Sola Scriptura?


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Q. I would be interested to know where Mary’s Immaculate Conception is referenced in the Bible. I would also like to have reference to her being/remaining sinless. Thank you.

A. Dear Michelle,

Before I answer your questions let me explain a fundamental difference between the sources of Catholic Doctrine and Protestant Doctrine.

The source for Catholic Doctrine is:

All that Jesus taught His disciples which were both written and orally transmitted.

The source for Protestant Doctrine is:

Many things that Jesus taught His disciples, but not all because limited to:

  1. Only what is in the  Bible after Luther removed 7 books.
  2. A few doctrines adopted from Catholicism

Because Protestants are bound to the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura they judge Catholic Doctrine to be suspect when teachings cannot be found explicitly in scripture. They do not seem to be aware that the Bible is a derived source. A sacred secondary source. A source derived from the primary source which is the teaching of Jesus Christ to His disciples.

The Catholic Church derives her teaching from the primary source. Catholic teaching and the Bible are both derived from the primary source, the teachings of Jesus. For this reason, nothing the Catholic Church teaches contradicts anything in the Bible because they are both derived from the same source. Everything that the Catholic Church teaches can not be found explicitly in Sacred Scripture. But, it can be found in the historic teaching of the Catholic Church which is derived from what the apostles taught and handed down to their successors….that which Jesus taught.

So when you ask,

Where is Mary’s Immaculate Conception  referenced in the Bible? I would also like to have reference to her being/remaining sinless.

This is because you have been taught that nothing must be believed as Christians, unless it can be found in Scripture. But this source (the Bible)  is an incomplete record of all that Jesus did and taught. This is clearly affirmed in Scripture.

John 20:30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book

John 21:25 But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Ironically, even as Protestants criticize Catholics for believing things that are not in scripture they unwittingly believe things that also are not to be found explicitly in Scripture.

First and foremost, the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura  is nowhere to be found in scripture.

Neither is the Doctrine of the Trinity or the Incarnation to be found explicitly in scripture. These were adopted from Catholicism.

For these reasons the Immaculate Conception and perpetual sinlessness of Mary cannot be found explicitly in scripture. But then, again, neither can Sola Scriptura .

For what Scriptural evidence we do have you might want to explore the following post:

Immaculate Conception

History Disproves Sola Scriptura


Monisha: Scripture is inanimate !! Oh really! I am aghast. Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

BFHU: Dear Monisha, Don’t worry. I said Scripture was inanimate, I did not say or mean that it was inactive, powerless or worthless. I was not speaking about Scripture in general but about a specific aspect of it. Many people like to quote, “Scripture interprets Scripture.” But that is just simply not true. Other Scriptures can help us understand Scripture and help us interpret it but it cannot and it does not give one single, clear, unequivocal interpretation for difficult or disputed passages. Here is what I said,

Only people can interpret Scripture. Scripture is inanimate and unable to infallibly give the correct interpretation all by itself all of the time.

You clearly agree with me on the second half of my sentence below:

Monisha: and moreover subjecting the word of god to the interpretation of sinful people is a grave mistake. Because we are sinners, we are incapable of interpreting God’s word perfectly all of the time. The body, mind, will, and emotions are affected by sin and make 100% interpretive accuracy impossible. we need to approach His word with care, humility, and reason.

BFHU: I agree. Especially for people 2000 years after the birth of Christ. The best interpreters would be those who knew the apostles and heard what Jesus taught directly from their lips. The earlier the exegete the better and the later the exegete the less and less reliable.

Monisha:Additionally, we need, as best as can be had, the guidance of the Holy Spirit in interpreting God’s Word. After all, the Bible is inspired by God and is addressed to His people. The Holy Spirit helps us to understand what God’s word means and how to apply it.

BFHU: Again I agree.

Monisha:John 14:26, “These things I have spoken to you, while abiding with you. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”
Luke 12:12, “for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

BFHU:  Do you think that this is a promise to you, and to each and every sincere reader of Scripture? I used to think so when i was a sola scriptura Protestant. But this promise was not made to all believers but only to the apostles first of all. And secondly, you will notice the promise does not refer at all to Sacred Scripture. It is a promise to the apostles that the Holy Spirit will teach them all things WITHOUT THE NEW TESTAMENT, b/c it did not exist at all at the time and would not be finalized for another 400 years. And thirdly, the Holy Spirit would remind them of EVERYTHING Jesus said to them. Can you or I remember one thing Jesus said without the aid of the Bible and only with the aid of the Holy Spirit? No, because we were not there. So these verses do not support the theory of Luther, that anyone and everyone could, with the aid of the Holy
Spirit interpret scripture accurately. These verses just are not about the interpretation of scripture at all.

images-1Now, let me be clear. I do believe that the Holy Spirit aids us in understanding scripture and applying it to our lives. But I do not believe that the Holy Spirit has been promised to us in order to enable us to infallibly interpret scripture. This is what Luther believed would prove to be true, but now, a mere 500 years later Luther’s “church” has splintered into 30,000 different denominations because people of sincere faith read and interpreted scriptures differently. The reason for all of this disunity, contrary to the desires of Christ, is because:

Only people can interpret Scripture. Scripture is inanimate and unable to infallibly give the correct interpretation all by itself all of the time.

Since Protestantism has hitched itself to the horse of Sola Scriptura, it has crashed and splintered into thousands of pieces. This was inevitable when Luther et al. unhinged themselves from the Historic Church founded by Jesus Christ and began to follow the unproven, unscriptural theory of sola scriptura.

Sola Scriptura: A Protestant Tradition of Men

St Peter's

Which is the Final Authority? Scripture or Tradition?


biblespine-coan-300x200MONISHA:  The Scriptures hold the place of final authority and by that position are shown to be superior to Sacred Tradition.

BFHU: You are very close to what we believe here. However, we would not state it quite this way. You say “Scripture is the final authority”. We would say “Nothing believed or taught by the Catholic Church may contradict Scripture”. The relevant difference is going to depend upon INTERPRETATION. Many Protestants think that they are able to infallibly interpret scripture, although they would never admit this. So, when based upon their perceived infallible interpretation, they find the Catholic Church teaching something that contradicts their interpretation they are convinced that the Catholic Church MUST be teaching heresy. When Protestants claim that Scripture is the final authority, what they are really saying is that their interpretation of Scripture is the final and infallible authority, but they would never claim the infallibility part.

As an example: The Catholic Church teaches the perpetual virginity of Mary. But Protestants will point out the scriptures about the “brothers and sisters of Jesus” and assert that the Catholic Church teaches something opposed to Sacred Scripture. They rarely explore with an educated Catholic how we can believe this doctrine in spite of the scriptures about the brothers of Jesus. They totally trust their own “infallible” interpretation.–>A Tradition of Men: Jesus had Siblings. Mary is NOT a Perpetual Virgin.

MONISHA: This means that Sacred Tradition is not equal in authority to the Word of Godpapacy

BFHU: This is a Protestant belief because they rarely understand what we mean by Sacred Tradition. Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scriptures are equal in authority in the Catholic Faith. That is because they both derived from the same exact source: The Teaching of the Apostles.

However, as you read this blog or other Catholic apologetics sources, we quote scripture in defending our faith, not because we think it is more authoritative. It is not. But, we are writing for our audience: Protestants. They believe Sacred Scripture is more authoritative or the only authority. Therefore, we quote Scripture as much as possible and appeal to Sacred Tradition as ancient historical support for our beliefs when necessary.

MONISHA:…to assert that Sacred Tradition is equal to Scripture effectively leaves the canon wide open to doctrinal addition. Since the traditions of men change, then to use tradition as a determiner of spiritual truth would mean that over time new doctrines that are not in the Bible would be added, and that is exactly what has happened in Catholicism with doctrines such as purgatory, praying to Mary, indulgences, etc.

BFHU: You are quite mistaken. As I said before Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are merely the oral and written teachings of the Apostles as taught to them by Jesus Himself. Therefore they are equal in authority. Even St. Paul teaches this–>Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition Equal

As you said earlier, Christians believe such doctrines as the Trinity, Incarnation etc that cannot be found explicitly in Scripture alone. The Church teaches the doctrine of Purgatory, intercession of the Saints, indulgences etc as simply other things taught by the Apostles but not explicit is Scripture, the same as the Trinity, Incarnation etc..

The canon is very much CLOSED and nothing can now be added to it. New and novel doctrines cannot be added and have not been added. Let me be very clear about something often blurred in Protestant thinking. Sacred Tradition and the tradition of men are two VERY DIFFERENT things. Traditions of men may or may not be true but Sacred Tradition is True Apostolic Teaching. Traditions of men may be so wrong that they are condemned in Scripture and by the Catholic Church. But Sacred Tradition cannot change or be added to and it is never condemned but recommended by St. Paul.

MONISHA:Furthermore, if they can use Sacred Tradition as a source for doctrines not explicit in the Bible, then why would the Mormons then be wrong for having additional revelation as well?

BFHU: The Mormons are wrong because their additional revelation burst upon the scene less than 200 years ago. They have nothing to support that this new revelation came from the Apostolic Tradition or is attested by any document whatsoever in antiquity.

MONISHA:If the Bible is not used to verify and test Sacred Tradition, then Sacred Tradition is functionally independent of the Word of God. If it is independent of Scripture, then by what right does it have to exist as an authoritative spiritual source equivalent to the Bible? How do we know what is and is not true in Sacred Tradition if there is no inspired guide by which to judge it?

BFHU: Sacred Tradition is not at all functionally independent of the Word of God. The Oral Tradition/ Sacred Tradition is one part of Apostolic Teaching. Sacred Scripture/written Tradition is the other part of Apostolic Teaching. It has the right to exist because without it we lose the complete teachings of the Apostles.

Well, one could say that Sacred Tradition may not contradict anything in Sacred Scripture. And it does not. That is because they are both derived from the same God through the Apostles. And the Pope is empowered by Christ to never teach anything to the church that is in error, thereby protecting us from false traditions of men.

MONISHA:Sacred Tradition is invalidated automatically if it contradicts the Bible, and it does. Of course, the Catholic will say that it does not. But, Catholic teachings such as purgatory, penance, indulgences, praying to Mary, etc., are not in the Bible.

BFHU: Yes, Sacred Tradition would be invalidated if it contradicted Sacred Scripture. But it does not. It only contradicts Protestant Traditions and Protestant interpretation. Catholic teachings that are not found in the Bible do not, by their absence create a contradiction to the Bible. They are however found in Sacred Tradition just like the Doctrines of the Trinity, Incarnation, Hypostatic Union etc.

MONISHA:A natural reading of God’s Word does not lend itself to such beliefs and practices. Instead, the Catholic Church has used Sacred Tradition to add to God’s revealed word and then extracted out of the Bible whatever verses that might be construed to support their doctrines of Sacred Tradition.

BFHU: Quite the contrary, I am afraid. If you go back historically you will find all the unique Catholic beliefs in existence prior to the canonization of the Bible. What the Christian Church believed in the first centuries of Christianity is very Catholic. You will not find historic Christianity, prior to Martin Luther, to be anything remotely resembling Protestantism of any denomination.

We have always believed and taught the uniquely Catholic doctrines. They just happened to be found in Sacred Oral Apostolic Teaching rather than in the Written Apostolic Teachings. The Catholic Church did not use “Sacred Tradition to add to God’s revealed word and then extract out of the Bible whatever verses that might be construed to support their doctrines of Sacred Tradition.” It only appears this way to you b/c we try to use scripture as much as possible to show Protestants any possible scriptural support for Sacred Tradition b/c we know that you will reject anything that is not scripture. Protestant even reject historical affirmation of Catholic doctrine. So we do the best we can with what is in Scripture.

MONISHA:Since the Bible is the final authority, we should look to it as the final authenticating and inerrant source of all spiritual truth. If it says Sacred Tradition is valid–fine. But if it doesn’t, then I will trust the Bible alone. Since the Bible does not approve of the Catholic Church’s Sacred Tradition, along with its inventions of prayer to Mary, prayer to the saints, indulgences, penance, purgatory, etc., then neither should Christians.

BFHU: Where does the Bible disapprove of even one thing in Sacred Tradition? Or Catholic Teaching? And, are you fully aware that by rejecting Sacred ORAL Apostolic Teaching that you are left with only a fraction of what Jesus taught by trusting  Scripture alone?

Mt 28:18 “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you

Jesus told the Apostles to teach all that He commanded. He did not say teach only what gets written down in the first 100 years of Christianity.–>Which Church Did Jesus Start?

Why Do Catholics Reject Sola Scriptura?


images-1Dear Monisha,
We totally agree that appealing to Scripture is an excellent practice. If you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church you will find a multitude of Scripture references in the footnotes as references for our doctrines. However, the Catholic Faith and practice existed long before Martin Luther came along and decided, on his own authority, that ONLY what was in written Scripture (Sola Scriptura) was legitimate and all else was suspect or outright heresy.

As far as asserting that even Jesus relied only upon Scripture, I would have to disagree. He taught and behaved in ways diametrically opposed to what the sola scriptura Jews believed and judged him to be a dangerous heretic and so they plotted to destroy Him. For instance, when friends brought the man to Jesus for healing by letting him down through the roof, Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” And what did the prominent and educated Jews think?

“Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?” (according to their scriptures)

Did Jesus then appeal to Scripture to absolve Himself? No.

And there are many other examples. Jesus was doing something new and unexpected. So, appealing to Scriptures is a wonderful and powerful practice but all Christian truth is not found in them and Scripture NEVER teaches that all spiritual truth is to be found in them alone. Martin Luther made that up. Not Jesus. Not the apostles. Not God.

You said,

It is not required of Scripture to have a statement to the effect, “The Bible alone is to be used for all spiritual truth,” in order for sola scriptura to be true.

Why not? How can one claim that all Christian truth must be in Scripture alone if that teaching, itself,  cannot even be found in scripture alone? It is not trustworthy for Protestants to say that if something is not explicitly taught in Scripture alone, except for the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura, then it cannot be believed, That doesn’t make sense.

You are exactly correct that all Christians do believe in doctrines not explicitly to be found spelled out in Scripture alone, like the Trinity, and the incarnation, the two natures of Christ etc. These doctrines were hammered out centuries before Martin Luther arrived on the scene by the Councils of the Catholic Church. It just so happened that Luther liked these doctrines and therefore adopted them even though they were not spelled out in Scripture alone. And therefore, according to this Protestant tradition, most Protestants still accept these Catholic doctrines down to this day.

However, there were other Catholic doctrines, Luther did not like and so, he used his novel assertion of Sola Scriptura to reject and repel anything he did not agree with. He even removed seven books from the OT and six from the NT that contradicted his beliefs. He was later persuaded to return the NT books. Therefore, today Protestant Bibles are missing 7 OT books from the Canon of the 4th century. –>The 7 books removed by Martin Luther.

If you say:

Many doctrines in the Bible are not clearly stated, yet they are believed and taught by the church

I would have to agree with you completely. That is precisely the Catholic position. All that the Church teaches is derived from both the oral and the written Teachings of the Apostles sometimes referred to as Sacred Tradition. So, you are correct that we do not adhere to Sola Scriptura or Scripture alone but we certainly love and honor the Scriptures and appeal to them when appropriate.

But, with regard to Sola Scriptura, it is NOT found anywhere in the Oral or Written Teaching of the Apostles or in any of the writings of the Early Church Fathers. It has no ancient pedigree of authenticity and therefore the Catholic Church rejects it as a novelty invented by Martin Luther a mere 500 years ago.

When you said,

So, for the Catholic to require the Protestant to supply chapter and verse to prove Sola Scriptura is valid is not necessarily consistent with biblical exegetical principles of which they themselves approve when examining such doctrines as the Trinity, the hypostatic union, etc.

You have a valid point. We certainly don’t use the Sola Scriptura paradigm because we reject it. However, I am constantly insisting that Protestants prove Sola Scriptura from chapter and verse in Scripture alone,  because Protestants generally do believe in Sola Scriptura and yet this very foundational doctrine CANNOT be found in Scripture alone at all. Therefore, Sola Scriptura must be illegitimate according to the Sola Scriptura Doctrine. Because, how can Protestants tell Catholics, “I do not find the Doctrine of Purgatory anywhere in Scripture, therefore I reject it and so should Catholics.” But. then turn around and say, “I do not find the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura anywhere in Scripture but I accept it and so should Catholics.” I am sorry that is way too much cognitive dissonance for me.

And not only that, even though Protestants do believe in doctrine that is not explicitly stated in Scripture, such as the Trinity, incarnation, etc. they are blinded to this fact and turn around and condemn the Catholic Church for believing in doctrine not explicitly found in Scripture alone. Huh? By asking Protestants to prove sola scriptura with scripture alone I am trying to get them to see that there is a very large inconsistency with their doctrine.

Sola Scriptura: A Tradition of Men 5


Peter & the KeysCharles Allen: All things must be tested to God’s word which is truth then we must ask if these oral teachings were tested to God’s word. So does the catechism of the CC church test these oral traditions to scripture ? If they were not tested by scripture then how are we to be sure of their validity ie that they were not merely man’s invention.
Sola scripture just means that things must be tested to scripture as the only reliable source of truth – it was not an invention of Luther’s but always existed.

BFHU:  Where has Sola Scriptura always existed? It did not exist until Martin Luther invented it. Did you know that because of his adherence to Sola Scriptura Luther had the audacity  to delete 7 books from the NT that conflicted with his doctrines.

For instance, he taught that we are saved by faith alone. Sola Fide. But, in James we find these words;

James 2:24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Well, Martin Luther did not like that so he just took it out of his translation of the Bible into German along with other books of canonized Scripture. I think it was 7 OT and 7 NT. He took them out b/c his doctrine of sola scriptura conflicted with his doctrine of  sola fide.

He also added the word alone to Eph 2:8 in an outrageous attempt to bolster his doctrine of Sola Fide.

“saved through faith alone.” Here is what it actually says:

Ephesians 2:8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—

Yes, Charles, nothing the Catholic Church teaches contradicts or conflicts with Scripture. Catholic teachings do, however, conflict with Protestant interpretations of Scripture.

Because Protestants tend to think, as you do, that they can infallibly interpret scripture*, (see note below) then, when the Catholic Church teaches something they don’t agree with because they have a different interpretation, they assert that Catholic teachings conflict with Scripture. But that is not correct. Catholic teachings merely conflict with various INTERPRETATIONS of Scripture. That is not the same thing as actually conflicting with Scripture. And, not only that, Catholic interpretations are 2000 years old. Protestant interpretations only go back 500 years.

But where in Scripture does it say anything close to”

“all things must be tested to God’s word which is truth”?

Scripture does say:

I Thess. 5:20 do not despise prophesying, 21 but test everything;hold fast what is good, 22 abstain from every form of evil.

St. Paul clearly says not to despise prophesying, that would certainly be ORAL not written. But to test it. He NOWHERE SAYS TO TEST IT BY GOD’S WORD, SCRIPTURE OR ANYTHING OF THE SORT.

The Catholic Church does test everything by both the oral and the written Teachings of the Apostles.

Once again, Charles, you are adding to Scripture what just is not there. Therefore, you are now making up traditions of men.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

*NOTE:  By the way, I am not making a false accusation agains Charles. In a comment on another post:

Let us take note that in answer to my question:

Do you think you can infallibly interpret scripture?

Charles said,

“Yes”

Sola Scriptura: A Tradition of Men 4


Immaculate Conception - detail 1

Charles Allen: But these traditions were then written down and then formed the NT.
Neither you or anyone else can give me an example of oral traditions in the church that were not written down at some point.
So that is why we are exhorted not to go beyond what is written – Paul would be looking to the future when apostates would try to bring in new non biblical traditions.

BFHU: No, Charles, all of the Oral Traditions did not get written down in time to be formed into the NT as St. John clearly says:

John 20:30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book..

John 21:25 But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

A few Oral Traditions that did not get written into the NT are;

Doctrine of Purgatory
Assumption of Mary
Prayer to the Saints
Infallibility of the Pope
Immaculate Conception of Mary
Mary Ever Virgin

Yes, what were the  Oral Teachings of the Apostles/Oral Tradition that did not get written into what eventually became the Written Teachings of the Apostles/New Testament were eventually written down. You can find them easily now in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

So, it was very unwise of Martin Luther, 1500 years later, to invent a new doctrine we know as Sola Scriptura which is NOWHERE TO BE FOUND in the Oral Teachings of the Apostles or the Written Teachings of the Apostles.

Sola Scriptura: A Tradition of Men 3


EucharistCharles: bfhu – Are you saying that God allows us to add to His word even though He has told us not to – EVEN though this is demonstrated throughout the bible.

BFHU: No Charles I  believe St. Paul when he wrote:

2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.

That is, Oral Tradition and Written Tradition (Bible)

Charles: “Inasmuch as MANY have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were HANDED down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to WRITE it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the EXACT truth about the things you have been taught.” Luke 1:1-4
Luke begins by mentioning uninspired gospels by Christians, then the oral tradition of the apostles and concludes that SCRIPTURE ALONE will allow Theophilus to know for certain what the truth is.
Luke was guided by the Holy Spirit all the way – although to unbelievers it would seem he as a mere man was writing history.

BFHU: What???? Where ever in that passage does it say one thing about uninspired Gospels and oral tradition?

Yes Luke knew about other gospels but that is all he says. There is no support to believe he also knew about the rest of the NT books. This is just wishful thinking.
You are breaking your rule again by adding to Scripture when you assert that Luke was dissing “uninspired gospels and oral tradition” when that is nowhere in the text and then concludes that:

Scripture Alone will allow Theophilus to know the truth.

Huh? Where does it say Scripture alone?

Does Scripture convey the Truth? Absolutely!

Is all TRUTH contained in Scripture. No.

And there just is no Scripture that asserts that ALL TRUTH PERTAINING TO SALVATION is contained in Sripture ALONE.

As I said before this is a tradition of men.

It has to be because it is not written anywhere in Sacred Scripture. And neither is it contained in Oral Apostolic Tradition. Since, Protestants claim all doctrine must be derived from Scripture alone this undermines their whole case.

Protestants cobble together various verses that honor Scripture. They have been taught that Catholics do not honor Scripture, so they think that showing us these verses about the importance of Scripture, will convince us, that Scripture Alone is true.

But we already know the value of Scripture. And Catholics do honor and must honor Scripture. We hear more Scripture at a Catholic mass than most Protestants  hear in their service. But these verses, that rightly proclaim the glory of Sacred Scripture, do not substantiate the tradition of Sola Scriptura.

This makes Sola Scriptura a tradition of men.