Saturday, April 15, 2017

Refuting Yusef Al Tahir On Sola Scriptura

  • Defining The Issues:
         -The designated purpose of this article is to deliver a refutation to an Eastern Orthodox refutation of Sola Scriptura. In the YouTube video shown below, a man named Yusef Al Tahir repeatedly makes terrible accusations against upholders of the biblical doctrine of Sola Scriptura and uses John 5:39-40 as his "proof-text" to support his position of Sola Ecclesia. Do his arguments hold any water against the traditional Protestant position of the Bible, or is Al Tahir simply attacking a straw-man to build his case for accepting the Church of Rome/Eastern Orthodoxy as the final court of authority in all doctrinal matters? My point here is that this man, who has a genuine concern for the salvation of souls, is terribly misguided about what the "Bible-Only Theory" actually means. Alright, shall we begin our apologetical critique?
  • The Video That This Article Intends To Refute:
  • Starting Off With A Faulty Foundation:
         -The fundamental flaw behind Yusef's argument against the principle of Sola Scriptura is that he provides a totally wrong definition of what it means. This is his presentation of the doctrine: "Just read the Bible...and you'll know God...Search the Scriptures for yourself...Don't believe the Catholic Church...Don't believe ANY church..."  So what do we Fundamentalists really mean when we say "Sola Scriptura"? 
  • A More Accurate Presentation Of Sola Scriptura:
         -Quite simply, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura means that the Bible alone is the ultimate standard of authority for the Christian church. It does not mean the "only authority of the church", which is simply a straw man of what the Reformers originally taught. This means that other authorities in the church exist today. A handful of examples would include, but are not limited to, godly leaders of the church, lexicons, Bible commentaries, dictionaries, and Hebrew/Greek concordances. But Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith for the church. Thus, other authorities in the church are permissible, as long as they stand in complete conformity to the written Word of God. We who adhere to Sola Scriptura do not believe that leaders are untrustworthy or that no outside authorities exist in the church, for the Scriptures themselves tell us to heed to authoritative figures who stand in accordance to God's divine will (Hebrews 13:7). We neither teach that every portion of the Bible is completely easy to understand nor do we believe that people can interpret the Bible any way that they desire. There is a correct interpretation of Scripture, but we don't need an infallible interpreter of the Scriptures in order to obtain doctrinal truth. 
  • The Inevitable Burden Of Proof:
         -If Roman Catholicism/Eastern Orthodoxy claims to have any sort of revelation that is not found within the pages of the Bible, then, by definition, the onus is on those religions to conclusively identify the specific oral traditions mentioned in scriptural texts such as 2 Thessalonians 2:15. Next, it needs to be demonstrated that those traditions are indeed different in substance from what is taught in Scripture. Then, it needs to be proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that those "Traditions" are indeed inspired and are thus apostolic in origin. On the contrary, the Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox churches cannot even produce any inspired teachings set forth by Jesus Christ or the apostles, that are not recorded in Scripture! Neither can they give us an inspired table of contents identifying which oral traditions are inspired. What a nebulous, unreliable "rule of faith" that Roman Catholicism/Eastern Orthodoxy operates on.
  • Addressing The Anti-Sola Scriptura "Divisions" Argument:
          -Yusef Al Tahir alludes to the worn out Protestant divisions argument by using the Jehovah's Witnesses as an example of the alleged "dangers of the private interpretation of Scripture". However, this example is faulty because the Jehovah's Witness' authority structure is IDENTICAL to that of the Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox hierarchy. In fact, most Pseudo-Christian groups do not even believe in the principle of Sola Scriptura, which means that they developed extremely heretical doctrines independently of interpreting Scripture (apparitions, etc.). Furthermore, a general characteristic of false teachers is that they deny the ultimate authority and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures. Is the Eastern Orthodox church therefore a cult? If not, then why?
          -What is really ironic here is that both Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy make identical claims to being the one true church, yet disregard each other's historical origin and uphold contradictory "apostolic" oral traditions.
          -In summary, religious division forms as a result of misapplying the principle of Sola Scriptura (click on this link for a complete refutation of the 33,000 Protestant denominations argument). But if misinterpretations of Scripture automatically prove that Scripture is too difficult for the "common person" to understand, then it must also mean that the Roman Catholic Magisterium/Eastern Orthodox patriarch cannot be considered a reliable rule of faith either because of the good possibility of people misinterpreting official church statements. In both scenarios, our fallibility eventually has to meet the infallibility. Al Tahir needs to understand that ALL CHURCH GROUPS HAVE RELIGIOUS DIVISIONS, REGARDLESS OF WHO THEY ARE. We are all fallible human beings. Period. So those who tout this argument need to stop employing this hypocritical double-standard to Sola Scriptura adherents!
          -If we do not have the right to privately interpret Scripture, then how do we know which oral tradition is correct among the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Watchtower churches, for all three teach that they alone can interpret Scripture, to the exclusion of the individual? How does Yusef Al Tahir know that the Eastern Orthodox church's interpretation of Scripture is inspired, anyway? 
  • The Charge That Sola Scriptura Is "Unbiblical Idolatry":
          -Throughout the You Tube film, Yusef Al Tahir lays that charge that we Fundamentalists worship our Bibles. In other words, he claims that we turn the Bible into an idol by denying the role of the Holy Spirit. Al Tahir further elaborates on his previous thoughts by claiming that we worship the material pages of our Bible translations. 
          -On the contrary, we never see Protestants praying to the Bible or bowing before statues of the Bible, as we see Catholics/Orthodox doing before depictions of saints. Furthermore, submitting to an ultimate source of authority is completely different than worshiping it. Otherwise, the same charge can be laid equally against Roman Catholics/Eastern Orthodox, since they also submit to an ultimate source of authority. We must all submit to something.
          -No genuine Christian denies the absolute importance of the Holy Spirit for the continual survival of the Christian Church. However, we must test the spirits to see whether they are from God (Acts 17:11-12; 1 John 4:1-4). But if the Bible is an insufficient rule of faith, then how can we judge whether a message is inspired by God or whether the Holy Spirit is truly dwelling in our presence? What other authority can we rely on besides Scripture? Why do we even have Bibles? 
          -Scripture contains the direct words of God. It is God-breathed. Of course, the Holy Spirit dwells within the inspired pages of the Bible. In fact, He was the One who moved the inspired prophets and apostles to write. So we have every reason to esteem the Bible very highly! And yes, we have more than sufficient reason to embrace the claims of the Bible. 
          -Roman Catholicism/Eastern Orthodoxy, on the other hand, are not trustworthy sources of authority because they repeatedly contradict the Bible. In fact, these religions give excessive devotion to beings other than God and focus on being attractive to the world. For proof of all this, all that one really has to do is look at the exalted kings, the religious icons/treasures, and the dedication to alleged dead "saints" in these hierarchical congregations. These church governments are all about self-exaltation. They are all about exalting proud and sinful men. Talk about some serious idolatry! The true, biblical gospel and the need of being born again is never even preached in these Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox churches. In reality, the Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox position is guilty of holding to a separate body of man-made "oral traditions" up to the authority of the written Word of God. THEY are the ones who refuse to follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 15; Mark 7), who exercised freedom of conscience, personal accountability, and strictly taught obedience to God.
  • Did Our Lord Jesus Christ "Shoot Down" Sola Scriptura In John 5:39-40?:
          -Yusef Al Tahir used John 5:39-40 as his proof-text against Sola Scriptura. However, the verse that he cited has nothing to do with the authority of Scripture. It is not telling us that we should not turn to Scripture when confronted with false doctrine. The text of John 5:39-40 is not pointing us away from a written standard of authority, but rather exhorts us to practice what is taught in the book. The Lord Jesus Christ was simply rebuking the unbelieving Jews for rejecting Him as the Messiah, not for reading the Scriptures. Although they diligently studied the Old Testament Scriptures, they did not recognize Jesus as the Savior of mankind from spiritual death because their hearts were turned against Him. In other words, the Jewish people had a hateful bias toward Jesus Christ. They were not being faithful to the voice of Scripture, which proclaims salvation through the risen Christ (Acts 4:10-12). One thing can be said with certainty: the Scriptures do lead the faithful, prayerful people to the Savior (i.e. Luke 1:1-4; Ephesians 3:3-5; 2 Timothy 3:15).