1) The definition of Sola Scriptura
I realize there may be a few folks out there who use the definition "If it's not in the Bible, don't believe it!" but Scott knows full well that's not the standard meaning of the phrase Sola Scriptura: it's neither what the Reformers meant nor what the Reformed churches today mean by it.
2) Distinguishing between the Doctrinal and Historical Aspects of Sola Scriptura
Scott complains that Drs. Godfrey and White define Sola Scriptura in terms of the sufficiency of Scripture, which Scott feels leaves the "sola" out of Sola Scriptura. However, Scott seems to be unaware of the fact that the "sola" aspect of Sola Scriptura is not so much a doctrinal claim as an historical claim.
It's unclear whether Scott is unaware of this, or not. I hope that he's simply unaware of this, and that (now that it is pointed out to him) he'll stop looking for a definition of Sola Scriptura in which the "sola" is a doctrinal claim.
There is, of course, a sense in which Sola Scriptura's definition includes sola. When we explain the formal sufficiency of Scripture, we are explaining that the Scriptures are themselves (i.e. alone) able to make one wise unto salvation.
That said, the full sense of Sola Scriptura is the application of the formal sufficiency of Scripture to a time in which there are no other sources of direct propositional revelation: for example, a time when the prophets are dead and Jesus is ascended.
3) Scott wrote: "This discussion is about sola scriptura, a statement like 'you're no better' than we are is not a defense of sola scriptura (even if the statement were true)."
What Scott seems to miss with that comment is the fact that the argument "you're no better" (if true) undermines the significance of the criticism. It's kind of like if a "Protestant" were to argue: "clearly your (the Roman Catholic) rule of faith is wrong, since the pope isn't God." The Roman Catholic response might be to say, "OK but the Bible isn't God, either." That response doesn't actually dispute the fact that the pope isn't God, it just demonstrates that the criticism is misplaced as a criticism.
4) Scott wrote: "For nearly the first 400 years of Christendom the Canon of the New Testament was in flux. If it were so clear, why all the debates on the canon?"
a) There weren't lots and lots of debates on the canon in the first 400 years. Or, at least, if there were we don't have records of them. Even when there were some discussions about the canon, there was widespread agreement as to the bulk of the books.
b) The Canon itself wasn't in flux. The Canon is an objective historical reality grounded in inspiration. The knowledge of that canon was more or less certain (generally progressively more certain as time progressed).
5) Steve had written: "Why does knowledge [of the canon of Scripture] have to be infallible? What’s wrong with plain old knowledge?" Scott replied: "I was going with James White's definition which includes the term "infallible.""
This is another mistake on Scott's part. Dr. White's definition says that the Scripture itself is infallible. Dr. White didn't say that we obtain an infallible knowledge from Scripture (and certainly not an infallible knowledge of the canon of Scripture). Quite to the contrary, on one occasion Dr. White wrote:
Know for sure, or infallibly? I don't know the exhaustive teachings of the Bible. I don't have infallible knowledge of what the Bible teaches on *any* subject. But I do have *sufficient* knowledge of what the Bible teaches on the *central* subjects. The difference between infallibility and sufficiency is vitally important to recognize.(source)
And on another occasion:
The Protestant openly admits his fallibility in approaching the infallible Scriptures.(source)
You see, once Rome puts an interpretation of the Bible into writing (and there are precious few of these infallible interpretations around, I might add), that writing now becomes subject to interpretation. Shall we begin to look for an infallible interpreter of the infallible interpretation of the infallible Scriptures? The series would never end, of course, for one simply can't get beyond one fact: we as human beings are fallible. And you, as an individual human being, will always be fallible in your knowledge of any infallible source, whether that be the Scriptures, or some other source you hold in esteem.
5) Canon Closure vs. Canon Recognition
Another area of confusion in Scott's comments is on the difference between canon closure (when the last writer wrote the last book) and canon recognition (this was more gradual as to the worldwide church, for obvious reasons). Here's the exchange:
[Scott now]: Except of course if it were true what Mr. Hays said earlier, that "the canon was closed by writer of the last book of the Bible," at that point in time all the "raw materials" would have been available to generate this list - but he (that would be St. John) never put together such a list for us.Notice that Steve is arguing that the recognized canon of the NT was possibly widely standardized as early as the 2nd century A.D. That recognition does not change the fact that objectively the canon was closed at the end of the writing of the last book.
[Scott earlier]: “The truth of the matter is that for the first four hundred years of the Church the canon was not set…”
[Steve's response]: i) Trobisch has argued on text-critical grounds that the NT canon was standardized in the mid-2C AD. For a useful summary and evaluation of his argument, see the discussion by Kellum, Quarles, and Kostenberger in their recent intro. to the NT.
[Scott now]: So now Mr. Hays posits the canon was not closed when the writer wrote the last book, and does not even put forth evidence it was "closed" but that it was "standardized" in the second century A.D. I suppose we can accept that as concession of the earlier point.
Interestingly, it seems that Steve had already pointed this same thing out to Scott:
Steve continues: iii) Scott is also confusing internal evidence for the canon with various forms of ecclesiastical recognition.Scott is confused. The word "canon" can have that sense - but that is not the sense that it has in this discussion.
Scott replies: Mr. Hays does not seem to understand what a "canon" is. A "canon" is an ecclesiastical form of recognition of a standardized list.
As Bruce Metzger explains:
By way of summary, ecclesiastical writers during the first three centuries used the word κανών [canon] to refer to what was for Christianity an inner law and binding norm of belief (`rule of faith' and/or `rule of truth'). From the fourth century onward the word also came to be used in connection with the sacred writings of the Old and New Testaments. Scholars today dispute whether the meaning 'rule' (that is, 'standard' or 'norm') or the meaning 'list' was uppermost in the minds of those who first applied the word to the Scriptures. According to Westcott and Beyer, it was the material content of the books that prompted believers to regard them as the 'rule' of faith and life. On the other hand, according to Zahn and Souter, the formal meaning of κανών [canon] as `a list' was primary, for otherwise it would be difficult to explain the use of the verb κανονίζειν [kanonizein] (`to include in a canon') when it is applied to particular books and to the books collectively. Both the material and the formal senses eventually were seen to be appropriate, for the recognized custom of the Church in looking to a certain group of books as providing the standard for faith and life would naturally cause the books that conformed to it to be written in a list. And thus the canon of Scripture became equivalent to the contents of the writings included in such a list.- Bruce Manning Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), p. 293.
6) 1611 KJV and the Apocrypha
Even the initial King James Version includes the deuterocanonicals - without putting them in a separate appendix, that would come later - and then later still they would be left out entirely.This is highly misleading. Although the 1611 KJV did including the apocrypha, and though it didn't use the mechanism of an appendix, it did place them in a separate section under the heading "The Bookes called Apocrypha" between the testaments (evidence), and the heading of every page in that section read: "Apocrypha. [Name of Book] Apocrypha." or "Apocrypha. Chap.[chapter number] Apocrypha." (evidence)