Monday, July 29, 2013


“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 – NASV) 

There is another attack on the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, an attack which doesn’t seem to be as common as the previous arguments.  But it is more of an attempt to address the “practical” side of the Sola Scriptura debate.

This article will only be “specific” in the sense that it is only about practical issues concerning Sola Scriptura.  Within this framework we will touch on several different, but related, points:


All these are misrepresentations of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.  Let us remember the simple definition of Sola Scriptura that we shared at the beginning of this series:

“Scripture is the only infallible Rule of Faith for the church today.”

With this definition in mind, one should recognize the fact that easy availability or mass distribution of Bibles has nothing to do with the truthfulness of Sola Scriptura.  A person does not need to own a Bible in order for Sola Scriptura to be true.  It is true whether he owns a Bible or not.  Scripture can be the only infallible Rule of Faith even if only a few Bibles exist.

Literacy and education also have nothing to do with the truthfulness of Sola Scriptura.  Scripture can be (and is) the Ultimate Authority, whether a person can read or not.  And just because someone can’t read or write does not mean that he is stupid or that he has no comprehension skills.  Even if illiterate, he may still easily memorize Bible verses and understand biblical concepts that he was taught by someone else.  The learning and spreading of God’s Word was not prevented by illiteracy.  

The fact that many in the early church were illiterate proves nothing.  Just as they were taught their catechism by others, they could just as easily have learned the Scriptures from others.  God is fully able and willing to reveal Himself to the lowly, the poor, and the uneducated (Matthew 11:25; 1 Corinthians 1:26-27; Acts 4:13; Proverbs 1:1-7; Psalm 119:130).  But being illiterate does not demand that one should need an “infallible” Magisterium to teach him.

Concerning the people of the early church not having time, we all have 24 hours in every day.  Anyone can take a Bible passage, ponder on it, and have discussions about it during the day while working.  It is not just the mere reading of it that counts.

Concerning improper nutrition, this is a pitiful argument for two reasons:  1) The church leaders more than likely had the same basic diet that the “common people” had, so how is it that church leaders were able to learn?  And 2) If the common people could understand the catechism and other teachings that were taught to them, they could certainly also understand Scripture that was taught to them.  It takes no more nourishment to understand Scripture than it does these other things.   

But to further demonstrate the absurdity of these arguments, let’s put them in simpler terms:

Imagine being at a baseball game and there was a dispute about the official rule book of baseball (i.e., its ultimate authority).  What if someone said about this rule book:

  • “This can’t be the ultimate authority because everyone in the stands and all the players don’t have a copy of it!”
  • “This can’t be the ultimate authority because I can’t read!”

  •  “This can’t be the ultimate authority because I don’t have time to study it!”

  • “This can’t be the ultimate authority because I haven’t eaten anything all week and my thinking is not up to par!”

These are all equally ridiculous reasons, but many Catholics (and others) resort to using these same arguments against Sola Scriptura.  None of the above reasons stops the official rule book in baseball from being the ultimate authority for baseball.  In the same way, these arguments cannot be applied against Sola Scriptura.  Thus, the “Sola-Scriptura-doesn’t-work-because-it-is-impractical” argument is shown to be an empty one.


  1. Hello Russell,

    Do you think that Catholics attack the doctrine of Sola Scriptura because they do not want us to find out about their false teachings? Is there the possibility that they know that they are wrong and do not want to admit it?

  2. Hi Russell,

    What are some of the best scripture passages that prove the doctrine of sola scriptura true?

  3. Hello Anonymous (Jesse, I think),

    I’m not sure exactly what Catholics (in any particular situation) are thinking. I think that one reason that they so forcefully attack the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is to salvage the concept of “Sacred Tradition,” which they esteem to be equal with Scripture. This seems to be the “open door” to all uniquely Catholic teaching. It seems that anything can be taught by the Church, but if they call it “Tradition,” then every Catholic must believe it. But that’s one of the problems with “Tradition”… no one has ever fully and clearly defined it in a meaningful way! See my article on Catholic Tradition here:

    Concerning the passages that I would use to prove Sola Scriptura, I would stick with 2 Timothy 3:16-17, since that is really the only good passage that points to the “sola” of Sola Scriptura. If one takes an honest look at this passage, I believe that he cannot help but end up believing in Sola Scriptura. But having said that, I believe that there are many, many passages that SUPPLEMENT and SUPPORT the idea of Sola Scriptura, and that stress the critical importance of Scripture. Many of those supporting verses can be found throughout this blog.

  4. Hello Russell and Jesse,

    Allow me to refute your supposed Sola Scriptura "proof texts".

    When Jesse discusses the unbiblical and anti-biblical concept of Sola Scriptura, he ALWAYS recites 1 Corinthians 4:6 because Paul instructs us "not to go beyond what is written". Since our traditions are all found in the Bible(yours are not-this also applies to you Russell) and the irrational Protestant "Bible alone" obsession is not, you fools are the ones going beyond Scriptural teaching! Jesse, do you not see how your argument backfires!?

    Now it is time for me to deal with your favorite "proof text", Russell..... Of coarse, it is 2 Timothy 3:16-17(like most Protestants).
    "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
    I see the word "FOR CORRECTION" found in the passage. This means that the Pope can modify the Bible to our understanding. YOUGUYS MUST submit to our church because WE CATHOLICS GAVE YOU THE BIBLE!!! Also, how can 2 Timothy 3:16-17 prove the all-sufficiency of Scripture when several of the New Testament books were not even written yet?

    I already know that I refuted you and Jesse so badly, you two do not know what to do! As a matter of fact, I challenge you guys to a debate! The answer lies in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 where Paul tell us to stick to both Scripture and Tradition!

    I am absolutely certain that I am correct in my religious views because I am a Catholic and the Bible says so! Is this true with you, Russell and Jesse?


  5. Hello Jonathan,

    Thanks for your interesting comments.

    I really don’t know where to start… there are so many things that you said that are misguided or wrong.

    First, you mentioned that Jesse always quotes 1 Corinthians 4:6. I would say, yes, and rightfully so. This verse certainly weakens the Catholic view of Tradition. Then you said that all your Catholic traditions are found in the Bible! I believe that an honest look at this blog (and many other blogs out there) will prove otherwise. Then you said that “this irrational Protestant ‘Bible Alone’ obsession is not” found in the Bible. Jonathan, have you even read this series (Part 1 thru 8) on Sola Scriptura?

    Concerning 2 Timothy 3:16-17, you emphasized the words “for correction” in this passage, and went on to say that “the pope can modify the Bible to our understanding.” Now, I’m not sure what you mean by “modify,” (can you please expound on that) but notice that neither the word “pope,” NOR THE CONCEPT of a pope can be found in Scripture.

    Furthermore, the Catholic Church did NOT give us the Bible. Please go read this article:

    You then mentioned that certain books were not yet written when Paul wrote 2 Timothy. That’s true, but please go read here:

    You mention 2 Thessalonians as “the answer” to Sola Scriptura, but please go read here:

    Concerning your challenge to debate, I believe that you are offering no new “evidence” against Sola Scriptura at all. I don’t mean this in an arrogant way, but please read through this blog, and I believe that you will find solid arguments against many teachings of the Catholic Church and significant arguments for the Protestant (and biblical) doctrine of Sola Scriptura. No offense against you personally, Jonathan, but your arguments are just a continuance of a long line of absolutely weak, tired, and pitiful Catholic attacks against the integrity of God’s Word. I do hope that you will come to see and understand how God views His own Scriptures given to mankind, for the sake of our eternal salvation.

  6. Hello Jonathon,

    What part of the Bible does the concept of Sola Scriptura contradict? Are you absolutely sure that the Catholic Church's doctrine are truly taught within Scripture? When I read the New Testament, I see none of the Catholic doctrines such as the papacy, the immaculate conception of Mary, the perpetual virginity of Mary, the assumption of Mary, or Mary as co-redemptrix and mediatrix, petitioning saints in heaven for their prayers, apostolic succession, the ordinances of the church functioning as sacraments, infant baptism, confession of sin to a priest, purgatory, indulgences, the Rosary, the equal authority of church tradition and Scripture, or any other Catholic fables. What about your irrational and pathetic worship dedicated to Mary and the saints? There is nothing wrong with us placing the Bible as the highest/only infallible authority in our churches. As you can see, several of your popes and councils have contradicted each other. What do you have to say about your supposedly infallible church authorities? You Catholics are the ones exceeding what has been written down in Scripture when Paul instructed you not to do such a thing (1 Corinthians 4:6). Abide only within Scripture to the exclusion of Catholic "Oral Revelation"! Jonathon, your case against me and Russell is invalid.

    Russell does prove Sola Scriptura to be a Bible doctrine when he recites 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Notice how the text says that Scripture is able to equip us for EVERY GOOD WORK. It does NOT say MOST good works, the MAJORITY of good works, or SOME good works. If we abide within Scripture, and Scripture alone, then God will be happy with us.

    What about the phrase "for correction"? If your illogical interpretation was at all true, then why did Jesus condemn modifying the Bible for any reason (Revelation 22:18-19)? The phrase you twisted means that scripture is profitable for correcting our moral standards and behavior. If the Catholic Church truly supplied the world with the Bible, then why do so many of its teachings either contradict the Scriptures, or cannot be found within the pages? I will provide some solid examples:

    1. Calling priests "Father" (Matthew 23:9)
    2. Mary as another mediator(1 Timothy 2:5)
    3. statues and images- acts of worship to Mary and the saints(Exodus 20:4-5)
    4.Purgatory( 1John 1:7 and Luke 16:26)
    5. Repetitive prayers (Matthew 6:7)
    You are obviously attempting to create a false dilemma...

    What about 2 Thessalonians 2:15? The truth is, Paul was SPECIFICALLY speaking to the Thessalonians. As you can see, Roman Catholic tradition is completely unscriptural. What traditions are we supposed to stick to? The passage does not verify.

    Really? You are "absolutely certain" that your religious views are correct? Well, you are wrong. It also might be good to mention that your statement is the epitome of circular reasoning. In other words, you are saying, " A=B because I say that B=A. I know that B=A because A=B." Let's stick with Sola Scriptura and avoid Catholic confusion. "God is not the author of confusion, but of peace" ( 1 Corinthians 14:33). At this point, you have proved nothing against Russell and I. The "burden of proof" will always lie on your back.


    1. Hi Russell,

      How would you deal with the Catholic claim that Sola Scriptura is circular reasoning?


  7. Hello Jesse,

    That’s a good question.

    There will always be some level of circularity in ANY system that points to an ultimate source, whether Catholic, Protestant, or anything else. But that’s not a problem, because we have evidence FROM OUTSIDE of the Bible (even though that evidence is fallible) that continues to verify the truth of the claims of Scripture. We have incredible manuscript evidence for the New Testament, far more than for ANY other ancient document. I believe God did this on purpose. We also have archaeological evidence that continues to support the Bible. And the Scripture’s historical prophecy points to its supernatural origin. I have heard it said that no other “holy book” contains prophecy to back it up. God goes out on a limb to prove His Word by telling us the future accurately. For anyone who has eyes to see, there is unmistakable evidence in these last days of fulfilled prophecy. We are truly in the end times. All this external evidence should be convincing to any honest seeker that God’s hand is on this book.

    People who believe in Sola Scriptura don’t have the problem of internal contradiction. We believe in the Bible as the Ultimate Rule of Faith. It is God’s Word. It does not contradict itself. The Catholic’s rule of faith is 1) Scripture, 2) the Magisterium, and 3) Sacred Tradition, their “three-legged stool.” But there are many contradictions between these three, so this system cannot be true.

    Concerning circularity, if the only argument that Protestants had was, “The Bible is true because it SAYS it’s true,” then yes, it would be circular reasoning. But, as I said above, there is much external evidence to back up the Bible’s claims. In other words, the Bible “has proven itself.”

    The Catholic Church, on the other hand, has not, and continues to suffer internal contradictions within its “three-legged stool.”

  8. Hello Russell,

    Could you give me a few examples of what you feel is circular reasoning in the Church of Rome?


  9. Hi Jesse,

    I guess some examples of circular reasoning that Catholics often use (in my experience) would be in the areas of infallibility, Tradition, and interpretation.

    For example, when trying to get them to tell you exactly what “Sacred Tradition” is, they may give you an example of Tradition. But I may ask, “But how do you know that this (event, story, teaching) is really Tradition?” They will say that it is Tradition because the Catholic Church SAYS it is Tradition. But I may ask, “But how do you know this Tradition is true?” And they answer, “Catholic Tradition is true because the Catholic Church’s Tradition teaches that JESUS says it’s true (even if not found in the Bible). Frustrating.

    Another example would be when they claim infallibility. They’ll say that the Church is infallible because that is what the Church sees in Scripture. And how do we know that this is the correct interpretation? Because they are infallible! Do faithful Catholics believe the Church’s interpretations because they make good sense or because they line up with biblical principles? No, they believe it because the Catholic Church tells them to (in spite of lack of evidence in Scripture).

    So, again Jesse, it comes down to your ultimate source having credibility, or being verified with good evidence in sources outside of itself, rather than only from within itself.

    Hope this helps!

  10. Hi Russell,

    Have you ever read Karl Keating's book titled "Catholicism and Fundamentalism"? If so, then could you tell me your thoughts about the book? What would be your comments about the defense of mariology? Do you know of any articles dealing with the novel? The author and people associated with publishing/reviewing made fabulous claims such as "Evangelicals cannot think well".

    Sorry about the lengthy and irrelevant comments. But I would sincerely appreciate your advise.


  11. Hi Jesse,

    Yes, as a matter of fact, I own a copy of Keating’s book. What do I think about it? Well, it’s basically the same old Catholic arguments that we hear every day. Actually, I think that Karl Keating was kind of a pioneer Catholic apologist. He was one of the first I had ever heard of. He’s an intelligent guy, but again, there’s not a whole lot in his book that is new to us today.

    Concerning my comments about his mariology, you’ll have to be a lot more specific because his chapter on mariology alone is about twenty pages.

    Jesse, I’m not aware of any particular articles anywhere that specifically critique Keating’s book, but I know if you google his book, you can find short critiques of it from some of the reviews.

    I just want to point out an interesting statement that Keating made on page 275 of his book. He said:

    “The mere fact that the Church teaches the doctrine of the Assumption as something definitely true is a guarantee that it is true.”

    I find this statement very telling. It seems to represent the MINDSET of Catholics everywhere. And it is a dangerous and unbiblical mindset. In other words, they are saying that it doesn’t matter if Scripture teaches it or not; to them, the Catholic Church has the final say, and will override even the Word of God.

  12. Hello Russell,

    Concerning his defense of mariology, I am thinking more about his belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary. He rambles on about the verses that refute his position and goes on to claim that the "brothers" mentioned within Matthew 13:55-57 and Mark 6:3-4 are brothers from a DIFFERENT Mary (or are possibly from a previous relationship of Joseph's). But his arguments fall short because they are not based on any evidence. What do you think about his comments on this issue?

    Have you ever read the chapter of the book titled "Fanciful Histories of the Catholic Church" (p. 154-164)? Karl implicitly admits that some Catholic doctrines/practices are of pagan origin and then attempts to sidestep the issue presented? What are your comments on that particular context?


  13. Hello Jesse,

    You asked what I thought about Keating’s comments on Mary’s “virginity.” I agree with you on that. There is no reason to believe that Mary and Joseph did NOT have a normal sexual relationship.

    Concerning the paganism in Catholicism, yes, I believe that paganism certainly affected the early period of the church (probably largely because of Constantine). But Keating’s mention of the lists of “inventions” in particular periods by Protestants, I think has some validity. I’ve seen some of these lists of their false doctrines, and the supposed year that they first started. I take these exact times with a grain of salt. It is not so much WHEN they started that is important, but the fact that they exist at all.

    This is not to excuse Catholicism, but we do need to be careful with the facts. I try to steer clear of most of these lists, myself, and just try to deal with the teachings themselves.

    Hope this helps, Jesse.