First Rebuttal by David J. Riggs: Dec.1,1997

Date: Thu Nov 27 09:04:08 1997
From: David Riggs (
Subject: First Rebuttal by David J. Riggs

First Rebuttal Of The Riggs-Matt Debate
By David J. Riggs

1) I am affirming: "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." As was done in my Affirmative (Nov. 1, 1997), I list various passages which reveal that the Scriptures alone are the standard of authority in religion today. This is God's way of showing us that His holy writings are His sole law for us today.

2) "...By revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit..." (Eph. 3:2-5).

3) "...These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." (John 20:31).

4) "If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord." (1 Cor. 14:37).

5) "I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth." (1 Tim. 3:14-15).

6) "And these things we write to you that your joy may be full." (1 John 1:4).

7) "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin." (1 John 2:1).

8) "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God." (1 John 5:13).

9) "Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other." (1 Cor. 4:6).

10) "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

11) "...And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books." (Rev. 20:12).

12) I humbly beseech all the readers of this Debate to carefully examine the above passages. Each of them mention the sacred writings ("these are written," "the things which I write" etc.), and reveal what they (the inspired writings) provide ("that you may believe," "that you may know you have eternal life," etc.). The passages, and others like them, claim for themselves that they alone are the authority. There are no passages which state that "oral traditions independent of Scripture," "laws given by the church," "ex-cathedra pronouncements of the Popes," etc., are given to bring life in the name of Jesus (John 20:31), to equip for every good work, (2 Tim. 3:17), to give assurance of salvation (1 John 5:13), to judge us in the last day (Rev. 20:12), etc. The Hebrew writer made an argument from the silence of the Scriptures. He said, "For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood." (Heb. 7:14). In other words, since Moses spoke nothing concerning anyone from the tribe of Judah being a priest, Jesus could not have been a priest under the Levitical system. Likewise, since the New Testaments Scriptures spoke nothing concerning other authorities in religion today, there are no other authorities.

13) It is evident that my opponent in his Denial (Nov. 1, 1997) has twisted and perverted several passages in effort to prove that there are other authorities in religion today besides the New Testament Scriptures. For example, he perverted the Scriptures by taking the verses which were spoken to the apostles and prophets, and applied them to the church. He said, "If you have a church commissioned by Jesus to bind and loose (Mt.16:18-19; Mt. 18:17-18) with the authority of God behind it to guide into all truth (Jn 16:13; 14:26) then we have something solid to stand on." (Par. 3 & 14). I beg of our readers to carefully examine those verses. The church was not given the authority to bind and loose, guide into all truth, etc. Only the apostles and prophets were given that authority. The phrase "pillar and ground of truth" (1 Tim. 3:15) does not mean that the church is the originator of truth, or that it can make or change the laws of God. It simply means that the church is the upholder, defender and proclaimer of the truth. The apostles often praised the churches for proclaiming the truth, "for from you the word of the Lord has been spread abroad" (1 Thess. 1:8; see also Acts 11:22; 14:26-27). Churches were partakers in the defense and confirmation of the truth by sending funds to support those who were preaching the truth (Phil. 4:15-16; 2 Cor. 11:8-9). There are no verses in all of the holy Scriptures which indicates that the church has the authority to originate truth or to decree laws for God. The apostles and prophets, and they alone, were commissioned by the Lord, not to originate truth, but to reveal truth. Their task was once and for all completed for they gave us the written New Testament of Christ. The responsibility of the church today is simply to follow, defend and proclaim the truth which they revealed.

14) My opponent makes the oft repeated argument on "Moses' seat" from Matt. 23:2-3. He quotes David Palm who said, "Jesus here draws on oral Tradition to uphold the legitimacy of this teaching office in Israel. The Catholic Church, in upholding the legitimacy of both Scripture and Tradition, follows the example of Jesus." Again, we plead with our readers to carefully and honestly examine Matt. 23:2-3. Those verses say absolutely nothing about "the legitimacy of both Scripture and Tradition." Jesus was simply telling the people to follow the things which the Pharisees taught them by Moses' authority, but not to follow their example, because they did not practice what they taught. Instead of "drawing on oral Tradition" and "upholding the legitimacy of both Scripture and Tradition," Jesus repeatedly condemned the oral traditions handed down by the Jews. He said, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition...making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do." (Mark 7:9,13). Jesus' manner of condemning the traditions of men was, "God said...but you say..." (Matt. 15:4-5; Mark 7:10-11). After He mentioned, "God said," He then quoted Scripture. That was His method of drawing a clear, sharp contrast between the written Word of God and the oral traditions handed down by men.

15) In paragraph 9, my opponent perverts 2 Thess. 2:15 by trying to make it teach that we are to receive oral traditions which have been handed down independent of the Scriptures. Again, I beseech our readers to please examine the verse very carefully and see if it is teaching what he is claiming. The verse says, "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." (2 Thess. 2:15 Catholic Edition - RSV). "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us." (2 Thess. 2:15 NASV). Thus, please notice: (1) The Thessalonians were not to hold to just any traditions, but "the traditions which you were taught by us." The authority was in the inspired apostles and prophets and the traditions taught by them whether verbally or written were to be held. (2) The expression, "which you were taught" is past tense. They were to hold to the traditions which they had already received. The verse is certainly not teaching that mankind would continue to be guided by "oral traditions" which would be handed down through the ages by word of mouth.

16) As Catholics often do, my opponent quoted passages which reveal that the Word of God was given orally in that early age, and then assumed that it would be given orally in every age. (Par. 8). He assumed the very thing he needs to prove. To assume something, and then assert it, is no way to prove anything. As readers of this debate know, in my Affirmative (Nov. 1, 1997), I went to great lengths to show from the Scriptures that there was a time when the Word of God was given all orally, then both orally and written, and now all written. I also quoted many passages which reveal what the inspired writings claim for themselves. I beg of my opponent to please show by the Scriptures that the "Word of God independent of the Scriptures" would continue to be handed down through the ages. I emphatically deny that a continual handing down of the "Word of God independent of Scripture" is authorized in the Scriptures. We are not told: (1) that we are to receive it, (2) from whom we are to receive it, nor (3) how we are to receive it.

17) My opponent made the oft repeated Catholic argument that the apostles and prophets were not commissioned to write anything (Par. 2 and 14). He asked, "Will my opponent who will admit that of the 12 apostles, only Matthew, John and Peter wrote anything, accuse the 9 other apostles of not doing their job because they didn't write?" Of course, I would not accuse them of not doing their job. Their job was to deliver God's revelation to mankind (Eph. 3:2-5), and they completed their task in that early age. Jude said, "...I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 3). Christ commanded John, "Write therefore the things that thou hast seen, and the things that are, and the things that are to come hereafter." (Rev. 1:19). If the Catholic argument that "the apostles were not commanded to write" proves anything, it proves that we should not have the Scriptures at all. If the New Testament was never intended to have been written, there shouldn't be one, and definitely, Catholics shouldn't be quoting from it as an authority.

18) My opponent also made the oft repeated Catholic argument that the Catholic Church gave us the Scriptures. He used two long paragraphs laboring that point (Par. 3 & 4) and listed it as No. 2 in his conclusion. I remind my opponent that it is his responsibility in this debate to deny the proposition, "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." Thus, I beg of him to please SHOW BY THE SCRIPTURES that they do not claim for themselves to be the sole authority. Whether or not the Catholic Church determined the Canon of the New Testament Scriptures is another debate for another time. To show, however, that the Catholic argument can be easily answered, I copy the concluding remarks from my Essay entitled, "Did the Catholic Church give us the Bible?"

19) "We have studied, therefore, that the Catholic Church argues that since one of its councils in 390 selected the sacred books, one can accept them only on the basis of its authority. We have answered by showing: (1) The Bible is inspired and has authority, not because a church declared it so but because God made it so. (2) Jesus did not teach the people in His day that they could accept the Old Testament Scriptures only on the basis of those who placed the books into one volume. (3) It is a mere assumption that the Council of Hippo in 390 was a Council of the church which is now the Roman Catholic Church. (4) God did not give councils the authority to select His sacred books, nor does He expect men to receive His books only on the basis of councils. (5) The Catholic Church is not solely responsible for the gathering and selection of the New Testament books. (6) The Catholic Church has not been the sole possessor of the Bible at any time. (7) Even if it could be proven that the Catholic Church gathered the books into one volume, it still remains that it is not following the Bible today."

20) My opponent quotes Matt. 2:23 and Jude 14-15 and says that this is oral tradition at work (Par. 7). We plead with him to please explain how those verses prove that "apostolic oral traditions" are an authority in addition to the Holy Scriptures. The verses do not show "oral tradition at work," but "revelation by Holy Spirit at work." The Holy Spirit is not dependent on oral traditions to deliver God's message to man. The Holy Spirit knows perfectly what was spoken by Him in every age whether it be oral or written. Even though we don't have all the words that Enoch orally spoke during that early age, we now have some of them because the Holy Spirit has written them for us. My opponent said, "As Palm writes, ‘Paul does not hesitate to draw on stock oral Tradition to enhance his presentation of the gospel.'" He also added in Par. 8 regarding the apostle Paul, "In fact, he shows a reliance on apostolic oral tradition himself by mentioning a saying of Jesus nowhere found in Scripture (Acts 20:35)." What an insult to the apostle Paul! Under no circumstances was the apostle Paul dependent on oral traditions for anything. He said, "But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ." (Gal. 1:11-12).

21) My opponent said in Par. 10, "This is the end of Paul's life (2 Tim. 4:6-7). It is a perfect opportunity to preach sola scriptura." He added, "Paul gives no hint that after he dies, the following generations are only to rely upon written scripture." I ask my opponent to please let Paul speak for himself. He said, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." Thus, Paul's words vividly teach that the Scriptures thoroughly equip us for every good work and, thus, no other standard is needed or allowed. Any so-called good works that men might do which are not in the Scriptures, cannot be good works in God's sight because the Scriptures equip to every good work. Furthermore, I ask my opponent to please let Peter, who also was at the close of his life (2 Pet. 1:12-14), speak for himself. He said, "Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior..." (2 Pet. 3:1-2). Now, I ask my opponent to please give the verses where Paul, Peter, or any other inspired writer, plainly revealed that "apostolic oral traditions" would equip us to every good work or remind us of the commandment of the Lord.

22) My opponent would have us to believe that when people use the Scriptures as their only rule of faith, it causes division. (Par. 13). This is another Catholic argument devised to undermine the Scriptures as the only authority. Please notice, first, that the argument comes from man, not God. The Scriptures teach, "...Let God be true, but every many a liar" (Rom. 3:4). "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." (Col. 2:8). Secondly, it is absolutely wrong to assume that all Protestant churches use the Scriptures alone as their authority. Most of them, like Catholicism, have their own laws, creeds, traditions, revelations, conventions, headquarters, etc., along with the Scriptures. Thirdly, it is not the "Scriptures alone" which has produced much division among us, but the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is truly the mother of division. All of the identifying characteristics of the great apostasy predicted in the Scriptures perfectly fit the Catholic Church (1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Thess. 2:3-12). Every major division that is in Christianity originated with and came out of the Catholic Church. The bulk of Protestant denominations today are branches and sects of groups which originally broke away from the Catholic Church. Even today those who have knowledge of the current trends know that the Catholic Church is not united.

23) The prime cause of division in the religious world today is the continual mirage of teaching of the Catholic Church against the Scriptures as the sole standard. Even in this Rebuttal we have been answering common charges made by the Catholic Church against the Scriptures as the only authority. Such charges lead people away from the Scriptures and cause them to distrust them as the only rule of faith. It does this even in so-called Protestantism because many of the same charges are repeated by Protestants. Very few Protestants today truly respect the Scriptures as God's sole authority in religion. In fact, most of their doctrines originated in the Catholic Church rather than in the Scriptures, i.e., clerical dress, baptism by pouring or sprinkling rather than immersion, addressing religious leaders with religious titles, instrumental music in worship, observance of Christmas and Easter. Holding to the Scriptures alone does not cause division, but to the contrary, is the only true means of unity. The solution for overcoming division among us is to reject all the unscriptural practices which have been introduced by men and go back to the Bible. We must completely denounce all the decrees, doctrines, and traditions of men and fully return to the written Word of Christ, the New Testament. This is the only way to please God and to be united in His name.

24) May the Eternal God be with everyone in the study and application of His Word.


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First Rebuttal by David J. Riggs: Dec.1,1997.

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Last modified: November 27th, 1997.