What?! There are biblical arguments against sola Scriptura? It’s true. And Dave Armstrong came up with one hundred of them in his new book, 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura.
I received a review copy and am happy to give it full endorsement.
The book is concise, coming in at around 130 pages, and can be read in a several hours’ time. So this is a fun and fast read.
Dave lays out what sola Scriptura is by quoting from several Protestant apologists and scholars–no straw-men here–and then dives right in to the arguments against the doctrine. Most are short, from one paragraph to a page; he gets right to the point and doesn’t waste words.
I found many of the arguments interesting, and lots I had never thought of before (great job, Dave!). Argument 9, for example, quotes from Nehemiah 8:7-8 when the Jewish leaders interpreted the “the law” in “the book” for the people. Another one is in argument 13, where Matthew 2:23 is quoted “He shall be called a Nazarene,” yet Dave points out that this prophecy is found nowhere in the Old Testament.
In argument 41, he hits the nail on the head:
“Protestants grant to individuals the authority to decided…what is true and what isn’t, while denying it to the Church. This makes no sense. If Protestantism discounts the Church’s binding authority because the Church is made of fallible, sinful men, then they have to discount every individual’s interpretation, since each person is a fallible sinner, too!”
I and others have made a similar argument regarding the canon of Scripture. Why should I believe that God would guide me personally to know which books are inspired and not guide His Church on the matter?
In many arguments, he shows how Tradition 1) doesn’t nullify the Scriptures, and 2) is found everywhere in the Bible itself, while the doctrine of sola Scriptura is strangely not found explicitly in the Bible.
Argument 71 is particularly valuable: “The Catholic ‘epistemology of authority’ is a combination of faith, history, and reason.” In this one, Dave lays out how discovering the Church is a process that employs reason and a study of history, which support then the assent of faith to Christ and His Church.
The historical reality, questioned by no one, is that *something* happened with this guy Jesus back in the first century, and the *result* was that an organization was established, led by the Apostles in the beginning, that continued to grow and function throughout the next centuries. The only question is, do you believe that this Church became corrupted in her teachings, or did God protect her from corruption. Protestants and Mormons believe it became corrupted. Catholics believe God protected the Church from error. Dave also briefly rebuts the Protestant argument that Catholics have to have “infallible certainty.”
Chapter 9 covers the council of Jerusalem, a topic I bring up in my book as well, because it is a fertile ground for arguments for the Catholic Church against sola Scriptura. Trying to conclude the Bible alone doctrine from the events of this council is an impossible stretch, though I’ve seen Protestant apologists go to the mat trying to demonstrate this. Dave shows from the council how Peter’s authority is greater than that of Paul’s, among other insights.
The final argument chapter includes rebuttals of popularly used Protestant prooftexts for sola Scriptura. These are ones I rarely take the time to rebut, because they seem so far-fetched. But Dave does a great service is showing how they do not work. He hits the exact arguments that some Protestant friends of mine use to support their beliefs, like “Thy word is true,” and “God’s word ‘will stand forever’ ,” and of course 2 Tim. 3:15-17, the favorite of all Protestant apologists.
Dave’s book is a great source for arguments and launching point for delving more deeply into the sola Scriptura debate. I gleaned many new ideas from it that I want to think about more. I love how Dave makes so much use of the Scriptures in his arguments, showing that the Bible is fully compatible with Catholicism, even more plausibly so than it is with Protestantism.
So do check it out and add it to your collection! Catholic Answers, who will be publishing the new book based off If Protestantism is True, also published this book.