Apologia: The Fullness of Christian Truth

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

Sola Scriptura

The idea that all revealed truth is to be found in "66 books" is not only not in Scripture, it is contradicted by Scripture (1 Corinthians 11:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 1 Timothy 3:15, 2 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Peter 3:16). It is a concept unheard of in the Old Testament, where the authority of those who sat on the Chair of Moses (Matthew 23:2-3) existed. In addition to this, for 400 years, there was no defined canon of "Sacred Scripture" aside from the Old Testament; there was no "New Testament"; there was only Tradition and non-canonical books and letters. Once Scripture was defined from the many competing books, Bibles were hand-copied and decorated by monks, were rare and precious, so precious they had to be chained down in the churches so that they would not be stolen. Do you think that the lack of printing presses affected the salvation of those who could not peruse Scripture as we have the luxury of doing?

And given the level of bickering back and forth about what Scripture means, do you believe that God expects each of us to be a scholar of Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Chaldean to understand His word and the message of salvation? No! This is why He, in His wisdom, started a Church with teaching authority through Peter, the earthly father of the New Covenant and whose successors sit on the Chair of Peter, just as Abraham was the earthly father of the Old Covenant and his successors sat on the Chair of Moses.

Though we are not to "Judaize" because as Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, warned in the 1st century, " Christianity did not embrace Judaism, but Judaism Christianity," Christianity can only be fully grasped by understanding it for what it is: the Old Covenant growing into the New Covenant, the fulfillment of the Old Testament religion, the organic result of the coming of the expected Messiah Who was Himself from the Tribe of Judah. Tradition and earthly authority have always been an extremely important part of this:

Malachi 2-7
For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. 1

From a Jewish website:

An oral explanation had to accompany the Written Torah. Otherwise, much of it would be incomprehensible. For example:

Exodus 16:29
"See that the L--rd has given you the Sabbath;…let no man go out of his place on the seventh day." What is the meaning of the term “place”? The Oral Tradition stipulates that a Jew is forbidden to walk more than 0.7 miles beyond his city's perimeter.

Exodus 31:15
"Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the L--rd; whoever does work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death." What constitutes work? The Oral Tradition explains that those activities involved in building the portable Tabernacle in the wilderness are prohibited on the Sabbath.

Deuteronomy 6:8
"And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes." Without the Oral Tradition, one would never know that this verse is speaking of the tefillin worn by Jewish men during morning prayer. These black, leather boxes contain verses from the Hebrew Bible and are strapped to one's arm and forehead.

Deuteronomy 6:9
"And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house, and upon your gates." This refers to mezuzoth, parchments inscribed with Biblical verses, which are placed in small containers and affixed to the doorposts of Jewish homes.

Numbers 29:1
"In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation: you shall do no servile work—it shall be a day of blowing for you." This description of Rosh Hashanah does not specify what exactly is to be blown on the Jewish New Year, but the Oral Tradition does: a shofar (ram's horn).

Numbers 29:7
"On the tenth day of this seventh month you shall have a holy convocation and afflict yourselves; you shall do no work...." Only the Oral Tradition teaches us that “afflicting yourselves” on Yom Kippur means abstaining from all food and drink.

Deuteronomy 12:21
"If the place where the L--rd, your G--d, shall choose to put His Name be too far from you, then you shall slaughter of your herd and of your flock, which the L--rd has given you, as I have commanded you.... "The method of ritual slaughter is not found anywhere in the Written Torah, but it is part of the Oral Tradition.

If no oral explanation had been taught to the nation from the outset, the uniform observance of the Torah's commandments would have been impossible!

Now, the Old Covenant is fulfilled, and the authority of the Old Covenant priesthood has passed on to the New Covenant priesthood. The Pharisees after the Babylonian Captivity corrupted the Oral Tradition (and "sages" and rabbis later usurped the role of the priests); our Lord spoke against those "traditions of men" -- but He did not speak against the authority itself of thse who sat on Moses' seat; quite the opposite:

Matthew 23:2-3
[Jesus speaking] The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.

In the same way, post-Vatican II hierarchs have authority but are now behaving abominably and corrupting the Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church -- those traditions we are commanded to keep:

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

2 Thessalonians 3:6
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.

Our Lord founded a Church (Matthew 16:18-19), not a book, which was to be the pillar and ground of Truth (1 Timothy 3:15). We can know what this Church teaches by looking not only at Sacred Scripture, but into History and by reading what the earliest Christians have written, what those who've sat on the Chair of Peter have spoken consistently with Scripture and Tradition, and what they've solemnly defined. To believe that the Bible is our only source of Christian Truth is unbiblical and illogical. As Cardinal Gibbons in "Faith of our Fathers" wrote:

Let us see sir, whether an infallible Bible is sufficient for you. Either you are infallibly certain that your interpretation of the Bible is correct or you are not. If you are infallibly certain then you assert for yourself and of course for every reader of the Scripture, a personal infallibility which you deny to the Pope [those who sit on the Chair of Peter] and which we claim only for him. You make every man his own pope.

If God, as you assert, has left no infallible interpreter of His word, do you not virtually accuse Him of acting unreasonably? or would it not be most unreasonable for Him to have revealed His truth to man without leaving Him a means of ascertaining its precise import? Do you not reduce God's Word to a bundle of contradictions, like the leaves of the Sybil, which gave forth answers suited to the wishes of every inquirer?

Of the hundred and more Christian sects [we have thousands of denominations today] now existing in this country, does not each take the Bible as its standard of authority and does not each member draw from it a meaning different from that of his neighbor? Now, in the mind of God the Scriptures can have but one meaning. Is not this variety of interpretations the bitter fruit of your principle, an infallible Bible is enough for me, and does it not proclaim the absolute necessity of some authorized and unerring interpreter?

Some Protestants like to use 2 Timothy 3:16-17 as a "proof-text" that Sola Scriptura is a Biblical principle:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

No Catholic, of course, disagrees with these verses, or with any verses of Sacred Scripture. Of course Scripture is profitable! We Catholics see it as one of the three pillars of the very Church (the other two being Sacred Tradition and the Magisterim -- the teaching authority of the Church). But Protestants are obviously reading into this text what they want to see. Imagine you are a soldier. Now read this:

All Army teaching guides are given by inspiration of the experts, and are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in the life of a soldier: That the soldier may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all a soldier needs to do.

Would you take it to mean that the soldier, then, no longer needs a Drill Sergeant for training him, weaponry, ammunition, armor, communications equipment, etc.? Saying that X is profitable or necessary and that X helps one become thoroughly furnished for something doesn't say at all that Y is also not profitable or necessary and that Y helps one become thoroughly furnished for something. And how can Protestants square their reading of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 with Ephesians 4:11-12, which reads:

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

According to these verses, what is needed for the perfecting of the saints are the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers! How could this possibly be if all we need is the "Bible alone"?

Another point is that the "Scripture" St. Paul was referring to is the Old Testament, the only formally recognized Scripture in existence. Should we discard the New Testament because the Old Testament contains the New within it?

And here is a little something to think on for those who believe in sola scriptura: Ignatius, appointed as Bishop of Antioch by Peter, came up against some Jews who resorted to the same mind-set in order to disprove Christ's Messiahship. In his first century letter to the Philadelphians he wrote: "When I heard some saying, If I do not find it in the ancient Scriptures, I will not believe the Gospel; on my saying to them, It is written, they answered me, That remains to be proved."

And here's something else to ponder: see the sub-section "Ever-Virgin" on this site's page about Mary to see how Protestant misunderstanding of one single word -- "firsborn" -- has profound effects on their understanding of Mary, her virginity, and her place in salvation History. And when you're through reading it, know that that example is just one of many!

1 Note: there is a huge difference between the teaching authority of the Church that is guided by the Holy Spirit, and the "traditions of men" -- the Mishnah -- as practiced by the Pharisees (not Old Testament Israelites) and which are preserved for us in the Babylonian Talmud (the Bavli) and in Kabbalistic practices (the very word "Kabbalah" comes from the Hebrew Qof-Bet-Lamed, meaning literally "to receive or accept," but translated as "tradition.") It was these pre-Talmudic rabbinical laws and Babylonian magical practices -- and the very idea that we can work our way into Heaven -- that Jesus fought against, and it was those who honored them that He accused of hypocrisy. The Pharisaic rabbis went beyond Torah and priestly authority, making up laws out of Babylonian, Zoroastrian, and other pagan, magical practices -- even contradictory ones.

In A.D. 77, the Jewish historian Josephus wrote in Antiquities (13:10), “What I would now explain is this: the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many rituals by succession from their fathers which are not written in the laws of Moses; and for that reason the Sadducees reject them, and say that we are to accept those rituals to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are derived from the [Babylonian] tradition [Mishnah] of our forefathers.” The Talmud that preserves these Babylonian "traditions of men" can only be known by reading the original Hebrew or by reading the works of an honest, non-racist, Godly person who does, because neo-Nazi types use such writings to imply some sort of bogus "racial contagion" inherent in those of Jewish ancestry and because English editions are often edited so as to not cause scandal and to keep the Truth hidden. Parts that were removed from the Talmud (sections which assert, for ex., that Jesus was a demonic sorcerer Who is boiling in excrement in Hell, that Mary was a whore, that Gentiles are animals, that it is OK to steal from Gentiles and to not pay them for their labor, etc.) were published separately in Hesronot Ha-shas, which was circulated secretly among rabbis.

Bottom line: the differences between Old Testament religion, rooted in Torah and priestly authority, and Pharisaic Judaism -- the brand of Judaism that survives today and which is rooted in the Babylonian Talmud and rabbinical authority -- are so great as to make them worlds apart, often diametrically opposed. The authority of the Jewish priesthood transferred to the priesthood of the New Covenant, not to rabbis; there have been no sacrifices, no Temple, etc., in Judaism since A.D. 70 -- and after Christ's once and for all sacrifice at Calvary, there is only ONE Scriptural sacrifice to be made anyway (the Eucharist). See Malachi 1:10-11, John 6, etc. 

Relevant Scripture

Nehemiah 8:7-8
... and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

Malachi 2-7

For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.

Matthew 2:23
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was SPOKEN by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene. [Here, Matthew is quoting an oral Tradition that the Messiah will be called a Nazarene. This is NOT in the OT; it was only TRADITION]

Matthew 23:2-3
[Jesus speaking] "The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice" [i.e., His problem with the Pharisees was not because of law, authority or tradition; His issue with them was with their hypocrisy, their putting the Law before Love, and the pre-Talmudic practices!]

John 5:39-40
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. [NIV: You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.]

Acts 8:30-31
And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

1 Corinthians 11:2
Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, AS I DELIVERED THEM TO YOU.

1 Corinthians 4:14–15
I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel

2 Thessalonians 2:15
Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the TRADITIONS which ye have been taught, whether by WORD, or our epistle.

2 Thessalonians 3:6
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.

1 Timothy 3:15
But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the CHURCH of the living God, the PILLAR AND GROUND OF TRUTH.

2 Timothy 2:2
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. [At the time this verse was written, the only "scripture" around was the Old Testament. Was Paul telling Timothy he needed nothing but the Old Testament? And in what way does "profitable" mean "sufficient"?]

Hebrews 5:12
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

2 Peter 1:20-21
Knowing this first, that NO PROPHECY OF THE SCRIPTURE IS OF ANY PRIVATE INTERPRETATION. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

2 Peter 3:16
As also in all his [Paul's] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, WHICH THEY THAT ARE UNLEARNED AND UNSTABLE WREST, as they do also the other scriptures, UNTO THEIR OWN DESTRUCTION.

2 John 1:12
Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.

3 John 1:13-14
I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.

Further Reading

Catholic Answers: Sola Scriptura


Defense of Catholicism