean (necessarily) that he practiced sola scriptura, correct?

beowulf2k8 said...

TF, what do you think of the following. This is a comment I posted on Pious Fabrications that I reproduce here just in case he erases it. I want your take on my interpretation of the Eastern O's use of leaven in communion due to their backwards interpretation of 1 Cor 5:7.

But if it require extra-Biblical doctrines to interpret the Bible then how do you guard against the heretics overriding the text via wrong interpretation? You don't, and the result is your church and all its crazy Gnostic (and not in the good sense) beliefs.

The Canon WAS intended as a move to Sola Scriptura. It just FAILED. And so, essentially, a new kind of Gnosticism was born. Catholic Gnosticism whereby you just get around the text by saying "we have an oral tradition that interprets the text backwards."

For example, Paul says "Purge out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, for you are truly UNleavened." (1 Cor 5:7) He uses the UNleavened nature of the bread in the eucharist to point to how we should purge out sin. But the Eastern Catholic Gnostic says "although he says 'you are truly UNleavened' he really means 'you are truly leavened with a NEW leaven.'" And thus they impiously add leaven to the eucharist saying that Paul means here that we are not UNleavened but have a new leaven. Yet what Paul says is not "ye truly have a new leaven" but "ye truly are UNleavened."

Thus by a new sort of Gnosticism (reading the text and then making it say the opposite of what it says) the Eastern Catholic Gnostics pervert all things in the Scriptures.

beowulf2k8 said...

"So then, you must concede that simply because Marcion identified a canon doesn't mean (necessarily) that he practiced sola scriptura, correct?"

And no, I think the initial establishment of a Canon always means an attempt is being made to move towards a Sola Scriptura. Its just that the followers don't generally stick with it.

Turretinfan said...

b2k8:

At least now I understand somewhat where you are coming from.

-TurretinFan