Wednesday, September 8, 2010

By What Standard? The Doctrine of Sola Scriptura

"And the Lord said:
     'Because this people draw near with their mouth
and honor Me with their lips,
     while their hearts are far from Me,
and their fear of Me is a commandment taught by men,
     therefore, behold, I will again
do wonderful things with this people,
     with wonder upon wonder;
and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
     and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.'
- Isaiah 29:13-14

One of the five Solas of the Reformation was Sola Scriptura, the belief that the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith and practice. In contrast, the Church of Rome held to an equal authority for church tradition. The Catholic Encyclopedia states it this way: "Catholics, on the other hand, hold that there may be, that there is, in fact, and that there must of necessity be, certain revealed truths apart from those contained in the Bible; they hold, furthermore, that Jesus Christ has established in fact, and that to adapt the means to the end He should have established, a living organ as much to transmit Scripture and written Revelation as to place revealed truth within reach of everyone always and everywhere." And the First Vatican Council was even plainer: "Moreover, by divine and Catholic faith, everything must be believed that is contained in the written word of God or in tradition, and that is proposed by the Church as a divinely revealed object of belief, either in a solemn decree or in her ordinary, universal teaching.”

But what does the text above say? "Their fear of Me is a commandment taught by men." In Mark 7:6-7, Jesus quotes this text, then adds in verse 8, "You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men." And Paul warns of the attraction of such traditions in Colossians 2:23, "These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion ..."

So, we have the prophet warning against man-made doctrines, quoted and reinforced by our God and Savior Jesus Christ, and repeated by the Apostolic author of much of the New Testament. If the Catholic Church taught that the Bible is wrong, to be corrected by Church teachings (actually the position of Mormons), at least they would have a consistent apologetic. However, when one standard that they acknowledge condemns the other, their error becomes obvious! The Reformers got it right!

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