Friday, August 16, 2019

An Answer For Catholic Answers On Sola Scriptura And 1 Corinthians 4:6

  • Defining The Issues:
          -Roman Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid once wrote an article for Catholic Answers titled Going Beyond in response to a Protestant minister, who apparently claimed in a letter that the text of 1 Corinthians 4:6 "fits the bill" to save the doctrine of Sola Scriptura from "the realm of myth". Mr. Madrid proposed a number of objections against the citation of 1 Corinthians 4:6 as being an argument in defense of Sola Scriptura, all of which will be addressed in this article. If the entailments of Sola Scriptura (perspicuity, material sufficiency, formal sufficiency, and ultimate authority of Scripture) can be demonstrated from Scripture, then Patrick Madrid's position on the placement of biblical authority in the Christian church ("three-legged stool", meaning Scripture has equal authority with Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium) is in utter jeopardy. Without a doubt, 1 Corinthians 4:6 does "fit the bill" for the validation of Sola Scriptura. That passage most certainly weakens the Roman Catholic concept of tradition.
  • Presenting The Case For Sola Scriptura From 1 Corinthians 4:6:
          -The Church of Corinth was starting to obey the commandments of men, rather than the teachings of God as presented through divine Scripture. In other words, many brethren in the congregation to whom this epistle was addressed were guilty of living according to the flesh. The Corinthian Christians were divided into factions over morals, doctrine, and who their rightful leader was (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). Thus, the Apostle Paul wrote (Scripture) to help the people who constituted the Church of Corinth change their ways of living and thinking to conform to the will of God. The inspired author of the epistle desired that they be like minded in Jesus Christ.
          -In the previous context of this epistle, the Apostle Paul figuratively spoke of the apostles as being fellow servants and custodians of the gospel. He did so with the intention of explaining to the Corinthian Christians their designated purpose, preaching the gospel. This was done because the church of Corinth had elevated the status of the apostles and their closest associates to a level which they were not. They were simply human beings, as were the Christians being addressed in the epistle. The people of the first century who advanced the Cause of Christ were instruments used to accomplish God's purpose. While Paul had described himself and his fellow Christian laborers as planting the seeds of spiritual conversion in the minds of the doubting and unbelieving, he gave all the credit and glory to God for success in ministry (1 Corinthians 3:5-15). While the apostles planted, God was causing the growth. It is only by the power of God that the apostles were able to carry out their mission in the efficacious manner as they did. So let us not be puffed-up (as were the Christians at the church of Corinth) with so-called human wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:3-4). Dependency on God leads to true humility, as well as repentance from sin.
          -The Corinthian Christians needed to depend on the wisdom of God, not man. In other words, they needed to learn how to keep their thinking in alignment with God's will as revealed through the Bible. The church of Corinth needed to only use the written Word of God as the standard of judging leaders in the church. Furthermore, the message set forth by Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:6 can definitely be applied to the Christian church as a whole today.
          -Many professing Christians evaluate the quality of authoritative figures in the church by using factors such as humor, how they persuade, how they entertain, how they look, and by their intelligence. These points of consideration, however, are completely unbiblical standards by which we judge the validity of ministry and thus violate the principle set forth by the Apostle Paul in this text. Neither should we elevate ministers to a status that is not scripturally warranted. Furthermore, we have been instructed to formulate every doctrine off the teachings of the Bible. That is precisely of Paul's phrase: "not to think beyond what is written". Scripture is not the only source of authority, but is the ultimate standard of authority by which all things are tested. The Apostle Paul was using Scripture as the means of addressing issues such as pride, selfishness, and worldly wisdom. In other words, 1 Corinthians 4:6 prescriptively assumes the principle of Sola Scriptura as being necessary for the establishment of sound doctrine. It contains a general principle by which we are to observe. Any teaching that is not contained in Scripture did not originate from the Spirit of God.
          -The church of Corinth was beginning to follow unbiblical standards to judge the apostles, and was morally perverted. Thus the church had developed bitter contentions. This is a direct mirror reflection of the church's condition in modern times. But if Christians stay within the boundaries of scriptural revelation, then schisms will not develop because we could not muster enough pride to elevate the reputation of mere human beings to scripturally forbidden levels and follow man made traditions which in reality nullify the commandments of God. Scripture is what keeps our thinking in accordance to God's will. It is the source of doctrinal certitude. It equips the man of God for every good work. Consequently, rightfully practicing Sola Scriptura should produce doctrinal unity in the shining light of the gospel.
  • Is The Phrase "What Is Written" Mentioned In 1 Corinthians 4:6 An Allusion To The Book Of Life?:
          -Roman Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid mentions the fact that some biblical commentators have interpreted the phrase "what is written" as being a reference to the Book of Life (Revelation 20:12). This interpretation is rooted in the point that the four previous verses of the context superficially mention the concept of divine judgment. But connecting the phrase "what is written" with the "Book of Life" is highly problematical, since it would involve the Apostle Paul instructing the Corinthian Christians to not go beyond a book that they never even had access to in the first place. The Book of Life is located by God's throne in His heavenly kingdom. What is even more, is that the only place in Scripture where Paul had ever mentioned the Book of Life was very briefly in Philippians 4:3. In light of all this, it would be most reasonable to identify "what is written" as being a reference to Scripture . Other Bible versions render the phrase in 1 Corinthians 4:6 differently. The King James Version translates it to be, "not to think of men above that which is written." The New American Bible translates the phrase in question to be, "not to go beyond what is written." The New International Version translates it as, "Do not go beyond what is written." The Everyday Bible translates it as, "Follow only what is written in the Scriptures." The New Jerusalem Bible translates it to be, "Nothing beyond what is written." The text of 1 Corinthians 4:6 is quite straightforward in that it is referring to Scripture. It is abundantly clear that the inspired author of the epistle was assuming the principle of Sola Scriptura. On the contrary, the Church of Rome flatly contradicts the scriptural pattern set forth by the apostle in this verse because it elevates the authority of men to unbiblical levels and has throughout history defined the meaning of several dogmas that far transcend the boundaries of written revelation. But why would God want us to go beyond any book inspired by Him, anyway?
  • The Footnotes Of The Roman Catholic New American Bible Identify The Phrase "What Is Written" In 1 Corinthians 4:6 To Be Scripture. So Catholics Cannot Simply Claim That The Text Being Discussed At Hand Is Speaking Of The Book Of Life:
          -"That you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written...It probably means that the Corinthians should avoid the false wisdom of vain speculation, contending themselves with Paul's proclamation of the cross, which is the fulfillment of God's promises in the Old Testament (what is written). Inflated with pride: literally, 'puffed-up,' i.e., arrogant, filled with a sense of self-importance. The term is particularly Pauline, found in the New Testament only in 1 Cor 4, 6. 18-19; 5, 2; 8, 1; 13, 4; Col 2, 18 (ch the related noun at 2 Cor 12, 20). It sometimes occurs in conjunction with the theme of 'boasting,' as in vv 6-7 here."
  • The Author Of The Article At Catholic Answers Claims That Citing 1 Corinthians 4:6 As Biblical Support For Sola Scriptura Would Also Require (Logically Speaking) Rejecting The Inspiration Of Subsequent Canonical Writings Which Comprise The New Testament:
          -It needs to be understood that the Old Testament was sufficient, but not the exhaustive content of divine revelation. In other words, the Old Testament Scriptures are sufficient for the establishment of doctrine. Jesus Christ Himself always appealed to the Scriptures as the final court of authority in spiritual matters. That is in fact the constant pattern recorded in Scripture. In truth, a logical parallel can be formulated to demonstrate the logically absurd nature of this objection to the citation 1 Corinthians 4:6 in favor of Sola Scriptura: "the present pope does not have the authority to infallibly define dogma because there are future successors yet to be elected." The point is that the effectiveness of authority is not determined by its extent. Scripture has always been a sufficient rule of faith. The phrase "what is written" cannot simply be limited to the Old Testament writings, but Scripture in general. If the canon of Scripture is still open, then it follows that more divine revelation will be communicated in writing. It is not as though the apostles did not believe their writings to be divinely authoritative. All Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16). Moreover, Jesus Christ rebuked the so-called "Jewish Magisterium" of His day for its failure to understand the biblical doctrine regarding the resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:32). Indeed, the Roman Catholic view of authority is identical to that of the Scribes and Pharisees whom Christ had rebuked (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13). Contrary to the bold proclamations of Roman Catholic apologists on the issue of Sola Scriptura, the text of 1 Corinthians 4:6 affirms in a straightforward manner the ultimate authority of Scripture: "not to exceed what is written."
  • Evaluating The Roman Catholic Case For Sacred Tradition:
          -Roman Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid objected to 1 Corinthians 4:6 as being supportive of Sola Scriptura on the grounds that the Apostle Paul taught orally to first century Christian churches (1 Corinthians 11:2). However, the underlying problem with this objection is that Sola Scriptura is not a denial of authoritative oral traditions. It is not a denial that the Word of God was once communicated orally. Furthermore, we cannot know which traditions are inspired apart from Scripture. Neither can it be proven that the references to traditions by the apostles were different in substance from what is taught in written revelation. The Bible is sufficient to reveal all the things that we need to know concerning salvation and godliness. Quite frankly, there is no reason for Roman Catholics to conclude the text of 1 Corinthians 4:6 to be obscure when the Apostle Paul mentions tradition. That is simply a false dilemma. All these passages are crystal clear. Interpreting them in a literal sense does not result in a contradiction. These "traditions" are not mysterious or extra-biblical. And we know beyond any shadow of a doubt that the phrase "what is written" is a reference to Scripture. The point of the apostles mentioning tradition was not to substantiate any notion of a twofold partim source of divine revelation, but to distinguish their doctrines from the teachings of apostates who claimed to accurately represent the gospel. We know that the apostles received divine teachings from God, whereas traditions upheld by Roman Catholicism such as the Immaculate Conception (1854 A.D.) and Assumption of Mary (1950 A.D.) are obviously of spurious origin.

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