Ten Things Every Catholic Should Know About Sola Scriptura
February 10, 2015 by Fr. Dwight Longenecker
Do you know how to answer a non-Catholic Christian who challenges you about the Bible?
Knowing how everybody loves lists, here are ten things every Catholic should know about Sola Scriptura:
1. Sola Scriptura means “only Scripture”. It is the Protestant belief that the Bible is the only source for teaching on doctrine and morality.
2. Sola Scriptura was one of three “solos” the other two being Sola Fide (Faith Alone) and Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
3. Sola Scriptura which means “Scripture Alone” cannot be found in the Bible. The closest proof text is 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” While this verse says Scripture is useful for these things it doesn’t say Scripture is the only source for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
4. While Protestants claim to follow Sola Scriptura, in practice they interpret the Bible according to their own denominational traditions. Presbyterians have the Bible plus Calvinism. Baptists have the Bible plus their theological opinions. Lutherans have the Bible plus the teaching of Luther etc.
5. Jesus commanded and prophesied that he would establish a church, but he nowhere commanded or prophesied that a book would be written recording his words and works. This is why Catholics say the Church came first. The Bible came second. Jesus passed his authority on through the apostles–not through a book.
6. How could sola Scriptura be the only way for people to know God when, for most of history, the majority of people could neither read nor have access to books?
7. Protestants blame Catholics for believing late, manmade doctrines that the early church had never heard of, but Sola Scriptura had never been heard of before the sixteenth century. Not only can it not be proved from the Bible, but there is no trace of the doctrine of sola Scriptura anywhere in the writings of the early church. The entire edifice of Protestantism, however, is based on the foundation of sola Scriptura.
8. If the only source for teaching and moral instruction comes from the Bible how are we supposed to answer the questions that arise about things that were never heard of in Bible times? How can the Bible instruct us about important current problems like nuclear war, artificial contraception, in vitro fertilization, euthanasia, gender re-assignment or genetic modification, cloning or a whole range of other modern issues. Only a living and dynamic, Spirit filled authority can sift the facts and come up with the right teaching.
9. Sola Scriptura is linked with the idea of that the Bible is easy enough for any simple person to understand. While the basic teachings seem easy to understand it is clear that the Bible is an extremely complex document which requires the insights of theologians, Bible scholars and linguists to understand clearly. Why else would Protestant pastors be required to go to seminary before being qualified to be pastors?
10. Sola Scriptura has led to the thousands of divisions within Protestantism. Because they couldn’t agree, even from the beginning, the Protestant leaders began to split and form their own sects. How could sola Scriptura be the foundation for the church when it leads to such division? How could this division be part of Jesus command and prayer for that there be “one flock and one shepherd”?