Thursday, February 23, 2017

2 Timothy 3:15-17 Sola Scriptura

  • "15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:15-17)
  • This is the main passage that Protestants use to defend Sola Scriptura. I shall do a brief exposition of the text to demonstrate its plain and straightforward nature. 
A.) The Origin Of Scripture:
    -All Scripture is inspired by God. In other words, the Holy Spirit moved through the apostles and prophets as they recorded His teachings (1 Peter 1:16-21). In fact, the Greek word for "inspired", which is "theopneustos", literally means "God-breathed". 

B.) The Purpose Of Scripture:
    -The purpose of Scripture is to convert unbelievers and to rebuke error. Furthermore, notice the surrounding context of this epistle: 1.) The coming of false teaching (3:1-13; 4:2-5), 2.) Paul was about to die (4:6-7), and 3.) This was the Apostle Paul's last epistle (at least to Timothy). Contextual evidence points us to one infallible rule of faith: Scripture. The context mentions no other "rule of faith".

C.) The Results Of Using Scripture:
      -The Bible equips the man of God for EVERY good work (not most or a few works). There is not a deed a moral principle that it fails to discuss. Scripture contains everything necessary for salvation (i.e. John 20:30-31; 1 John 1:1-4; 2 Peter 3:1-2). If this is not true, then can any opponent of Sola Scriptura come up with any good work that is not even hinted at in Scripture? What else does "every good work" mean? 

Protestants Are Their Own "Popes"?

  • Roman Catholics tend to ask Protestants who adhere to the biblical principle of Sola Scriptura the question, "By what authority do you interpret the Bible?" In other words, Romanists are asking Protestants for a divinely appointed authority which non-Catholics use in opposition to the authority of their Church. Conservative Catholics believe that if you deny the authority of the Bishop of Rome and decide to read the Bible for yourself to examine what it says about a particular doctrine, then you automatically establish yourself as being your own infallible guide who determines what God wills for the entire church. But how does one come to the conclusion that the Church of Rome is the one, true church that was indeed established by Jesus Christ in the first century? How do Roman Catholics know that their Church's interpretation of Scripture is correct? How does denying the authority of the Roman Catholic Church constitute creating an infallible "Protestant Pope"? Can they even provide us with an extra-biblical, inspired table of contents identifying an infallible list of apostolic oral traditions which we are supposed to heed to?
  • Straw-Man Argument:
             -The "Protestant Pope" objection is a straw-man argument because it misrepresents what Sola Scriptura teaches on interpreting Scripture. In other words, it presents an overly-simplified version of how advocates of the "Bible only theory" interpret Scripture, how authoritative they view their interpretations of the Bible when compared to possibly differing views, and the authority of Scripture in general. 
              -We cannot simply interpret Scripture in any way that we desire. In other words, we have been called to act reasonably by interpreting Scripture in its proper context, by comparing our interpretations of an individual passage of the Bible to what others passages say on that same topic, use our common sense or reasoning to the best of our ability, and by obeying the wisdom of the godly church leaders or instructors who give us the necessary tools for properly understanding the written Word of God. There are certainly right and wrong ways to get things done, which includes church function. 
            -It is wrong to assume that Protestants presume themselves to be their own "infallible Popes" when they neither claim infallibility to their interpretations of Scripture nor dogmatically enforce their interpretations of Bible passages on other people. Our reasoning ability is liable to error because it is not infinite. Maybe some Protestants do act in such a manner, but that is not the fault of Sola Scriptura because that is not what it teaches. However, we can indeed have great certainty behind the meaning of Scripture. There is a significant difference between choosing an ultimate authority and being an ultimate authority.
               -We who believe in the principle of Sola Scriptura do not view ourselves as the ultimate authority in doctrinal matters, but rather, all spiritual standards of the church are subject to the one infallible, supreme authority, the Holy Scriptures. In order for Scripture to operate as the ultimate spiritual standard for the church, knowledge of the Scriptures needs to be widely distributed. And this knowledge is proliferated by the continuous study and mediation of the Scriptures. Does a person who reads a book on Benjamin Franklin make himself Benjamin Franklin by reading that work? No, the same is equally true with a person who reads the Bible not being transformed into a "Protestant Pope". A person who reads the Bible simply consumes the inspired message of God's written revelation. The precepts of the Lord are inscribed into the hearts of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, that is, a desire to know and act on God's will.
  • The Logical Necessity Of "Private Interpretation":
               -In every aspect of life, we are obligated to use the fallible judgment of our fallible minds to correctly execute decisions. We have to use our fallible reasoning capacities to make any sort of move in our daily lives. Our fallible reason is what we use to make sense of the world around us. Reason is what keeps the world turning, yet God has appointed no "infallible" king to preside for each elemental category of our lives. We therefore must be, at least in some sense, our own "decider". Decision making is a mandatory, constant, and inevitable procedure which literally runs through the course of every second of our lifespan. There may be guides to help us make the correct decisions in upcoming predicaments, but we have no evidence proving the existence of or the necessity of these means of occasional support being infallible. Yet, everything seems to work perfectly. Why then would church infallibility need to exist in order for the church government to function correctly and thus maintain the purity of the glorious gospel?   
  • The "Protestant Pope" Argument Against Sola Scriptura Is A Double Standard:
            -If a Protestant who embraces the concept of Sola Scriptura automatically becomes his or her own "Pope" when he or she decides to interpret Scripture for himself or herself to support a theological position, then it follows from this premise that any Roman Catholic who defends the Church of Rome becomes his or her own "Pope" because he or she also interprets Scripture (with the difference being in support of the Roman Catholic Church, which is still a theological position).

  • By Who's Authority?:
            -When Roman Catholics ask us by what authority we interpret the Scriptures, we should retort by asking them by what authority they keep the commandments of God. The point is that we do not do such things because of any alleged authority on our parts, but rather, we do these things because God expects us to do them. One does not need any special "authority" to read the Bible. Quite simply, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ we have all been given the authority to read the Scriptures because we have all been commissioned to preach the Gospel of Salvation to the lost world (Matthew 28:18-20). This includes the moral responsibility of examining our own consciences (2 Corinthians 13:5) and contending earnestly for the faith (2 Corinthians 10:5; Jude 3; 1 Peter 3:15). By what authority can Rome tell us that we do not have the "authority" to interpret the Scriptures for ourselves?