Subject: Matt's Third Rebuttal/Closing Statement: Feb. 1,1998
Date: Sun. 01 Feb. 1998 10:27:03
I am denying: "The inspired writings (the holy Scriptures of the New Testament of Jesus Christ) claim for themselves that
they alone are the standard of authority in Religion today."
1] In this closing statement/rebuttal, I will summarize the points I have shown that destroys the proposition. As I go through each of the points I have given, I will respond to his statements affirming the proposition. As shown in this debate, Sola Scriptura is a man-made tradition (Mk. 7, Mt. 15:3-9) built on false, unbiblical assumptions. As shown last time, (Par. 1-3), there are 7 absolutely necessary, but unbiblical assumptions for Sola Scriptura, impossible for most down through the centuries: a) It assumes 100% literacy, when 90% of the people were illiterate, and most people have been illiterate ever since; b) It assumes a printing press for the mass manufacture of books, which didn’t exist until the 15th century; c) It assumes a distribution network able to provide affordable bibles to all for 2000 years; d) It assumes adequate leisure time for people to study for themselves to get correct doctrine; e) It assumes universal nutrition so they can profitably study; f) It assumes
adequate support materials for study; g) It assumes that all believers have adequate critical thinking skills, so they can properly analyze scripture, not even available for most today. If only one assumption has not been true at any time for the last 2000 years, Sola Scriptura can not possibly be the means that God established. Each assumption is in fact unbiblical and false, showing Sola Scriptura to be another gospel, (Gal. 1:8-9).
2] My opponent has not established the proposition. I have established and sustained 9 points. (Abbreviations from now on, Opening statement = OS, First Rebuttal =1R, and 2R = 2nd Rebuttal). 1) Nowhere in the gospels did Jesus commission them to write. I showed that (OS, Par. 2) he established his church through his apostles (Mt. 16:18-19, Mt. 18:15-18) and gave them the power to forgive sins (John 20:22-23), and legislate (Acts. 11, 15). He commissioned them to baptize (Mk 16:16; Mt. 28:19), partake and distribute his body and blood (Lk. 22: 14-20, Mt. 26:26-29), and preach the gospel (Lk. 10:16, Mt. 28:20). He did not say, after you die, the only way one can hear me is by reading. The apostles chose two ways to preach his gospel: Most preached only orally (2 Tim. 2:2, 2 Thes 2:15, 1 Cor. 11:2), and a few wrote. If Jesus wanted future believers bound only by New Testament scripture, he would have said so. My opponent’s failure to deal with that fact (and instead he diverts, 1R, Par.
17) destroys Sola Scriptura.
3] 2) I have challenged my opponent (OS, Par. 3, 2R, Par. 12) to show from the New Testament what its contents are. He is unable to do so. How can the proposition be valid when the New Testament can not even identify itself? The Catholic Church does not make the New Testament inspired, as it is God-breathed, but for man to infallibly know, requires an infallible guide (1 Tim. 3:15, Mt. 16:18-19). Peter’s reference to Paul’s writings (2 Pet. 3:15) identifies not one letter. Other references to writings churches were responsible for reading are extrabiblical (Eph. 3:3, 1 Cor. 5:9, Col. 4:16). He said the Catholic Church was not responsible for providing the bible, (1R, Par. 19) I showed even through Martin Luther to be false (2R, Par. 12). Theoretically if the Catholic Church did not provide and preserve the bible, he still has not proved from the New Testament what the New Testament is. That is fatal to Sola Scriptura.
4] 3) The Church is the pillar of truth (1 Tim. 3:15). My opponent attempts to separate the apostles from the church. He argues: a) I can not any use passages in regards to the apostles and apply them to the church. (2R, Par. 3). b) There is no binding, authoritative church besides apostles and prophets; I say: a) Jesus said he would build his Church upon visible Peter, who alone had the keys, meaning authority. My opponent admits the apostles had authority, but Jesus says the Church has this binding authority (Mt. 16:18-19, 18:15-18). It is unbiblical to separate the apostles from the church, found on the apostles (Eph. 2:20) with Christ the cornerstone. b) The church is Christ’s bride (Eph. 5:23-31) and reveals the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10), not saying only as long as the apostles are alive. When I pointed to this he replied this wisdom of God doesn’t reference authority (2R, Par. 9). The context shows binding authority (1R, Par. 9). Eph 4:4 - “There is one faith.”
Paul gives the function of the various ministries for the church to maintain the unity of the faith, and prevent children from being tossed for every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:12-14). Only authority can do this. It does not say reading scripture on one’s own prevents people from getting tossed around in doctrine. Read all the verses he provided and none say after the apostles die, so does authority, an unbiblical assumption. I showed church elders, neither apostles or prophets, legislated (Acts. 15:14-29). Those not specifically under apostles or prophets were told to submit and obey their leaders who rule over them (Heb. 13:7, 17).
5] c) He attempts to skirt the force of 1 Tim. 3:15 (church is ground of truth) by admitting that the job of the church upholds the truth but can not pass the Holy Spirit (2R, Par. 7). An invisible church can not be a pillar of truth, with this so-called body of the saved coming from 28,000 different denominations preaching different gospels. The passage he cited showing ‘a body of the saved’ Acts 2:46, are strictly organized into one body, not different bodies, differing in doctrine. The theory that the church is not visible and is unorganized is again a tradition of men. The church in 1 Tim. 3 is visible, and teaches authoritatively. Only if there is one united, visible body, can it indeed be the pillar of infallible truth to fulfill Paul’s statement of 1 Tim. 3:15.
6] My opponent’s argument (2R, Par. 10-12) that only the apostles can transmit the Holy Spirit is nowhere stated in any of the biblical texts he provided. Acts focuses specifically on the Apostles , and their work included passing on the Holy Spirit. As it primarily focuses on their work I would not expect other generations to be shown passing on the Holy Spirit. His focus on Acts 8:14-19 to prove this is selective and misguided. Nowhere does anyone say here that only the Apostles can pass the Holy Spirit on. Simon wants this gift through money (8:18-21). If dogma essential to Sola Scriptura that none can pass on the Holy Spirit but the apostles, Peter should have said “Simon, only Apostles can pass on the Holy Spirit and you can have no such ministry.” Peter saw that Simon had a bad heart, had not been ordained, and thus could not share in this ministry (v. 21). He could not pass on the Holy Spirit because “your heart is not right before God.” Nothing about because he was not
an apostle. In fact, after this we see a non-Apostle pass on the Holy Spirit. Philip, ordained to the ministry (Acts 6:5-6), is directed by the Holy Spirit (v. 31) to speak the gospel to the Ethiopian eunuch reading Isaiah (Acts 8:29-34). He explains the gospel to the eunuch (showing bible alone is not enough), and is led to baptize him. In the New Covenant, even my opponent admits that baptism is by water AND SPIRIT (Acts. 2:38). The Holy Spirit falls upon Philip, and the Eunuch likewise goes with joy (vv. 39-40). Baptism brings the Holy Spirit, the eunuch is joyful, and the Holy Spirit surrounds the whole scene, very much implied is that the eunuch receives the Holy Spirit. So much for my opponent’s theory.
7] My opponent’s attempt to limit the promise of the Holy Spirit to the apostles (and prophets) is at odds with Jesus’ words: John 14:16-18. “And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you FOREVER, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you.” Jesus promises his Holy Spirit forever. Next (v. 18), it is the Holy Spirit who keeps the people from being desolate (in other translations orphans). If my opponent is consistent in saying that this promise is only for the Apostles, then Jesus left all of us desolate orphans. Instead, the Holy Spirit has guided the visible, Catholic Church for 2000 years as the New Covenant family of God. He did not leave us as orphans as my opponent must contend, leaving it up to ourselves to find out truth by sifting through our private reading of the bible and
28,000 denominations. The Holy Spirit is to guide us into all truth (Jn 16:13) through the one Church Jesus established (Mt. 16:18, 18:15-18).
8] My opponent is quite selective in what those who follow the apostles can and can not do. When it confirms the Catholic view, he says “Oh, that is only for the apostles.” When scripture speaks of things that his church practices, it suddenly applies to us? Why does he have a web page preaching his gospel? Why does he celebrate the Lord’s supper, and baptize people? Remember, Jesus specifically only commissioned the apostles (Mt. 28:19). This picking and choosing of what gets passed down from the apostles, is a vain attempt to hold on to a faulty doctrine.
9] 4) Sola Scriptura is an unbiblical tradition of men. My opponent continues to repeat the same verses (OS, Par. 15-19, 1R, Par. 2-11, 2R, Par. 3-5) that supposedly show Sola Scriptura. He admits that not one verse specifically teaches it (OS, Par. 1). Merely reciting these verses without any interaction with my refutation of his use of these verses shows the inability of any of these verses to even hint at Sola Scriptura. In no citations did he give a context. I gave 7 reasons why 2 Tim. 3:16-17 does not help Sola Scriptura yet he repeats himself. I examined the context, and parallel verses that show that scripture is not the only source that does these things. He repeated verses I showed previously not even to be referencing scripture (Eph. 3, Rev. 20, etc.)! Read them for yourselves and examine my refutation of them. Following is his own look at the verses (2R, Par. 4). Next is where I refuted his use of them:
10] (1) Life in the name of Jesus (John 20:30-31) - See 1R, Par. 11 - Oral - 1 Cor. 15:2
(2) Commands of the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37) - See 1R. Par. 10 - Oral - 1 Cor. 4:17, 1 Tim. 1:3
(3) Knowledge of the mystery of Christ (Eph. 3:2-5) - See 1R, Par. 9 Not about scripture
(4) The proper conduct (1 Tim. 3:14-15) - 2R, Par. 5 - Prefers oral, church is pillar of truth
(5) Every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17)-1R, Par. 12-Oral- 2 Thes. 2:13-17 - Gave 7 reasons
(6) Protection against sin (1 John 2:1)
(7) An assurance of eternal life (1 John 5:13) - See 2R, Par. 7 Oral - 1 Cor. 15:2
(8) Tests teachers (1 Cor. 4:6; Acts 17:11) - 1R, Par. 13, Not scripture, Acts - only OT
(9) Joy that is complete (1 John 1:1-4). See 2R, Par. 6 - Oral - 2 John 12
(10) A reminder of the commandments (2 Pet. 3:1-2)
(11) Standard of judgment (Rev. 20:12; Jn 12:48; Rom. 2:16; James 2:12) See 1R, Par. 13.
11] 5) I have shown numerous passages with Jesus and apostles passing on as truth oral tradition coming from the time of the Old Testament (Mt. 2:23, Jude 14-15, Mt. 23:2-3, 1 Cor. 10:4, among others (OS, Par. 7, 2R, Par. 9). I showed through 3 non-Catholic sources that Moses seat, nowhere mentioned in the Old Testament, is oral tradition that Jesus proclaimed as binding (Mt. 23:2-3). My opponent said it was Moses’s scriptural authority, though absent from the bible. Non-Catholic sources affirm Moses Seat speaks of oral tradition, a position of authority, leadership, and succession (2R, Par. 9). My opponent asked how Mt. 2:23 and Jude 14-15 show binding oral tradition. He admits that the Holy Spirit somehow worked and passed it down. This admission that the Spirit passed down truth outside scripture and prophets, undercuts his position. That somehow is oral tradition. In fact Jude 14 quotes verbatim, a statement from the book of Enoch, (7th from Adam), an extrascriptural revelation,
written approximately 200 BC. Oral tradition passed that on reliably and infallibly from the time of Enoch until written in an unscriptural book. Jude refers to this as infallible truth. Mt. 2:23 states that the prophets spoke that the Messiah would be a Nazarene, binding truth that instructs us but not in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit uses binding Oral tradition. Another dagger to Sola Scriptura.
12] 6) Nowhere does scripture reduce the Word of God to writing. Although my opponent has produced scriptures which speak of the authority of scripture (and I assert as well) he has produced none which say that after apostles and prophets die, the only means of passing on divine revelation is scripture. This assumption is biblically unfounded. The previous paragraph shows oral tradition infallibly passes on truth, proving the proposition wrong. The Word of God does not last until the prophets and apostles die, but forever (1 Pet. 1:25). My opponent argues 1 Peter is about scripture so is irrelevant (2R, Par. 14); However 1 Peter 1:25 says the Word of God that endures forever is that which is PREACHED, oral, not written. This fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy of people orally passing down the truths of the New Covenant (Is. 59:20-21). Most apostles did not write at all, yet even my opponent admitted that they spoke the Word of God (2Tim. 1:13) and established churches. His argument that the
Word of God, as it was not written by these faithful apostles, died when they died, is another unbiblical assumption. The New Testament term Word of God mostly means the preached Word of God, not written. The assumption that the oral Word of God died because it was not written is actually a rejection of some of the Word of God.
13] My opponent has continually erred in claiming the Catholic Church does not trust the bible. On the contrary, the Catholic Church more than any other Church has defended it from attack. The Catholic Church puts the bible first, Prima Scriptura, She is under the bible. See Vatican II’s Dei Verbum, which affirms the bible’s inspiration, inerrancy, and authority. As I asserted (OS, Par. 1) the Church lives by God’s Word alone, but it is not found only in Sacred Scripture. Just because it is not the sole rule of faith, does not mean that it is not authoritative. It loses its authority when 28,000 denominations twist it to their own man-made doctrines (Col. 2:8).
14] 7) Oral tradition binds believers as well as scripture. (Here I do not respond to my opponent’s challenges on specific Catholic traditions (2R, Par. 15) because that has nothing to do with the proposition. If one wants a point by point response to his charge of unbiblical, man-made traditions, please email me at email@example.com). In 2 Thes 2:13-17 we saw Paul command believers to hold fast to both oral and written tradition as it equips them for every good work (same as for scripture cf., 2 Tim. 3:17). Paul shows oral and written to be in the same category, (2:15) and binding. If one is to be passed on, so is the other. My opponent says my argument makes no sense because if “if one means of delivery stopped (oral), it does not mean the other stopped (written) (2R, Par. 13).” He assumes without proof that the oral delivery stopped. Of course the written does not stop, neither does the oral!! (We just saw this with Jude quoting Enoch). Where does Paul say “after I die,
oral tradition stops, and only the written survives.?” Nowhere. If Paul wanted the oral tradition stopped, why does he use the word tradition, which means to pass on? This passage kills Sola Scriptura (1R, Par. 7 for a fuller examination).
15] We have also seen Paul through Timothy and his successors pass on truth through exclusively oral tradition 2 Tim. 1:13-14, 2:2, 2:15. 2 Tim. 2:2 shows 4 generations pass on what Paul had orally told Timothy. BTW, not one scripture has four generations receiving the New Testament. My opponent attempts to avoid this by saying Timothy has authority because he is a prophet, but it doesn’t mean that those following him can pass it on (2R, Par. 10-12). If so, 2 Tim. 2 would have stopped at the second generation. However, Paul makes no distinction between Timothy’s generation and the generation that Timothy (3rd) trains to pass on to the following generation (4th), all transmitting what Paul orally taught!!! My opponent claims the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with this. 2 Tim. 1:13-14 shows the Holy Spirit protecting this truth from corruption and is the background to 2 Tim. 2:2. Nowhere is Timothy called a prophet, and that being the only reason he commands others with Paul’s oral
teaching (2 Tim. 2:15). The passage cited (2 Tim. 1:6) to show a one time prophetic office instead shows Timothy’s ordination to the ministerial priesthood, with succession. Joshua succeeds Moses with full responsibilities by the laying on of hands, (Dt. 34:9, Nm 27:19-23) meaning succession. Indeed, Timothy is warned by Paul not to lay hands (1 Tim. 5:22) on hastily. The Holy Spirit is transmitted. We have seen Titus have the power to ordain successors (Titus 1:5) with the same authority.
16] My opponent claims I insulted Paul by saying that he relied on oral tradition (1R, Par. 20), as he received his commission directly from Jesus (Gal. 1:11-12). Paul holds oral tradition in esteem, because not only does he commend those for holding to it (1 Cor. 11:2), but passes on information that he could only have received from talking to the apostles. He quotes a saying of Jesus not found in the gospels (Acts. 20:36). He received from the Lord (through the apostles) and passes on the way of celebrating the Eucharist (1Cor. 11:23-29) (paralleling Luke, neither prophet or apostle) who orally heard from the apostles (Lk. 1:2-5). Paul received from the apostles information about 500 people who saw Jesus after his resurrection 1 Cor. 15:3-7. Nowhere is it recorded that Jesus told Paul these things. He received this from the apostles who he visited (Acts 15, Gal. 1:18-19). Paul sees oral revelation as binding and from the Lord.
17] My opponent claims the word succession is not in the bible. The word bible is not in the bible does that mean we should not read it? Neither is incarnation, Trinity and other terms my opponent would agree to. The concepts are in the bible as is succession (in contrast to Sola Scriptura). We saw through non-Catholic sources the seat that Jesus binds people (Mt. 23:2). to was based on Succession of authority. We have seen James, neither termed a prophet or apostle, make a binding decision (Acts 15:14-29) along with the binding papal decision of Peter (Acts 15:7-13). Here we also saw elders in the same position of authority with apostles making binding decisions, showing this authority was also given to successors (2 R, Par. 14). We have seen the apostles appoint successors not in the office of apostleship Acts. 1:15-26, but of bishopric (Acts 1:20) (2 R, Par. 13), the same term used in 1 Tim. 3:1-15 for the term of bishop. We have seen Titus and Timothy have the ability to ordain
successors (Tit. 1:5, 1 Tim. 5:22). They command others to things Paul orally told them (1 Tim. 1:3, 1 Cor. 4:17, 2 Tim. 2:2, 2:15).
18] 8) I showed 2 Peter destroy private interpretation (OS Par. 12), the heart of Sola Scriptura. My opponent never responded, yet refers to 2 Peter 3:1-2 (easily paralleled by oral tradition just referenced). Why not let Peter speak when he condemns private interpretation, and why ignore Peter’s refutation of it? In an exegesis of 2 Peter 1:20, Protestant Ernst Kasemann writes (Essays On New Testament Themes - 189-190): “Our epistle considers an ecclesiastically authoritative interpretation to be essential. For even exegesis which now takes the prophecy is exposed to the threat of error as the example of the exegesis of Paul’s letters shows (2 Peter 3:16). It must therefore be regulated. This is done by tying it to the church’s teaching office. Thus the church is here, the possessor of the correct interpretation of the scripture, just because she is the possessor of the correct teaching.’ pp. 103 -‘ Every unauthorized exegesis and interpretation can now be prohibited. The locus
classicus is 2 Peter 1:20. Ordination is now the expression of a principle of legitimacy and succession. In short, we have now crossed out of primitive Christianity, and laid the foundations of early Catholicism... The time when it was possible to set up scripture in its totality, in opposition to Catholicism has gone beyond recall. Protestantism today can no longer employ the so-called Formal Principle without rendering itself unworthy of credence in the eyes of historical analysis.” Honest Protestant exegesis shows 2 Peter establishes binding succession, and destroys Sola Scriptura, just as Jude 11 (as showed in OS, Par. 11), by quoting and condemning Korah’s rebellion (Nm. 16) condemns unauthorized private authority and interpretation.
19] 9) Sola Scriptura leads to anarchy and 28,000 denominations (OS, Par. 13). With no authoritative guide and every one claiming the Holy Spirit’s guidance, mass confusion develops. With no solid rock of a living pillar of truth, (1 Tim. 3:15), people twist scripture to their own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16, Eph. 4: 14). Jesus promised that he would not leave us orphans (Jn 15:26). These denominations are made by man, not Jesus, and are all traditions of men, precisely fulfilling Jesus and Paul’s condemnation of such (Mt. 15:3-9; Mk. 7; Col. 2:8). My opponent admitted (1R, Par. 22) “Every major division that is in Christianity originated with and came out of the Catholic Church.” His attempt to blame the Church for this division is like blaming Moses for Korah’s rebellion (Num. 16:1-35, cf., Jude 11, My 1R, Par. 11). Jude castigated Korah then, as exactly paralleled to those who rejected the divinely established authority in the New Covenant. Sola Scriptura causes Protestantism to
divide on so many issues central to salvation that it can not possibly be the way Jesus established for his people to have a relationship with him. Paul writes that we must have one mind and judgment (1 Cor. 1:10; cf., Acts. 4:32, Eph 4:4). There are disobedient Catholics on the left and right that dispute the Pope, but he, with the sure guide of 2000 years of truth, and protection of the Holy Spirit, makes it possible to have an infallible, living guide. Scripture is an infallible guide, but for us to understand its meaning Jesus established one church with promises the gates of hell shall never prevail against his church (Mt. 16:18).
20] I want to thank my opponent, for engaging on this important issue; Nevertheless, we have seen the premises of Sola Scriptura destroyed in this debate. We have seen numerous reasons why Sola Scriptura is impossible and unbiblical (not an exhaustive list by any means). Any Protestant who has read this debate I ask you to honestly look at the lack of biblical evidence for this proposition. I ask you to examine the multitude of reasons why Scripture can not be the sole authority. Please come to the one Church, the one family of God, the Catholic Church that Jesus Christ established. An infallible church is needed to make the inerrant and infallible Scripture infallible in discovering its meaning. Otherwise we have the result of many people thinking they are going by the bible when in fact they are going by what their errant, fallible human minds think it says. God did not leave us as orphans, twisting in the wind. He invites all to come to the fullness of truth that he promised the Holy Spirit would guide us into (Jn 16:13).
Matt's Third Rebuttal/Closing Statment: Feb. 1,1998 - Denial of Sola Scriptura.
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Last modified: February 1st, 1998.