Having, inexplicably, been receiving an evangelical protestant group's newsletter for some time, which constantly bangs on about 'sola scriptura' (scripture alone) every other line, I decided to ask the 'pastor' of this group if he could please demonstrate to me where exactly in the Bible sola scriptura was identified as the sole rule of faith? I am aware, of course, that nowhere is 'scripture alone' advocated in scripture itself, but I was interested to see exactly how this central tennet of protestant belief would be backed up.
Having received a reply. I shall post bits of it here and there, and make my way through the various points, contentions and, alleged, scriptural supports for this position, and deal with it, a small section at a time. I'll also post his replies to my objections, and refute those also. I shall refer to him, as 'Pastor Parcel' throughout.
Thank you for your enquiry: Firstly: Note what the Westminster Confession says: This is the Historic and Orthodox position of the True Church.The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.
Firstly, 'this is the historic and orthodox position of the true Church?' According to whom? Up until 1983 this same 'confession' referred to the Pope as: ...that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God; whom the Lord shall destroy... Did that cease to be true in 1983? And, where exactly is that in scripture? Also, the vast majority of protestant denominations (of which there are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands) do not adhere to the Westminster Confessional. I presume that they, like the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are in error, and do not qualify as occupying either historically consistent or orthodox positions? How odd that reformed denominations should occupy the historic and orthodox position of the 'true Church when they haven't even existed for 500yrs yet! Anyway, where is this 'confession' justified in and by scripture?
Pastor Parcel Continues:
Note: Please remember that only the Spirit of God can convince anyone of the Authority, Sufficiency and finality of Scripture.
I reply: Firstly, faith and reason are never contrary to one another, and man can reason his way to God, as has always been accepted and taught throughout the history of the Christian religion (as with others also). So, it is possible to reason our way to belief in God, but, according to Pastor Parcel, one needs to be moved by the Holy Spirit to believe in the 'authority, sufficiency and finality of scripture.' Even if this were true, is this the point or even relevant to the question? Whether the Bible 'is' the word of God or not is not the same thing at all as proving that this book, whether it be inspired or not, is self-attesting to its own sufficiency. In other words, one does not have to believe in the Bible's sacred status, or even in God Himself in order to ascertain whether the text claims self-sufficiency and to be the sole rule of faith: all one requires is the ability to read. If a certain individual writes a book claiming to have been kidnapped and probed by aliens I can ascertain, via a reading of that text, whether or not the individual makes claims as to the veracity of the events without my actually having to believe them to be true. If someone were to ask Pastor Parcel if the Quran made the claim that Mohammed was instructed by the Archangel Gabriel, he would be able to reply in the affirmative without the necessity of him believing the claim, would he not? Once again, does the Bible, either explicitly or implicitly, claim to be the sole rule of faith? To be continued...