Defense of My “Ten-Step Refutation of Sola Scriptura”

Defense of My “Ten-Step Refutation of Sola Scriptura” January 26, 2016


Defending sola Scriptura is rather like a dog chasing his tail. Either he never catches it, or if he does, it hurts and is not nearly as much fun or fulfilling as he thought it would be. Photo by “Lil Shepherd”: 16 May 2012 [Flickr / CC BY 2.0 license]

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Quick Ten-Step Refutation of Sola Scriptura is a paper of mine from 2003. I recently posted it in a large Facebook theological group. A Protestant named Milan Lorinc took it upon himself to attempt a refutation of all ten points. This is my counter-reply. He gave me full permission to cite his words, which will be in blue.

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Now, before I begin, it’s very important for all who read this to understand exactly what it is that we are debating. Sola Scriptura is not the belief that Scripture is revelation from God and as such, a supreme, inspired authority. All Christians agree on that, so there is no need to debate it. Rather, it means that Scripture is the only infallible, binding authority. That means that neither the Church nor sacred tradition are infallible, as Catholics and Orthodox believe.  

Almost always in these discussions (I’ve literally engaged in this debate well over a hundred times now), Protestants garner tons of biblical indications that Scripture is inspired and infallible, which is fine and dandy, but utterly irrelevant to this debate, because all observant, historic Christians agree on that! The burden on the Protestant — in establishing and defending sola Scriptura — is always to prove from Scripture that only Scripture is infallible and that it only is the final and binding authority for the Christian. At the same time, it logically follows that they have to prove that the Church and sacred tradition are not such authorities.

Likewise, when the Catholic shows that either the Church or sacred tradition are presented as binding / infallible authorities in Scripture, it is in turn a direct refutation of sola Scriptura. I will demonstrate over and over again that what my opponent produces as supposed “proofs” of sola Scriptura are actually no proofs at all; and they are not because of what I just noted above. Once again, readers must always keep this introduction in mind, because it is routinely misunderstood by those who attempt to defend sola Scriptura.

As the author of not just one, but two books on this very topic, I’m very familiar with it. I’ve written about it far more than any other topic, in my 25 years of Catholic apologetics. And I have taken on not only the leading historic defenders of the doctrine, but the leading champions of it today as well.

I hope you enjoy the debate!

1. Sola Scriptura is Not Taught in the Bible…

Author of article Dave Armstrong is technically right about it… These 2 words SOLA SCRIPTURA, or SCRIPTURE ALONE cannot be explicitly found in Old nor New Testament. How could they be, if they were for first time articulated in 16. century by Reformers as one of more formal principles of Reformation (SOLA SCRIPTURA altogether with other SOLA: SOLA CHRISTI- CHRIST ALONE, SOLA GRATIA – GRACE ALONE and SOLA FIDE – FAITH ALONE.

The debate is not about those mere words being present or not (whether together or indirectly deduced), but about the concept or idea of sola Scriptura. Is it taught in the Bible? I say no; my opponent says yes. I say that not only these sloganistic words, but also the idea, were novel and corrupt innovations that came about 16 centuries after Christ. They were taught neither in the Bible, nor by the apostles, nor by the Church fathers. There was a TV soup commercial (about vegetable soup, as I recall) which highlighted the observation regarding the ingredients: “It’s in there!” Well, in this case, sola Scriptura is not “in there” (“there” being Scripture).

However formal sufficiency or formal Authority of Scriptures is in the CORE of Jesus’s and of apostolical teaching. First Christians had Scriptures as their Supreme authority..

Yes they did; so do we. But they also had the Church and sacred, apostolic tradition as supreme authorities. In fact, the New Testament was not even determined yet, and would not be for another 350 years or so. Thus, the first Christians could not be sure what was an inspired New testament book and what wasn’t. Some thought books were inspired that we don’t think are inspired today. Others denied that New Testament books (that we accept today; and the biblical canon came from Church authority). I wrote in this section 1 of my paper being critiqued:

Scripture certainly is a “standard of truth” (we agree fully with Protestants), even the preeminent one, but not in a sense that rules out the binding authority of authentic apostolic Tradition and the Church. The Bible doesn’t teach that. Catholics agree with Protestants that Scripture is materially sufficient. In other words, every true doctrine can be found in the Bible, if only implicitly and indirectly by deduction. But no biblical passage teaches that Scripture is the formal authority or Rule of Faith for the Christian (formal sufficiency), in isolation from the Church and Apostolic Tradition. Sola Scriptura can’t even be deduced from implicit passages.

Whilst term SOLA SCRIPTURA – Scripture alone isn’t in Bible, Supreme position of Written Word of God IS IN THE BIBLE. JESUS AND APOSTLES TAUGHT IT !!! 

No they didn’t, and I will repeatedly show how this characterization is inaccurate.

Let’s start with Mark 7,1-20 where Jesus and His disciples are challenged by devout Pharisees for not observing washing – hands- rule. This is the first evidence that Jesus hadn’t role of religious tradition and of Jewish Holy Scriptures on the same level as of equal authoritative sources of religious life in Judaism. 

Jesus’s harsh criticism of putting tradition of elders and Scriptures on the same level of authoritativeness is expressed in His words: ” Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, `This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. In vain they worship me, teaching doctrines which are nothing but the commandments of men ” And then Jesus gave particular example of breaking Written Commandment of Moses Law : ” For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother;’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.’” Religious tradition set up against this commandment of Moses Law the rule that ” But you say, `If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is the gift, given to God;”’ 12 then you no longer allow him to do anything for his father or his mother,”
Thus Pharisees made Written God’s Word NULL AND VOID for the sake of observance of religious tradition of Jewish elders. THE SAME WAY CATHOLIC CHURCH MADE NULL AND VOID HOLY SCRIPTURES FOR THE SAKE OF OBSERVANCE OF CATHOLIC TRADITION..!!!

This is an old and tired Protestant polemic. Supposedly, Jesus opposes all previous Jewish tradition. In point of fact, this is not true at all. Jesus followed Pharisaical traditions Himself. He adopted the Pharisaical stand on controversial issues (Mt 5:18-19, Lk 16:17), accepted the oral tradition of the academies, including observing the Sabbath, and priestly regulations (Mt 8:4, Mk 1:44, Lk 5:4). He worshiped in the synagogues and the temple. The apostle Paul called himself a Pharisee twice (Acts 23:6 and 26:5). Jesus expressly stated that He was not removing anything in the Law:

Matthew 5:17-19 “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. [18] For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. [19] Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” 

He also told His disciples to follow the Pharisees’ teaching even though they may be hypocrites:

Matthew 23:2-3 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; [3] so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.” 

In Mark 7, Jesus is criticizing legalism, spiritual pride, lack of wholehearted devotion, and hypocrisy, not tradition itself. I wrote about similar themes recently. But for many Protestants, “tradition” in the Bible is a “dirty word.” This is simply not true. There are good, apostolic traditions and bad traditions. A close reading of passages such as Matthew 15:3-9 and Mark 7: 8-13 will reveal that Jesus only condemned corrupt traditions of men, not tradition per se. He uses qualifying phrases like “your tradition,” “commandments of men,” “tradition of men,” as opposed to “the commandment of God.” St. Paul draws precisely the same contrast in Colossians 2:8: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Paul uses the word “tradition” in a wholly positive and authoritative sense in 1 Corinthians 11:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:15 and 3:6. Oral tradition is also massively indicated in the New Testament.

Let’s get to other texts showing that Jewish Scriptures were Supreme Authority for Jesus..

Jesus’s key role of Saviour and Redeemer from Sin has been designed from everlasting and Holy Spirit put it as program for Jesus through the writers of Old Testament writings..From all statements where Jesus predicted His torture, crucifixion death and resurrection is evident that Jesus pointed to SCRIPTURES AND NOT TO RELIGIOUS TRADITION of Judaism.

This proves nothing to the point. All it proves is that Scripture has messianic prophecies that were fulfilled. Of course . . . 

”Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all the things that are WRITTEN THROUGH THE PROPHETS concerning the Son of Man will be completed.”(Luke 18,31) and ” Didn’t the Christ have to suffer these things and to enter into his glory?”

”27 Beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he explained to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”(Luke 24,27) Also see Luke 22,37;Mat 26,24;26,54

Although we don’t see in Gospels specific term SCRIPTURES, often we can find words MOSES (TORAH), PROPHETS, WRITINGS which in Hebrew thinking means three-folded partition of Jewish Bible. So although Gospel writers sometimes mention only prophets, or Moses and Prophets that in another words means SCRIPTURES… Also statement: ”it is written ” points to the Supreme role of Scriptures as Rule of faith

Yes of course. But none of this shows that it is the only authority.

[Milan then provided many more examples of messianic prophecies, which are irrelevant to the point under dispute, as explained]

Jesus fought against Devil not with Jewish religious tradition, but He used Scriptural commands to tackle tempting Satan…Three times Jesus answered Satan’s seduction with verse of Scripture showing that Jesus is fully surrendered under Scriptural Authority and so shall be Satan…

On many occasions Jesus countered his opponents in theological debates with Scriptures proving that they thoroughly miss fundamental thing – obedience of Written Word of God whilst they tried hardest for full obedience of their religious tradition. Let me give a few examples: 

We can see in John 5 as Jesus healed paralyzed man lying at Bethesda lake. According to Pharisees Jesus broke commandment on Sabbat observance on many instances because He dared to heal people (see also John 9; Luke 6,6-11, Luke 13,10-17) .. What was for Pharisees prohibited Shabbat work, for Jesus that was necessity of the human healing is not lesser than the loosing ox or ass from the stall and to lead them to the water to drink everyday even during Sabbath (Luke 13,15-16) and if people are circumcised even on Sabbath so that Mose’s Law could be observed why Pharisees are crossed with Jesus as he healed whole personality (John 7,22-23).

Some of very devout Pharisaic Jews have been ultimately irritated and outraged by this Jesus’s ‘behavior’ as they declared about Jesus: “This man is not from God, because he doesn’t keep the Sabbath.”

None of this proves sola Scriptura, either. Milan is following the same old playbook, based on these basic logical fallacies. Jesus did observe the Sabbath. He is making a point about how we observe it, not whether we should or not. Later, the Church decided that the Lord’s Day (Sunday) would be, in effect, the new development of Sabbatarianism.

However Jesus was obedient observant of Mose’s Torah commandment. He only refuted and turned upside down man – made ideas and imaginations of Pharisees which were ”holy tradition” for his opponents.

Yes! We agree on that.

[he gives more off-topic examples of Jesus’ opposition to corrupt traditions]

I have already mentioned Mark 7,1 ff where religious tradition of washing hands and of all other things has been exalted to be Divine command. Jesus evidently refused to comply these man-made traditions and definitely refused them to have same authoritative position in religion as Written Word of God.

Exactly! Jesus opposed man-made, corrupt traditions. He did not oppose  true traditions, including oral traditions. The question for Him is not “Scripture vs. tradition” but rather, “true traditions (including Scripture) vs. false, man-made traditions.”

. . . But formal sufficiency of Bible as Supreme Authority is there and Jesus purposefully taught it…

This was not shown to the slightest degree in his arguments thus far . . . I’ve already noted that Jesus told His followers to observe the teachings from the Pharisees, based on their authority as occupying “Moses’ seat” (a notion which is not in the Old Testament).

 2. “Word of God”

Dave Armstrong of is right about this point but only from one point of view. Let me give another point of view: 

For Jesus were commandments of Scriptures as true expression of God’s Word. As rich young man asked Him on matters of Salvation and eternal life (Matt 19,16ff), Jesus pointed him to the commands of Scriptures, not to tradition. The same thing Jesus told Pharisees (22,34-40)
Sadducees which wanted to ridicule Jesus and His teaching on resurrection Jesus rebuked of being in delusion.. ”you are in delusion because you don’t know Scriptures nor God’s power”(Matt 22,29) 

The Sadducees denied oral tradition, whereas Jesus and the early Church accepted it. The inter-testamental traditions included teachings on the afterlife and angels, which were not explicit in the Old Testament. I showed in another section how Jesus accepted the authority of non-biblical oral traditions. I’ve already made note of one: “Moses’ seat.”

For good spiritual health and well-being is crucial: 1. To know Scriptures, obey Written Word of God 

Yes it is, but there is no disagreement here. 

2. To know God’s Power

On the contrary ignorance, disobedience of Written Word of God or deliberate rebellion against Scriptural Authority is pathway to delusion and heresy. Catholic Church is in same delusion as Saducees were because Scriptures aren’t her Supreme Authority and people in CC aren’t deliberately led to feed themselves with GOD’s WORD through daily reading and meditation. They aren’t lead either to surrender every part of their lives under Rulership of Scriptural Command..And Catholics may be opened to the supernatural Work of the Holy Spirit, but without being complied to the REGULA FIDEI of Scriptural Authority, they are like man who has only one leg. And only by supernatural miracle of God can get both legs, so Catholics can get too, if they fully submit their lives under Governance of Bible..

Catholics respect the Bible as much as Protestants do. It is our supreme authority. We simply say that it has to be interpreted within the framework of historic, apostolic tradition and the guidance of the Church. This had always been the case, even in Old Testament times. In Nehemiah 8, there was a big event in which the Bible was read to the people. But the text doesn’t say that they understood it simply by hearing it. Rather, it states:

Nehemiah 8:7-8 Also Jesh’ua, Bani, Sherebi’ah, Jamin, Akkub, Shab’bethai, Hodi’ah, Ma-asei’ah, Keli’ta, Azari’ah, Jo’zabad, Hanan, Pelai’ah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the law, while the people remained in their places. [8] And they read from the book, from the law of God, clearly; and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. 

It’s the same in the New Testament. We have the story of the Ethiopian eunuch, seeking to understand the Bible:

Acts 8:27-31 And he rose and went. And behold, an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a minister of the Can’dace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of all her treasure, had come to Jerusalem to worship [28] and was returning; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. [29] And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” [30] So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” [31] And he said, “How can I, unless some one guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 

Milan mentioned the messianic prophecies. But these weren’t understood merely by reading them, either. Thus, we see in the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, that they completely missed it, and that the risen Jesus had to directly help them interpret and understand them:

Luke 24:25-27, 32 And he said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! [26] Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” [27] And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. . . . [32] They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” 

It’s always been like this, and this is how the Bible presents itself: it’s the inspired revelation, that has to be authoritatively interpreted in order to be properly understood, within a framework of doctrinal, creedal, confessional orthodoxy. This is how we Catholics look at the matter: precisely as Scripture itself does: one needs authoritative interpretation. Precisely because Protestants don’t believe this, they are hopelessly self-contradictory and have many hundreds of competing denominations, with contradictions (therefore, falsehood and error) all over the place. That’s the fruit of the false doctrine of “every man reading the Scripture without any necessary guidance, to find all of Christian truth.” Right . . . 

Jesus during Jewish feast declared: if anyone believes in me AS SCRIPTURE SAY rivers of living water will flow from inside of him”(John 7,38)..
Dave Armstrong, and another Catholics, you can believe in God’s Word in Catholic Tradition, you can believe in Jesus as Catholic Church say, but no rivers of living water will flow!!! Only those shall be fulfilled with life-giving stream of God’s Holy life who believe in Jesus AS SCRIPTURE SAY!!!!

I have just shown what Scripture says. It had to be authoritatively interpreted for readers: by the Levites in the old covenant: teaching authorities, by the apostle Philip, and by Jesus Himself in the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. St. Peter also notes that some teachings in St. Paul were hard to understand, so that people developed false doctrines from them:

2 Peter 3:15-17 And count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, [16] speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures[17] You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability. 

For apostle Paul have been Scriptures the same Supreme authority as for Jesus. He himself declared principle: ” and let no one go beyond of what is WRITTEN” (1 Corinthians 4,6)
For Him just as for Jesus were Scriptures genuine revelation of God’s Word.

Yep, Scripture is revelation. No one denies it. I answered the argument from 1 Corinthians 4:6 in my first book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism:

1 Corinthians 4:6 . . . that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favour of one against another.

The clause emphasized above, which is used as a proof for sola Scriptura, is thought to be difficult in the Greek, so much so that one Protestant translator, James Moffatt, considered it beyond recovery and refused to translate it! Yet the meaning seems fairly clear when the whole context is taken into consideration (at the very least verses 3-6). This basic principle of biblical interpretation (context) is often neglected, even by good scholars, presumably due to presuppositional bias. For example, the great evangelical theologian G.K Berkouwer, who writes many insightful and edifying things about Scripture, falls prey to this tendency repeatedly, in using this portion of a verse to imply the notion of sola Scriptura, in his magnum opus on Scripture.12

One simply has to read the phrase following the “proof text” to see what it is to which St. Paul is referring. The whole passage is an ethical exhortation to avoid pride, arrogance and favoritism, and as such, has nothing to do with the idea of the Bible and the written word as some sort of all-encompassing standard of authority over against the Church. St. Paul’s teaching elsewhere (as just examined) precludes such an interpretation anyway. One of the foundational tenets of Protestant hermeneutics is to interpret less clear, obscure portions of Scripture by means of more clear, related passages.13 St. Paul is telling the Corinthians to observe the broad ethical precepts of the Old Testament (some translators render the above clause as keep within the rules), as indicated by his habitual phrase, it is written, which is always used to precede Old Testament citations throughout his letters. Assuming that he is referring to the Old Testament (the most straightforward interpretation), this would again prove too much, for he would not be including the entire New Testament, whose Canon was not even finally determined until 397 A.D.

To summarize, then, 1 Corinthians 4:6 (that is, one part of the verse) fails as a proof text for sola Scriptura for at least three reasons:

1) The context is clearly one of ethics. We cannot transgress (go beyond) the precepts of Scripture concerning relationships. This doesn’t forbid the discussion of ethics outside of Scripture (which itself cannot possibly treat every conceivable ethical dispute and dilemma);

2) The phrase does not even necessarily have to refer to Scripture, although this appears to be the majority opinion of scholars (with which I agree);

3) If what is written refers to Scripture, it certainly points to the Old Testament alone (obviously not the Protestant “rule of faith”). Thus, this verse proves too much and too little simultaneously.

All “proof texts” for sola Scriptura are demonstrably inadequate and run up against biblical (and Catholic) teachings of Tradition and Church, as well as the insuperable difficulty of the Canon of the Bible, and how it was determined (by the Catholic Church).

12Berkouwer, ibid., 17,104-105,148.

13See, e.g., Ramm, Bernard, Protestant Biblical Interpretation, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 3rd ed., 1970, 104-106.

3. Tradition is Not a Dirty Word

In some aspects maybe not, but I shown above feature of religious tradition as one in fiercest opposition to the Supreme role of Scriptural authority.. Just as Jesus said, tradition breaks down written Word of God and nullify it’s authority.

And yes, there are traditions (on Mary ever-virginity, her sinlessness, or her assumption, mandatory celibacy of priests etc. which are thoroughly inconsistent with Bible and in no harmony with Scriptural Authority) Catholic Church therefore must totally diminish Governance of Bible Authority so that these deceitful teachings could be adhered and observed.

Mandatory celibacy of priests is one perfect example, because apostle Paul explicitly warned future generations of Christians before false and deceitful Church leaders which shall hinder marry. However Catholic Church didn’t recognized these heretical trends(of mandatory celibacy of priests) which Spanish priests tried to impose onto whole Church. Emperor Constantine fortunately halt these efforts, but 7 centuries later Pope Gregor VII enforced mandatory celibacy. He even torn apart existing marriages of priests despite Jesus’s command ” What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart” Matt 19,6

Thus God’s Written Word had to be superseded by human schemes of Popes and clergy…In that regard yeah, Church tradition is kinda dirty word for me too..It has bitter taste of the irreconcilable adversary against Authority of Scriptures…

Railing against stuff that one disagrees with in Catholic teaching is not disproving that there is a legitimate, authoritative, binding tradition in Scripture (which the sola Scriptura advocate must do). This “reply” has zero interaction with my actual arguments. If that trend continues, I will cease responding, because ostensibly I am defending my paper, not dealing with 1,976,294 objections to Catholicism in this present endeavor. Yet, sadly, this is standard contra-Catholic and anti-Catholic methodology . . . 

4. Jesus and Paul Accepted Non-Biblical Oral and Written Traditions

Apologist Dave Armstrong is completely wrong about Matt.2,23 It is really found in Isaiah 11,1just as Evangelist Matthew wrote that prophet said:
There is hebrew word נֵ֖צֶר (netzer) which means branch, shoot, sprout. This noun, coming from an Arabic root meaning “to be fresh, bright, grown green, ” appears only four times in Bible.

This is a weak argument.  Serious commentators disagree as to interpretation (as can be seen in this large collection of exegetical commentaries), and many possibilities are bandied about, including vague references or saying that it is a vague allusion to writings of many prophets (rather than one passage, which proves my point), leading to the distinct possibility that it is not a direct reference to a particular passage in any Old Testament book, and/or a reference to some lost book, as St. John Chrysostom thought.

So definitely not…Jesus didn’t appealed to Jewish tradition as to higher authority than Bible is. Surely text Matt 2,23 cannot be used to support this idea. These biblical instances used by Dave Armstrong aren’t good. Pointing to Oral Torah, Rabbinical tradition, or Rabbinical interpretations of Jewish Bible not necessarily show the true relationship of Jesus and of Paul to the religious tradition… I already portrayed above the true relationship of Jesus to religious tradition.

And I showed how it was a false and inaccurate and quite incomplete presentation.

Let me have a few words on Jesus’s relationship to the religious authorities of Judaism. Jesus tried to maintain good relationships with all religious leaders, but not at the expense of revealed truth…For example: i. As Jesus cleansed man of leprosy He sent him to the priests, which had also competence of medical authorities too to make medical search of people like that man. Man healed of leprosy should also bring the sacrificial gift commanded by Moses Law as testimony.(See Matt 8,4) Jesus respected this role of theirs and He didn’t try to make any changes in societal order where He lived.

ii. Jesus commanded to His disciples concerning Pharisees and scribes sitting at Moses see(position of the teaching authority) to ” do and observe everything what they would say you, but don’t act according to their deeds, because they say, but don’t do”(Matt23,3)

Jesus respected their authority of religious teachers, /as He said ”do whatever they tell you../ although He called them ”breed of vipers” and ”snakes” Jesus has been aware that people need teaching authority, but on other side Pharisees and scribes(theologians of Judaism) discredited themselves by hypocrisy, pride, worst motives for their ministry, twisting of Torah commandment to promote utterly irrelevant things whilst essential (love, mercy and righteousness and justice ) have been neglected.. 

Our present dispute is about binding authority, not perfect sanctity. Jesus gave that to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:2. Whether they were hypocritical or not is irrelevant. We know that they were. But that didn’t take away their authority. Jesus addressed that, by saying, “do and observe everything what they would say you, but don’t act according to their deed.” But he based their authority on a notion not found in the Old Testament (“Moses’ seat”).

Apostles told to Jewish top authorities: ” Is it fair before God to obey you more than God??”(Acts 4,19)…I think this kind of attitude we can ascribe to Jesus too… Regarding these Paul’s statements quoted by you: they don’t prove true relationship of Paul to Jewish tradition. In fact I admit time to time I also take a look to the Rabbinical commentaries of Old Testament, which doesn’t mean that I appeal to the Jewish tradition as authoritative source…These commentaries are only one interpretation source of many… These 2 verses merely mean that Paul also used rabbinical commentaries, nothing more and nothing less. For many rabbinical Jews Jesus seems to be more ”Jewish” than Paul…About Paul they confess that he founded completely different religion. So in relation to these 2 verses you quoted I’m very skeptical to read your deduction on Paul’s ”appeal to extrabiblical sources as of authority..

Nice spin and rhetoric, but it doesn’t overcome the fact that Paul authoritatively cites extrabiblical traditions. Here are my two passages that Milan wants to casually dismiss and do an end run around:

In 1 Corinthians 10:4, St. Paul refers to a rock which “followed” the Jews through the Sinai wilderness. The Old Testament says nothing about such miraculous movement, in the related passages about Moses striking the rock to produce water (Exodus 17:1-7; Numbers 20:2-13). But rabbinic tradition does.

2 Timothy 3:8: “As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses . . . ” These two men cannot be found in the related Old Testament passage (Exodus 7:8 ff.), or anywhere else in the Old Testament.

1 Corinthians 10:4 is inspired Scripture. If it had been in line with Protestant thought, that would be highlighted, but since it isn’t, Milan downplays its inspiration and wants his reader to believe that “These commentaries are only one interpretation source of many. These 2 verses merely mean that Paul also used rabbinical commentaries.” Nice try! Likewise, in 2 Timothy 3:8 (also inspired, infallible revelation) Paul casually mentions Jannes and Jambres as known historical figures, alongside Moses. They are not in the Old Testament. Period. Thus, this is an authoritative reference to authoritative extrabiblical tradition, no matter how hard Milan tries to spin it away and ignore it. Perhaps this indicates that I have a higher view of biblical inspiration than Milan does.

5. Jerusalem Council 

”Thus we see in the Bible an instance of the gift of infallibility that the Catholic Church claims for itself when it assembles in a council.” To be honest I don’t see in the Bible in that particular passage instance of the gift of infallibility that the Catholic Church claims for itself when it assembles in a council”.

This is rather Mr Armstrong’s PIA DESIDERIA – godly wishes which he projected onto scriptural interpretation.. I need to warn him not to follow this way of interpreting Scriptures, because it’s truly heretical approach. Only spiritually disciplined people won’t fall in temptation of imputation of their own wishes onto Scriptural text as if it would be Divine message….

This is another pathetic [non, pseudo-] reply, that utterly ignores my reasoning in the section, instead opting for “psychoanalysis.” If Milan thinks such ignoring helps his case or somehow disproves mine, I believe readers will see through that as evasion and unwillingness to interact with opposing arguments. Let’s see if he can come up with more than this silliness in his replies (real or alleged) to sections 6-10. But I have very little patience for this sort of thing.

6. Pharisees, Sadducees, and Oral, Extrabiblical Tradition

Mr.Armstrong’s claim that Saducees were modern adherents of Sola Scriptura, is more than misleading. It’s completely false!!!! I think you should get deeper study on Saducee Judaism…

Whilst Pharisees were from social point of view people of many background, Saducees were Jewish priestly aristocracy. Not like Pharisees, Saducees had more friendly and embracing approach to ruling Roman government and were known as promoters of hellenistic culture, which alienated them from society, because Pharisees were considered to be more ”patriotic” in relation to hated Roman government and alien Greek influences…And yeah, Saducees were strong liberals. I could call them ”materialistic” Jews because they rejected anything supernatural..So to call them SOLA SCRIPTURA people is completely rubbish, because they definitely refused any supernatural miracles and wonders described in Scriptures… In that regard is really small difference between liberal protestant theologians(which completely reject anything Supernatural in Bible) and Saducees which did the same…In fact Saducees cannot be Sola Scriptura people because Jesus convicted them of being in delusion because of ignoring Scriptures and of God’s Power…

I agree that the Sadducees were “liberals” but they also accepted only part of Scripture, and rejected oral tradition (which Jesus accepted). Here is a description of the Sadducees from the Protestant site

The Sadducees had what has been called a conservative attitude toward Scripture–they restricted authority to the written law interpreted literally, and were not open to change. . . . When Josephus says that they rejected all but the written law, he probably meant that they did not permit legal or doctrinal deductions from the prophets. He most likely meant that they opposed unwritten traditions. According to the Talmud, in the debates the Sadducees were attacked from other books of the Bible and used them themselves in their arguments. This strongly suggests that they viewed them as Scripture as well.

The Pharisees had a large body of oral interpretation that had become binding. It was this that the Sadducees opposed.

Jesus followed the Pharisaical tradition over against the Sadducees. Paul called himself a Pharisee twice. Therefore, they both accepted written and oral tradition.

7. Old Testament Jews Did Not Believe in Sola Scriptura / Necessity of Interpretation

Another danger of Mr. Armstrong is that he views Judaism through the lens of Catholic Christianity. In fact teaching authorities of Judaism(mainly Pharisees and scribes) were no SACERDOTAL PEOPLE…Even today many people look at Rabbi as to Jewish equivalent of Christian priest, but rabbi is merely teacher of Judaism. Rabbis don’t perform any religious ceremonies. Leading of worship services is domain of other people, not of Rabbis, although Rabbis belong to religious leaders of their communities. So to view authoritative interpreters of Judaism through the prism of Catholic clergy is completely false… Mr Armstrong still does forget that Pharisees and Scribes always started as ordinary people and have no formal ”theological” education.. Only clergy Judaism had were Levi Priests… Many teachers of Moses Law in fact were common ”laic” people. Some of them did their teaching as full-time ministry, others had their civil job and teaching was only their LAIC religious ministry.

Yep. The Levites were from the priestly class. When did I ever deny that? Ezra, however, was both a scribe and priest. As I noted in this section (which Milan has utterly refused to directly interact with):

Ezra 7:6, 10: Ezra, a priest and scribe, studied the Jewish law and taught it to Israel, and his authority was binding, under pain of imprisonment, banishment, loss of goods, and even death (7:25-26).

Their authority to teach is of different source than in Catholic Church… Whilst in CC it is Church which has authority to appoint teachers, in Judaism ordinary people asked godly men educated in Torah study and they became Rabbi’s follower – disciple(very similar to Baptist church)…. Also Rabbis weren’t in such hierarchic position as Catholic teaching authorities..

So having all these aspects on mind I must warn before any association of ”authoritative interpreters” in Judaism and in Catholic Christianity, because it is in principle wrong.

However Milan wants to spin this away, it is what it is: there was authoritative and binding [“dogmatic”] teaching in the old covenant. They did not believe in Scripture Alone in the full Protestant sense. It was a combination of Scripture, tradition, and teaching [“proto-Church”] authority, just as in Catholicism (the “three-legged stool”). Not everything is exactly analogous, but it is a striking similarity, and far more than to Protestantism.

Once again (this is at least the third time, and I’ve protested each one), Milan has decided to ignore my argument, which was multi-faceted, with several biblical references. He chose to “reply” with mere polemical preaching. I’ve devoted much time painstakingly responding to his arguments today, almost all point-by-point, but this is the disdain and contempt with which he treats mine. “Three strikes and you’re out.” I won’t spend this amount of time (if any) replying to his arguments (and lack thereof ) ever again. Time is very valuable. I’m very protective of mine, because there is a lot of work to be done. The harvest is ripe and the laborers are few. A serious debater extends at least a minimum of respect for his opponent, which includes actually dealing with their arguments.

So from a debate perspective, I think Milan is doing a terrible job. He has scarcely engaged the issue at all, and has done what I noted was almost standard practice among defenders of sola Scriptura: missing the point over and over and producing irrelevant minutiae; also ignoring Catholic arguments. He hasn’t proved sola Scriptura to the slightest degree: not one bit!

From an apologetics or teaching perspective, on the other hand, it is a spectacular and striking confirmation that our case is vastly superior and much more biblical, because we see, yet again (as always) the extreme weakness or literal non-existence of good arguments against ours. Thus I find myself simultaneously disgusted (as a socratic debater and great lover of real dialogue) and delighted (as an apologist and teacher and Catholic evangelist).

 8. 2 Timothy 3:16-17: The Protestant “Proof Text”

This one of core texts on Scriptural Authority contains testimony on DIVINE INSPIRACY of Written Word of God. This is key element of the message of the Text.. Not only Reformation but all ancient Fathers which debated on Canon of the Scriptures had this text on their minds, because Church Fathers and Ecclesiastical Authorities had their crucial task to set apart DIVINE INSPIRED WRITINGS from non-inspired ones which only pretended to be apostolical writings…In fact too many writings of doubtful provenience and quality had emerged. Best response to counter deluge of heretical writings and teachings has been effort to establish Canonicity of those writings which bear seal of Divine Inspiracy without any doubt. 

Not only Church but in Judaism there was the same issue debated in Jamnia 90 AD as Pharisaic religious leaders discussed DIVINE INSPIRACY of OT books.. It’s interesting that they had almost the same criteria for Canonicity of books as Church Fathers and Church Authorities which made decision on Canonicity of NT books.

Divine inspiration (which all Christians agree on). is not the same thing as being formally sufficient, nor the same as the principle of sola Scriptura.

Mr. Armstrong doubted here formal sufficiency of Scriptures, but very fact Paul declared them to be DIVINE INSPIRED make them formally sufficient authority for us true believers of Protestantism.

The same fallacy stated again (repetition makes it no less false than it ever was). This has not been established from Scripture; it has merely been arbitrarily assumed without argument. Scripture is materially sufficient: all true doctrines in Christianity are found in it, either explicitly, or indirectly or in kernel form, or deduced from clear Scripture. Some readers may want to revisit my introduction, to be crystal-clear on what we are debating and what Milan’s burden is, in seeking to prove that sola Scriptura is taught in Scripture.

I owe to say that NOT CHURCH TRADITION is declared to be DIVINE INSPIRED, nor CHURCH AUTHORITIES, but SCRIPTURE is!!!!! So yes, if there is anything here in the earth which deserves to be formally sufficient Authoritative source of Faith, then ONLY SCRIPTURE IS!!! Why..Because Apostle Paul said so and Catholics declare that Paul’s Words have status of infallible authoritative source…

Paul also talks a lot about authoritative tradition, which I have shown, either above, or in various links of mine that I linked to above.

Let me mention the role of Ecclesiastical authorities and Passed down traditions as Mr. Armstrong argued for their sake in the Bible quotations. Of Course Protestant Churches have their Pastors, Teachers, appointed Evangelists and Prophetic ministry.. In Last years even questions of genuine apostolical ministry of certain people (mainly in pentecostal-charismatic movement) has emerged… So of course we Protestants greatly appreciate ministerial gifts which Jesus offers to His Church …However in the area of Prophetic ministry and other gifts/CHARISMATA/ of the Holy Spirit(see 1Cor 12) we Evangelicals see even greater necessity for Scriptural Authority to be in the role of arbiter if any harmful excesses would raise… Critics of Pentecostal-Charismatic movement in Protestant Churches might be right, because as we failed in usage of these precious gifts, it’s because many times we ignored Manual handbook which Creator and Savior Jesus gave for us… 

This is all irrelevant to the discussion, and we see that for the fourth time now, Milan has absolutely ignored the argument I gave regarding 2 Timothy 3:16. His choice. Do I think fair-minded, inquiring readers will be impressed by this non-interaction? No, not at all. I think they will see that he has no case, and so wanders off into irrelevant gibberish and jabber, to make an appearance of strength where he clearly has none. Otherwise, he would deal with my arguments and dismantle them!

While he ignores my arguments, I can produce two other papers of mine that address 2 Timothy 3:16 at length [one / two]. Let the reader decide where the truth lies!

9. Paul Casually Assumes that His Passed-Down Tradition is Infallible and Binding

In point 9 Mr Armstrong would be right if in Catholic Church would be without outrageous abomination of mandatory celibacy… So if Catholics really want persuade me that apostle Paul’s Words are really binding and infallible, then I expect that abomination of mandatory celibacy which completely refuted these Paul’s words(1Tim 4,1-3) shall be completely removed from Church… If Vatican shall say their DAMNATIO on Pope Gregor VII which stamped down apostolical authority of apostle Paul, by commanding mandatory celibacy, and this, and this damned practice really shall officially become ”DEMONIC TEACHING” in accordance with apostle Paul’s words, then I’ll start to to take your statements in point 9 seriously…

But I guess sooner the Day of Judgement shall come than Vatican would remove off themselves the label of false hypocritical teachers with hot-iron-marked conscience.

Now for the fifth time, Milan chooses to rail against the Catholic Church on a completely unrelated topic, rather than address my arguments. I’ll never waste my time “debating” him again. This is a pathetic, disastrous performance on his part. Even his rantings and ravings against priestly celibacy carry no power or weight, and I have refuted this sort of thing from Scripture itself many times.

10. Sola Scriptura is a Radically Circular Position 

Mr.Armstrong’s last point isn’t applicable to me at all.

It’s applicable to anyone who believes in sola Scriptura, which cannot be established from the Bible, and is radically self-defeating.

I admit there might be Protestants which deserve harsh critic of Mr.Armstrong on that point, but definitely I don’t.

He definitely does. We’ve seen how he refused to interact with my arguments in five of the points. 

I know were I came from and I know my ground and I stand on it.

And it’s a foundation of sand that won’t hold any weight.

From everything you could read above you don’t have to doubt I can explain and bring forward reasons why I believe, in what I believe.

Really? He could have fooled me. If he had such a great case, he could have pulverized my arguments one-by-one instead of ignoring them and preaching about totally unrelated Catholic beliefs.

And yeah I have got tradition which guides my own interpretation. 

I know. It’s a man-made, false tradition of men, leading him to believe in unbiblical doctrines. Admitting this is the first step to recovery, so it’s a good sign.

Your example with U.S. Constitution versus authority of judicial system is good but even better proves my point.. For a long time U.S. Constitution has been in position of supreme authority just as Protestants have their Supremacy of Scriptural Authority and everything was ok, country prospered as no other before. But in last decade I see very upsetting trend when President Obama made U.S. Constitution to be toilet paper roll to wipe out his …. and the same disturbing and dishonoring treatment with U.S. Constitution I see in whole U.S. judicial system..In fact there are deliberately broken basic freedoms of speech and faith and Supreme Court and lower court in the name of ”political corectness” destroy this precious heritage built by fathers.

So no even more judicial activism and redefinition of values of marriage and other Biblical values valid for centuries, even bigger disaster made president of U.S. and whole judicial system..

The point is that it has to be authoritatively interpreted, just as the Bible has to be. And that has not been adequately addressed.

Mr. Armstrong, only one personal question: according to your way of argumentation, is this utterly ok that Supreme Court has redefined marriage for all U.S. states. Do you really think that Supreme court should have a such competence even supersede authority of U.S.Constitution?? I’m strongly convinced don’t. And current calamity situation just confims my standpoint. U.S. are in the worst disaster for 240 years since USA exist. And reason is that U.S. Constitution has been dethroned and even more U.S. Constitution is superseded by unworthy President and unworthy Supreme court members, even closer USA are to total destruction…

Here we are off on irrelevant rabbit trails againThe point is that the Constitution has to be authoritatively interpreted, just as the Bible has to be. It was not properly interpreted when same-sex “marriage” was upheld, just as it was not when legal abortion was decreed, or slavery upheld in the 1857 Dred Scott decision. Likewise, the Bible is wrongly interpreted when the hundreds of Protestant sects contradict each other left and right (all appealing to what they regard as the self-evidently “clear” or “perspicuous” Bible). There is one truth, not hundreds. But since the Protestant rule of faith (sola Scriptura) is wrong and unbiblical, they will never be able to resolve their internal contradictions. False guiding principles bring about bad fruit.

And Protestantism in USA are in the same crisis, because Bible in American Evangelicalism has been dethroned.. Faithlessness, corruption, compromise attitudes and abandoning Biblical truths and principles and compliance of wicked political (or spiritual) leaders is bigger than compliance and reverence of God’s Word…This is what I see as reason of problem you try to describe…

Protestants contradict each other when they believe in biblical inspiration. It makes no difference. They still can’t come to agree, and it has always been this way in the history of Protestantism, right from the start. Luther and Calvin both had very high views of Scripture, but they couldn’t come to total agreement. Liberalism or abandonment of traditional teachings (within Protestantism) leads to further disagreement. But those don’t come only from increasing lack of Christian belief. They come from primarily the erroneous rule of faith.

And not Supremacy of Scriptural Authority is wrong, but on the contrary.. As US Evangelicals abandoned Scriptural Authority, God shall abandon them… Do you honor God’s Word?? God shall honor you.. Do you dishonor it? God shall dishonor you…

This is true. At least we agree on something . . . I’ve been defending the complete inspiration and infallibility of Scripture for 35 years.

On last point. There really are different views on Sacraments(baptism of infants vs. believer’s baptism, symbolical or real presence of Jesus in elements in Communion)..And I realize, that we have no definite answer on these issues, because Scripture doesn’t provide it…

That is not proven. I say that Scripture does provide the answers, but because they happen to coincide with Catholic teachings, Protestants won’t accept them.

Thus freedom which is in Protestantism is only solution to have these different traditions side by side.. 

It’s never a solution to have contradictory opinions side-by-side on important issues like baptism and communion: both of which are described in the Bible as directly related to salvation. These are not side issues or optional beliefs, but absolutely central to Christianity. And contradictions mean that one or both contradictory positions must be wrong; falsehood, untruths, lies. Lies and false doctrines come from the devil and do no one any good. God wants us to have the fullness of truth, and He chose to specially guide and protect His Church through the Holy Spirit and make it infallible, so that we wouldn’t have to have this uncertainty and foolishness of contradictory denominations by the many hundreds and even thousands. The Bible utterly condemns denominationalism.

It might sound as relativistic position of mine..

It sounds that way because it is.

If you see me like that, so be it. Definitely I’m not indifferent on these question and I have answers, but I’ll offer them after we start another thread and particular theological issue to debate..

We won’t be debating again, now that I’ve seen how you ignore my arguments over and over. I have neither time nor patience for that. Life’s too short. I do thank you, though, for the few occasions where you at least put up some sort of argument. May God bless you abundantly.

Milan in the Facebook group then added a comment, claiming that the Church fathers believed in sola Scriptura. They did not at all. I have debated this many times [one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine / ten / eleven]. All of these treatments contains dozens of patristic citations, showing that they did not believe as Protestants do. It’s a myth, and can only be “defended” by special pleading and ultra-selective citation and citations out of context. And I also show how Protestant apologists cite them incorrectly and out-of-context, and ignore many texts in the fathers that don’t go along with their agenda (proving a mythical supposed acceptance of sola Scriptura in the fathers).

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