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Sola Scriptura needs to be defended by Scriptures, because any argument that is given outside the scriptures is not authoritative or infallible, so Sola Scriptura won’t support the argument.

But I have this question. Since all of the biblical texts provided for scripture were written PRIOR to the canonization of the New Testament, how could they possibly be referring to the 66-book Protestant Canon? Isn’t it more likely that these verses are referring to the Jewish Pentateuch or the OT?

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    Scripture isn't the word of God because it is 'canonised'. The word of God was the word of God when it was uttered (in speech) before it was even written down. 'Let there be light' is the word of God. Then it is written and becomes scripture. The words of the prophets were the word of God in their utterance. Then it was documented. 'Sola Scriptura' refers (in definition) to the utterances of God (by whatever means). Which utterances are then encapsulated in document form. Then men on earth recognise (by the Spirit within them) which documents proceed from the Spirit that is within them.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 26, 2022 at 6:43
  • because this doctrine is held by a particular denomination, why can't they apply it to which amount of scriptures they like?
    – depperm
    Jan 26, 2022 at 11:54
  • @NigelJ I agree it’s the word of God regardless of its canonization status. That wasn’t my point. My major point in all of this is “how do you know what’s canon and how did the writers of the sacred scriptures?”
    – Luke Hill
    Jan 26, 2022 at 14:01
  • @depperm I’m not sure what you mean.
    – Luke Hill
    Jan 26, 2022 at 14:02
  • before trying to expound more, can I first ask you to clarify: these verses (what verses are you referring to)?
    – depperm
    Jan 26, 2022 at 14:28

2 Answers 2

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There is a lesser-known Latin term for the matter you ask about, namely, Tota Scriptura (“Scripture wholly” or “every part of Scripture”). This is a way of saying that the entire Bible is equally inspired by God. Tota Scriptura is also called the plenary inspiration of Scripture.

This means that the issue is not about when scripture was written, nor when it was agreed by Jewish and/or Christians leaders to be inspired of God in any official canon. The inspiration bit comes from "God-breathed" moving of his words into action. In the case of the Bible, those words had to be uttered first, either by God, or by his prophets, or even by the enemies of God who were speaking without knowing that God was moving them to so speak.

Some God-inspired prophets thus wrote how God directed them to write:

"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it" Isaiah 55:11.

"For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven" Psalm 119:89.

"For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name" Psalm 138:2.

That is why God is also reported in the Bible as speaking approvingly of people "who tremble at my word" (Isaiah 66:2). Just as powerfully, the prophet Malachi wrote:

"Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him... But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings" (Malachi 3:16-4:2).

That ending to the last book in the Hebrew scriptures has parallels with the ending of the last book of the Christian Greek scriptures, where symbolic 'books' are opened in heaven, to judge the resurrected dead from, and then there is the book of Life, where the names of those who will live forever in God's holy presence are recorded. We do not have access to such holy, scriptural, God-breathed books here on earth. But we do have the record of God's dealings with humankind in God-breathed (inspired) texts dating from Moses to the apostle John.

This means that the cannonisation of any part of the Bible has no bearing on the doctrine of Tota Scriptura, for the scriptures in question are the words of God he first utters, or causes to be uttered, only after which are some of them written down in books that we can read, on earth. There are other 'books' in heaven that we cannot read, but we will get to know their contents on the Day of Judgment, and discover the lists of names God recorded as of those people who tremble at his word now.

In answer to your question, then, yes, the scriptures in question are certainly "referring to the Jewish Pentateuch or the OT". But unless a Christian thinks God stopped speaking 400 years before Jesus was born, never to speak again to the world in general, or to his people in particular, then all the writings about Christ and about the first century church are included in the totality of God-breathed scripture. To claim that only the OT scriptures can legitimately be called scripture, would mean claiming God stopped his revelation 400 years before the OT prophecies about Christ began to be fulfilled!

As it is, using nothing but the OT scriptures, it is still perfectly possible to show that the fulfilling of them is equally God-inspired, and that the Christian Greek scriptures are perfectly in accord with the Hebrew scriptures. I have quoted nothing but Hebrew scriptures in my answer.


See https://www.gotquestions.org/tota-scriptura.html and the related links on that page.

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  • So to make sure I fully understand your answer - are you claiming that God inspired the authors to write those things in order to support future scripture and past scripture?
    – Luke Hill
    Jan 26, 2022 at 13:55
  • @Luke Hill All scripture that originates with God depends on its authenticity by the word of God, not man. Even if men managed to destroy all scripture, or to twist it, that would not detract one iota from all scripture being the inspired word of God. Our agreement is not necessary. You seem to have it back to front. God's inspired words come first; those who tremble at God's words recognise them as such. Those who do not, try to tear strips off it, or to devalue if not destroy God's words. He knows who is doing what.
    – Anne
    Jan 26, 2022 at 14:33
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    I just realize what you are saying - I actually totally agree with your answer. I still don’t hold to Sola Scriptura but what you are saying is totally accurate. Thanks, and God bless.
    – Luke Hill
    Jan 26, 2022 at 14:58
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    @Luke Hill An astonished 'thank-you' from me!
    – Anne
    Jan 26, 2022 at 15:33
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    @Anne - Isn't there a bit of question begging in your comment? How do those who tremble at God's words recognize them as God's words without referencing the written Scripture (God's words)?
    – ken
    Jan 26, 2022 at 19:27
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There's apparent confusion over exactly what Sola Scriptura (SS) is and is not.

SS refers only to the idea that the Bible as the sole infallible source of authority for Christian faith and practice.

SS does not refer to defining which books are the Bible, although by the time SS was introduced, developed, and believed, the 66-book Bible was already established.

The history of SS was a counter against the Catholic Church idea that certain de fide requirements could be and were established fully apart from the Bible. It believes that Scripture and Tradition (as it defines Tradition) are both sources of infallible sources as to Christian salvation.

The obvious problem with Tradition is that other Churches such as the Orthodox Church have different Traditions, like filioque, papal authority, yet are believed also to have apostolic succession. Besides, it is questionable to establish a necessary salvific belief without it being written during apostolic times. It's a guess that SS has tried to correct.

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  • SS needs to define which books are in the Bible or else the claim is baseless. Sola scriptura. Well what scripture? It doesn’t make any sense to say the Bible is the sole infallible rule over the church and then not define what you mean by Bible.
    – Luke Hill
    Jan 26, 2022 at 15:58
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    @LukeHill SS is only about proclaiming that scripture is sufficient for all things salvific. It does not define what, at the time Reformation, was scripture. You will need to establish that Tradition, Smith's books, or others are God's word. IOW, they are arguing that the apostles/Spirit left something out. Again, there was no question about scripture itself at the time of the Reformation.
    – SLM
    Jan 26, 2022 at 17:15
  • That is untrue. Sola Scriptura is referring (at least today) about more than just salvific doctrine. Even so, salvific doctrine is a broad term and unhelpful.
    – Luke Hill
    Jan 26, 2022 at 17:22
  • here is the definition from Wikipedia, which cites a paper on the topic: Sola scriptura, meaning by scripture alone, is a Christian theological doctrine held by some Protestant Christian denominations, in particular the Lutheran and Reformed traditions of Protestantism,[1] that posits the Bible as the sole infallible source of authority for Christian faith and practice
    – Luke Hill
    Jan 26, 2022 at 18:40
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    I cite the same SS. What you don't read is a list of books of scripture. SS is simply saying scripture alone sole source for faith and practice. That is salvific. Faith for example for Protestants does not include the belief of Mary ever-virgin, although for Catholics it is a requirement. The source of ever-virgin is not in scripture, in fact some argue it is clear Mary had more children. I understand SS seems odd to those who expect it to define scripture, but it doesn't. But again, at Reformation, everyone knew to what it referred.
    – SLM
    Jan 26, 2022 at 19:37

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