Sola scriptura is one of the most important doctrines taught by virtually all Protestant denominations. It states that the Bible is the final authority in all matters of belief and practice because the Bible is inspired by God and bears the absolute authority of God Himself. Whatever the Bible affirms, Baptists accept as true. No human opinion or decree of any church group can override the Bible. Even creeds and confessions of faith, which attempt to articulate the theology of Scripture, do not carry Scripture’s inherent authority.

The main problem with this belief is that it is NEVER taught in the Bible itself. These verses are the main ones that Baptists use as “proof” of Biblical authority:

Matt: 5:18 “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

Matt 24:35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

John 16:12-13 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”

1 Thessalonians 2:13 “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”

2 Timothy 3:15-17 “and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

2 Peter 1:20, 21 “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is of someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

Each of the above verses are 100% true and inspired by God. However, not one single one of them indicates, let alone claims that the Scripture is the one and only authority. In fact, no book in the entire Bible, with the exception of Revelation, even claims to be inspired.

I have come to the realization that it is absolutely impossible for anyone to truly believe in sola scriptura. Belief in it is a Catch-22. If the Bible does not claim sole authority for itself, there is only one place that it can come from–Tradition. It is Tradition handed down from the Reformation that Protestants cling to in claiming sola scriptura.

Even if the Bible did claim sole authority someplace, it would still be Tradition that determines whether or not that passage or that book is inspired. Therefore Sacred Tradition and Scripture are at least equal. For this to be true there must be an earthly authority that dispenses Tradition and Scriptural interpretation to the Church. Otherwise, you end up with individuals claiming that they can interpret freely independent of others.

And this is what we have. Instead of “one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5), we have over 33,000 Protestant denominations, all claiming to have the absolute truth as regards interpretation. With 180,552 words in the New Testament, that is one denomination for every 5.47 words!

This also goes for the canon of Scripture. No book of the Bible tells us which books should be included. It is Tradition that tells us which books to include. Again even if the books of the canon were stated within the text of accepted Scripture, it would still be Tradition that would decide whether or not that book itself was inspired.

In his Easter letter of 367, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, gave a list of exactly the same books as what would become the New Testament canon. This means that until at least this date, Christians had to rely on tradition, because they didn’t know which books constituted Scripture. From the time of the close of the Old Testament until the writing of the first book of the New Testament (probably the Gospel according to St. Mark), there were no New Testament Scriptures at all, and Tradition is all the Church had. And to top it all off, the canon of the New Testament, which ALL Protestants accept as Scripture, not only comes from Tradition, but from CATHOLIC Tradition.

Protestants often use Mark 7:5-9 as “proof” that Jesus himself was against Tradition. However, this passage does not say that Tradition is wrong, just traditions that contradict revealed truth in the Holy Scripture. In fact, the Bible actually equates Sacred Tradition and Scripture in 2 Thess. 2:15 “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”

Catholics do not believe in sola scriptura, but in solo verbo Dei, the Word of God alone. The Word of God is broader than the Bible. It includes Sacred Tradition, and certain pronouncements from the Pope, as the source for all is God Himself.

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