“Sola Scriptura Began in 70 AD”

inp122I debated a Protestant scholar named Nathanael Taylor last night. You can listen to the full two hours here. In the next several posts I plan to unpack our discussion and continue with some threads that we weren’t able to pursue to completion.

I asked Nathanael when sola Scriptura “kicked in” as the sole infallible rule of faith in the early Church, and surprisingly, he answered “70 AD, with the destruction of the Jewish Temple.”

This assumes that 1) all books of the NT were completed by 70 AD and to a lesser degree that 2) the Church had come to understand and separate these twenty-seven inspired writings from the non-inspired ones.

I’m going to ignore the disputable claim made by Nathanael that the book of Daniel teaches that all books of the NT will be completed by 70 AD. I’m also going to ignore the fact that in 70 AD the canon of the NT was not crystallized in the Church’s understanding. Instead, I’m going to focus on one interesting consequence of this peculiar view, one that no Protestant I have ever talked to has believed.

1. Some Apostles still lived in 70 AD
2. But sola Scriptura was now the rule
3. So Christians could reject the teachings of the Apostles if they were different than their individual interpretation of the Scriptures

Some readers may think that this conclusion is (almost patently) absurd. Yet I can say with confidence that Nathanael holds to this position, because I asked the similar question later, whether he would obey Timothy as the successor of the Apostle or not. And he responded that he would only follow Timothy, bishop of Ephesus, insofar as Timothy agreed with Nathanael’s interpretation of the Scriptures.

Yes, that even means that Nathanael would hypothetically be in a position where Timothy taught that some verses in Paul’s two letters to himself meant X while Nathanael would claim they meant ~X. Imagine telling Timothy that you know better than he does what Paul’s letter to him meant!

But in fact this is incredibly problematic because it means that Nathanael could reject the teachings of the Apostles as a group even. After all, according to Protestantism, they are just some human beings getting together and coming up with teachings, which are not protected by God from error. So in fact even if the Apostles got together and said “this is the teaching on issue X,” if Nathanael thought they interpreted the Scripture incorrectly, he would reject their teaching and perhaps start his own church.

That is enough to show the problem with the position, but the Scriptures themselves furnish other counter-arguments. In 3 John, the Apostle speaks of “Diotrephes,” who likes to put himself first and contradict the Apostolic authority. St. John explains that he is going to go visit the church and deal with Diotrephes straight away. In fact, he doesn’t want to write more (and 3 John is the shortest book of Scripture) because he is going to go there himself and exert his God-given Apostolic authority.

Further, there is absolutely zero historical evidence that sola Scriptura was the rule of faith in the Church during this time (or during any other time, for that matter, but in particular during this time). Instead we have letters like St. Clement’s to the Greek church in Corinth, where the bishop of Rome (Clement), is discussing the orderly succession of bishops as the rightful authorities, contra those lay people in the church who would usurp this authority. That is but one of many examples.

Sola Scriptura beginning in 70 AD is a claim out of thin air. It makes no sense from reason, history, Tradition, or the Scriptures. This is because the claim is false.

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78 Responses to “Sola Scriptura Began in 70 AD”

  1. Czarcastic says:

    Devin, using 3 John isn’t really fair. You see, it’s all the way towards the end of the Bible, and Nathanael may not have had time to read that far before the show.

    I, too, have never heard this “belief” before–and I’ve been around the Protestant mary-go-round quite a bit. But I guess the Protestant model (self-interpretation of scripture) can support any theory.

    I listened to the first half; I’ll get to the second half later.

    • Devin Rose says:

      Czar,

      3 John is very short and so is ignored by many. Yet it is a stunning example of Apostolic authority, Tradition (St. John explicitly saying he will not write more because instead he would rather go there in person and instruct and discipline, the contents of which are nowhere recorded in the Scriptures), and rebellion against Apostolic authority by someone who chose his own lights against the Apostles.

      Yet Nathanael, to his credit, is following sola Scriptura to its (absurd) logical conclusion: that he would choose his own interpretation of the Scriptures over that of the Apostles, since in 70 AD the Scriptures (and not the Apostles as divinely appointed leaders of Christ’s Church) became the sole infallible rule of faith.

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  3. We believe a bit differently than do most Protestants, and also differently than most Catholics, on the matter of Scripture.

    For us (old school Lutherans) the gospel is the heart of the Scriptures, and we read the Scriptures through the prism of God’s grace, the gospel, which has power to create and sustain faith. (Romans 1:16)

    The Word was there long before the Scriptures were. The Bible(s) were a re-calibration of that preached Word, to keep the message focused on Christ’s work for sinners.

    We do not, however, throw out tradition. Where tradition compliments and lifts up and confirms the gospel, then we have no problem with it at all. Where it does not, and it puts the onus of focus onto us, then we can dispense with it.

    • De Maria says:

      I’m stunned to hear that you are a Lutheran, Steve. But maybe I’m getting you confused with someone else.

      Anyway, you said:
      We believe a bit differently than do most Protestants, and also differently than most Catholics, on the matter of Scripture.

      I know that you believe differently than Catholics on the matter and that is the only thing I’m concerned about. May we focus upon that?

      For us (old school Lutherans) the gospel is the heart of the Scriptures,

      That is Catholic Teaching. That is why we stand when the Gospels are read.

      and we read the Scriptures through the prism of God’s grace, the gospel, which has power to create and sustain faith. (Romans 1:16)

      Very good. It is also Catholic Teaching.

      The Word was there long before the Scriptures were.

      Jesus Christ, the Word of God was there from before time began (John 1:1). That is true. But Tradition, the Word of God, was also there before the Scriptures. I think you would disagree with that, wouldn’t you?

      The Bible(s)

      Bibles?

      were a re-calibration of that preached Word, to keep the message focused on Christ’s work for sinners.

      Re-calibration?

      The Bible is the Written Word of God. Not a recalibration. Have you not read in Scripture:
      2 Peter 1:19-21
      King James Version (KJV)
      19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

      20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

      21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

      Holy men of God spake by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Then they wrote the Scriptures.

      We do not, however, throw out tradition. Where tradition compliments and lifts up and confirms the gospel, then we have no problem with it at all. Where it does not, and it puts the onus of focus onto us, then we can dispense with it.

      Then you need to dispense with your Lutheran traditions and come back to the Traditions of Jesus Christ which are only taught by the Catholic Church.

      Sincerely,

      De Maria

      • Hi De Maria,

        As you say, the Word of God was around long before the Bible. So then why a Bible?

        The Word was being distorted. The gospel Word was being warped into all sorts of heresy. So a re-calibration of that Word was needed to put people back on track.

        For us the Word is firstly Jesus Christ Himself. Then preaching and teaching about Him. Then the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. Then the Bible.

        We believe the gospel is pure. That Christ died for sinners, and that nothing at all needs to be added to that to improve our lot with God.

        Our Lutheran traditions(in our congregation), all revolve around the gospel. So we keep them. We don’t have to, though. We are free to take them out if we wish. That is a difference between Catholics and Lutherans. The form, for us, is flexible. As long as the gospel is purely preached and the sacraments are administered in accordance with that gospel, then the church is there.

        I was a Catholic for 35 years. But then I heard the pure gospel and I was hooked. Christ with NO add-on’s. It’s quite rare out there in churches these days. One doesn’t hear it very often in most Protestant churches. One can hear it anywhere. Catholic Church included. But it is rare that someone isn’t handing you a list of stuff that you need to do, on top of what Christ has done.

        Thank you, friend.

        • This explains why assurance and comfort are so important in Lutheranism, and just how Luther got there. He spent 15 1/2 years in an Augustinian monastery and didn’t have any assurance:

          http://theoldadam.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/the-question-that-precipitated-the-reformation.mp3

          It’s a really good class, even if you don’t agree with all or much that you hear. You’ll at least have a better understanding of where we are coming from.

          Thanks.

          • De Maria says:

            Steve Martin says:

            This explains why assurance and comfort are so important in Lutheranism, and just how Luther got there.

            Luther got there by error. He misunderstood the Teachings of St. Paul.

            He spent 15 1/2 years in an Augustinian monastery and didn’t have any assurance:

            He should have had he assurances of faith, hope and love. His 15.5 years in the monastery did him no good.

            http://theoldadam.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/the-question-that-precipitated-the-reformation.mp3

            It’s a really good class, even if you don’t agree with all or much that you hear. You’ll at least have a better understanding of where we are coming from.

            I already understand where you are coming from. I’m trying to get you to understand that it is an error which is detrimental to your spiritual good.

            Thanks.

            You’re welcome.

            Sincerely,

            De Maria

        • Bruce says:

          Read John Henry Newman: On the Development of Christian Doctrine and you’ll be Catholic once again.

          • Once you’ve become free (from climbing religious ladders), you never go back.

            I’m catholic, and that is enough. But thanks, anyway.

            • De Maria says:

              Steve Martin says:

              Once you’ve become free (from climbing religious ladders), you never go back.

              IF you were once Catholic and then left, you obviously did not know what you were leaving. Since there are no religious ladders to climb in the Catholic Church.

              In the Catholic Church, we only climb the Mountain of the Lord.

              Hebrews 12:
              22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

              I’m catholic, and that is enough. But thanks, anyway.

              I hope you’re right. As for me however, I leave all judgments to God. I will believe His Church (Eph 3:10) and obey His Word (John 14:21-23). With the Apostle, I say:

              1 Corinthians 4:2-4
              King James Version (KJV)
              2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

        • Edward says:

          “It’s quite rare out there in churches these days. One doesn’t hear it very often in most Protestant churches. One can hear it anywhere. Catholic Church included. But it is rare that someone isn’t handing you a list of stuff that you need to do, on top of what Christ has done.”

          How would one know when one did hear it? How would one know when the gospel was being ‘purely preached’ and when it wasn’t?

          Protestantism offers no objective method – as far as I can see – for distinguishing true gospel from false gospels.

          • The gospel Word creates faith…in Christ Jesus, and His finished work on the cross for the ungodly…the undeserving. That’s the gospel.

            • De Maria says:

              Steve Martin says:

              The gospel Word creates faith…in Christ Jesus,

              The Gospel Word “inspires” faith. The Sacraments “infuse” faith. Faith, is a grace of God which pre-exists the person to whom it is granted.

              and His finished work on the cross for the ungodly…the undeserving.

              That is true and it is Catholic Teaching. Except for the part that says that faith is created every time it is granted or bestowed.

              That’s the gospel.

              That is only part of the Gospel. There’s another part of the Gospel which says that many of the undeserving for whom Christ died, refused the gift of faith which God offered them:
              John 1:11
              King James Version (KJV)
              11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

    • De Maria says:

      Hi Steve,

      You said,
      Hi De Maria,

      As you say, the Word of God was around long before the Bible. So then why a Bible?

      The answer is complicated. But your answer below is basically false, although it does contain some truth.

      The Word was being distorted.

      By some. But not by the Church. Scripture tells us that the Church is the Pillar of Truth (1 Tim 3:15). Therefore the Church will always teach the Truth (Eph 3:10).

      The gospel Word was being warped into all sorts of heresy.

      Scripture tells us that the Church is here to combat heresy (Matt 18:17). And that the Church identifies heresy and approves of the proper doctrines in order to combat the heresies (1 Corinthians 11:19).

      So a re-calibration of that Word was needed to put people back on track.

      Again, Scripture tells us that the Church always taught the Word of God correctly, by word and by epistle (2 Thess 2:15).

      So, there was no so-called “recalibration” necessary.

      The New Testament was written in order to more effectively pass down the Traditions of Jesus Christ. Not as a means of correcting or recalibrating these Traditions. The New Testament is a collection of the Traditions of Jesus Christ and is written on the basis of the Traditions of Jesus Christ.

      For us the Word is firstly Jesus Christ Himself.

      That is Catholic Teaching.

      Then preaching and teaching about Him.

      That is still Catholic Teaching.

      Then the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.

      All Seven Sacraments are outpourings of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ works through His Sacraments.

      Then the Bible.

      The Bible is the written Word of God.

      We believe the gospel is pure. That Christ died for sinners, and that nothing at all needs to be added to that to improve our lot with God.

      Individual repentance needs to be added to that. And keeping the Commandments needs to be added to that. Jesus Christ saves those who obey Him.

      He does not save unrepentant sinners.

      Revelation 22:13-15
      King James Version (KJV)
      13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
      14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

      Hebrews 5:9
      And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

      Our Lutheran traditions(in our congregation), all revolve around the gospel.

      Luther’s version of the Gospel. But not Christ’s Gospel.

      So we keep them.

      Your Lutheran traditions?

      We don’t have to, though.

      If you want to be saved eventually, you need to have faith in God and keep the Commandments.
      If you want to be saved in this life, you need to have faith in God, keep the Commandments and submit to the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.

      We are free to take them out if we wish.

      The traditions of the Lutherans? Perhaps. But not the Traditions of Jesus Christ which are passed down by the Catholic Church.
      Romans 6:17
      But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

      That is a difference between Catholics and Lutherans. The form, for us, is flexible. As long as the gospel is purely preached and the sacraments are administered in accordance with that gospel, then the church is there.

      That is your error. The Gospel is not flexible. There is one Gospel of Jesus Christ and it is taught by the Catholic Church:
      Galatians 1:8
      But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

      I was a Catholic for 35 years. But then I heard the pure gospel and I was hooked. Christ with NO add-on’s. It’s quite rare out there in churches these days. One doesn’t hear it very often in most Protestant churches. One can hear it anywhere. Catholic Church included. But it is rare that someone isn’t handing you a list of stuff that you need to do, on top of what Christ has done.

      You have been fooled. The True Gospel, the Pure Gospel is taught in the Catholic Church.

      In the Catholic Church you have the best help in achieving holiness and righteousness. And only the holy and righteous will be saved by God. God does not save people simply because they claim to be saved.

      Matthew 5:20
      For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

      2 Corinthians 3:9
      For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

      Hebrews 12:14
      King James Version (KJV)
      14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

      Thank you, friend.

      You’re welcome,

      De Maria

      • De Maria says:

        My mistake Steve,

        You said the “form is flexible”.

        I reponded, “the Gospel is not flexible”.

        The form is indeed flexible. That is why we have so many forms in the Catholic Church.

        However, Luther changed the Gospel. As you so aptly noted, the Gospel is not flexible.

        Luther changed the Gospel when he said that we are justified by faith alone. That is a fundamental change in the Teaching of Jesus Christ, the Gospel (Matt 25:31-46; Gal 6:8; 2 Pet 1:5-10).

        Christ never taught such an idea, nor did St. Paul.

        Sincerely,

        De Maria

        • De Maria,

          The gospel is not changeable. Luther parroted Paul. The gospel is totally free gift. The forgiveness of sins by God’s grace (grace is unmerited favor).

          The Catholic Church during Luther’s time had really gone off the rails. Offering people forgiveness for themselves and their relatives by indulgences. That’s not the gospel. So Luther offered a corrective, but the Medici Pope, Leo, wanted nothing of it and threw Luther out.

          That’s the basic story.

          Luther was just standing up for the pure gospel.

          Thanks.

          • De Maria says:

            Hi Steve,

            No, Luther misunderstood St. Paul.

            The gospel is not changeable.

            Correct.

            Luther parroted Paul.

            Luther is one of those who misunderstood St. Paul and twisted the Scriptures to his own destruction and those who followed him (2 Pet 3:16).

            The gospel is totally free gift.

            That is true. We did nothing and could do nothing to cause God to take flesh and live amongst us. It is written:
            Titus 3:1-5
            King James Version (KJV)
            1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, 2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. 3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

            Therefore, it is true, the Gospel is a totally free gift. It is not given because of anyone’s faith or works. But because of God’s mercy towards mankind.

            You see, Christ did not appear because mankind was righteous, but because mankind was sinful. Christ appeared because of the mercy of God. And He established the Sacraments that we might be washed, sanctified and justified by the action of the Holy Spirit.

            The forgiveness of sins by God’s grace (grace is unmerited favor).

            Not quite. The grace of God’s enfleshment is by unmerited favor. However, the grace of the forgiveness of sins. The grace of justification is only bestowed upon those who please God.

            Romans 2:13
            King James Version (KJV)
            13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

            The Catholic Church during Luther’s time had really gone off the rails.

            Not true. The Catholic Church teaches today and in the time of Luther, the same thing that Jesus taught when He walked the earth.

            Offering people forgiveness for themselves

            Is it wrong to buy your way into heaven? What does Christ say:
            Matthew 19:21
            Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

            Luke 11:41
            But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.

            and their relatives by indulgences.

            Mark 12:43
            And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

            Do you think this widow was storing grace for herself in the heavenly treasury, or for her children?

            Knowing my widowed and elderly mother and knowing that she is in that respect, typical of all loving mothers and wives, I say that the widow was sacrificing for the spiritual welfare of all her loved ones.

            Show me in Scripture where it says anything against indulgences for yourself or anyone?

            That’s not the gospel.

            Yeah, it is. Luther divested the Gospel of many of its beautiful and most loving features.

            So Luther offered a corrective, but the Medici Pope, Leo, wanted nothing of it and threw Luther out.

            Luther offered a corruption of the Gospel. The Pope was right in rejecting it. And the Church is right in continuing to reject the inventions of the Protestants which multiply with every blink of an eye.

            That’s the basic story.

            Thats the basic Protestant spin on the story. But it is not the truth. The truth continues to be taught by the Catholic Church.

            Sincerely,

            De Maria

            • De Maria,

              You have a distorted view of grace and the gospel.

              You can’t purchase anything towards your justification or sanctification. And if you deny that the Catholic Church was selling these things in Luther’s day then you refute proven facts and settled history.

              • De Maria says:

                Steve Martin says:

                You have a distorted view of grace and the gospel.

                On the contrary, it is you whose view of grace is distorted.

                You can’t purchase anything towards your justification or sanctification.

                As I have shown from Scripture, Jesus did not object, but in fact encouraged the rich to give their wealth to the poor and to the Church in order to be justified:

                Luke 11:41
                But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.

                And if you deny that the Catholic Church was selling these things in Luther’s day then you refute proven facts and settled history.

                I deny it. The history to which you refer is Protestant anti-Catholic spin on the truth. But the truth is that the Church has never sold indulgences.

                Perhaps certain individuals have abused the practice. But it was not because of Catholic Teaching. It was in spite of Catholic Teaching.

                Sincerely,

                De Maria

            • Here’s what The Catholic World Report said about it:

              http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/939/the_pope_martin_luther_and_our_time.aspx

              The Pope said that Luther was right on matters of what the gospel actually is.

              • De Maria says:

                Steve, the Pope is working towards reunification and chooses not to dwell upon our differences.

                The article says that the Pope acknowledges that Luther got some parts of the Bible correctly. Even the major points. But it does not say that the Pope completely agrees with Luther’s gospel. Here is the key reference:

                “Of course the fact that, in this particular address, Pope Benedict doesn’t critique Luther on other points hardly amounts to an endorsement of Luther’s overall approach to Christianity, anymore than the fact that German’s Lutheran leadership invited the German Pope to address them means they are ready to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church….The second point concerns Christianity in the secular world. Pope Benedict challenges Catholics and Protestants alike not to “water down” the faith as they carry out the necessary task of presenting and living Christianity in the way suited to the present age. Here faith is the key—a theme, no doubt, intended to stir an audience of pastors who affirm “justification by faith alone”, though Pope Benedict certainly does not endorse that expression in his exhortation to faith.

                Justification by faith alone is the Lutheran gospel. Our Pope does not agree with that gospel.

              • Then your Pope does agree with Holy Scripture or St. Paul.

                St. Paul straightened out St. Peter, hopefully one day the Pope will have guts enough to admit that he is wrong, also.

                If we can’t criticize our own, then what good are we.

                I certainly don’t agree with everything that Luther ever said. And I certainly don;’t agree with everything that my own denomination says.

                Where it is right and goes along the gospel of Jesus Christ it gets a hearty Amen. When it is wrong we speak up and try to get them back on track. Too much is at stake.

              • De Maria says:

                Steve Martin says:

                Then your Pope does agree with Holy Scripture or St. Paul.

                This is what our Pope teaches and it is also what St. Paul teaches in Scripture:
                Romans 2:13
                King James Version (KJV)
                13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

                St. Paul straightened out St. Peter,

                That particular incident has nothing to do with justification. Read more about that matter here.

                hopefully one day the Pope will have guts enough to admit that he is wrong, also.

                The Pope is right. Hopefully, one day, you will have the guts to admit that you are wrong.

                If we can’t criticize our own, then what good are we.

                Your assumption is that the Church is fallible. But I believe Scripture, the Church is infallible (1 Tim 3:15).

                I certainly don’t agree with everything that Luther ever said. And I certainly don;’t agree with everything that my own denomination says.

                That only means that your Church is not the Church established by Jesus Christ. The Church Christ established teaches the fullness of truth and no one but God has the right to contradict Her Teachings (Eph 3:10).

                Where it is right and goes along the gospel of Jesus Christ it gets a hearty Amen.

                What you fail to recognize is the difference between your opinions and the Gospel. What that sentence ought to say is:
                Where it is right and goes along my opinion it gets a hearty Amen.

                When it is wrong we speak up and try to get them back on track. Too much is at stake.

                Who is “we” in that sentence? Have you appointed yourselves the Lutheran Magisterium?

                Why do your opinions supercede the opinion of those who rule your church?

                Hebrews 13:17
                King James Version (KJV)
                17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

  4. Nick says:

    I have talked to Nathanael before, and while he is very charitable I’ve found that he can be very ad-hoc in how he applies his logic and arguments. For example, he will often state something with very limited proof, such as appealing to 1 Corinthians 4:6 as slam dunk case for Sola Scriptura. I actually wrote up a post against his use of “going beyond what is written” from 1 Corinthians 4:6 back in 2010, and he basically brushed off my objections simply because he needed 1 Cor 4:6 to teach SS. To me this implicitly admitted that there wasn’t any good Scriptural evidence.

    As for your debate, I thought that was a very good question you asked him from the start. I thought his 70AD answer suffered from two serious flaws:

    (1) The destruction of the Temple should not mark any transition within Christian practice since the Temple had no authority ever since Calvary. The Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 acted independent of the Temple

    (2) From an exegetical standpoint, nothing that Nathanael said regarding Daniel’s prophecy says anything approaching Sola Scriptura. At best it means the Christian era began, but that says nothing of Sola Scriptura kicking in. Thus, by definition, Nathanael’s 70AD argument is unbiblical and actually a tradition of men.

    I think it is very probable that all the NT books were written by 70AD, especially the Gospels, Acts, Paul’s Epistles, and Revelation. This is because Jesus predicted the Temple would be destroyed and the books of the NT speak as if the Temple still stands (e.g. Revelation 11:1-2 + Luke 21:24). But saying the NT books were written before 70AD says *nothing* about Sola Scriptura kicking in. This of course leads to your excellent follow up, which is that of obeying the Apostles (or Timothy) living at or past 70AD.

    And here is where you really sealed the deal, because he was forced into the absurd position that a Christian must trust Scripture over the Apostles and Timothy and Titus. The result is that when Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice,” this meant that the Apostles and TnT were not Jesus’ sheep but that Nathanael (and anyone who agrees with him) are. Baa Baa

  5. Sam says:

    It never ceases to amaze me the lengths to which intelligent protestants must go to defend the position of sola scriptura. Of course, their entire case depends on this one point, so of course they will defend it to the point of logical suicide.

    When I was a protestant, I really never asked myself the basis for sola scriptura. I assumed it, presupposed it, because it had been drilled into me by Reformed preachers and scholars that it was absolutely essential to Christianity and the Reformed version of the gospel (which is another gospel, but I won’t go there).

    I truly wish someone would have challenged me on my presuppositions. I really do believe I would have seen the fallacy if someone would have taken the time to show me. What boggles my mind is that many protestants can be shown the irrationality and still cling to sola scriptura. I believe it has more to do with Rome being painted as the anti-Christ, and the reformers and their doctrine of sola scriptura as the saviors of Christendom, than it does logic.

  6. gmart says:

    The format lent itself to Nate’s “talk fast and take no prisoners” approach. I could sense that Devin was taken aback at some of the “unique” claims Nate made (ex. the focus of this post). The long pauses and slower comebacks probably gave the impression that Nate was “winning”. As laurie said in another blog post, Nate was all about defeating an opponent and not understanding his position. His approach was to box in Devin with philosophical arguments to undermine anything Devin would say. That would explain the harping on whether Devin was fallible in his discernment of the infallible Church. Also, he trivialized Catholic authoritative teaching by lumping it with the Protestant “dog whistles” for cults (i.e. Mormons, Jehovah’s Witness). He also sought to take away Devin’s argument of the differences within Protestantism undermining it’s credibility by saying the difference didn’t mean much and could not be used against a belief system. Finally, he set his position up so it could not be attacked by saying he was fine with his fallible interpretation of the Bible since that was the simplest, straightforward approach (“all things being equal”). This meant that regardless of Devin’s arguments, he would be comfortable holding fast to his set of beliefs.

    To the audience listening (who I assume were mainly Protestant), the debate will be seen as a win by Nate due to his approach. The words of Bishop Fulton Sheen ring in my ears though – “Win an argument, lose a soul.”

    • Devin Rose says:

      George,

      Yah that could be true. But I believe that most listeners are of the sort that are seeking to understand each side’s arguments and weigh which ones makes more sense. Certainly some people just like to hear a debate, or hope that their side scores more points (whatever that means), but with a substantive debate like this, I think people are listening for substance.

      I have another post queued up for Monday that goes into more detailed explanation of why Nate’s philosophical position (that our individual fallibility entails fallibilism) is wrong. In fact, he concedes at one point in the debate that the Catholic has greater epistemic certainty than the Protestant, even though he spent most of the debate trying to deny that fact.

      It does take time to think through things. Even the relatively brief moments I took to collect my thoughts before responding were not enough to always find the best line of reasoning to demonstrate the errors of his arguments. But I was listening to what he was saying and considering his arguments. The 70 AD thing was surprising and I didn’t come up with absurdity that this post describes (him choosing his own interpretation over that of the Apostles themselves) until a little while after the debate was over.

      Our goal is to find the truth in its fullness. That requires careful examination and study. I leave in God’s hands listeners and their discernment.

      • gmart says:

        I think you did lay out valid arguments and I hope those listening were open to your reasoning. It is prudent to take time and gather thoughts lest a response be rash. You came across as charitable and resisted the urge to throw “Jesus jabs”.

      • stevep says:

        I’m looking forward to your post on the individual infallibility argument. It came across from the interview that Nate viewed this argument as a slam dunk but I found it problematic. Was going to post my thoughts as a comment here but I’ll just wait until you make the longer post on the issue.

  7. Andy S says:

    I’m wondering if this was a misplayed reference to the supposed Council of Jamnia? This is popular with fundamentalists in the area where I live. They tie 70 AD to the Council of Jamnia which is said to have set the Hebrew canon of scripture. As Karl Keating, or one his apologists, said, always interesting to hear a Protestant appeal to a council comprised entirely of Jews who rejected Jesus as Lord and Savior as their source for the canon of the OT…or, now, sola scriptura.

    • Devin Rose says:

      Andy,

      No I don’t think so. Because Nate had accepted the theory that Daniel prophesied that prophecy would cease in 70 AD and so that was the big end of it all. Still, Jamnia would have been a more common but even less reliable claim, as you pointed out.

  8. Eric Morgan says:

    Hello Devin…

    Thanks for linking to the “debate”. I listened to half of it and could not take it anymore. My issue was with Nat and the uncharitable nature of his arguments. ( no reflection on Nat as a person… I am sure he is a nice guy) For me, debates rarely accomplish anything. It just causes more division and promotes an “us against them” mindset.

    A true dialog where both parties are interested in learning and growing in humility, is much more effective than lobbing theological grenades back and forth. As I have been stepping deeper into Catholicism, I have unfortunately experienced more than my share of the uncharitable Protestant arguing. There are very few people who desire a real dialog. Very few people want to challenge their belief.

    Perhaps I am a simpleton, but using high theological and philosophical jargon is not helpful in these situations. Like you said, it simply muddies the waters. I thought what you had to say was helpful and charitable.

    FYI… Micheal Patton and the guys at the Credo House are doing a series on Roman Catholicism. http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2012/12/theology-unplugged-roman-catholicism-part-4-justification/
    There needs to be a Catholic in the mix. Unfortunately, it is 4 guys sitting around a table assuming they know what the Church teaches and what Catholics believe.

    • Devin Rose says:

      Eric,

      It is good to hear from you again, and thank you for your comments on the debate. I do agree in general that often debates lead to an atmosphere of Battle Royale, get in the Octagon and try to pound each other’s head in. And when that is the tone no progress is made, though even then perhaps some listeners can weigh each side’s arguments and see if there is substance to them.

      One good thing from such debates, however, is that they pique people’s interest. They get people talking about these issues.

      And they also flush out from the bushes interesting ideas, both true and false. So for example, Nate’s relatively novel theory that sola Scriptura began in 70 AD, and the disastrous consequence that he would reject the Apostles’ teachings if they went against his own interpretation of the letters God inspired to be written through them.

      The theological and philosophical jargon is unfortunate. Sometimes it is a necessity, for precision. But I doubt one in one hundred listeners had any clue what he was talking about when he was (erroneously) claiming I believed in the partim, partim idea of the relationship between Scripture and Tradition with respect to the deposit of faith. I didn’t bother explaining it, as it would have taken us off-topic and the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent specifically avoided using that language.

      The difficult thing was, however, that Nate was professing (for much of the debate anyway) a philosophical view called fallibilism (or philosophical skepticism), that denies we can have certainty of knowledge [due to our individual fallibility]. This immediately throws us into moderately deep philosophical waters. My post on Monday will unpack the jargon and lay out even more clearly why fallibilism is false.

      In any case, I will head over Credo House and see if I should chime in.

      God bless, keep searching, and don’t let the polemics get you down!
      Devin

  9. Alan P. says:

    I’ve run into protestants who have the same line of reasoning. I’ve never really asked them to address exactly when sola scriptura became the sole rule, but they’ve definitely said that the apostles were fallible and that if what the apostles were saying disagreed with their personal interpretation, they would choose their interpretation over the apostles.

    • Devin Rose says:

      Alan, that is telling. I have included questions along these lines in a book I am working on, because they are helpful for showing the foolish consequences of following sola Scriptura to its logical conclusions.

  10. Joe says:

    Okay, I don’t think I’ve yelled more hearing a debate before. I may need to go to confession. Devin, why didn’t you take this guy to task. He was clearly an idiot trying to undermine you. Being Charitable doesn’t mean you sit back and die. His stupid false equivalency of fallible opinion of an Infallible teaching!? Like come on. His premise was basically, we can’t trust our own reason? Which he argued you couldn’t, but then would say you he trusts his reason to interpret the Bible. Why didn’t you ask if you can’t trust your reason in one case, why the other? Your analogy was good about the driver and map, but Nate CLEARLY screwed it up saying their was multiply maps, implying that the maps were people. NO the map was the bible, the driver was the individual person and the Knowledgeable person was the Pope. YET YOU DIDN’T CALL HIM OUT!!!! Those are just a few things that irritated me. Pretty much anything Nate said was confusing and ambiguous. Everything he said made me think things like “What?” “What is he saying?” “Is this Happening?” “I’m surprised he hasn’t said papist or popery yet”. Protestants listening in on that show don’t know rhetoric and complicated philosophical arguments. They are looking for who “sounds” correct. I’m sorry for being harsh, but the Faith needs to defended, with vehemently and with passion. There is much more I could say about this but I’ll just say that perhaps you (and others) can learn from this encounter.

    • Devin Rose says:

      Joe,

      Thanks for your comment, and you do point out some things that I could have said better.

      I do not think Nathanael is “an idiot,” though certainly he was trying to undermine the Catholic position, in an erroneous way. On Monday I will make a post that explains in more detail why his position was false. I did my best to explain why in the debate, but these things are done in real-time, and it is not possible to always make the best answer on demand.

      Thank you about the map/guide analogy. It is a good analogy and I think most people listening could see the sense of it. I expected him to try to twist the analogy in some way to make it seem less reasonable, and his assertion that there were different maps was nonsensical because, as you pointed out, the map is analogous to the Bible, not to other religions. I think most people could see that his comeback did not make much sense, so the analogy stood.

      If Protestants are only looking for what “sounds” good, then they are looking for things that will simply tickle their ears…sophistry basically. But I think many Protestants, certainly the ones that are open to coming deeper into the truth, are looking for the truth and not just for good-sounding rhetoric.

      Being vehement would have gotten us nowhere. Being clearer and sharper in argumentation would have. And of course I do hope to continue to improve on these skills and knowledge so that I can more articulately defend Christ’s truth and His Church.

      God bless,
      Devin

      • Devin :: I am glad you didn’t come off the same way he did. His rude way of interrupting your answers with objections in the form of follow up questions was impatient and uncharitable and disallow your train of though, forcing you to immediately switch your train of thought to answer his new objections before you were even done with your answer. I’m afraid that is one of the major drawbacks of apologetics. People let their passions get the best of them during a debate (it’s so easy to do) and they cease being polite and respectful and become impatiently and uncharitably aggressive. Now ideally one can be both charitable and keen witted enough to win their listeners, but in a situation where you are forced to choose between these two, I would say you have chosen the better lot. For even if you could defend your faith irrefutably with impeccable and winsome reasoning and rebuttals, if you do it not in a manner of love, you have become but a clanging symbol, a noisy gong, and although you may seem to win the debate, you have lost your reward. *********Bradley

  11. AnneG says:

    After listening to the whole debate, Devin, you were very knowledgeable, polite and charitable. I’m a little amused by everyone saying Nathaniel is charitable. I found him somewhat rude. He insulted one of our core beliefs no less than 3 times. That is not respectful.
    Listening to his immature reasoning it is no wonder he and friends could not understand documents from the Council of Trent. I do not think he has the intellectual tools or background in philosophy. It also amused me that a pastor would encourage people to find their own interpretation of Scripture, then say you still have to go to church. Why?
    Wasn’t the Gospel of Matthew written originally in Aramaic? That’s why we use the name Cephas for Peter, rather than Petra. Cephas was not a name at all until Jesus applied it to Peter and a name change in Scripture is always significant.
    Last thing, would you ask him why he thinks there was no such thing as the Catholic Church before Trent?
    Overall I felt like I was listening to two people talking in a language close to my mother tongue. One, you, are a native or near native speaker using proper grammar, nuance, modifiers and colloquialisms while Nathaniel spoke the language well, but missed nuance, used bad grammar and used a lot of colloquialisms inappropriate in public.

    • Devin Rose says:

      Anne,

      Thanks for your feedback on the debate. Nate’s tone was sharp, and some of the things he said were unnecessary, in particular about transubstantiation. Sure, he may reject the dogma, but 1) the fact that Catholics believe it and 2) the possibility that he is in error and the dogma is true should cause him to temper the disdain and disgust so evident in his condemnation of it.

      However I did not address that directly as it was not in the questions we asked each other (which we did not even finish answering by the end of the debate!), and also I’ve learned when someone is that set against a Catholic teaching it is unprofitable to try to convince them on it. Better to focus on more fundamental issues, ones at the root of our differences, than “leaf” issues like the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I have prayed that Nate will one day receive our Lord in the Eucharist and repent of his foolish words, which he spoke, I believe, in ignorance of the truth and not out of malice.

      The documents of the Council of Trent and the Catechism from it can indeed be understood and are great reading for Catholics interested in delving into them. However it does pay to know what the contentious issues were, notably the ones raised by the numerous Protestant schisms that had already spread widely in the mid-1500s. Otherwise you will not understand why certain teachings are being condemned. Further, if you import your own Protestant lexicon and paradigm onto the canons of Trent, misunderstanding is sure to occur, as I pointed out in the debate. Catholics define words like sin, grace, faith, hope, love, and justification in different ways than do Protestants. Or, the words have multiple meanings depending on their context.

      Regarding Matthew 16, yes one counter argument is that the Aramaic that was spoken by Jesus (and possibly also used in the original text of Matthew’s gospel) and that this gender change in the words would not have existed. Nate sought to preemptively defuse that argument by claiming that some recent Protestant studies have uncovered that there were multiple words for rock in Aramaic (or something like that, I’d have to listen again to remember).

      I avoided all this well-trodden ground and sought to go the direction you indicate. Namely, that we should not miss the forest for the trees. Jesus renamed Simon to Peter (“rock”) for a reason, for a definite purpose. And it is no accident that in the climax of the first half of Matthew’s gospel when Peter’s makes his confession of faith, Jesus tells him that on this rock he will build His Church. But Protestants would fall on their swords before admitting such a thing. Instead, they are left with the bizarre renaming of Simon to Peter and then must claim Jesus was being as confusing as He possibly could by saying “you are rock and on this rock I will build my Church.” Sheesh, it would be almost as bad as saying that people need to eat His flesh and drink His blood….

      God bless!
      Devin

  12. Pingback: Anonymous

  13. Paula J says:

    Devin,

    I hope you address his comments on the Eucharist next time. I thought about his comments on the real presence all day yesterday. His belief that this teaching couldn’t possibly be true because of appearances would also include some other miraculous things that he probably accepts…I would think. Like the incarnation and virgin birth, creation, spit and mud healing blindness….etc. He suggests that reason prohibits a person of faith to accept mysteries of faith. Wouldn’t “because Jesus said so” come into play here?

    He said that when he sees what is obviously bread and obviously wine, believing that this could possibly be flesh and blood is ridiculous. I’d love to hear your response to him.
    Thanks, Paula

    • Devin Rose says:

      Paula,

      Thanks, I’ll shoot for posting that one on Wednesday of next week. But you quite easily pointed out several problems with Nate’s approach (“because I can’t see it, I don’t believe it.”)

      The early Christians believed in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. Like baptismal regeneration, they were unanimous on the fact that Christ was really present. It is another area where Nate is forced to say that the Church was not reliable. Yet he does accept the Church as reliable on the canon of Scripture. That is ad hoc. It is just as likely, given this arbitrariness, that the Church got the Real Presence doctrine correct but erred on the canon!

      God bless,
      Devin

  14. Bob says:

    You put “Tradition” on the same level as inspired-inerrant Scripture. What are these “Traditions” specifically and where is it said that they are inspired-inerrant if they are equal with Scripture?

    Thanks

    • Devin Rose says:

      Bob,

      The Bible itself in several places lauds Tradition (e.g. in 1 Corinthians and 2 Thess.). The Bible condemns man-made traditions. So a distinction must be made between man-made traditions and ones of divine origin.

      I didn’t get a chance to mention it during the debate, but in Matthew 23:2, Jesus tells the Israelites they must listen to and follow the teachings of the Jewish leaders “because they sit in the seat of Moses.” Yet, you can look in the entire OT and will not find the seat of Moses. It was from Jewish Tradition, yet Jesus references it as binding upon the people. Even though the Jewish leaders were not practicing what they preached, their teachings themselves should be followed.

      God bless,
      Devin

      • Bob says:

        Can you give me an example of a Tradition that is outside the Scripture and is equal in authority as Scripture? What Traditions are inspired-inerrant?

        • Devin Rose says:

          Bob,

          All sacred Tradition is true and of divine origin. We don’t say it is “inspired” the way we say the sacred Scriptures are inspired. Tradition and Scripture make up the deposit of faith.

          The perpetual virginity of Mary has been believed since early times and comes largely from Tradition (e.g. no explicit proof text for it in the Bible as I pointed out in the debate). But also a sacrament like Anointing of the Sick has explicit referencing in the Scriptures (James 5 and also in Mark’s gospel) as well as Tradition.

          God bless,
          Devin

          • Bob says:

            Devin,
            How can these “sacred Traditions” be equal to Scripture if they are not inspired-inerrant?
            If something is to be equal to the Scripture it must be inspired-inerrant also.
            Take the perpetual virginity of Mary. That is not supported by Scripture since the Scripture is clear Mary had other children. Matt 13:55-56

  15. Could someone on this sight please explain to me why the Bishop of Rome, the Pope did not call or preside over any of the first 7 ecumenical counsels. Clearly if you put weight to those counsels, you will find that Rome exaggerated the claims of the Papacy. However, that does not mean that Rome is all wet on several other theological issues. For me I lean towards Rome on infused Grace, Holy Communion and prayers for the dead. No matter what, I love you all.

    In CHRIST,

    Russ+

    • De Maria says:

      What do you consider the first 7 ecumenical councils?

      • The First 7 ecumenical counsels were Niceae,Constantinople 1, Ephesus, Chalcedon, Constantinople 2, Constantinople 3 and Nicea 2. If you study the canon’s of these counsels, it’s very hard to match what Rome states on page 234 of the Catechism under number 882 regarding the role of the Pope. Please read. However, the doctrine of the Church under Rome and the Eastern Orthodox segment are a much better historical fit than Protestantism. GOD bless you all.

        In CHRIST,

        Russ+

        • De Maria says:

          Why don’t you tell me what you think those segments of the Catechism mean? After all, I will read them and understand them according to my Catholic upbringing. Whereas you are reading them according to your Protestant tradition.

          So, tell me what you think they mean and where you’re having the problem and that way, I won’t have to guess.

          Sincerely,

          De Maria

    • Devin Rose says:

      Hi Russ,

      The pope either sent legates or attended all Ecumenical Councils. I can’t recall off the top of my head, but I think for the first seven he almost always sent legates (they were held in cities in the eastern part of the Byzantine Empire and then Christendom).

      But don’t miss the fact that the necessary criterion for a council to be Ecumenical is the approval of the Pope, including it specific canons. See this article for one example: http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2011/06/how-robber-council-establishes-papacy.html

      God bless,
      Devin

      • He still did not call or preside over any of them. Did not the canons’s of the counsels state that no bishop would have authority over another bishops juristiction That would seem to indicate that Rome has overblown it’s authority. Love you all in CHRIST.

        Russ+

        • De Maria says:

          Well ok. If telling which councils you consider to be the first 7, perhaps you can tell us which you consider to be the first one.

          As Devin said, not all councils meet the “ecumenical” criterion. Therefore, it is necessary for you to provide specifics before we can answer specifically.

          Or do you simply want general, off the top of the head, iffy responses that you can then summarily reject as you have Devin’s?

          Sincerely,

          De Maria

          • Whether you consider Nicea the first counsel, or you look at Acts 15, or even one of the earlier synods, no one group or counsel describes the Bishop of Rome as having authority over the entire church. First in honor maybe, but it evolved into something different. Again, that’s not to say that Rome does not possess a rich and powerful tradition on Divine Revelation. I’m just stating that historically it’s difficult to match there doctrine to the first ten centuries of the church. I love you all.

            In CHRIST,

            Russ

            • De Maria says:

              Hi,

              Thanks for answering the question. Also, I’m glad you mentioned Acts 15. Let us begin there.

              Let me get your argument straight. Your contention is that the Pope is not authoritative over the entire Church unless he calls ecumenical councils together and attends them. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

              My first question to you, is this. Where is it written that this is so? Where is it written that the Pope must call together an ecumenical council and preside over it in order to be authoritative over the Church?

              My second question is this. Why isn’t it enough for you that Jesus said to St. Peter, “18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:18-19).”

              And followed that up with, “….Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep (John 21:17).

              Why isn’t it enough that Jesus singled Peter out of all the Apostles and gave him responsibility over His entire flock? Is Jesus’ word not enough for you?

              That’s all I want to know. And when you can answer that question, you will have your answer as to why the Pope either did not call a particular council and did not attend a particular council. The answer, to be explicit, is that it is not a requirement. The only requirement is that Jesus appointed Peter the Shepherd of His Flock. And every Pope after Peter has inherited the same authority and responsibility.

              Sincerely,

              De Maria

              • To answer your first point, it’s not because the Bishop of Rome does not call or attened a counsel, it’s more that that the church as a whole does not recognize the pope’s authority throughout the entire church. If Rome had that authority, it would only make sense that the Church would describe this in the counsels. It does not. Also, no one denies that Rome has an authority that comes from CHRIST. The counsels taught that. But where I would differ from you is that what type of authority did our Savior give to Peter ? Your telling me that the Bishop of Rome has this authority throughout the church, but Rome and the west are the only ones to figure it out. That’s why from an historical perspective it’s not a jump to say that the role of the Bishop of Rome should have been more pastoral, rather than judicial. I also want to state that your view point is not a crass one. One of my favorite authors, the late Father Raymond Brown stated that there is enough nuance in church history to see someone eles’s point of view. So I am in no way saying that I’m always right and everone else is stupid, I’m not suggesting that you have implied this my brother.

                In CHRIST,

                Your friend Russ+

              • De Maria says:

                To answer your first point, it’s not because the Bishop of Rome does not call or attened a counsel,

                So we can eliminate that?

                it’s more that that the church as a whole does not recognize the pope’s authority throughout the entire church.

                Wow! Really? Where in the world do you get that idea?

                If Rome had that authority, it would only make sense that the Church would describe this in the counsels. It does not.

                Was a council gathered to discuss the question of Church authority? Please provide the reference to that council so that I can verify your conclusion.

                Also, no one denies that Rome has an authority that comes from CHRIST. The counsels taught that.

                Soooo, the councils, as a group, taught that the Pope has authority from Christ, but that this authority was somehow limited?

                Then there should be an abundance of evidence. Show me.

                But where I would differ from you is that what type of authority did our Savior give to Peter ?

                In a word, complete. Jesus gave him His own authority and pulled no punches. That is why the Scripture says, “what you bind on earth is bound in heaven, what you loose on earth is loosed in heaven (Matt 16:19).” There are no exceptions mentioned. Do you see any? Point them out.

                Your telling me that the Bishop of Rome has this authority throughout the church, but Rome and the west are the only ones to figure it out.

                No, I’m telling you that the entire Church figured it out and that you are reading history with a bias against what history is telling you.

                So, the question is, where are you getting this bias? Nick posted a link for you. Devin posted another, which give you a different picture.

                So, its not the lack of evidence supporting the our understanding of this question.

                So, please provide your evidence so that we may consider it. Or is your argument from silence? Are you concluding that the rest of the Church does not recognize the authority of Peter because there is no definitive statement which says so?

                That’s why from an historical perspective

                Its an erroneous historical perspective.

                it’s not a jump to say that the role of the Bishop of Rome should have been more pastoral, rather than judicial.

                Hm? Actually, it is more Pastoral than Judicial. But the Judicial still encompasses the entire Church. Jesus Christ empowered Peter to bind and loose AND gave him the keys. He gave the other Apostles the right to bind and loose as well, but they have to borrow the keys from Peter, symbolizing that the Pope must ratify their decisions.

                I also want to state that your view point is not a crass one. One of my favorite authors, the late Father Raymond Brown stated that there is enough nuance in church history to see someone eles’s point of view. So I am in no way saying that I’m always right and everone else is stupid, I’m not suggesting that you have implied this my brother.

                Thank you. The feeling is mutual.

                There are too many intelligent and faithful people who have made that same error to come to the conclusion that making that mistake indicates some sort of evil inclination.

                It is an error however. It is non sequitur on a grand scale. The crux of the matter rests upon how you understand the authority which Jesus gave to Peter. You will then read into history that understanding.

                I understand, the blade cuts both ways. But we are supported by the teaching of the Catholic Church, the Pillar of Truth (1 Tim 3:15). Even the stellar Catholicity of Fr. Raymond Brown’s can’t stand up to the Wisdom of God which is passed down by the Catholic Church (Eph 3:10).

          • I have. What your describing is just not there. Historical proof of this rest in the first Counsel at Constantinole. The Bishop of Rome was not invited by the Eastern Bishop’s to attend. Now he should have been invited, but this show’s that the East never saw Rome with the kind of authority that your describing. If I’m wrong, please show me. I am not trying to win an argument. The East saw Rome as having a pastoral role, not a judicial one.

            Love in CHRIST,

            Russ

            • Costrowski says:

              Russ,
              Constantinople I was not called to be an ecumenical council. It was only called as a local synod of part of the East. It only gained ecumenical status centuries later.

            • De Maria says:

              Russ,

              Do you concede the point with regards to Constantinople?

              • Devin Rose says:

                De Maria and Russ,

                I’m going to wrap up this discussion of Ecumenical Councils at this point. It is a good discussion, and a vitally important one between Catholic-Eastern Orthodox, but it is off-topic for this post on infallibility and epistemology as it relates to Protestant-Catholic issues.

                I do appreciate you guys’ positive interaction and have no worry; we will take up this topic again on the blog here sometime in the future, God willing.

                Blessings in Christ,
                Devin

  16. Paul Davis says:

    I’ve N\never heard that argument before, but it’s utterly nonsensical if you read the church fathers, those who learned directly from the Apostles and the first generation. That sounds like a desperate attempt to fortify an already weak position on Sola Scriptura (which I have never heard a good argument for, all of them are inductive at some level).

    Not sure I could listen to two hours of debating though, I’m not much in favor of it, because it becomes too competitive. I would rather like to see more irenic discussions on differences and positions, but coming from a baptist background, the war mentality never sleeps.

    -Paul-

    • Devin Rose says:

      Yah Paul you might want to skip it in that case. I’ve been Catholic for long enough now that it is hard for me to believe that so many people still believe in sola Scriptura.

      Nathanael’s invalid argument for the doctrine went something like this:

      1. Protestants and Catholics all make fallible choices about which authority to believe
      2. So Protestants’ choice of the Bible alone vs. Catholics’ choice of Church + Bible means they are epistemically at the same level
      3. But Ockham’s Razor says go with the simpler hypothesis first so Protestantism, being just the Bible instead of Church + Bible, is preferable

      As I’ll post about tomorrow, #1 is true, but #2 is false and is the error of fallibilism (or philosophical skepticism). There’s no need to go farther than that premise, but I also examine #3 on Wednesday because hey, why not? :)

      God bless,
      Devin

  17. Yes! ~ Your debate is available in audio formatting! :) I wonder if you could get it added to your podcast list?

  18. Eric Morgan says:

    This essay by Scot McKnight is one of the best essays I have read discussing why Protestants convert to Catholicism. In section “d” Scot deals with “Authority” and simply debunks Sola Scriptura… and he is a Protestant. (See quote below)

    I would recommend reading it… Google “From Wheaton To Rome: Why Evangelicals Become Roman Catholic” to find a pdf.

    “I might as well say this up front: in evangelicalism (and Protestantism
    in general), the authority of the Church resides in two spheres—the Bible
    and the specific interpretation of the Bible by the interpreter himself or herself. No one can deny this. There is no such thing as a “Bible alone” idea;
    that Bible must be “articulated,” unless we are only reading it, and that articulation is itself an interpretation.” Scot McKnight – “From Wheaton To Rome: Why Evangelicals Become Roman Catholic”

    Pax

  19. JohnY says:

    Steve Martin does make one good point.
    He says; “The gospel is not changeable. Luther parroted Paul. The gospel is totally free gift. The forgiveness of sins by God’s grace (grace is unmerited favor).”

    Parrots recite words with no understanding of what they mean…