Sola Scriptura is NOT Scriptural


What follows is an excellent comment submitted elsewhere on this site by Demetrios.

The doctrine of Sola Scriptura is a cornerstone of Protestant doctrine. Sola Scriptura is the teaching that only those things which are explicitly written in Scripture can be believed or practiced by a Christian. There is really only a single test that one needs to apply to determine if Sola Scripture is true. One must ask the following question:

Is Sola Scripture taught in Scripture?

Think about this. If you claim that only those beliefs which are explicitly stated in Scripture are true, then Sola Scriptura must be stated explicitly in Scripture…..somewhere. If not, it can’t possibly be true according to the docrine of Sola Scriptura.

The fact is that there is not a single passage of the Holy Bible which explicitly teaches us that the Bible alone is the only source of all teaching. You simply will not find this in Scripture. Therefore, by definition, Sola Scriptura cannot be true because it doesn’t even support its own basic premise – it isn’t in the Bible!

None of the Apostles taught it. Furthermore, nothing in the writings of the early Fathers – the first generation who were taught at the feet of the original 12 – says anything to support Sola Scriptura.

Many Protestants will offer II Timothy 3:16-17 as a proof text for Sola Scripture.

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Not a word of this passage teaches Sola Scriptura. Notice that Saint Paul says to Saint Timothy that Scripture is “useful”; that is quite an understatement if he believed in Sola Scripture.

Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox have no problem with any part of this passage. But we recognize that while everything that this passage says about the Scriptures is true, it never says that the Bible alone is our only source of teaching and practice. No scriptural passage says such a thing. It just isn’t there. And not only that, but the Scriptures St. Paul was talking about would have been the Old Testament.

What does the Holy Bible say is the “ground and pillar of truth” in I Timothy 3:14-15? The Scriptures? No. The individual believer? No. Martin Luther or John Calvin? No. THE CHURCH.

15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

I believe that what lies at the heart of Sola Scritura is pride and rebelliousness. It places the individual reader above the apostolic church. It appeals to something inside all of us – the prideful passions. It claims that as individuals, we are more authoritative than the “ground and pillar of truth” at interpreting proper belief.

What is the result of Sola Scripture? 23,000 different Protestant denominations, all claiming to be right yet all in dissension with each other. That is what happens when any “Tom, Dick, or Harry” can interpret Scripture for himself. This state of affairs is sinful because our Lord prayed to the father that his followers be one, as he is one with the Father (John 17:21). Furthermore, there is no confusion with God (I Corinthians 14:33), but confusion is exactly what you get when the Bible is interpreted outside the Church. Again, all you need to do to see this is look up CHURCH in your yellow pages. Anything that leads us to this rebellious state of 23,000 different denominations within Christendom (namely, Sola Scripture) cannot be of God.

As an Orthodox Christian, I believe that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired Word of God. It is our highest and most authoritative source of doctrine and practice. Anything that goes against the teachings of Scripture is wrong. In fact, Saint John Chrysostom, a Patriarch of Constantinople, said that an ignorance of Holy Scripture on the part of the common people is the greatest source of evil within the Church. However, I also know that the Bible was given to the Church through the Church and is interpreted within the Church.

Finally, a poster on this site, stated rather bluntly that our Lord condemned adherence to all tradition.

Mark 7:7)BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’8“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the (J)tradition of men.”9He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your (K)tradition.

However, this is false, and another unfortunate side-effect of Sola Scripture becomes obvious here – twisting Scripture to say what you want it to say. Jesus condemns reliance on traditions of men – not all tradition. For example, Sola Scripture, which was championed by a man (Martin Luther), would be a good example of a tradition of men.

Tradition, developed from the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church has its rightful place, and to argue otherwise is to go against what the Scriptures teach us. For example, consider some of these passages that I never highlighted in my Bible when I was a Protestant:

“Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.”
II Thessalonians 2:15

In this passage, we see two sources of teaching and practice – word (oral tradition) and epistle (written tradition). It clearly shows that Apostolic tradition was fully established. Protestants will argue that this teaching only applied before the Bible was fully assembled. However, this is just another tradition of men – not stated anywhere in Scripture. By making that claim, they violate their own core belief – Sola Scriptura. The verse doesn’t say, hold to tradition and epistle until the Canon is fully assembled, and then just hold to written epistle. When they state otherwise, they are adding their own extra-Biblical tradition.

“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.”
II Thessalonians 3:6

2Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.
I Corinthians 11:2

Not everything our Lord did or taught is in Scripture.

“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.”
John 21:25

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