Having already dealt with the concept of Sola Scriptura (“Bible Alone”) in more detail elsewhere on this blog, this article will briefly address one particular Catholic argument against it.
Many, if not most, of us who believe in Sola Scriptura will admit that this doctrine did not apply during the time of Jesus or His apostles, since the apostolic period was definitely a time when they were still receiving new, infallible, “oral” revelation. But we believe Sola Scriptura came into play in the post-apostolic church, when the apostles were all gone and new divine revelation had ceased.
But some Catholic apologists will say, “For Sola Scriptura to be true, it must have been the norm all along. Jesus and the apostles did not observe it, so we shouldn’t practice it today.”
In other words, they are saying that if it was operating in the beginning of the church, it has to be operating now, and if it was not operating in the beginning, it can’t be operating now. If THEY (the apostles) didn’t practice it, then WE shouldn’t practice it.
But if that’s true, then can anyone show where Jesus or the apostles taught people to pray to the saints in Heaven? Did they believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary or practice indulgences? Did they teach of miracles with no accompanying evidence (like bread and wine supposedly “changing” into flesh and blood)? Do we have any biblical evidence of any of these teachings at that time? No, we don’t. Then why are all of these teachings accepted in the Catholic Church? By their own standard, no one today should be doing these things either, since Jesus and the apostles didn’t teach them.
Catholics may say that these teachings somehow “developed” over time, but then we could also say Sola Scriptura “developed” and was, in fact, a process, a “transition.” Just as the Old Covenant transitioned into the New, just as Judaism is fulfilled in Christianity, just as the “types and shadows” of the Law had to give way to the “real thing,” so does Sola Scriptura emerge as the ultimate Rule of Faith.
Stop and think… if the Bible, as a Rule of Faith, really is “God-breathed” and able to equip the believer for EVERY GOOD WORK (2 Timothy 3:16-17), then it necessarily and effectively eclipses and replaces any other source that claims to be an infallible Rule of Faith. Thus, the transition from “oral plus written,” to “written only.”
In conclusion, the fact that the apostles didn’t practice Sola Scriptura does not nullify that teaching, but pointing out the practices of the apostles does not help the Catholic, since it undercuts his own position.