Reasoning From the Scriptures with Ron Rhodes, Sola Scriptura Versus Tradition, Part Matt1618
Reasoning From the Scriptures
with Ron Rhodes

Critique of Chapter 3,
Sola Scriptura Versus Tradition, Part 1
by Matt1618

On this examination I will look at Ron Rhodes book, Reasoning From the Scriptures with Catholics, Chapter 3, entitled Sola Scriptura Versus Tradition, Part I , pages 47-64. In green will be Ron Rhodes comments, and my response will follow. I will also put in red Scriptural passages, generally the Revised Standard version, (unless I am quoting Rhodes directly, who generally uses the New International Version). In the first eight or nine pages, he gives the overall outlook of Scripture, its authority, and the Catholic and Protestant view of Scripture. I have no disagreement with him on how the Holy Spirit inspires Scripture. Although there are some mistakes, and he loses credibility in my eye when he quotes Loraine Boettner's book on Catholicism (p. 52), the major differences begin to be manifest in pages 56. In this section he attempts to put forth the idea of the superiority of Sola Scriptura, that Scripture is the sole, binding authority. I will quote directly from his book and respond to that book in this paper. There are subsections within this chapter, which I give the same name as Rhodes and I center it and give it a red title. I will address comments made in each of these sub-sections in the chapter.

The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture:
A Clear Contrast with Tradition.

Rhodes mentions the inspiration of Scripture in Tim. 3:16, in which he says that Scripture is God-breathed. No problem there. Then he quotes 1 Cor. 2:13 as proof for the authority of Scripture. Here we begin:

The apostle Paul certainly understood that his own writings were inspired by God and therefore authoritative. In 1 Corinthians 2:13 (NIV) Paul said he spoke "not with words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words." In this passage Paul affirmed that his words were authoritative because they were rooted not in fallible men but infallible God (the Holy Spirit). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth who was promised to the apostles to teach and guide them into all the truth (see John 16:13), Rhodes, p. 56.
There are several problems here. Paul gives no indication that the words that he is giving to people is reduced to writing. So yes, what we read in Scripture are words taught by the Spirit. However, here Paul does not say that the only wisdom he is giving to the Corinthians are writings that are Scripture. In fact, as Rhodes said Paul 'spoke' with God's wisdom indicates that Scripture is not the only way of passing on binding truth. Speaking is not Scripture. Speaking is oral tradition. In fact, even when discussing Paul’s writings, in this very letter Paul appeals to his own writing which is not Scripture, 1 Cor. 5:9:
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men;
He appeals to his prior instruction in a letter that was never made scripture. Thus, Scripture is not the only thing he uses to authoritatively teach the Corinthians.

Not only is non-scriptural writing appealed to by Paul, but his own oral instruction that was never put in writing, 1 Cor. 11:2, and 34:

2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.

34 if any one is hungry, let him eat at home--lest you come together to be condemned. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

In this very letter he gives us, he says the traditions, that which is orally taught, is binding upon the Corinthian community. He says he will give directions, and thus instructions on things which he did not even write about, when he visits them, orally. His oral teachings were thus also inspired by God and are likewise authoritative. In fact, even the passage that Rhodes points us to in 1 Cor. 2, says nothing about the authoritative words that he spoke of was writing, or inspired Scripture being the only authoritative guide for the Corinthian community after he dies. Also, where Rhodes says that 'Paul's words were authoritative because they were rooted not in fallible men but infallible God (the Holy Spirit): Yes, Paul's words are authoritative because they are rooted in God, but he nowhere hints that only those words that are identified as Scripture, are those that are authoritative and rooted in God. He gives us every indication that even non-scriptural writings and his oral teaching are also rooted in God.

The Bible teaches that Scripture alone is the supreme and infallible authority for the church and the individual believer (1 Cor. 2:13; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 2 Pet. 1:20, Rhodes, p. 57
We've already seen Rhodes misusing 1 Cor. 2. I will later address his use of 2 Tim. 3:16, 17. But here I will address his use of 1 Thess. 2:13, Paul writes:
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.
This passage teaches that what is the word of God, is what Paul spoke, i.e. that which they heard from us!!! Thus, oral tradition is the Word of God. This is a good proof text for the binding authority of tradition. He did not say, 'the word of God which I wrote,' but the word of God which you heard. Thus, this is not Scripture, that he is speaking about but oral tradition!!! If I will use Rhodes interpretive guide, I could say, 'Tradition alone is the supreme and infallible authority for the Church and the individual believer since here he nowhere even hints at Scripture'!!! Of course I do not, but for Rhodes to use a passage which teaches specifically that Paul's oral proclamations are the binding word of God (thus validating the binding authority of oral tradition), as teaching Sola Scriptura no less, is kind of amazing!!!

Jesus used Scripture as the final court of appeal in every matter under dispute. To the Sadducees He said, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God" (Matthew 22:29 NIV). He told some Pharisees that they invalidated the Word of God by their tradition which has been handed down (Mark 7:13). Jesus informed them, "Neglecting the commandment of God you hold to the tradition of men" (Mark 7:8). To the devil Jesus consistently responded, "It is written (Matthew 4:4-10). Following Jesus' lead, Scripture alone must be our supreme and final authority, pp. 57-58.
Rhodes’ assertion is incorrect. Jesus did not use Scripture as his final court of appeal in every matter under dispute. This is plain in reading Scripture. First of all, Jesus' own words were authoritative regardless of whether he quoted Scripture or not. Now, there was a dispute between the scribes and Jesus. The scribes claimed that, for example, he was possessed by the demon Beelzebul. How did Jesus respond, by quoting Scripture? No. Let’s see, Mk. 3:22-30:
22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Be-el'zebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons." 23 And he called them to him, and said to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may plunder his house. 28 "Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin" -- 30 for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."
He quotes absolutely no Scripture at all in this dispute to show that he was not in collusion with Satan. He uses plain logic. He talks about forgiving sins, an essential doctrinal issue. Then he creates a totally new doctrine, that there is a sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This was a matter of dispute, and Scripture was not referred or even alluded to. This Scripture alone shows that it is false to say that Scripture is the final matter of all disputes.

He appeals to his own divinity in some cases, and to his own words without necessarily quoting Scripture as proof of that (for example, John 5:32-47). Another example is when there was a dispute on whether Jesus had authority to forgive sins. The scribes said he did not have authority at all. Did He refer to Scripture to say He had authority? Let us examine Matthew 9:1-8

1 And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 2 And behold, they brought to him a paralytic, lying on his bed; and when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven." 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming." 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'? 6 But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" --he then said to the paralytic--"Rise, take up your bed and go home." 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
Jesus did not quote or allude to Scripture at all to make a doctrinal point. The doctrinal point was that he had authority to forgive sins. He pointed to His miracle power and expected them to get this by the miracle, that Man was given authority to forgive sins. This would lay the precedent for Jesus giving the apostles such authority in John 20:22-23. Nonetheless, there was a doctrinal issue, Jesus appealed to a miracle to show that he had authority to forgive sins. So much for Scripture being always the 'final court of arbitration'.

Although Scripture is an important reference point for Jesus, it was not his only reference point. He used his own authority. Of course traditions of men are to be rejected when it contradicts Scripture. Not when it contradicts Rhodes, nor Geisler's interpretation of Scripture. They were never authorized to be the final court of appeal. When Christ commissioned His Church when He said 'He who hears you hears me', not 'He who reads you reads me' (Lk. 10:16), he gave all of them authority, not just when they wrote. However, Catholics don't throw away Catholic tradition, because that is the tradition of God. In His commission, He gave the apostles authority to teach all that He taught them (Mt. 28:20), not just what a few of them would write, or that what they taught, no longer has binding authority once the apostles died. In fact, this authority and binding power is from God himself, and is not a tradition of men. In fact, the exact type of tradition of men that Jesus is condemning is Sola Scriptura, which is the idea that Scripture is the only ultimate authority that we must obey. Sola Scriptura was created in the 16th century by Martin Luther, 15 centuries after Jesus instituted his Church. Thus, Rhodes' using Mark 7 and Matthew 15 shows exactly why we must reject Sola Scriptura. Jesus nowhere in the gospels commanded any of his apostles to write anything, he just commissioned to orally teach and proclaim all that he taught (God's tradition), not anything that reduced binding tradition to Scripture alone (Luther’s and Rhodes’ traditions).

About the idea that 'well, Jesus used Scripture to defeat Satan', so therefore that shows that Scripture alone is the only authoritatively binding way to deal with Satan misses the point that Satan himself quoted Scripture. Let us look at Rhodes' example, Mt. 4:3-10:

3 And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." 4 But he answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will give his angels charge of you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" 7 Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; 9 and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." 10 Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! for it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"
Now, it is true that Jesus appealed to Scripture 3 times to show the devil his error. However, on one of those occasions the devil himself showed it was Scripture itself that can be used to support an argument. What happens also in the Sola Scriptura camp is Scripture slinging. One Protestant will say, 'Scripture says this'. Another Protestant will say, but 'Scripture says this'. I guess Rhodes believes Jesus is giving credence to Scripture slinging. In fact it is not just on who gives most Scriptures to interpret their position better, but who had the authority to interpret Scripture? The fact, is Jesus as God, had authority to interpret Scripture over the Devil. Jesus had the authority to use Scripture. It wasn't just because he had better interpretive power. Who did he give authority to interpret Scripture as he did? Those he commissioned to teach the gospel, and who passed on this authority. He commissioned his Church to have binding authority to lose and bind (Mt. 16:18, 18:18) that Paul called the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim. 3:15). This is authority given to it by God himself. The Church is the one that had the authority that Jesus had in Matthew 4. This is the Church that Jesus promised to be with until the end of the age (Mt. 28:20). Otherwise it is ultimately, me flinging Scriptures with other Christians to determine who is right, and ultimately it being up in the air as to who is right. Christ did not leave it that way. Instead, he left us a church with that authority.

Addressing Specific Roman Catholic Arguments

Did the Roman Catholic Church Give us the Bible?

One often hears that it was the Roman Catholic Church that gave us the Bible. This simply is not true. As I noted in the previous chapter, the canon of Scripture was being established in the very days that the Bible was being written, before the Roman Catholic Church was even in existence. Luke's Gospel was recognized as Scripture within three years of its writing (see 1 Timothy 5:18; Luke 10:7; Deuteronomy 25:4). Paul's writings were also recognized as Scripture (2 Peter 3:16; 1 Corinthians 14:37; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). Let us not forget that God determines the canon but human beings discover the canon, but human beings recognize the canon, Rhodes, p. 59.
Rhodes is partly correct. God himself determines the canon. Sure God knows the canon. But how do we know that canon? In fact, Rhodes ignores the fact that the way we discover this is through the very Church that preserved, protected and gave us the canon. God does not communicate to individuals the contents of the New or Old Testament. Nor did the New Testament writers give us the contents of the Old and New Testament canons. The reason why we have the contents of the Bible is plainly because it was the Church that protected and determined what was the canon for us in the late 4th century and early 5th century. Not for God, who in fact already did know. In the first several centuries, there were many ancient Fathers, who referred to the Deuterocanonicals as Scripture that Rhodes rejects, but also ignored books that Rhodes accepts (2nd Peter, James, Jude, Hebrews, etc.), and seem to accept as Scripture other books that Rhodes would not accept (Clement's letter to the Corinthians, Didache, Shepherd of Hermans, etc.).

Yes, there are allusions to an individual quotation (as 1 Tim. 5:18 does quote Luke 10:7), but that does not deliver us the whole book of Luke, nor is there any other listing of Scriptures. In fact, in Acts is recorded an oral tradition which is quoted by Paul himself, Acts 20:35:

In all things I have shown you that by so toiling one must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
There is no difference in Paul's referring to the Scripture that they must listen to in 1 Tim. 5:8 as opposed to the teaching of Jesus that he orally said in Acts 20:35. This phrase of being more blessed to give than receive is not found in any of the gospels. In fact, Paul commended them to the 'Word of God' without giving them Scripture (vv. 32-33, which we will examine later), but the only Word of God he gave them in Acts 20, was oral tradition, which was just as binding, as the Scripture that he would later write. As noted earlier, 1 Cor. 14:37 says that he commands, but there is no idea in 1 Corinthians 14, that the only way Paul commands is through Scripture. He also commands through his earlier writing that was never made Scripture (1 Corinthians 5:9), and most of the apostles also commanded the churches that they established without writing a thing. After the apostles died, the apostolic teaching still commanded believers, even though few had any access to New Testament Scripture at all.

In fact, even if God knew what the contents of Scripture were, there was no unanimity among Christians for 4 centuries on what were the contents of Scripture. Although the four gospels were fairly unanimously considered Scripture, many New Testament books were never referred to as Scripture, and their canonicity was in doubt until the Councils of Rome, Carthage and Hippo in 382, 393 and 398, and finalized by Pope Innocent and Pope Innocent's approval of the books in 405 AD and 419 AD. Prior to that time, there was no 'discovery', exactly of, what is the canon. Already, that by itself delegitimizes the concept of Sola Scriptura, because if that is the only binding, authoritative method for Christians to follow, the fact that there was no full canon to assess the wholeness of the truth is problematic for that doctrine. To say that tradition and church is something nice, but can be put aside, is problematic to say the least, since that tradition and church was instrumental in ‘discovering’ for Christians the canon.

Besides that, the founder of Protestantism, Martin Luther admits what Rhodes so profusely denies:

We concede--as we must--that so much of what they [the Catholic Church] is true: that the papacy has God’s word and the office of the apostles, and that we have received Holy Scriptures, Baptism, the Sacrament, and the pulpit from them. What would we know of these if it were not for them?” (Sermon on the Gospel of John, chaps. 14-16 (1537), in vol. 24 of Luther’s Works, [St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia, 1961], p. 304).
Indeed the Catholic Church did give us the Bible.

An Explicit Statement of Sola Scriptura in the Bible is Not Necessary

Rhodes argues that there is no need for an explicit statement in Scripture that teaches Sola Scriptura, (p. 59) but implicit teachings from Scripture would suffice. Then he goes on to quote 2nd Timothy 3. Here, I will quote Rhodes' analysis of 2 Timothy 3. I will give his whole analysis of it first. Then, I will give the overall background to the text, and then go to each of his comments on the individual verses.

The apostle Paul affirmed the full adequacy of Scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. In this passage we read, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that they man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." The context for understanding the full significance of this passage is verse 15, where Paul tells Timothy that "from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." Jewish boys formally began studying the Old Testament Scriptures when they were five years of age. Timothy had been taught the Scriptures by his mother and grandmother beginning at this age. Clearly, verse 15 indicates that the Scriptures alone are sufficient to provide the necessary wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ. The Scriptures alone are the source of spiritual knowledge... (When commenting on v. 16, which says it is profitable for teaching, Rhodes writes): This verse does not say that Scripture as interpreted by the Roman Catholic Magisterium is "profitable for teaching, for reproof," and so forth. It is Scripture alone that does all these things... .It is noteworthy that the word adequate (in the phrase "that the man of God may be adequate") means "complete, fully furnished, proficient in the sense of being able to meet all demands." (Rhodes, pp. 60-61).
The best thing to do in analyzing this Scripture is to look at the context, to see what is Paul referring to when he writes this. It'll be best to look at the background. First, even before we get to this passage, we must see that Paul told Timothy to 'entrust and guard' the 'pattern of sound words' that he orally passed on to him, in 2 Tim. 1:13-14 and in 2:1-2 he entrusts Timothy and future generations to his oral proclamation (we will examine this passage later). We see in 2 Tim. 2:11-13, apparently a church hymn, oral tradition, and makes it Scripture. He only quotes one Scripture up to this point before we get to 2 Timothy 3:15-17. In this passage, the background to Chapter 3, v. 15, oral tradition has been primary and Scripture has scarcely even been mentioned. Then, we look at the passage in context, 2 Tim. 3:8-17:
8 As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith; 9 but they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. 10 Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions, my sufferings, what befell me at Antioch, at Ico'nium, and at Lystra, what persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
First things first. In 2 Tim. 3 he is speaking about how he must defeat the scoffers of the age (2 Tim. 3:1-7). In v. 8, he specifically refers to an oral tradition, which identifies Jannes and Jambres as the magicians who opposed Moses before Pharaoh. That identification of them came from tradition. We see that the background is that he is speaking about opposing scoffers. Thus, in that context, he quotes an oral tradition in identification of people, who are not in Scripture. Also, in v. 10, we see that Timothy has observed Paul's 'teaching, conduct in life, faith, teaching, patience, and steadfastness'. So what does Paul use to teach Timothy, prior to speaking of Scripture? Paul's oral teaching and example, which is not Scripture. That is another source from which Timothy must draw from in his life. Thus, that lays the background to his comments on Scripture in verses 15 through 17.

The apostle Paul affirmed the full adequacy of Scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. In this passage we read, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that they man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." The context for understanding the full significance of this passage is verse 15, where Paul tells Timothy that "from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." Jewish boys formally began studying the Old Testament Scriptures when they were five years of age. Timothy had been taught the Scriptures by his mother and grandmother beginning at this age. Clearly, verse 15 indicates that the Scriptures alone are sufficient to provide the necessary wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ. The Scriptures alone are the source of spiritual knowledge, Rhodes, p. 60.
What does Paul mean to Timothy when he says that the Scripture he has known since childhood? As Rhodes rightly concedes, as a child Timothy would study Old Testament Scriptures alone. Now, what does it do? It teaches that it makes one wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Ok, as we will see later, in Rhodes' analysis, when speaking on things of salvation, Scripture is to be perspicuous, or clear. Now, his view of salvation is that once one accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, and upon that, one gets an imputation of Christ's righteousness to one's account, and then one can not lose their justification, and thus salvation. Once saved always saved is Rhodes' view. Now, since Rhodes admits that here Paul is speaking only of the Old Testament to Timothy, where this is supposedly sufficient to make one wise for salvation, where does the Old Testament teach that the basis for righteousness is the imputation of Christ's righteousness, one can not lose their justification, and that justification is by faith alone? If all this is clear, (as Rhodes says that Sola Scriptura teaches that Scripture is clear on matters of salvation), where is this specific teaching in the Old Testament? Now, Rhodes writes two chapters (chapters 8 and 9) in both putting forth his view on justification, and attempting to rebut the Catholic view on the matter. Those chapters cover pages 133-170 (and are critiqued here: http://matt1618.freeyellow.comchapter8.html and In putting forth his view of justification, not one time does he refer to the Old Testament. He does refer to an Old Testament quote that he claims Catholics use to teach merit, and attempts to refute that (not a Scripture I have noticed used alot by Catholics), but in his presentation of his view of justification, he does not quote the Old Testament at all. Since this is what he is referring to in 2 Tim. 3, Rhodes theology that here Paul is referring to Scripture being the only means of instruction is false. Of course the New Testament does not teach what Rhodes says it teaches on justification, but at least he tries to give us some New Testament verses that teach faith alone. In fact, Rhodes tacitly concedes there is a problem without knowing it because at the year of 5 years old, Timothy as a kid is not going to get out of the Old Testament, by himself the teaching on an imputation of an alien righteousness as the means of justification with faith in Jesus Christ. As he himself says, Timothy 'had been taught the Scriptures by his mother and grandmother'. Thus, he needs a teacher. With Rhodes' own interpretation, he says that what is necessary is there be a guide to this instruction!!! This shows by itself that Scripture is not sufficient by itself, as there is a need for a guide. Since Paul is speaking about how Timothy has known Scriptures since he was young, and Rhodes is applying this to everybody, this shows the need for the shaping and understanding of Scripture that only the Church can do!! Rhodes alludes to the need for Timothy's mother and grandmother to teach Scripture to him when he was young. Now that they are in the Church, is there any idea that Lois and Eunice (2 Tim. 1:5) were Sola Scripturists either? As women before Christ, they were women who were brought up in Jewish tradition. The Jews do not and did not practice Sola Scriptura. When they came to faith in Christ, they would submit to the Church and the apostles’ tradition. That is the guide to make sense of Scripture. Remember, Paul himself says that the Church is the 'pillar and foundation of truth' (1 Tim. 3:15). That guide is necessary for Timothy, his mother, grandmother, and all Christians.

Thus, with the background showing a reliance on oral tradition (v. 8), with Paul's example and oral teaching (v. 10), and with the fact that it is only speaking about the Old Testament, and that a kid needs exterior guidance, this shows that Scripture is only one of several sources that teaches Timothy.

When commenting on v. 16, which says it is profitable for teaching, Rhodes writes

This verse does not say that Scripture as interpreted by the Roman Catholic Magisterium is "profitable for teaching, for reproof," and so forth. It is Scripture alone that does all these things..
It is only profitable for teaching for reproof, etc. That puts into context the statement of what Paul is speaking about in v. 15. That Scripture helps us to make us wise for salvation. Well, Scripture is profitable for that end. It is thus not sufficient for teaching and reproof. It is only profitable, or useful for this. So it doesn't mention the Magisterium at this juncture. So what? It is not specifically talking about the Magisterium here. But he does refer to tradition in this very letter first, before he even mentioned Scripture. He said in 2 Tim. 1:13 to hold the pattern of sound words that he had orally taught Timothy, and to guard that truth, i.e., oral tradition. In 2 Tim. 2:2 he mandated that what Timothy had orally heard from Paul he was to not only guard but entrust to other men who will teach others. So in those verses he doesn't mention Scripture. So does that mean that in those instances Scripture is not mentioned, only tradition is, does that mean that Scripture is to be ignored? This is silly. In fact, Paul, who called the Church the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim. 3:15), was a witness that when there was a controversy in the Church, Acts 15, on the issue of whether circumcision was to be binding on Christians, Scripture was not referred to as the determiner of truth. It was the Magisterium, as first Peter silencing the dispute (Acts 15:6-12), and the Church agreeing, not based on Scripture, let alone Scripture alone. The apostles and the Church decided (Acts 15:22-29), not based on Scripture. In fact, if the Acts 15 Council the circumcision is necessary crowd had recourse to Sola Scriptura, more than likely they would have won because Genesis 17:13-14, says that circumcision was necessary and part of an everlasting covenant. It was the oral tradition, and apostolic authority that decided, not Scripture.

It is noteworthy that the word adequate (in the phrase "that the man of God may be adequate") means "complete, fully furnished, proficient in the sense of being able to meet all demands." (Rhodes, pp. 60-61).
So what was the demand? That it was profitable, and profitable only!! It was only profitable for being sufficient, remember. So no matter how adequate and fully equipped it is speaking of, it is only speaking of being profitable for that end. It is not about being sufficient for being fully equipped. Verse 16 only uses the word 'profitable' for that end in any case. But, since he did bring this up, we see Paul speak of other things in the same letter that equip him. For example, 2 Tim. 2:21:
If any one purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work.
If one purifies himself, he is ready to do any good work.

James 1:3-4:

3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If one perseveres in the faith, and stays loyal to Christ, and is steadfast, what happens? One may be perfect and complete lacking nothing. Does that mean that only being steadfast is necessary to equip the Christian?

2 Thess. 2:15-17:

15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter. 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
Specifically where Paul tells the readers to hold fast to traditions, both oral and written, he says that God establishes them in every good work and word. Tradition is thus a means of being established in every good work.

So thus 2 Tim. 3:15-17 shows that Scripture is only one of several things that equips the Christian for the Christian life. The other important thing to note is that here Paul is not quoting Scripture as opposed to anything else. He is not excluding, but as we've seen with the background to this passage, includes other things that build up the Christian. Rhodes' premise is that here Paul is setting up Scripture as the only authority. If that was the case, he would exclude other contesting items. But Paul is not saying Scripture against, tradition, or anything else is he contesting it to. He does not pit Scripture against anything else, as we have seen, even in the context of the prior 8 verses, referring to oral tradition (v. 8, 10) and his own example and teaching (v. 10), and allusion to even his own mother's teaching (1:6, 3:15). In addition to that, in earlier chapters he explicitly referred to oral tradition as a guide that must be passed on to other generations (1:13-14, 2:1-2). (For a more detailed look at 2 Tim. 3:15-17, and a critique of Protestant uses of this passage for Sola Scriptura, see this:

All Apostolic Tradition on Faith and Practice
is in the New Testament

All of the apostolic traditions relating to faith and practice are recorded for us in the pages of the New Testament. This, of course, does not mean that every single thing Jesus or the apostles said is recorded in the New Testament (see John 20:30;21:25). But virtually all of the apostolic teaching necessary for faith and practice that God wanted communicated to His people is found within the New Testament (as 2 Timothy 3:15-17 indicates), Rhodes, p.61.
There is absolutely nothing in the New Testament that indicates 'all of the apostolic traditions relating to faith and practice are recorded for us in the pages of the New Testament.' In fact, we are told in the New Testament the exact opposite. We are told by Paul to hold fast to both oral and written tradition (2 Thess. 2:15). Not written alone. Those who do not hold to the traditions are anathema to Paul (2 Thes. 3:6). What is telling is when Jesus commissioned the apostles to go to the whole world and teach all things that Jesus taught them (Mt. 28:20), he just told them to teach everything that He taught them. He did not say, 'well, go forth and write Scripture, and the only things that future people are to be ultimately binding on them, is what you write.' The apostles had absolutely no idea that their commission was to not only evangelize but to write Scripture. In fact, only two of them wrote gospels (Matthew and John). The apostles were not failures, but successfully spread the gospel without writing a thing. They established Churches, worshipped God, etc., without the New Testament being written. Only approximately 20 years (give or take some years) after Christ died and rose, was there a beginning of anything to be written as Scripture. Quite strange if Scripture would be the only ultimately binding authority. If Scripture was the only ultimate binding authority, after the apostles died, what would guide those Churches established by apostles who did not leave letters? The gospels were not completed until way after Christ had died and risen. In fact John was not written until about 90 AD!! What happened in-between that time for those people who did not have Scriptures? What happened after the apostles died? The apostles were busy evangelizing and orally passing on the truth, and establishing successors, who would succeed in passing on the truth (Acts 14:23, Tit. 1:4-5). Their mission from Jesus was not to write a thing, but to transmit their teaching orally. They heard Jesus' commission to teach all things, and the thought that future generations would have Scripture as the only infallibly binding authority was not only not in Jesus' mind, as he commissioned in the gospels nobody to write anything, but that was not in the apostles mind, as most wrote nothing.

Rhodes approvingly quotes Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper when he writes:

Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper has suggested four advantages of written revelation as opposed to oral traditions: 1) Written revelation is durable and not susceptible to errors of memory, and accidental corruptions are minimized; 2) it can be universally disseminated; 3) it has the attribute of fixedness and purity; and 4) it is given a finality and normativeness which other forms of communication can not attain, Rhodes, p.62.
Let us briefly examine each assertion:
1) Written revelation is durable and not susceptible to errors of memory, and accidental corruptions are minimized
The apostles were not living in the time that we live in, with computers, or a printing press, which is indeed reliable. The printing press was invented in 1456. Kuyper's premise that the written means of communications was superior to the oral means, comes with a post printing press bias. He ignores the fact that during the first centuries of Christianity, that written means of communication was not as reliable as it is today. Rev. Henry Graham notes:
1)The persecutors of the Church for the first 300 years of Christianity destroyed everything Christian that they could lay their hands on. Over and over again, barbarous pagans burst in upon Christian cities, and villages and churches, and burned all the sacred things they could find. And not only so, but they especially compelled Christians to deliver up their sacred books, under pain of death, and then consigned to the flames. Among these, doubtless, some of the writings that came from the hand of the Apostle and Evangelist perished.

2) Again, we must remember, the material which the inspired authors used for writing their Gospels and Epistles was very easily destroyed; it was perishable to a degree. It was called papyrus,… very frail and brittle, and not made to last to any great age; and its delicate quality, no doubt, account for the loss of some of the choicest treasures of ancient literature, as well as of the original handwriting for the New Testament writers. We know of no MS of the New Testament existing now, which is written on papyrus. Rev. Henry G Graham, Where we Got the Bible, Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., Rockford, Ill, 1977, original printing, 1911, pp. 48-49.

The premise is thus incorrect. We have none of the original manuscripts, and the manuscripts we have date earliest of the Bible are of the 3rd and 4th centuries. It was the Catholic Church and her members, who copied from the originals to make that possible. None of the thousands of manuscripts that we have, exactly match any other manuscript. Now, I do believe, with the Church that what we have is a reliable Bible, but Kuyper's premise is false.

If oral tradition is unreliable then our Bible is unreliable. The gospels of Mark and Luke, for example, are based exclusively on oral tradition. Those books were not written until at least 20-30 years after Jesus' death. Luke writes. 1:1-2:

1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, 2 just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word.
Luke received his information by talking with the witness of Jesus life. He was at none of the events of Jesus life. He was reliant upon the oral explanations of the witnesses. Thus, if oral tradition is unreliable, then the gospels that we have are unreliable. Two of the gospel writers, and even many of the things that Matthew and John wrote about (For Matthew for example, the gospel infancy, the flight to Egypt) is reliant on oral tradition. If oral tradition is unreliable, so all of the gospels we have are unreliable.

Moses wrote the history of Genesis, totally reliant upon oral tradition. I know many fundamentalists will say, ‘well God directly spoke to Moses, and that is how we know what happened to Adam, Noah, etc.’ However, there is nothing in the Bible indicating that is the fact. Moses in fact had to rely on oral tradition that was passed on for thousands of years. If we believe in the reliability of Genesis, we believe in the reliability of oral tradition. Now in reference to the unreliability of oral tradition, I will address another key issue in Kuyper's 3rd and 4th assertions.

2) It can be universally disseminated
It was not easy, and as we've seen, it was not able to be easily disseminated as those who persecuted Christians fought to destroy them (see above). However, what was disseminated was the establishment of Churches, and spreading of the gospel. It was oral communication of the gospel that won people over. The people did not just read from books, there were no full bibles with all the books within them back then, but the means of the apostolic message, was hearing the orally proclaimed gospel. Again, the premise behind the statement is given during a time of fax machines, computers, word processors, save and edit functions, and the printing press. When Jesus commissioned the gospel, this premise did not exist.
3) It has the attribute of fixedness and purity; 4) it is given a finality and normativeness which other forms of communication can not attain.
The only thing that preserved any of the Bible was because of the purity of the Church. Those who followed the Church copied from manuscripts that were copies of copies of copies of the original apostolic writings. Nonetheless, this premise which assumes that oral tradition is unreliable, (and thus unwittingly presumes much of the writings of the gospel is really unreliable as we've see Mark and Luke are totally reliant upon oral traditions) is false. The fact is, people were committed to the gospel. The apostles went to their death over the witness of the gospel. They went to their death when communicating the truths of the gospel. Those who followed the apostles also got attached to the gospel, and the truths that were found in the gospel. Back then, oral tradition was the main means of communication (and witnessed to by most apostles not writing a thing, but establishing churches). That is the fact that even those who wrote epistles, such as Paul, for example taught in Ephesus 3 years, day and night (Acts 20:17-32), his words being the Word of God, yet his letter to the Ephesians is only 6 short chapters. The Word of God that he left them with, was the oral tradition that he taught them!!! Thus, Paul proves that he was just as confident that the Word of God that was oral tradition, was just as pure, as the very small letter that he wrote to them.

Also, another very important issue is the fact oral tradition, in the time of the writing of the gospel, was just as reliable. Rhodes by his lambasting of the reliability of oral tradition is joining forces with skeptics who say that the Bible is unreliable, precisely because they say oral tradition is unreliable. The gospels depend upon the reliability of oral tradition. Rudolf Bultman writes in his commentary on the gospel, writes:

We can now know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus, since the early Christian sources show no interest in either, are moreover fragmentary and often legendary (Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus and the Word, trans. Louise Pettibone Smith and Erminine Huntress Lantero (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958, pp. 8-9).
When Rhodes goes down the road of blasting oral tradition that is exactly what he ends up with: A diminishing of the oral tradition that made it to Scripture, that he just said was the only thing that was pure. In fact, precisely because of the reliability of oral tradition we can rely on the authenticity of the gospels. This reliability that authenticates the reliability of the gospels, also shows the reliability of the oral tradition which was the main transmission of truth that the Church had for more than 14 centuries before the invention of the printing press.

Neither Bultmann nor Rhodes acknowledge that since access to writing was limited, there was a need for oral tradition to be reliable. Especially for those things that were most important in one's life, which for Christians was their relationship with Christ and for their spiritual growth, they would only put their lives on the line for those things that they could trust were reliable.

A Protestant by the name of Kenneth Bailey did a study of a Protestant missionary, John Hogg, who went into the Middle Eastern community in the 1850s, that tell stories about him. He found a Christian community in a Middle Eastern area. Events and stories, that happened in the 1850s were relayed 50 years later to Hogg‘s daughter, and the stories and saying relayed in the 1950s and 1960s as they were in 1910. The events and sayings did not get altered.

There also are examples of a Syriac Christian community, which St. Ephrem was involved in, where he composed stanzas to defeat a heretic. The heretic by the name of Bardaisan composed stanzas in the second century that put forth heretical hymns. Those hymns (and theology that was behind the hymns) was well entrenched in the Syriac community until St. Ephrem defeated that heresy by composing his own stanzas and poetry in the 4th century. St. Ephrem composed stanza after stanza of poetry using the same seven-syllable-per-line method that opposed Bardaisan’s heresy. At the 'Atshai' Syrian Orthodoxy seminary in Lebanon, the young students still converse in fourth century Syriac and sing Ephrem's songs. There still is no need for books (Bailey 40). An informal controlled tradition as it relates to Jesus life put in that setting, with their lives on the line, would be sure to pass on and preserve that truth. Stories about what Jesus and the apostles taught, would be central to the lives of those who would face persecution, in following Christ. The truths of what they taught would be central to the lives of the believers. Since oral transmission of truth was the main means of communication of what could be life and death, they would go to their life and death only over that which was reliable. And oral tradition would of necessity be reliable. The article that goes into the reliability of oral tradition can be found here:

Rhodes then claims that the Catholic Church is not clear in its explanation of Bible verses. And when it interprets something, that interpretation must be interpreted and he claims that this explanation can be more muddled than the Bible. Well, theology is not easy and sometimes complex, but Rhodes can somehow understand it, because he has a whole book contesting Catholic theology. It is clear enough for him to oppose that theology. Besides, there is a whole Catechism, that gives a detailed explanation of many teachings with the source of both Scripture, Tradition and Councils. The Bible, if it was meant to be alone, in fact would be written as a Catechism. However, it is not written for the purpose of giving a detailed explanation of each doctrine, which is how the Catechism works. The Bible will mention specific subjects scattered throughout many of the same books, but is never meant to be a Catechism. If you want to know a specific teaching, in comparison, the Catechism is much clearer than the Bible itself.
He says:

Protestants, of course, believe that the Bible is sufficiently clear. This is a doctrine called perspicuity. This does not mean that every single verse in the Bible is equally clear or easy to understand. Rather, it means that the main teachings of the Bible are quite clear. As the old saying goes, the main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things. (Rhodes, p. 62)
There are many things wrong in this assertion. If the Bible is sufficiently clear there is no hint in the Bible that this is so. In fact Peter directly writes to the contrary, 2 Pet. 3:15-16:
15 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.
Peter gives the idea that Scriptures are not so plain. Many twist to their own destruction. I believe Rhodes and his cohorts are exactly doing that. He uses some of Paul's own writing to prove faith alone, for example, when Peter said that Paul's writings are hard to understand, in the context of mentioning salvation!! Yet Rhodes and Sola Scriptura advocates will say that salvation clearly teaches faith alone. The inspired writer Peter differs with Rhodes.

Next, as to the issue that the main teachings of the Bible are clear. First, what are main teachings? Do we need Rhodes to define what main is? There is nothing in the Bible that says 'these are the things that are main, and here is that which is not main. You must believe these things which are main, and it is okay to disagree about these things, and still be fine.' Disagreements over doctrine was not something that was put up with in the Church. Paul writes this:

1 Cor. 1:10 I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
Paul did not write that 'well some dissension is OK, as long as its only on minor stuff. And this minor stuff includes..' He writes instead that the Corinthian Church must be united on the truth. He said that there should be 'no' dissension.

In fact, if someone does not adhere to all the teachings, they should be shunned. Not just all the main teachings. Let us see what Paul says about dissension on doctrine, Romans 16:17:

I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them.
All doctrine is of such importance, according to Paul that if there is any opposition to the doctrine which they have been taught, they are to be avoided. All doctrine is of importance. And there is not to be allowed any wrong doctrine. That is why the Church is of utmost importance, because the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim. 3:15). It is not a pillar of main truths, and everything else is up for grabs, as Rhodes somehow asserts is the Biblical way.

But what about tradition? Isn't it OK to ignore some traditions as they are not binding? Paul says to the contrary, 2 Thess. 3:6:

6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.
Paul had already said to hold to the oral and written tradition (2 Thes. 2:15). Then he says that you have nothing to do with those who do not hold to the full tradition that Paul had orally given them. He again says nothing about 'well some things are minor so that is ok to forget about them, but just hold on to the main things.'

Another passage that plays into this discussion is Eph 4:4-5:

4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
One faith is put in the same category, as One Lord, one body and Sprit. There is One Lord, not many lords. There is not 2 or 3 or 20 bodies but one body. There is not one faith of main things with many things that have a slightly different faith. But one faith. This faith must be united, as Our Lord prayed for (John 17:21).

Now to this idea that the main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things: This is something that he would in years past often echo with Hank Hanegraaff on 'The Bible Answer Man' radio program. It is a cute saying but he does not live up to it in practice. Look at the following passages that are pretty plain in my opinion.

James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
Well, the plain meaning of the passage is that Abraham was justified by works. Rhodes in his book teaches that Abraham was not justified by works. He spends 3 pages explaining his position on James 2:21, (Rhodes, p. 147-149). He thus declares the plain meaning, the exact opposite of what James 2:21says.
John 20:22-23 22: And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23: If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
The apostles here are commissioned to forgive sins. They themselves have power given to them by Jesus, to do this very thing. However, according to Rhodes he takes a couple of pages to tell us that, no, the apostles had no authority to forgive sins. They could only point towards Christ who can actually do it (pp. 222-224).
Mt. 26:26-28 26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Well, despite Jesus saying 'This is my Body' according to Rhodes, Jesus actually meant 'This is not my Body'. The same with the wine being declared by Jesus as becoming His blood. Jesus actually means 'this is not blood.' The blood is said by Jesus is to be poured out to forgive sins. Rhodes spends about 4 pages to say that the plain meaning is the exact opposite of what it seems to plainly say (Rhodes pp. 199-202).

1 Pet. 3:21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
The Scripture explicitly teaches that Baptism saves you. Although he does not touch on this passage in the book, Rhodes explicitly teaches that baptism does not save you!!!

So thus the plain meaning of Scriptures are interpreted in the exact opposite of what it says, again.

Did you know there are many contradictions in the traditions of the Catholic Church? (for example, some Church fathers accepted the immaculate conception of Mary, while others did not) . Since there are many contradictions in the traditions of Rome, doesn't that mean they are not infallible? (Rhodes, p. 63)
First of all, Rhodes' premise is incorrect. There are not 'many contradictions' in the traditions of the Catholic Church. It is not like it is 50-50 on whether Mary sinned. Most Fathers never dared to mention that Mary had ever sinned, although admittedly there were one or two who seemed to indicate she may have sinned. It took until St. Augustine to develop the idea of original sin. Nonetheless, most Fathers who spoke on the issue, indeed thought she was sinless and would never say that Mary had any sin on her soul. None had any idea that Protestants have towards Mary, that she sinned just like anybody else.

Then Rhodes makes a switch from saying that there are some Church Fathers who rejected the immaculate conception, to all of a sudden say that there are 'many contradictions in the tradition of Rome...'. Umm, there is no contradictory tradition in Rome on whether she was immaculately conceived. To say that maybe not all Fathers understood perfectly that Mary was immaculately conceived, so therefore Rome's tradition is contradictory is quite a leap. Rome has never taught that Mary sinned or had sin on her soul. No bishop of Rome has never hinted or taught that Mary sinned or was conceived with sin on her soul. So Rhodes' premise is incorrect.

Scripture Sets Parameters Beyond Which We Are Not Free To Go

Next, under the above heading, Rhodes gives us four Scriptures, including the following two and gives us his comment.

God in Scripture has set definite parameters for us that we are compelled to obey...In Deuteronomy 4:2 we are commanded: "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord

Proverbs 30:5,6 instructs us: "Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar."...I believe that the Roman Catholic exaltation of tradition violates the intent and spirit of the above commandments. It is not wrong to respect tradition, but it is wrong to attribute the same authority to tradition that is attributed to Scripture. One has its source in God, the other in man, Rhodes, p. 63.

The above verses do not prove what Rhodes says. First of all, if he uses the Scripture which God commanded to Moses, to not add to it, the fact that his own Bible has 61 more books than what we have from Moses. Moses only wrote five books in the Old Testament. Rhodes has 66 books in his Bible. He does not abide by what he wants to invalidate Catholic traditions from. The fact is that this commandment was given to Moses, and the 61 books that he has were 'added' to. That would invalidate not only Catholic tradition, but those 61 books that he accepts. Thus, that can not be the meaning.

Obviously, he is saying that we should not add to the Word of God in general, but the premise that makes Rhodes use of this as false, is the fact the Word of God is not limited to Scripture. Nor does Moses write that the Word of God is reduced to writing.

Neither does Paul, before he bids farewell to the Ephesians. As mentioned, Paul spent 3 years day and night teaching the Ephesians. In Acts 20:18-19, 31-32 Paul says:

Acts 20:18-20, 31-32 And when they came to him, he said to them: "You yourselves know how I lived among you all the time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which befell me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house.....31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
What does Paul commend the Ephesians to? God's Word of grace. He spent 3 years, day and night with them and that oral word is considered God's Word. He commended the Ephesians to God's Word, which is what he spoke to them orally. His example and oral teaching was profitable!!!, the very term he speaks of Scripture in 2 Tim. 3:16. He taught them orally day and night for 3 years. He did not say, 'well here is my letter to you, this is the only Word of God, after I die, you can forget what I orally told you three years.’ The Word of God is what he spoke to the Ephesians. All of what he taught was binding on the Ephesians. The oral Word of God, is preserved only through tradition. The same thing is with the other apostles who did not write a thing. What they orally taught was binding.

As we’ve already seen, Paul wrote in 1 Thes. 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.
Paul again tells us that the Word of God is that what the Thessalonians heard from Paul. What they heard from Paul was the Oral Word of God, and is at work, and binding. Tradition is the transmission of that Oral Word of God. Paul did not write here, ‘after I die, that is no longer the word of God, and you can forget it.’

Eph. 1:13

In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit
Again, the word of truth is that which the Ephesians heard. Remember, we just saw in Acts 20, what they heard was three years of day and night teaching.

Isaiah 59:21

"And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the LORD: my spirit which is upon you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your children, or out of the mouth of your children's children, says the LORD, from this time forth and for evermore."
In the covenant that God makes with his people, God's words are put in the covenanted people's mouth, and is faithfully transmitted to generation after generation. God's word will be faithfully transmitted orally. No idea that God is limited to Scripture alone in that transmission.

Peter also speaks of a similar concept, 1 Pet. 1:23-25:

23 You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for "All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord abides for ever." That word is the good news which was preached to you.
Peter first mentions that we live by the living and abiding word of God, who is of course Jesus Christ. Next though, he quotes Isaiah as the word of the Lord. This is a citation of Isaiah 40:8. However, he quotes Isaiah not just to talk about Isaiah's inspiration, but that it is a witness to Peter's oral, apostolic teaching. Why do I say that? Because Peter says that God's word is that which he preaches to you. What Peter spoke, is God's word. Peter wrote only two short letters that survived as Scripture, and his whole word was only not that which he wrote in the epistles, but his whole apostolic message. His apostolic message is the 'Word of the Lord' which 'abides forever.' Thus, the concept that ‘well it is binding only on those who followed them at the time, but after they die, since it is not Scripture, it is not authoritatively binding’ is done away with. The same thing with the teaching of Thomas, Thaddeus, Philip, etc. Their teaching is the Word of God. What they taught, was passed on to the Churches. That was the Word of God, just as much inspired as that which was written, and became Scripture. Although the transmission of that original oral Word of God may not be inspired, that word of God itself is inspired. And that word will abide forever, not just until the apostles die.

Thus, the passages that Rhodes quotes, such as Proverbs 30, where it says you shall not take away from God's Word, comes back to haunt Rhodes. While he feigns respect for Oral Tradition, which has its source in God's oral word, he throws it away if it is inconvenient, he is in effect neglecting and rejecting God's Word. Tradition, though it is not inspired per se, as Scripture is, has its basis in God's Word, which can only be ignored at one's peril. Plus, Rhodes, just as Luther and his followers, has thrown away seven books of the Old Testament (the Deuterocanonicals). Finally, Rhodes saying 'one has its source in God, one has its source in man', is correct, but not in the way he sees it. One has its source in God. As these authors of the Bible have mentioned in these passages, the Oral Word of God, which serves as the basis for tradition has its source in God. Sola Scriptura, which Rhodes follows, has its source in man.

Rhodes then quotes John 14:26 and highlights and italicizes certain points in that passage. Let us look at the Scripture:

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
He then approvingly quotes Norman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie on this passage, that they:
rightly note the importance of "you" and "your" in this verse. Jesus told the apostles and them alone that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth . This is not a promise made in regard to any alleged apostolic successors passing on tradition from generation to generation. The Holy Spirit's ministry was to remind the apostles of "all that I said to you." The "all" covers everything. There is no need for tradition. (Rhodes, p. 64)
Well, yes Rhodes and Geisler do point out that the apostles would be guided by the Holy Spirit into all truth. And yes, at the time, and in John 14, Jesus specifically is only speaking to the apostles. This does show that the apostles as leaders would be the guides. No doubt that at the time he only speaks to the apostles. However, he does not say that this truth would only stay with the apostles. Here He doesn't say it either way. He assumes however that this truth would be passed on. The idea that one can get out of this verse 'there is no need for tradition' is preposterous. Jesus says nothing about, 'get this in writing and that is the only infallible rule of faith for future generations.' Thus, ‘no need for tradition’ is a unsupported contention from the text itself. Here he says nothing about Scripture or tradition. In fact, as mentioned earlier, according to Jesus, you could almost say that there is no need for Scripture, because he never, never in any of the gospels, asks any of the apostles that he commissioned to spread the truth for future generations, to write Scripture. The apostles definitely did not come to the conclusion 'there is no need for tradition' because they established most of what they did orally, and most did not write one thing that made it to Scripture. They established churches, established worship, and laid down the basis for what would be in the future, without writing a thing. If 'there is no need for tradition' was true, you would have the 11 apostles all write not only biographies of Jesus, but laid down in a catechetical manner, Scripture, all the doctrines explicitly. That is, if God intended it that way. They would have written this right away, while Jesus' teaching was fresh in their minds, if they thought that oral tradition was unreliable. When we look at the Acts of the Apostles we see absolutely none of the apostles taking time to write Scripture. All they did was preach orally the gospel, establish churches, and thus make future churches based on oral tradition alone. We see in Acts 15 the apostles deciding binding decisions based on their authority (as given to Peter and the apostles). Not based on Scripture alone. Now, onto the commission, what did Jesus say? What did he promise for his Church? Matthew 16:18-19
18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Jesus specifically speaks to Peter, but leaving alone whether Jesus is speaking to Peter and establishing the papacy here, (which is discussed here:, the fact is that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. Whatever not only Peter, but the church in an authoritative manner, will bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. How can Jesus bind error? He can only bind truth, otherwise that makes God a liar. Peter and the apostles were in fact only there in the first century. But the gates of hell shall not prevail against only against Peter and the apostles, but shall never prevail against the Church. Thus, this promise is for the Church. Not for the church only during the time of the apostles..

We see in Matthew 28:18-20:

18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."
As mentioned before, he promised to be with the apostles, taught them to observe everything that he commanded them. This promise is not just for the apostles, but to their successors. Jesus will be with his Church until the end of the age.

1 Tim. 3:15:

if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.
Paul is speaking about the church, the pillar and ground of truth. Remember, Jesus said he will guide the apostles into all truth, as Geisler and Rhodes quote. The Church is the pillar of that truth. The Church did not die after the apostles died. Therefore, the church that Christ promised to be with, can not be mixed in with error.

2 Tim. 1:13-14, 2:1-2:

13 Follow the pattern of the sound words which you (2) have heard from me (1) , in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; 14 guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. 1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men (3) who will be able to teach others (4) also.
This passage speaks of Timothy, who is a successor, holding on to the pattern of sound words. Timothy is entrusted to follow that oral tradition. This truth is entrusted to Timothy, as a guardian of that truth. By what power? By the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the same power promised by Jesus to his apostles in John 14:26. This truth is entrusted to Timothy, who is Paul's child and successor, by the grace of Christ (2 Tim. 2:1) and by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 1:14) who will teach others this same truth. There is no indication that Timothy has less power. As highlighted and numbered in brown, 4 generations are spoken of who are orally passing on this truth, which will be binding on the successive generation of believers, with no mention of only Paul's writing as being incumbent on any other generation.

Titus 1:4-5:

4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. 5 This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you
Paul feels mandated to appoint elders in every town, that he left behind. That is succession in practice. Titus was given apostolic authority. The elders also had this same authority to be passed on to others. There is absolutely no mention of Scripture at all. If Sola Scriptura was the 'only binding authority', Paul's letter makes no sense at all.

Rhodes’ and Geisler’s premise that the apostles thought that because Jesus said to the apostles, ‘I will teach you all things‘ that supposedly the apostles would think, ‘tradition is not necessary’ via John 14:26 is belied, by their actions. Eusebius writes the following, affirming what I stated earlier. Their attitude was not that, “after I die, the only sure guide will be Scripture, so let us compose Scripture’:

3 Those great and truly divine men, I mean the apostles of Christ, were purified in their life, and were adorned with every virtue of the soul, but were uncultivated in speech. They were confident indeed in their trust in the divine and wonder-working power which was granted unto them by the Saviour, but they did not know how, nor did they attempt to proclaim the doctrines of their teacher in studied and artistic language, but employing only the demonstration of the divine Spirit, which worked with them, and the wonder-working power of Christ, which was displayed through them, they published the knowledge of the kingdom of heaven throughout the whole world, paying little attention to the composition of written works.Eusebius, Church History, 3, 23, 3-4, Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, Series 2, vol. 1, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, Massachusetts, 1995, p. 152.

As Peter had preached the Word publicly at Rome, and declared the Gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had followed him for a long time and remembered his sayings, should write them out. And having composed the Gospel he gave it to those who had requested it.7 When Peter learned of this, he neither directly forbade nor encouraged it. Eusebius, Church History, 6, 14 6-7, ibid., p. 260.

If Jesus had thought that Sola Scriptura was the way, he would have been sure to make sure that all of his apostles would be those who were cultivated in writing ability. The apostles were people who had a great confidence in their Savior, and whose main purpose was to proclaim the gospel throughout the world, but primarily used oral instruction as that vehicle. Eusebius writes in the 4th century, and would have no idea about the Catholic-Protestant divide on the issue 12 centuries later. However, as Eusebius notes, the apostles cared very little about the composition of written works. They cared alot about their Lord, and they cared alot about future generations of people getting the gospel of salvation as found in Jesus Christ. But their way of ‘publishing the knowledge of the kingdom of heaven throughout the whole world,’ was by their preaching and teaching orally. They realized that it would only be oral tradition for their followers. But they took for granted that this oral tradition would be sufficient to proclaim the gospel. Peter saw absolutely no superiority in the written Scripture to his oral tradition, as it says, he did not even encourage Mark in his endeavor to have a written gospel. Of course, if they thought Scripture alone was the way, he would have written a gospel himself, and written much more than the two small letters that we get from him, (and the 2nd epistle of his was even in dispute as to its reliability, in the 300s). Thus, the idea that ‘no tradition is necessary’ based on John 14:26, is very far from the truth, based on the apostle’s own actions.

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Last modified December 16, 2002.