Monday, January 25, 2010

Response to TurretinFan on sola scriptura

TurretinFan (I don't know his real name, hereafter "TF") posted a response to my article responding to Steve Hays. TF divided his response into numbered sections, to which I will respond in kind:

1) The definition of Sola Scriptura

As for the definition of "If it's not in the Bible, don't believe it!" TF states that I know full well it is not the standard meaning of sola scriptura. I beg to differ! There is no "standard definition!" The definition varies from camp to camp and for some, "If it's not in the Bible, don't believe it!" IS the standard definition! Now I concur that among TF's camp that likely is not the "standard definition," and TF goes on to say, "it's neither what the Reformers meant nor what the Reformed churches today mean by it." The problem we have is that TF didn't provide us with the "standard definition," and left us to assume.

2) Distinguishing between the Doctrinal and Historical Aspects of Sola Scriptura

TF states that the "sola" aspect of sola scriptura is not so much a doctrinal claim as an historical claim." He points out that my argument against Godfrey and White, that their statements are to sufficiency and not to sola is due to the fact that I perhaps was unaware of the historical nature of "sola" in sola scriptura. TF goes on to explain that "the full sense of Sola Scriptura is the application of the formal sufficiency of Scripture to a time in which there are no other sources of direct propositional revelation: for example, a time when the prophets are dead and Jesus is ascended. TF seems to be unaware of my argument that Scripture itself points us to another infallible source! The bishops! Matthew 18:18 shows us Jesus giving infallible authority to the bishops as a group - that whatsoever the bind or loose on Earth is bound or loosed in Heaven. In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus gives this same authority to Peter alone (and noting this was two chapters earlier, Peter received this authority not only alone, but in primacy).

3) You're no better than us approach

I had made a point regarding the "you're no better than us" approach which Mr. Hays was utilizing. TF tries to defend his buddy, but cannot change the facts. TF seems to be conceding that the whole ploy was to undermine, and not so much to say it was a good defense or argument - only that it was to undermine what I said. I would call that a cheap debate tactic. We should be trying to represent the Truth - and not following every "if it might hurt my opponent, I'll use it" approach. TF uses an entirely straw man example:

Scott wrote: "This discussion is about sola scriptura, a statement like 'you're no better than we are' is not a defense of sola scriptura (even if the statement were true)."

What Scott seems to miss with that comment is the fact that the argument "you're no better" (if true) undermines the significance of the criticism. It's kind of like if a "Protestant" were to argue: "clearly your (the Roman Catholic) rule of faith is wrong, since the pope isn't God." The Roman Catholic response might be to say, "OK but the Bible isn't God, either." That response doesn't actually dispute the fact that the pope isn't God, it just demonstrates that the criticism is misplaced as a criticism.
i) Catholicism doesn't teach the Pope is God (TF knows this, and I know he knows this and was just using this as an "example" - but it is a misleading and wholly inapplicable example).

ii) I have not used an "OK, but the Bible isn't God, either" approach. I simply pointed out that the "you're no better than we are" approach is not a DEFENSE of sola scriptura. I stand by what I said.

4) Canon in Flux?

Regarding my point that for the first 400 years of Christendom the Canon of the New Testament was in flux. TF responds:
a) TF states "there weren't lots and lots of debates on the canon in the first 400 years." I didn't say there were "lots and lots" I only asked "why all the debates...?" The fact of the matter is there are SEVERAL different canon lists in the first 400 years. TF concedes "even when there were some discussions about the canon, there was widespread agreement as to the bulk of the books." I do not dispute that a bulk of the books were agreed upon! The FACT is there are differing canons! Some left out books, some added books and it would not be until the latter part of the 4th century that the canon flux was stabilized. These are facts that TF cannot deny, he may try to minimize them, but he cannot deny them.
b) In this point TF, after conceding there was some "flux" states, "The Canon itself wasn't in flux." Huh? Above he states there was "discussion" on at least "some" of the books, even if not the bulk - but no he's saying there wasn't any flux at all? Methinks TF needs to get his story straight. He then in this section again affirms the "flux" in saying, "The knowledge of the canon was more or less certain (generally progressively more certain as time progressed)." The objective reader here can see that "more or less" indicates a certain amount of "flux."

5) Scripture Does Not Contain Infallible Knowledge of the Canon of Scripture

In this whole section TF undermines the value of "infallible" in the definition used by White, and I would have to assume TF as well (since he cites White three different times in this section). Let me just blockquote a large part of this section:

Steve had written: "Why does knowledge [of the canon of Scripture] have to be infallible? What’s wrong with plain old knowledge?" Scott replied: "I was going with James White's definition which includes the term "infallible.""
This is another mistake on Scott's part. White's definition says that the Scripture itself is infallible. White didn't say that we obtain an infallible knowledge from Scripture (and certainly not an infallible knowledge of the canon of Scripture). Quite to the contrary, on one occasion White wrote:
Know for sure, or infallibly? I don't know the exhaustive teachings of the Bible. I don't have infallible knowledge of what the Bible teaches on *any* subject. But I do have *sufficient* knowledge of what the Bible teaches on the *central* subjects. The difference between infallibility and sufficiency is vitally important to recognize.

So TF is conceding, apparently for both White and himself, that Scripture does not contain infallible knowledge of the canon of Scripture. That satisfies my point! The canon itself cannot be infallibly known to Protestants for their "sole infallible source" does not, by TF's admission here contain "infallible knowledge of the canon of Scripture."

6) (TF reused 5 here) Canon Closure vs. Canon Recognition

Here TF again accuses me of confusion, where I have none. He also misstates the closure of the canon as being when the last writer wrote the last book when that is not true! The canon process took centuries to "close." Books by St. Clement, the Shepherd of Hermes, etc. were included in several "canons" in the Early Church, yet were excluded when the canon process finally ended in the late 4th century. Then this closed canon was made de fide by the Council of Trent in the 16th century to end the discussion once and for all since protestors against the Faith had brought it up again. Trent didn't create a new canon and explicitly states the reference to that "as they are contained in the old Latin Vulgate Edition" (source). Whereas TF thinks I am the one confused here, I am the one using the word "canon" as it was used throughout the Early Church when differing bishops published their individual "canon" lists.

7) 1611 KJV and the Deuterocanonicals (called "Apocrypha" by the ignorant, including the translators of the KJV - these books were never "hidden" which is what "apocrypha" means)

TF points out that though the KJV did not separate the Deuterocanonicals into a separate appendix (conceding my point) that they were allocated to a section between the Old and New Testament and labeled "Apocrypha." I will yield that point to him, but he should be in mind that the original 1611 KJV also contained marginal notes, well, let me quote another Protestant source:

Regarding the Apocrypha being in the 1611 KJV, there should be no question. This is fact. Dispute it if you want, but that won't change things. Furthermore, in the KJV 1611 translation, there are marginal notes from the New and Old Testaments to the Apocrypha and vice versa. That should convince anyone who is open to truth how those translators felt about the Apocrypha, (source). (emphasis is NOT mine).

I don't think TF wants to seek much refuge in the 1611 KJV, in fact I was a bit surprised he defended it at all.

Now, how about the significant points from my response to Mr. Hays? Agree or disagree?

1) The teaching of satis scriptura is NOT sola scriptura.

2) Sola scriptura is not taught in Scripture. Some Protestants will admit to this fact, will Mr. Hays or TurretinFan do so?

3) Nowhere in Scripture will we find the listing (canon) of what should comprise the Canon of Sacred Scripture.

4) Interpretation of an implicit teaching in Scripture is still extra scriptura.

5) Steve resorted to the invalid argumentum ad hominem several times (and I appreciate the fact that TurrentinFan did not).

6) Steve seemed to confuse the Pentateuch with the Canon of the Old Testament, and I quote: "So from the time Moses wrote the Pentateuch until the Council of Trent in the 16C, the Jews were without a canon of Scripture." The Pentateuch refers ONLY to the first 5 books of Moses, also known as the Torah.

7) Scripture remains a PART OF Catholic Tradition. No matter how much Steve or TF would like to remove that from OUR Sacred Tradition, they cannot.

There were other points, but these should suffice for now and I would like to know how both Steve and TurretinFan responds to them with a simple (Agree) or (Disagree) before going into an explanation of why they agree or disagree.


PS- I do not use "labels" of pseudonyms, if TurretinFan would provide his real name, I will add that to the "labels" section to make such responses easily searched for by his name.

1 comment:

  1. RC Sproul: "The Bible does not have specific text that suggests that the Bible alone is our final authority in all matters of faith and practice."

    David King: "no where in the Bible are these answers stated as posed,"

    qtd on:


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