Home > Apologetics, Scripture > SOLA SCRIPTURA: The Sufficiency of Scripture

SOLA SCRIPTURA: The Sufficiency of Scripture

By Dr. Rowland Ward

Part 1

From The Presbyterian Banner: July, 1996.

The following are notes by Dr. Ward for his debate with
Roman Catholic apologist, Mr Patrick Madrid in June, 1996.

 

(A) THE QUESTION: AUTHORITY

Our subject is a large one and we can hardly give adequate coverage in the time allowed, but hopefully the main points can be addressed. For the purpose of this debate the question is not ‘Does Scripture contain in one form or another all that is necessary to salvation? [material sufficiency], for on this I understand Mr Madrid and I are agreed, but ‘Is Scripture a sufficient and final court of appeal in matters of faith or morals?’ [formal sufficiency]. Fundamentally, therefore, we are dealing with the question of authority in regard to the Christian faith.
Roman Catholic position

The Roman Catholic position is that the Church is the custodian of revelation whether in the form of oral teaching or written Scripture and that the Church has an infallible teaching authority or magisterium which is essential in order for us to know both what writings are Scripture and the correct interpretation of their content.
Thus, in the words of Vatican II document Dei Verbum (1965):

“Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit. Sacred Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching. Thus it comes about that the Church does not draw her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scripture alone. Hence both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal feelings of devotion and reverence… Sacred tradition and sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit, which is entrusted to the Church… But the task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone…Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it…. It is clear, therefore, that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others…'[1]”
Although this is not an infallible declaration it reflects much of what was said by the Council of Trent in 1546, which is regarded as infallible. Today also, in current exegetical work by Roman Catholics, it is abundantly clear that dogma as defined in Sacred Tradition is what binds and not Scripture in its simplicity.

 

The Protestant position

The historic Protestant position does not say that right reason and the historical witness of the believing community are irrelevant to identifying what books are Scripture, any more than it teaches that grammatical knowledge and background information from archaeology or history or the believing community are of no value in assisting in interpreting Scripture correctly. But it affirms that:

1. the Word God spoke through apostles and prophets and intended for the direction of his church is now found only in sacred Scripture,

2. the teaching of Scripture is sufficiently clear on the main things so as to be able to make ordinary people wise for salvation and to equip for every good work,

3. ultimate certainty as to the authority of the Word of God written comes from the witness of the Spirit of God in the believer’s heart, and

4. Scripture is a sufficient and final court of appeal in matters of faith and morals.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

  1. May 27, 2015 at 9:27 am

    Reblogged this on My Delight and My Counsellors.

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