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."
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."
2) My opponent in his last essay was truly getting ridiculous in trying
to refute the Scriptures as the only authority. His quoted from James
Akin who said, "Sola Scriptura presupposes universal nutrition. Even if
a Christian had adequate time to study the Bible sufficiently, it will
do him no good if he lacks a diet sufficiently nutritious to let his
brain function properly and his mind work clearly..." There you have it
folks. The Scriptures alone cannot be the authority in religion because
some people lack a sufficient diet for their brains to function
properly! Does he actually expect us to believe such nonsense? Why can't
I equally argue, "Oral traditions independent of Scripture" can't be an
authority because some people's brains don't function properly!
3) My opponent also used the old "illiteracy" and "printing press"
arguments. (Par. 1 & 2, Second Rebuttal). It is argued that since many
people were unable to read and that there was no printing press until
1400 years after Christ, the Scriptures cannot be the only standard.
Please observe that such arguments come from men, not God. The following
passages demonstrate that people in the time of Christ had access to the
Old Testament Scriptures: "For Moses has had throughout many generations
those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every
Sabbath." (Acts 15:21). "Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and
Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the
Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three
Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures..." (Acts 17:1-2; see
also Acts 17:10-11). "And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great
authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of
all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning.
And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet." (Acts
4) Everyone in those ancient times did not have a copy of the
Scriptures, but those who were seeking to know the will of God had free
access to them. The synagogues, even in remote places, had Scriptures in
them and some individuals had Scriptures which were carried with them.
The same could have been true regarding the New Testament Scriptures if
the people who lived during the first through the fifteenth centuries
had wanted them. The only time people do not have the Scriptures is when
they do not want them and are opposed to them. There are many who are
unable to read, but that does not discredit the Scriptures as the only
authority, nor does it imply that oral traditions independent of the
Scriptures, the pope, and the church are equal in authority with the
Scriptures. How would a Catholic relay or transmit his belief to those
who cannot read? He would simply teach them. This is precisely how that
which is revealed in the Scriptures (the Word of God) is transmitted to
those who cannot read.
5) In all of my essays in this Debate I have listed various passages
which reveal the purpose and authority of the inspired writings. Again,
here is a list of those verses:
6) THE PURPOSE AND AUTHORITY OF THE INSPIRED WRITINGS:
(1) Life in the name of Jesus (John 20:30-31).
(2) Commands of the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37).
(3) Knowledge of the mystery of Christ (Eph. 3:2-5).
(4) The proper conduct (1 Tim. 3:14-15).
(5) Every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
(6) Protection against sin (1 John 2:1).
(7) An assurance of eternal life (1 John 5:13)
(8) Standard by which teachers are tested (1 Cor. 4:6; Acts 17:11).
(9) Joy that is complete (1 John 1:1-4).
(10) A reminder of the commandments (2 Pet. 3:1-2).
(11) Standard of judgment (Rev. 20:12; John 12:48; Rom. 2:16; James 2:12).
7) As I have done before, I humbly beseech you, the readers of this
Debate, to carefully examine the above passages for yourselves. 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 because there are no passages which state
that "oral traditions independent of Scripture," "laws given by the
church," "ex-cathedra pronouncements of the Popes," "successors of the
apostles," etc., are given to bring life in the name of Jesus, to equip
for every good work, to give assurance of salvation, to judge us in the
last day, etc. The Hebrew writer made an argument from the silence of
the Scriptures by saying, "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 Testament Scriptures
spoke nothing concerning other authorities in religion today, there are
no other authorities.
8) If one reads and studies the New Testament Scriptures and obtains all
the things mentioned in the above list, what else would he need? There
is not a solitary thing needed by the child of God which is not provided
in the Scriptures. As everyone knows, I have repeatedly begged my
opponent to give us a list of his "oral traditions independent of
Scriptures." In other words, if there are other things independent of
Scriptures which are needful for our salvation, where are they, what are
they, and how do we obtain them? He has not provided a list because
there is none. His "oral traditions independent of Scriptures" are
nothing more than human traditions which the Bible strongly condemns.
Please see my list in Par. 15, Second Rebuttal.
9) Let's carefully examine some of the above passages and see what my
opponent has said regarding them. First, please consider 2 Tim. 3:15-17:
"...And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which
are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ
Jesus. 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."
10) Just as God has provided all of man's needs for his survival here on
earth, (air, water, food, etc.), He has provided all our spiritual needs
in the Scriptures. The Scriptures are profitable for doctrine or
teaching. They reveal that which is to be learned, taught, and obeyed.
They are profitable for reproof. They convict and convince all those who
open their hearts to it. They are profitable for correction. From them
we learn what is right and wrong, what is truth and error. They are
profitable for instruction in righteousness. They direct and encourage
us to follow in the righteous course of life. They reveal the proper
conduct that pleases God. As I mentioned, God created us and knows
exactly what we need to please Him. Through His Scriptures, the child of
God is fully equipped for all that God requires, for everything
necessary to please Him.
11) Dear readers of this debate, I beg of you to judge for yourselves
what 2 Tim. 3:15-17 is teaching. The verses vividly teach that the
Scriptures thoroughly equip us for every good work and, thus, no other
standard is needed or allowed. My opponent on this verse said,
"Scripture is only termed profitable (v. 16), and has its uses. It is
quite a leap to say one needs nothing else. Water is profitable for
one's health, one also needs food..." (Par. 12, First Rebuttal). My
opponent is ignoring verse 17 which says, "...That the man of God may be
complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." Inasmuch as God is
the Creator, He knows all of our needs. He has given us all profitable
things, air, water, food, etc., to thoroughly equip us for living on
earth. He also has given us through the Scriptures all profitable things
to thoroughly equip for every good work which is pleasing to Him. If
there are other sources of authority necessary for good works as my
opponent claims, the Scriptures do not thoroughly equip us to every good
work. In other words, the Scriptures either thoroughly equip us or they
do not. What my opponent needs is a passage which teaches that "the
Scriptures" AND "oral traditions independent of Scripture," AND "laws
given by the church," AND "pronouncements of the Popes," AND "successors
of the apostles" thoroughly equip us for every good work. If God has
declared that the man of God is thoroughly equipped for every good work
through the Scriptures, who has the right to say that the man of God is
NOT thoroughly equipped for every good work through the Scriptures? Who
will we believe, God or man?
12) Let us consider Eph. 3:2-5. It says, "...If indeed you have heard of
the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how
that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly
written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my
knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made
known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to
His holy apostles and prophets..."
13) Very simply, Paul said that he received knowledge of the mystery of
Christ by revelation, and he wrote it so that when we read, we can
understand what he understood. Notice, too, that the knowledge of the
mystery was revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets.
The authority of the apostles and prophets is clearly and plainly
established in the Scriptures. My opponent in replying to this verse
said, "Paul writes of what they had already received before, he had
briefly written, thus implying that he told orally much more than what
he wrote. In fact, Paul had preached the Word of God for three years
(Acts 20: 27, 31). After Paul died, were the Ephesians all of a sudden
supposed to forget what Paul told them?" (Par. 9, First Rebuttal).
Certainly, Paul spoke orally to the Ephesians much more than he wrote,
and definitely when Paul died, they were not to suddenly forget what he
had told them. As I have repeatedly shown from the Scriptures, there was
a time when the Word of God was given both orally and written, but now
since the apostles and prophets (those who were given the revelation by
the Holy Spirit) are all now dead, their writings become the only
authority by which we receive the Word of God.
14) Let me give a simple illustration that hopefully will help everyone
understand the above basic principle taught in the Scriptures. Let's
suppose that the Lord Jesus after teaching a portion of His law, wanting
to return to heaven, chose one servant (only one) to reveal the rest of
His law to mankind. Let's call that servant's name "John" and his title
is, "Ambassador." Jesus gave John the Holy Spirit so that he would not
make mistakes in delivering His laws. Ambassador John, as a good
servant, during his lifetime verbally taught the laws of the Lord to the
people. Many people were blessed to have John in their presence teaching
the laws of the Lord. Also, during his lifetime, John wrote the laws of
the Lord for the people. Furthermore, in his writings he described how
he had taught the people during his lifetime. Since John was the only
one chosen, when he dies, his writings become the only means through
which the people receive the laws of the Lord. This is precisely that
which is revealed in the Scriptures regarding the work of the apostles
and prophets. They were the Lord's chosen ambassadors to deliver His
laws to mankind and through their preaching and writing their commission
was completed. The apostle Paul said, "...The things which I write to
you are the commandments of the Lord." (1 Cor. 14:37). 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).
15) Next, let's consider 1 Tim. 3:14-15: "These things I write to you,
though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so
that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God,
which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the
16) My opponent replied to these verses by saying, "I find that an
amusing quote for someone trying to prove Sola Sciptura. First, Paul
writes that his preference was to teach face to face, orally and
authoritatively being his best way. Second, he calls the church the
pillar and ground of the truth...Thus, the verses that supposedly prove
Sola Scriptura, instead imply the infallibility of this church." (Par.
5, Second Rebuttal). I simply quoted the verses to show the purpose and
authority of Paul's inspired writings. They are given, among other
things, to show how one ought to conduct himself in the church. For
example, Paul revealed in chapter 3 how bishops and deacons were to be
selected and appointed in the local church. There are many passages
which reveal what the Word of God does for us, "able to save your souls"
(James 1:21), "able to build you up and to give you an inheritance"
(Acts 20:32), etc.; however, 1 Tim. 3:14-15 is one of those passages
which states specifically why the holy writings were given. What my
opponent needs from the Scriptures are verses which state that "oral
traditions independent of Scripture," "laws given by the church,"
"successors of the apostles," etc., are given to show how one ought to
conduct himself in the church. He can't give such verses because there
17) My opponent has assumed from 1 Tim. 3:14-15 that since Paul wanted
to visit Timothy and speak to him face to face, oral teaching
independent of the Scriptures becomes an authority along with the
Scriptures. Could it not be that Paul wanted to visit Timothy because he
was his friend and brother in Christ? Also, my opponent has assumed that
1 Tim. 3:14-15 teaches that the church is infallible. The verses say
absolutely nothing about the church being infallible. As I have shown in
every Rebuttal, the expression "pillar and ground of the truth" means
that it upholds, defends, and proclaims the truth, not that it
legislates truth. My opponent said, "The church legislates laws that are
binding on the believers." (Par. 14, Second Rebuttal). However, he has
not given us a single passage which authorizes the church to legislate
anything. I have begged him to please show where Acts 15 says that the
church legislated anything. If God had wanted His church to legislate
laws, He would have clearly and plainly revealed it to us. The idea that
the church has the authority to legislate comes from man, not God. My
opponent said, "The Catholic teaching is not that the church creates
truth, but passes down faithfully the truth that was given by God to his
apostles. The church faithfully guards and passes on this original
deposit of faith (2 Tim. 1:13-14, 1 Tim. 6:20, Jude 3)." (Par. 8, Second
Rebuttal). Does my opponent actually expect us to believe such nonsense?
The Catholic Church is not guarding and passing on the "original"
deposit of faith, but has added a host of traditions of men. (Please see
list: Par. 15, Second Rebuttal). Furthermore, the Catholic Church is
not guarding and passing on that "original" deposit of faith, but has
added other authorities to it. If the church has the authority to
legislate as my opponent claims, there would be no "original" deposit of
faith because it would continue to deposit the faith down through the
18) Let us consider 1 John 1:1-4: "That which was from the beginning,
which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have
looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life;
the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare
to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to
us; that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also
may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father
and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that
your joy may be full."
19) Thus, this is another passage which shows the purpose and authority
of the Scriptures. In accord with the authority and commission given to
him by the Lord, John declared that he was bearing witness to those
things which they had heard, had seen with their eyes, and had touched
with their hands, concerning the Word of life. He then added, "And these
things we write to you that your joy may be full." Inasmuch as all the
apostles and prophets are now dead, their writings become the only means
by which we receive their infallible witness. My opponent in reply to
this verse quoted 2 John 12 and then added, "John actually prefers oral
tradition to pass on truth to the written tradition, and it does the
same." (Par. 6, Second Rebuttal). Thus, my opponent from 2 John 12 has
again assumed that since John wanted to visit some brethren and speak to
them face to face, it establishes "oral traditions" as an authority
along with the Scriptures. Certainly, the tradition (or the infallible
witness) which was given by John whether face to face or by writings was
to be received. However, since the apostle John and other inspired men
are no longer with us, their writings become the only means by which we
receive their infallible witness.
20) Please consider Rev. 20:12: "And I saw the dead, small and great,
standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened,
which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their
works, by the things which were written in the books."
21) Very clearly, the following books will be opened at the judgment:
(1) the Book of Life which records the names of the faithful (See Phil.
4:3; Rev. 3:5; 20:15; 21:27), and (2) the books that will judge us.
Jesus Himself said, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words,
has that which judges him; the word that I have spoken will judge him in
the last day." (John 12:48). Paul said, "...In the day when God will
judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel." (Rom.
2:16). James said, "So speak and so do as those who will be judged by
the law of liberty." (James 2:12). These passages teach that the
Scriptures alone are the authority because no other standard of judgment
is revealed. As I have repeatedly shown, what my opponent needs in order
to prove his contention are passages which reveal that we will be judged
by "legislation of the church," "pronouncements of the popes," etc.
22) My opponent replied to Rev. 20:12 by saying, "That written in the
books is not scripture, but what the people had done. These verses thus
had no relation to scripture, let alone having anything to do with Sola
Scriptura." (Par. 13, First Rebuttal). Thus, my opponent has the verse
teaching that we will be judged by our works ("what the people had
done") in accord with our works. It makes no sense whatsoever to say
that we will be judged by our works according to our works. As always, I
humbly plead with our readers to examine Rev. 20:12 for themselves and
decide what it is teaching. The verse plainly reveals that we will be
judged by the things written in the books according to our works. Let me
ask a very simply but important question: "If we will NOT be judged by
the Scriptures (the sacred books) in the last day, what will be our
standard of judgment?" When one admits that the Scriptures are the
standard of judgment (as they clearly claim for themselves), he admits
that the Scriptures alone are the standard of authority.
23) As we have seen, my opponent has tried to refute the passages which
show the purpose and authority of the inspired writings. Catholics do so
because those passages destroy the other authorities which the Catholic
Church has added. The holy Scriptures forcefully and plainly claim for
themselves that they are God's standard of authority. They produce the
faith which brings life in the name of Jesus (John 20:30-31), provide
the infallible witness (1 John 1:1-4), thoroughly equip to every good
work (2 Tim. 3:16-17), are the standard of judgment (Rev. 20:12), etc.
If they are God's standard of authority as they indeed claim for
themselves, all other authorities are excluded: legislations given by
Church, oral traditions independent of Scripture, the book of Mormon,
publications of the Watch Tower Society, etc.
24) Following the Bible alone does not produce 28,000 versions of truth
as my opponent claims. There is only one version of truth. God has
revealed it to us through His holy writings. God's Word is truth. (John
17:17). God expects us to understand, believe, and obey His truth. Paul
said, "For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read
or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end..." (2
Cor. 1:13). John said, "These things I have written to you...that you
may know that you have eternal life..." (1 John 5:13). It is the
arguments and teachings of men which have produced the many versions of
error that are in religion today. My opponent in this Debate has
assaulted the Scriptures as the only guide by giving a mountain of human
arguments. He has tried to establish several other authorities besides
the Scriptures. I have tried to give answer. Let it be remembered,
though, that the sacred Scriptures are not dependent upon nor affected
by my success or failure. Whatever may be the verdict passed upon this
Debate by an intelligent reader, the Scriptures will continue to stand.
In the ages to come, when its present assailants and defenders are
moldering into dust, and when our names have long since been forgotten,
God's Scriptures will continue to be the only guide and standard of the
true children of God. Thus, in closing, I humbly appeal to you, dear
reader of this Debate, to accept the holy Scriptures as your only rule
of faith. They will guide and lead you to eternal life.
(Note: Each respondent agreed to close his last Rebuttal with six pages
rather than five. Also, the Scriptural quotations in the essays of David
J. Riggs are either from the New King James Version or the New American
Third Rebuttal/Closing Statement by David J. Riggs: Feb.1,1998.
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Last modified: Feb.1,1998.