Forum Post on Sola Scriptura (3)
Thread on Sola Scriptura (cont'd),----1, 2, and 3

Well, [...], we are not far apart in our thinking but not likely to resolve the small differences we have. The first time that I came upon the notion that "what we need to believe in for salvation" can be found in the Scriptures is when I came across the Protestant "Sola" doctrine. So I feel this is a Protestant, not Catholic teaching. And I have argued this ad-nauseum with well-informed Protestants. I feel you dismiss their beliefs and reasoning too glibly. Although, I disagree with their reasoning, of course. Also, I have never seen as established Catholic belief that all Catholic "dogmas" can be found at least implicitly in the Scriptures. I think that is a theological opinion (one which I believe). And for the record, one need not profess every Catholic dogma in order to be saved (however, they cannot be rejected). As far as Trent was concerned, the faith necessary for salvation was a faith in the One True God which carries with it an implicit belief in Christ and all the Mysteries. And as far as semantics go, what you are talking about in sola and what the Protestants are talking about is miles and miles apart. For a true "Solaist", Scripture, not the Church, is the teacher, hence their methodology of comparing and contrasting one quote to another. Finally, I don't accept that Pius XII intended to "prove" the dogma from Scripture, even though he spoke of St Albert's many "proofs" and referred to the Scholastic teaching that the Sacred Writings are the ultimate doctrinal source. I do not believe we would have the dogma of the Assumption without the Apostolic Tradition. And by the by, it is not wrong to refer to a dogma as a doctrine since every dogma is a doctrine as well although not every doctrine is a dogma.[...]

Dear [...]:
Thank you for your polite summary, from your point of view, of what we have accomplished in this discussion.
I still wish you would retract your accusation that I was intellectually dishonest and that I was talking out of both sides of my mouth.
Sincerely, [...]

I didn't actually say "you were talking out of both sides of your mouth." I asked if you would prefer that one over the "intellectually dishonest" which was, I admit, a bit of overkill! In any event, consider both retracted. I still think you are a bit "hoity toity" though. That's the best I can do; being no saint! One further point, I think any sincere Christian (C, P, O, etc.), upon serious reflection, could not really believe that the body which bore the Saviour (Mary's) could possibly undergo corruption. Hence the Catholic dogma of the Assumption is not really that far out in left field as some Protestants make it out to be. [...]

Especially in light of the incorruptible bodies of several of the Saints, which we have still with us. If God can do that for some people, we can safely assume He would do it for His Mother...

Good point, [...]!

Hello [...]:
Was reading through the thread and was interested in a statement you made to [...] about Protestants:
>So, if we take life as evidence you will note that >Protestants don't live by Sola Scriptura. They teach >about the Bible, thereby altering the formula of the "Bible and >the Holy Spirit" being necessary
I believe your position to be a mis-statement. I am a Lutheran and this definitely NOT correct doctrine as far as we are concerned. Rather our teaching on "sola scriptura" is a tri-partite one: 1) revealed Holy Scripture, 2) interpreted by the (historical) Church, 3) UNDER THE GUIFDANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. One may personally interpret scripture all day long, but without divine guidance of the Holy Spirit it is an empty endeavor. This particular doctrine I think is much akin to the Pope speaking "ex cathedra" which is promulgation of Church doctrine, interpretation, etc. and REQUIRES divine guidance of the Holy Spirit in order to be recognized as binding upon Christ's Holy Church.
Quite frankly, Protestants are not in the business of excluding any Person of the Trinity in their endeavor of seeking the truth and the Kingdom.

Dear Frank, This may be the way your particular community understands 'sola', but it is definately NOT Luther's understanding.
After he tossed out the authority of the Bish, he apealed to the Pope who didn't defend his thinking, so he discarded the Pope, after that he apealed to the councils, which was no help to him either, so he threatened to call his own, when that seemed as if it wouldn't work he said 'scripture alone' and attempted to toss out the Apostle James as well.
I agree that it is often a matter of semantics when it comes to individual Christians' understanding of their doctrines, but Luther is the father of 'Sola', so his definition should stand.
I may have expressed these thoughts a little clumsily: in these cases I usually leave it to people like [...], [...] and [...] to come in and clean up my mess.
Peace brother

How do you know whether or not you are being guided by the Holy Spirit in your interpretation of scripture?

Dear [...]:
Your assessment of Luther vis-a-vis James may be appropriate because he certainly didn't emphasize James' teaching in advancing his sola Scriptura doctrine. However, you must admit that in 500 years the Church has had the opportunity to arrive at its correct presant position. BTW I disagree that the doctrine of sola Scriptura excludes the working of the Holy Spirit as Luther himself taught that the work of the Holy Spirit manifests BEFORE a person can even begin to have sola fide. So it is somewhat disingenious to hold that this the One and only doctrine of Protesta3.
ntism. Furthermore, if one considers the historical backdrop of the ecclesiastical climate of Luther's time when Holy Mother Church was in error (what with its excesses of Popes and anti-popes, and certain practices to raise money for the Church at the expense of the poor) an appeal to 'settled' doctrine present in Holy Scripture does not seem strange at all. We have the luxory to be the spiritual benefactors of both the Reformation Church AND the Counter-Reformation in the Catholic Church. If the argument is that Holy Mother Church need not change why was the new CCC necessary?
I am of the opinion that our continued intra-nicene fighting distracts us from what is surely the most hellish attack on Christ's Holy Church of the ages -- that is the New Age climate that infiltrates many of our Protestant churches and if I read correctly my issues of the New Oxford Review even the Catholic Church. I am looking at this battle as one that Christ will surely lead us to victory over the enemy and perhaps even bring His church together in unity of body as well as spirit -- we may hope for that glorious result when we read the Apocalypse (the Revelation of St. John).
My observation is: we are the recipients of blessings and curses in this matter. Curses because the original schism paved the way for a plethora of false religions masquarading as Christian to take root in an atmosphere of radicalism (who could have conceived of the Body of Christ separating...unless one considers the Eastern Orthodox Church did the same only earlier). But blessings because our faith is stronger for the purge of practices that brought dishonor & disgrace upon the Church.
Love the discussion, eveyone seems genuinely concerned to speak their piece without resort to histrionics and bashing of each other.
God bless,

Hello [...]:
What a good question to pose....can I weasle at the moment and formulate a full answer later...I just got new contacts and I can hardly read my screen.
A short answer: scripture correctly interprets itself when the Holy Spirit indwells the individual...and like a complete circle no one can correctly interpret those scriptures except that they are the recipients of the true faith as preserved down the ages by the Church...I think the three things cannot be divided, each depends on the other to arrive at the truth.
If you will aloow me a few days I will give proof text for this position that allows an individual, steeped in the truth preserved through the ages by the Church, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit can know.
God's peace,

I don't deny that often protestants have wonderful insights given them by the Holy Spirit when they examine scripture; it's just that they have no objective way of knowing whether it is a true or even 'safe' interpretation, except when they apeal to the 'common' Fathers (up to the 5th century AD).
Also, I doubt we would disagree on the quality or quantity of abuses at the time of 'the reformetion'; I just prefer the methods of the 11th and 12 century reformers - St. Francis (Happy Feast Day!) and St. Domenic.
Peace, brother.

Dear [...],
As a former Lutheran, I am sometimes asked to explain Lutheran teaching, and unfortunately, I don't understand it myself well enough to really explain it. That's why I ask these questions.
You say "scripture correctly interprets itself when the Holy Spirit indwells the individual...and like a complete circle no one can correctly interpret those scriptures except that they are the recipients of the true faith as preserved down the ages by the Church...I think the three things cannot be divided, each depends on the other to arrive at the truth." Can you explain exactly what you mean by "the Church", and how it preserves the True Faith?
Thank you.

From the time of the Apostles, there were many "Gospels" and "Letters" written by the Apostles and Bishops who came after them and by Priests and many others.
These writings were circulated among the Churches that were established during those times. Some of these writings were Divinely inspired, and others were not, or at least not in total. The council of Rome (382), laid out the canon for the Bible as we accept it today. This list was re-affirmed by the Council of Trent in 1545-63. My guess is that prior to the year 382, the Church knew and proclaimed the authentic books of the bible. This knowledge and the proclamation of it is what I would call Divine Revellation/Tradition.
I have a question. What did those people in the first four centuries do if they were believers in "Sola Scriptura"?

Hi [...]:
1) they had the WORD and were circulating letters about Him and speaking about Him by word (of mouth);
2) they had the word (see Romans 1:2; John 2:22, 5:39, 10:35; 1 Peter 2:6; Matt. 21:42, 22:29; Mark 12:24; Luke 24:27; and many other references to the Scriptures that were available to the early church). It seems that our Lord himself referred often to this word, "the Scriptures" to support His point to those whom He addressed, the WORD refering to the Word so to speak. So it is not correct to say that the Scriptures were not available to the Church of the early centuries A.D. (Just not the letters we know as the New Testament books)
Two references are supportive of my contention that no one studies, hears, translates, interprets or otherwise treats Scripture properly EXECPT by means of the Holy Spirit:
2 Peter 1:20-21: "Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." ( I respectfully decline to treat the Greek meaning of the verb "carried along", but take the plain meaning that they were under the guidance of the Holy Spirit )
Acts 1:16: "[Peter] said, 'Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas,....'"
Again, the (self-interpreting) Scriptures say that when King David spoke the prophecy concerning Judas, he was under the influence of the Holy Spirit -- it's is plain that in fact the Holy Spirit is doing the speaking;
3) my recollection of the history of the early Church was that they relied on oral tradition for the conveying of the events surrounding the time of our Lord's birth, death, resurrection, ascension, and the acts of the Apostles. I recall that one of the main concerns of the early church fathers was that many versions of these oral recollections were being circulated. So it made sense to collect, compile, and canonize them at the Council of Rome, reaffirming them again at the Council of Trent.
I might disagree with you [...] in just a small way about the early Church proclaiming the 'authentic' scriptures under Divine Revelation/Tradition, elsewise why the necessity of calling a Church Council to canonize the true revelation? BTW, I am convinced that the early fathers were guided by the Holy Spirit in their work (something I think we all agree upon).
[...], I really do not know what you mean to say by 'believers in "sola Scriptura". It is not a doctrine of the Church that is central to faith and practice, much less necessary for salvation. I think a fairer assessment of this doctrine, by Luther (remember he was a priest serving Holy Mother Church), is to consider the context of its formulation -- a rather bleak period in the Church when justice was not being served as when empty works were being promulgated by her ministers as a means of salvation. Those were times that upon reflection none of us could look without some sense of shame so Luther preached his conscience and accepted the censure of his superiors, to the point of excommunication though that was not his desire. The thrust of sola Scriptura was that faith, not works leads to salvation [ I think that Catholics can rightly criticize Protestants after 500 years that now we seem to have a lot of 'dead' faith with little or no evidence of it through works.....ahhhhhh, feast or famine seems to be human nature ]. As a Lutheran, I can assure you 'sola Scriptura' is not right up there with the Apostles Creed or any other traditional practice of the Church.
Now a question for your reflection: do you think faith and practice spring from doctrine?
God bless,

If I may; Yes, faith and practice do spring from doctrine: that is, if you and I are not defining terms differently.

Thanks [...], but I'll rely on this :
[...], Faith springs from God as gift; practice is the evidence of that faith.
And further [...], I know there were no "believers in Sola Scriptura" in the first four centuries. Had there been, they might have relied on the "loose" Gospels or Epistles that were circulating; possibly the Gospel of Mary, Gospel of Peter, or any number of writings that didn't make it into the Canon.
Anytime Our Lord referred to scriptures, He was speaking about the 46 books of the OT. We have no record of any Christian writings prior to the death of Jesus. I do agree that some of the early writings were scripture as Peter did (2 Peter 3:15-16).
Pax Vobiscum,

I think the important thing to remember about 'sola Scriptura' is precisely what we find in 1 Cor 12 [DRV]....
4 "Now there are diversities of graces, but the same Spirit;"
8-11 "To one indeed, by the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom: and to another, the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; To another, faith in the same spirit; to another, the grace of healing in one Spirit; To another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, the discerning of spirits; to another, diverse kinds of tongues; to another, interpretation of speeches. But all these things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as he will."
27-30 "Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member. And God indeed hath set some in the church; first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly doctors; after that miracles; then the graces of healing, helps, governments, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all doctors? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the grace of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?"
Now, there is not necessarily a concensus about what 'sola Scriptura' actually is, among Protestant sects. Most 'mainline churches' agree, similarly as the Catholic Church authoritative interpreter is necessary; but, just WHO that interpreter is, is the question.
On the other hand, we have those who speak of the Bible as the sole authority for each Christian, personally... since they are "endowed with the Spirit", they can interpret Scripture for themself. These types clearly contradict what St. Paul has to tell us about the Spirit - that all do not necessarily receive the same gifts, but everyone is important to the Body of Christ. One's who believe in 'solo Scriptura' make a grave error, I believe, that can lead to their own destruction.
Therefore, if we stick to the first definition of 'sola Scriptura', we must, then, logically ask ourselves....who has the authority to interpret and how shall we discern such? It is in this area, I believe, where 'sola Scriptura' needs to be discussed - though not to the exclusion of leading those who have fallen into an erroneous 'sola Scriptura' defintion to correct discernment.
God bless,

Hi [...]:
Welcome to the Catholic Forum. I'm sorry that I misrepresented the current Lutheran position. I was making a general statement based on the Protestants with whom I've had discussions on this subject. I have come to realize that Protestants do not have an official definition of Sola Scriptura.
I'm interested however, what do you mean when you say "I am a Lutheran and this definitely NOT correct doctrine as far as we are concerned. Rather our teaching on "sola scriptura" is a tri-partite one: 1) revealed Holy Scripture, 2) interpreted by the (historical) Church, 3) UNDER THE GUIFDANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT."
When you say "NOT correct doctrine", do you mean that sola scriptura is not correct doctrine, thereby agreeing with us? Or do you mean that I simply described it incorrectly?
In view of #2 interpreted by the (historical) Church, why do you call the tri-partite definition "Sola Scriptura" at all?
You also say, >>One may personally interpret scripture all day long, but without divine guidance of the Holy Spirit it is an empty endeavor.>>
I agree.
What is the Lutheran Church's stance on tradition? From the term '(historical) Church' in #2, I would guess that it is favorable.
Thanks for writing.
Your brother in Christ,

Back to my Religion Page...