JW: OPENING STATEMENT (20 minutes). Good evening, it’s good to be with you. I’m very thankful to the church for allowing us to be here. I need to thank all of you San Diegans. I understand there’s a big push on to make this a very friendly city. And I think it’s very friendly of you to bring in Phoenix weather, just for me, while I’m here. Very kind of you. Except in Phoenix all of our buildings have air conditioners. And you need to, sort of, put those two things together and that will make things a whole lot easier.
There have always been those who have refused to give the Scriptures their proper place. There have always been those who wished to add to Scripture their own authority and the unique teachings that set them apart. Indeed, Basil of Caesarea ran into some of the same problems long ago in replying to his opponents who appealed to their customs and traditions as relevant and authoritative. He said, “If custom is to be taken in proof of what is right, then it is certainly competent for me to put forward on my side the custom which obtains here. If they reject this we are clearly not bound to follow them. Therefore, let God-inspired Scripture decide between us, and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the Word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth.”
And so we gather this evening to debate the same question. Is the Bible the sole and infallible rule of faith for the Church? Or must we have other revelation from God? Do we need the Book of Mormon, or the writings of the Watchtower, or Mary Baker Eddy, or the so-called Apostolic unwritten traditions of Rome? Does the Bible teach its own sufficiency to function as the sole rule of faith for the Church?
Well, we must begin by defining the doctrine under discussion this evening. And let me begin by defining what the doctrine of sola scriptura does not say.
First of all, it is not a claim that the Bible contains all knowledge. The Bible is not exhaustive in every detail. John 21:25 speaks to the fact that there are many things that Jesus said and did that are not recorded in John, or in fact in any book in the world because the whole books of the world could not contain it. But the Bible does not have to be exhaustive to function as the sole rule of faith for the Church. We do not need to know the color of Thomas’ eyes. We do not need to know the menu of each meal of the Apostolic band for the Scriptures to function as the sole rule of faith for the Church.
Secondly, it is not a denial of the Church’s authority to teach God’s truth. I Timothy 3:15 describes the Church as “the pillar and foundation of the truth.” The truth is in Jesus Christ and in His Word. The Church teaches truth and calls men to Christ and, in so doing, functions as the pillar and foundation thereof. The Church does not add revelation or rule over Scripture. The Church being the bride of Christ, listens to the Word of Christ, which is found in God-breathed Scripture.
Thirdly, it is not a denial that God’s Word has been spoken. Apostolic preaching was authoritative in and of itself. Yet, the Apostles proved their message from Scripture, as we see in Acts 17:2, and 18:28, and John commended those in Ephesus for testing those who claimed to be Apostles, Revelation 2:2. The Apostles were not afraid to demonstrate the consistency between their teaching and the Old Testament.
And, finally, sola scriptura is not a denial of the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding and enlightening the Church.
What then is sola scriptura?
The doctrine of sola scriptura, simply stated, is that the Scriptures and the Scriptures alone are sufficient to function as the regula fide, the “rule of faith” for the Church. All that one must believe to be a Christian is found in Scripture and in no other source. That which is not found in Scripture is not binding upon the Christian conscience. To be more specific, I provide the following definition:
The Bible claims to be the sole and sufficient rule of faith for the Christian Church. The Scriptures are not in need of any supplement. Their authority comes from their nature as God-breathed revelation. Their authority is not dependent upon man, Church or council. The Scriptures are self-consistent, self-interpreting, and self-authenticating. The Christian Church looks at the Scriptures as the only and sufficient rule of faith and the Church is always subject to the Word, and is constantly reformed thereby.
Now, given this, I would like to explain how I plan on winning my debate this evening with Mr. Madrid. Sola scriptura is both a positive and a negative statement.
Positively, the doctrine teaches that the Bible is sufficient to function as the sole, infallible rule of faith for the Church. Negatively, it denies the existence of any other rule of faith as being necessary for the man of God. Hence, logically, I must do the following things:
First, I must demonstrate that the Bible teaches that it is A rule of faith for the Church.
Secondly, I must demonstrate that the Bible is sufficient to function as the sole rule of faith for the Church, that is, I must demonstrate its sufficiency, or in the language used in the New Testament itself, that the Bible is artios.
And, thirdly, I must demonstrate that the Bible as a sufficient rule of faith does not refer us to any other rule of faith.
Absent the demonstration on Mr. Madrid’s part of some other rule of faith, the preceding is sufficient to establish the fact that the Bible teaches the doctrine of sola scriptura.
Now, some opponents of sola scriptura have engaged in what can only be called cheap debating tricks in attempting to force the defender of Scriptural sufficiency to prove a “universal negative.” That is, the less honest debater might attempt to force me to prove the non-existence of another rule of faith. Since I am saying that Scripture is unique in its function as the rule of faith for the Church, some might challenge me to demonstrate that no other rule of faith could possibly exist. To illustrate this, I call your attention to my pen. Yes, to my pen!
If our debate this evening was that I was going to stand here and say that this is the only pen of its kind in all the universe, how would I go about proving it? Well, the only way I could prove the statement “there is no other pen like this in all the universe,” is if I looked in all of your purses, and all of your shirt pockets, and in all the stores in the world that carry pens, and look through all the houses, and all over the planet Earth, and the Moon, and the planets in the Solar System, and in the entire universe, looking for another pen like this. And, of course, I could not do that. But it would be very easy for Mr. Madrid to win that debate. All he needs to do is go out, get a Cross Medallist pen, walk up here, hold it right next to mine, and say, “See! Another pen, just like yours!” and he’s won the debate.
In light of this, I would assert that Mr. Madrid must either recognize this reality, and not attempt to win this debate by doing nothing more than depending upon an illogical demand; or, he must demonstrate the existence of “the other pen.” That is, he must prove to us what the Council of Trent said was true. I quote, “It also clearly perceives that these truths and rules are contained in the written books and in the unwritten traditions, which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ Himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down to us, transmitted as it were, from hand to hand.”
Hence, I shall demonstrate that the Bible teaches its sufficiency to function as the sole rule of faith for the Church and, if Mr. Madrid wishes to attempt to show us some other rule of faith, I will gladly respond to such an attempt.
Now, the doctrine of sola scriptura is based upon the inspiration of Scripture. Our primary passage this evening, I hope you have your Bibles with you, will be found in Paul’s second letter to Timothy. The gentlemen from Catholic Answers have made it a practice for years to assert that Protestants cannot provide a single verse that teaches sola scriptura. Yet, they are quite mistaken in this, though they have been corrected a number of times in the past, and let us examine the passage to see if this is the case. II Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for instruction, for training in righteousness, in order that the man of God might be complete, fully equipped for every good work.”
We begin by noting that Scripture is theopneustos, “God-breathed.” The term is very strong. I refer anyone who wishes a full discussion of this term to B.B. Warfield’s excellent treatment of it. That which is theopneustos has ultimate authority, for there can be no higher authority than God’s very speaking. “All Scripture is God-breathed.”
It is common for Roman Catholic apologists to follow an error made by John Henry Cardinal Newman, with reference to this passage. Indeed, Karl Keating, Patrick’s associate at Catholic Answers, makes the same mistake in his book, Catholicism and Fundamentalism. And he repeated it again only recently during a debate on this subject in Denver during the papal visit. Newman said that if this verse proves the sufficiency of Scripture, it proves too much, for Paul is talking here only of the Old Testament, which would leave the New Testament as an unnecessary addition. But such is not Paul’s point at all. Scripture, Paul’s point is, if it is Scripture at all, is God-breathed. Paul is not speaking about the extent of the canon but the nature of Scripture itself as originating in God. All Scripture then, including the New Testament, is God-breathed.
Because Scripture is God-breathed, and hence represents God’s very voice speaking, it is profitable for the work of the ministry in the Church of Jesus Christ. We are told that the work of teaching, and rebuking, and correcting, and training in righteousness, can be undertaken due to the nature of Scripture as God-breathed. What is Paul’s point?
The Church is not left without the voice of God. For when the Church listens to Scripture, she is hearing her Lord speaking to her. The authority of the Church then, in teaching, and rebuking, and instructing, is derived, despite Roman Catholic claims to the contrary, from Scripture itself.
Now, Mr. Madrid will certainly disagree for, in addressing this very passage less than fifty days ago in a debate on this topic, he said, speaking specifically of verse 16, “I defy you to show me where it says ‘sufficient,’ in your remarks you said, when you cited II Timothy 3:16, you said, ‘sufficient,’ but that is not what the Bible teaches.” Of course, no one asserts that the term, “profitable,” in verse 16, equates to “sufficiency.” When his opponents referred him to verse 17, Mr. Madrid said, “Well, 17 doesn’t say ‘sufficient’ either! 17 says, ‘that, so the one that belongs to God may be competent and equipped for every good work.’ That does not teach sufficiency. Where does the Bible teach that it is sufficient?” Is Mr. Madrid correct here? Well, let’s see.
Verse 17 continues the thought of verse 16. The fact that the Church has God’s voice always present with her in God-breathed Scripture, means the man of God, specifically here, of course, Timothy, but I doubt anyone would disagree that these comments refer to all those who belong to Christ and who are a part of His body, the Church, might be complete, fully equipped for every good work.
The first term to examine, is the adjective translated, “complete,” the Greek term, a[rtios” (artios). We note that it is related in its root to the second term we will examine, the verb which is translated, “fully equipped,” that being the verb, ejxartivzw (exartizo). Paul is here providing us with a play on words–the verb compounding and emphasizing the meaning present in the adjective.
Now, the term, a[rtios“, Vine tells us means, “fitted, complete.” Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker tell us the term means, “complete, capable, proficient.” That is, as they say, “able to meet all demands,” giving the specific citation of II Timothy 3:17 as the reference. One of the newest lexical resources, Louw and Nida’s Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domains, uses the term, “qualified” as well. The great Greek scholar, Richard Trench, in his Synonyms of the New Testament, said with reference to this term, “If we ask ourselves under what special aspects ‘completeness’ is contemplated in artios, it would be safe to answer that it is not as the presence only of all the parts which are necessary for that ‘completeness’, but involves, further, the adaptation and aptitude of these parts for the ends which they were designed to serve. The man of God, St. Paul would say, should be furnished and accomplished with all which is necessary for the carrying out of the work to which he is appointed.”
I pause only long enough to note that Paul here asserts that the man of God can be complete, capable, proficient, and qualified because he has available to him, always, God’s inspired Scriptures. Surely, here Paul would have to direct us to any and all other rules of faith that we would need to be complete but, he does not.
But, Paul was not satisfied to merely state that the man of God may be a[rtios“, “complete,” but, he goes on to define what he means. “Fully equipped for every good work.” The term is ejxartivzw, here in the perfect-passive-participial form, the prefix, ex, having, as Robertson noted, the perfective force. Vine tells us that here in II Timothy, it means “to fit out, that is, to furnish completely.” Bauer, Arndt Gingrich and Danker expressed this with the term, “equip.” Hendrickson makes reference to a related term, katartizw (katartizo), and it’s use at Luke 6:40, where it is translated, “fully trained.” We see here, then, that Paul teaches that the man of God is thoroughly or completely equipped for every good work. Now, what does it mean to say that one “is fully equipped,” if not to say that one is sufficient for a task?
I have recently taken up long-distance bicycle riding, and I’ve found a lovely little bike shack, a bike store where they are able to give me everything that I need, the clothes and the gloves and the helmet and the bike and the tires and the tubes, which you need a lot–they are able to fully equip me for the task of riding a bike. Does that not mean then, that they are sufficient as equippers for their task? Most definitely it does!
We further see, the Scriptures can equip the man of God for every good work. Now, Mr. Madrid, do you not believe that it is a good work to pray to Mary? Yet, the Scriptures nowhere teach this. Do you not believe that it is good to believe and teach that Mary was bodily assumed into Heaven? Yet, the Bible does not teach this. Do you not believe that the man of God should teach, in the Church, that the pope, in Rome, is infallible in his teaching office? Yet, the Scriptures know nothing of such a concept.
We see then, that the Roman position is contradicted by that of the Apostle. For he knew of no other rule of faith that was necessary so that the man of God could be equipped for every good work. No other rule of faith, that is, than the Scriptures.
But, finally, we remember Mr. Madrid’s challenge to show him a verse that teaches sufficiency. Mr. Madrid, I would like to direct you to the Scriptural standard, “by the mouth of two or three witnesses shall a fact be established.” I first refer you to Louw and Nida’s Greek-English Lexicon, where we encounter the definition given for the semantic domain of ejxartivzw, I quote, “To make someone completely adequate, or sufficient for something; to make adequate, to furnish completely, to cause to be fully qualified; adequacy.” They translate our passage as, “completely qualified for every good deed.” While Louw and Nida give us two witnesses, I wish to direct you as well to the well-known scholarly resource by Fritz Reinecker and Cleon Rogers, entitled Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. Here, we find the following, in regards to both terms, here in verse 17: “a[rtios“: fit, complete, capable, sufficient, i.e., able to meet all demands; ejxartivzw: completely outfitted, fully furnished, fully equipped, fully supplied.”
Hence, we see the following:
Number 1: Paul here teaches that the Bible is A rule of faith. For he says the Church’s function of teaching and rebuking and instructing is to be based upon God-inspired Scriptures.
Number 2: We see that this passage teaches the sufficiency of the Scriptures to function in this way.
And, number 3: We see that Paul not only does not refer us to another rule of faith, but implicitly denies the necessity of such a rule of faith by his teaching on the ability of Scripture to completely equip the man of God.
Therefore, I assert that the doctrine of sola scriptura is taught plainly in this passage. Mr. Madrid must be able to fully refute the information I have provided to you to win this evening’s debate.
Now, one might well ask, “Is this the only place where sola scriptura is taught?” Most certainly not, though it is the clearest. For example, we find this concept plainly enunciated in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ when coming into conflict with the traditions of the Jewish leaders. Note the words recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 15: “Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, ‘Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat.’ Jesus replied, ‘And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, “Honor your father and mother” and “Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.” But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,” he is not to “honor his father” with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.'”
Here we find the Lord providing us with the example that we must follow this evening. The Jewish leaders objected to the fact that the disciples did not follow the rigorous hand-washing rituals of the Pharisees. They identified this as the breaking of the “tradition of the elders.” They firmly believed that this body of tradition was authoritative, and some even believed that it had been passed down from Moses himself (though this surely is without warrant). But does Jesus accept this claim of authority? Not at all! Instead, He launches a counterattack against these leaders by pointing out how they nullify the command of God through the following of their own traditions. Specifically, in this, with reference to the Korban rule. The Lord Jesus holds this traditional teaching up to the light of Scripture and finds it wanting.
In the same way, we, too, must hold any tradition up to the light of Scripture, for no tradition is on the same level of authority as Scripture. Traditions are not God-breathed and, hence, are subject to examination on the part of the higher authority of Scripture. Even though the Jews believed their traditions to have authority, they are held responsible for recognizing that God speaks to them in Scripture, not in their traditions.
The same is true tonight. While Rome may claim divine authority for her supposedly sacred traditions, and even subjugate Scripture, so as to make it a part of Sacred Tradition, needing other aspects such as the supposedly Apostolic unwritten traditions, and the authority of the magisterium of the Church, the person who wishes to follow the example of Christ will hold such traditions up to the light of Scripture, knowing how fearful it is to be found guilty of nullifying the Word of God for the sake of merely human traditions.
And so, my friends, I present to you the wonderful doctrine of the sufficiency of God’s inspired Scriptures. As a follower of Jesus Christ, and a minister in His Church, I gladly proclaim to you the glorious grace of God in giving to the Church the Scriptures, so that we can always be assured of hearing God’s voice speaking to us. We need not wonder about supposedly authoritative traditions whose origins are obscure, and whose teachings are suspect. Instead, we have the certainty of holding in our hands the same Scriptures that our Lord Jesus described as the very speaking of the Father Himself. This is the firm ground upon which the Church can stand in an uncertain and threatening world. This is the rule of faith that constantly calls the Church to Christ’s likeness. Let us never abandon the firm foundation of God-breathed Scripture, the Word of God, the Bible. Thank you.
PM: OPENING STATEMENT (20 MINUTES). The Bible says in Proverbs 18:17, “The man who pleads his case first seems to be in the right until his opponent comes and puts him to the test.” And, folks, that’s what I’m here to do tonight. I’m here to test the claim of sola scriptura.
My opponent has just given you a very forceful, a very smooth presentation of the Protestant doctrine of “the Bible alone,” a case which may seem convincing at first glance. My job is show you why he’s wrong. Mr. White has appealed, at least very briefly, to the writings of the early Church Fathers, in an attempt to bolster his position, or to prepare your disposition to hear it, claiming that a few of the Church Fathers taught sola scriptura, or at least by giving that implication.
I will resist the temptation to bury Mr. White under a mountain of quotations from the Church Fathers, proving they did not teach sola scriptura. I have here 52 pages of quotations from the early Church Fathers, including Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, and all the other fathers that James might like to quote, showing that they did not teach sola scriptura. And also showing that Mr. White, if he chooses to refer to them, is misrepresenting their views, just as the Jehovah’s Witnesses misrepresent the Church Fathers on the Trinity. The way a kidnapper might cut and paste a newspaper to make a ransom note, he may try to cut and paste quotes from the Church Fathers to create the illusion that they believed in sola scriptura. This ploy would be unfortunate because what the Church Fathers believed or didn’t believe is not the subject of our debate tonight. The subject is “Does the Bible teach sola scriptura?” What the early Church Fathers believed is irrelevant, so I won’t waste time by raising or responding to any material that’s not under discussion.
Now, many of you here tonight are Protestants. You’ve been raised to believe in sola scriptura, the notion that the Bible is the sole rule of faith for Christians. In fact, you probably take it for granted that the Bible teaches this. So my task is to demonstrate that sola scriptura is unBiblical. I don’t have to prove the case for Tradition. Mr. White claims that I must be able to prove every point from Scripture alone. So, sola scriptura itself must be proved from Scripture alone. And if it can’t be done, sola scriptura is a self-refuting proposition, and therefore it is false.
Tonight’s debate is about truth. The truth Jesus wants for you and for me to stand firm and hold fast to. Well, what is the truth about sola scriptura? Does the Bible really teach it? Did the Apostles teach it? Did Jesus teach it?
Many approach Scripture with the predetermined conviction that the Catholic Church must be wrong. So they search to find verses which they can cobble together in an attempt to refute a given Catholic teaching. Their hostility to the Catholic Church often makes it very difficult for them to view the Catholic case objectively.
I would ask you to please, tonight, put aside any predetermined ideas you may have about sola scriptura, pro or con. Let the Lord speak to you, tonight, through Scripture. You’ll see, I believe, that the Bible does not teach sola scriptura, the Apostles did not teach sola scriptura, Jesus did not teach sola scriptura. And I believe that if you want to be faithful to the teachings of Jesus, you must reject sola scriptura as a tradition of men. If you don’t reject it, God will hold you accountable.
Protestant apologists commonly make several mistakes in their zeal to vindicate sola scriptura. My opponent, tonight, may not make all of these mistakes, but you need to know about them so that you can know how to handle them when you encounter them.
Mistake #1 (if you have your notepads out, I’d ask you to write these down). Mistake #1: Confusing formal and material sufficiency. This is a crucial point in tonight’s debate. It may surprise you to learn that the Catholic position allows for what we call, “the material sufficiency of Scripture.” This means that Scripture contains everything necessary for Christian teaching. All doctrines can be found there, implicitly or explicitly, but they’re all there.
Formal sufficiency, on the other hand, is the position that Mr. White is attempting to prove. Formal sufficiency means that Scripture contains all necessary Christian truth, and (and this is a very important “and”) that Scripture’s meaning is so clear that the Church and Tradition are not necessary to arrive at an accurate interpretation of the meaning of Scripture.
In the course of this debate, Mr. White may make the mistake of assuming that the Catholic Church rejects the material sufficiency of Scripture. It doesn’t. What it does reject is the error of the formal sufficiency of Scripture. As a Catholic I contend that all Christian doctrines are at least implicitly present in Scripture. But that doesn’t mean Scripture is always sufficiently clear so that every Christian doctrine is explicitly and conclusively evident.
For example, the Bible does not say that Christians should baptize infants. Nor does it say that only adults must be baptized. It simply doesn’t tell us. Paul and the other writers of the New Testament assumed their readers already knew the answer to this question from observing the practice of the Church, so they didn’t see the need to address this issue explicitly.
Some people, such as Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians say the Biblical evidence that babies were baptized in the New Testament is good. So, therefore, we should baptize babies. Others, such as Baptists, Pentecostals, and Jehovah’s Witnesses say the Biblical evidence shows that babies were not, and should not be baptized. Scholars on both sides of the debate admit that the Biblical evidence is simply inconclusive.
But, if the evidence is inconclusive on this, or any other doctrine, then Scripture is manifestly not sufficient to give us a conclusive interpretation of everything that it teaches. In fact, Scripture itself denies that its doctrines are always clear to all readers. In II Peter 3:15,16 we read, “Our dear brother, Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and the unstable people distort, as they do other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” So, we see, here, that the Bible warns us that its doctrines can be misunderstood, they can be unclear, and they can be distorted.
Mistake #2: Using a hermeneutic of anachronism. Protestant apologists read back into Scripture, and the writings of the Church Fathers, the particular doctrines they wish to find. And they ignore, or explain away, what they don’t wish to see. Mormons do this in their attempt to prove, so-called, that the Bible and the early Church believed in many gods.
Since the time the Devil used Scripture to tempt Jesus in the desert, doctrinal error has always been advanced under the guise of Bible verses. Jesus said in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets who will come to you in sheep’s clothing but, underneath, they are ravenous wolves.” Error comes packaged under the wrapping paper of Bible verses. The Arians did it. The Albigensians did it. The Mormons do it. And, I’m afraid tonight, Mr. White is doing it.
Mistake #3: Thinking that the phrase, “Word of God” applies to Scripture alone. Scripture does refer to itself as God’s Word, but many other things are called God’s Word as well. For example, we see that Jesus is called the Word of God in flesh, in John 1:1-14. The Bible speaks of God’s sovereign blessings that He speaks on His people as His Word in Isaiah 55:10,11. And the Bible calls the oral proclamation of the Gospel, the Word of God, such as in I Thessalonians 2:13, where Paul says, “And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly that in receiving the word of God from hearing us, you have received not a human word, but as it truly is, the word of God.” So, remember, when you see tonight, or hear tonight, the phrase, “Word of God,” it doesn’t always mean the Bible. We have to be careful to search for the meaning of this verse in context. Now, Mr. White will only beg the question if he tries to use verses such as Psalm 119:89, where the Psalmist says, “Forever, oh Lord, your Word is settled in the heavens.” This verse, and the other verses like it, which describe the attributes of the Word of God, don’t prove the formal sufficiency of Scripture. All they prove is that there is a certain attribute that the Word of God has. And, again, we have to know whether it’s the written Word of God, or the oral Word of God, or the Word of God in flesh. The Bible uses it in various ways.
Mistake #4: Confusing “testimony” with “authority”. Some Protestants argue that if the Catholic Church were the official witness to God’s Word, it would be over God’s Word. But this is false. Just because one person serves as a witness to another person doesn’t mean that he has an authority over that person. I’ll give you a few examples.
John the Baptist testified, and he testified authoritatively to Jesus Christ, the Word of God. But John the Baptist did not have authority over Jesus Christ. In the same way, the Church, as the bride of Christ, recognizes Christ’s voice and serves as an accurate, faithful witness to it. But that does not mean, and Catholics do not claim, that the Church has authority over the Word of God.
Mistake #5: Many say we can’t have more than one ultimate authority. On the surface, that might sound convincing. But, notice, that it’s false, when you look at it more carefully. The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are equally ultimate and equally authoritative. And one Gospel does not subjugate the other Gospel. The same with the prophet Isaiah and the prophet Jeremiah. Here were two prophets of God, walking the earth at the same time, delivering inspired oracles of God for His people. He didn’t subjugate one prophet over another. They were both ultimate authorities, in their own way. And, yet, there was no subjugation, they worked harmoniously together. As is God’s plan.
Mistake #6 (which we have already heard tonight): The attempt to shift the burden of proof. Sometimes less scrupulous and honest Protestant apologists will attempt to divert attention away from their very weak case for sola scriptura, by claiming that the Catholic must prove the Catholic position on Tradition. The Catholic Church can demonstrate the Biblical grounds for this doctrine, but Tradition is not on trial, here tonight, no matter what Mr. White may tell you. Sola scriptura is on trial. If you don’t believe me, then go get the flyer that Mr. White produced which says, “Does the Bible teach sola scriptura?” That’s the issue, don’t forget that. Don’t let him try to fool you, if he tries to shift the burden of proof onto my shoulders, saying I must prove the Catholic view. I don’t have to. I don’t have to prove the Catholic position on Tradition, Mr. White, or infant baptism, or the papacy, or even Bingo. The question is, does the Bible teach sola scriptura?
Mr. White uses the “pen” analogy. I find that very intriguing. He argues that to prove there is no other pen like this pen, he would have the impossible task of searching the entire earth–all the bookstores, all the pockets, the whole earth. He would have visit the Moon, he’d have to search all the planets in the Solar System, he would have to search the entire universe to make sure that no other pen like this pen existed. No, Mr. White. Tonight, this Bible is your universe. This is what you have to search. You don’t have to go to any other planets, tonight, Mr. White. I invite you to stay right here on planet earth, and simply show us, where in the Bible the doctrine of sola scriptura is found.
Now, in our remaining moments, let’s examine some key Scripture passages that are frequently brought up. Let’s turn immediately to II Timothy 3:16, 17, which Mr. White leans so heavily upon, and let’s take a look at what it really says. He quoted it for you, already, so I won’t feel the need to quote it again, but I do want to quote from his book, where he says (this is on page 42 of his book, Answers to Catholic Claims, I believe that the case for sola scriptura is so flimsy, that if you want to find how flimsy it is, you can just go to Mr. White’s book, Answers to Catholic Claims, which purports to deal with the sufficiency, or the formal sufficiency of Scripture. This book, I think, shows how flimsy that case is), Mr. White says, “II Timothy 3:16,17 literally screams sufficiency!” Well, this verse is screaming, but it’s only because of the way Mr. White is twisting it, in his attempt to shoehorn sola scriptura into it. II Timothy 3:17 does not teach the formal sufficiency of Scripture, folks, it simply doesn’t. It teaches, perhaps, material sufficiency, which I would be perfectly happy to go along with. But, just because Scripture contains all the necessary equipment, remember, Paul is saying that the man of God, through Scripture, will be equipped, will be competent, will be “thoroughly furnished”, as it says in the King James, for every good work. Every Catholic says, “Amen!” to that. There’s no argument. But, just because it will give you all the equipment that you need, doesn’t mean that it will necessarily make you able to use that equipment properly. Let me demonstrate.
Scripture says we must rightly divide the Word of God. That means that some people can wrongly divide it. They can wrongly use it. Some of you here, tonight, will think I am wrongly using the Word of God. So that, in effect, proves what I am saying. Some people will use it correctly, others won’t. So, just having the Bible alone is not enough to fully equip the man of God, in the sense that, he may have all the raw materials, he may have all the equipment, but he may not know how to use it properly.
Mr. White used a very quaint example about a bike store. And how the bike store can outfit him thoroughly, give him everything he needs, bike tires, inner tubes, helmets, and all the various things that he might need. But what about, Mr. White, if you don’t know how to ride a bike? Or what if you don’t know the rules of the road? Or what if you don’t know the proper way to handle a bike in difficult terrain, or in bad weather. The Church and Sacred Tradition, which the Bible does talk about, and we’ll show later tonight, is in that support role. Sure, the Bible will fully equip the man of God, but it doesn’t presuppose that the man of God automatically knows how to use that Scripture. That’s where the Church comes in, and Sacred Tradition. Those are the ways that the Church helps to guide the man of God in the proper use of Sacred Scripture. Don’t forget that point.
Finally, how can Mr. White assert that Paul has in mind the formal sufficiency of Scripture, when, in the very same Epistle, in II Timothy 2:2, which I’m sure he’ll get to later, Paul charges Timothy with handing on oral tradition, oral tradition.
One other point. Mr. White places a very heavy emphasis on Greek and Greek grammar, and all of those other fancy ways of studying Scripture, but they’re irrelevant, tonight, for tonight’s purpose, because we can take Mr. White’s principle, his interpretive principle and apply it to another passage, very similar, and find out if it works. Mr. White says, in effect, because the Bible says it will make you perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, or perfect and complete, fully equipped, therefore, you don’t need anything else. It excludes everything else.
Well, let’s apply that, for example, to James 1:4. Paul [sic] says here, “Let your perseverance be perfect so that you may perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Now, what does that mean, Mr. White? Does that mean that if I persevere, that I’m perfectly complete, therefore, I don’t need the Bible? Does that mean that I don’t need fellowship? I do not need prayer? I don’t need to do the good works that Paul talks about so often, as those that accompany saving faith? What about those? I do need all of those, but, if the Bible is to be sufficient, if it’s proved to be sufficient from II Timothy 3:17, simply because it says it will make you complete, then the Bible proves that perseverance and, by the way, the context in James 1 and 2 is perseverance and good works, that perseverance and good works will make you perfectly complete, lacking in nothing. No Protestant would accept that hermeneutic principle. I do not accept Mr. White’s faulty, and shabby misuse of II Timothy 3:17.
Mr. White mentioned the verses in Scripture, Matthew 15 and Colossians 2 (perhaps he didn’t mention Colossians 2), but these are places where Jesus [sic] condemns the traditions of men. Fair enough! Traditions of men which are bad should be condemned. But not all tradition is to be condemned, in fact, elsewhere, Paul praises oral tradition.
We don’t have time to go into all of these, at the moment, we’ll save them for later. But just jot these down. I Corinthians 11:2, where Paul says, “I commend you for holding firm to the traditions, just as I gave them to you.” II Thessalonians 2:15, Paul commands the Church to stand firm and hold fast in the traditions that they had been given, whether orally, spoken, or through an epistle of theirs. So, in other words, Tradition is one major category, and there are two subsets in the one category: oral tradition, written tradition. That’s what the Word of God says. I’m sure we’re going to get heavily into II Thessalonians 2 later in the night.
There are many other things I’d like to say. There are many other points I’d like to bring up. But, I want to mention one thing. Tonight, we can only cover the peaks and valleys in this debate. There is a mountain of evidence that can be brought forth, Biblically and historically (although, remember “historically” is not the emphasis of tonight’s debate) which can show that the Bible doesn’t teach sola scriptura, that the Church didn’t believe sola scriptura in the early days. But, I want you to concentrate on one point. I’ll try to give you as many as time will allow, as many reasons as time will allow, why sola scriptura is false. If you can only remember one of these reasons, please remember this one. The central flaw, you might say, “the fatal flaw,” of Mr. White’s position, tonight, is that, unless sola scriptura can be proven from Scripture alone, which he has not done simply by repairing to,[…] and saying, well, it says you’ll be made equipped for every good work, therefore, that means sufficient. It doesn’t mean sufficient, folks. No more than James 1:4 means sufficient, as far as perseverance and good works.
So, if he can’t show this from Scripture alone, sola scriptura is, itself, unscriptural. That means it’s false. It’s a tradition of men, which must be rejected by everyone who wants to be faithful to the teachings of Scripture. That’s why I reject sola scriptura, because I love the written Word of God. I don’t want to see it undermined. I don’t want to see its authority corrupted, or compromised. I don’t want to see Scripture become the private play toy of every individual person who has some idea, whether true or bogus, about how religion should be. That is not what Jesus intended for His Church. That is not what the Bible says about itself.
The fact is, there are no verses which teach that Scripture is formally sufficient, as I am most confident Mr. White’s arguments, this evening, will demonstrate. Thank you.
JW: Rebuttal (10 minutes): I wish to immediately respond to some of the things Mr. Madrid just said so that they are fresh in your mind, because they amazed me so. Mr. Madrid said, “All that fancy stuff about Greek is irrelevant.” We are talking about the language in which Paul wrote and the meanings of the terms he used, and it was just labeled “irrelevant.” Mr. Madrid, I would like to suggest that you look at those languages, because you made a very fatal error in your presentation. In fact, it is interesting: you utilized one of the four passages that Mr. Keating utilized in Denver, using the term “complete.” Matthew 19:21, Colossians 1:28, Colossians 4:12, and James 1:4, all use the term “complete.” And Catholic Answers likes to say, “Well, see, if 2 Timothy 3 says this, then all these other things make you complete, too!” And Mr. Madrid called it “faulty and shabby work” that I had done on the passage, and said that 2 Timothy 3 no more proves sola scriptura than James 1:4. There’s a little problem: none of those passages use the terms used in 2 Timothy if you looked at it in the Greek. It is a common error for a beginning Bible student to assume that an English translation is going to utilize different words for different Greek terms. The terms used in Matthew 19:21 are tevleios” (teleios), Colossians 1:21 (sic) tevleios“, Colossians 4:12 teleios” and James 1:4 tevleios” and oJloklhroi (holokleroi). None of them use a[rtioss” (artios). Mr. Madrid did not even begin to address the information that I presented. He said, “It doesn’t teach sufficiency!” And yet I quoted you major lexical sources that said what? Sufficient. Now, Mr. Madrid you don’t have the authority to overthrow the meaning of those terms, no matter how much you may wish to do so. No other passage in the Bible can be used to deflect what we have said about 2 Timothy chapter 3.
Now, Mr. Madrid said that I am trying to shift the burden of proof. If you listened closely, I presented the position, and said, “Now, if Mr. Madrid wants to recognize that asking someone to prove a universal negative is impossible, great, fine, we won’t talk about that.” If he attempts to prove the existence of another rule of faith then we’ll talk about that. I left that up to him. I wasn’t attempting to shift any burdens at all, I was just simply logically dealing with the issues that are presented before us.
Mr. Madrid also said, “Well you know, in regards to ulitmate authority, this idea that you can’t have two ultimate authorities, and yes, I have said that, I have said that in a number of debates in the past on sola scriptura…You cannot have two ultimate authorities. The word “ultimate” does not allow for that meaning. But Mr. Madrid said, “Well, look, you’ve got four Gospels!” Mr. Madrid is engaging in a little shifting of the grounds here. You see, all four Gospels have the same nature: they are qeovpneustos” (theopneustos). They, together form that which is God’s revelation. And so if Mr. Madrid would like to say that you can have another ultimate authority, you can have these other elements of authority, the teaching Magisterium, the oral tradition, then Mr. Madrid is going to have to prove that these oral traditions are qeovpneustos” or they cannot function along with God-breathed Scripture.
Mr. Madrid then said, “Well, we can wrongly divide the Word of God!” And he used the example that I used of the little bike store that I go to and he said, “But, Mr. White, what if you don’t know how to ride a bike?” Well, some people might think that. But the problem is, where we need to be focusing [is] on the nature of that bike shop, because that is what the debate’s about. Is it the bike shop’s fault who I am when I come in? You say, “Well yes, they need to teach you how to ride!” There’s a real problem there, a real problem here. You see, Paul says the Scriptures are sufficient for whom? Remember 17 of chapter 3? Who is it addressed to? Non-bike riders? No, the man of God. You see, the analogy breaks down because to make the analogy work you’ve gotta be a bike rider to go into the bike den and get your stuff. It is the man of God who is equipped for every single good work.
Now Mr. Madrid says, “Well, we have 2 Timothy 2:2, the very same book, that Mr. White is quoting from, saying something differently.” Well let’s take a look at 2 Timothy 2:2. It was not read in your hearing but I’ll read it for you. “But you my child, be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these things entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others. Join in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” Did you hear anything in there that denies sola scriptura? Well we’re told, “You see, well you’re supposed to entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others those that you’ve heard from me.” And you need to listen to every presentation that is made by the Roman Catholic apologists because there is an underlying assumption, you see. As soon as you hear all these passages–and we’re going to take the time to look at 2 Thessalonians 2:15 and all the rest of that–here’s the assumption, that if you hear about a spoken tradition, if you hear about, for example, here Timothy hearing things in the presence of Paul, those things must contain information, like maybe the Immaculate Conception or Bodily Assumption of Mary, or Papal Infallibility…they must contain some different data that is being passed on, rather than what’s in Scripture. There’s the problem. I challenge Mr. Madrid to show us any bit of evidence that any time that the term “tradition” is used in Scripture, where the Christian Church is passing it on, that it means that what is in that tradition differs from what’s in the New Testament. That’s the assumption that must be proven by the Roman Catholic for these citations of these passages to be relevant at all.
Now, did Paul teach something different in the presence of many witnesses that he taught in his epistle to the Romans or the Galatians? It’s interesting that Tertullian addressed this very passage, and Mr. Madrid said he could “bury me” and held up a notebook…Well, I’m not going to get into stuff like that. It’s sort of silly. We can debate that if we want. But, Tertullian addressed this very passage when refuting those false teachers of his day who claimed that the Apostles had two different teachings (sound familiar?), one which was open and known by all, and a second, secret doctrine, known by only a few. He says, “But here is, as we have said, the same madness in their allowing indeed that the Apostles were ignorant of nothing and preached not any doctrine which contradicted one another, but at the same time insisting that they did not reveal all to all men, for they proclaimed some openly unto all the world whilst they disclosed others only in secret unto a few, because Paul addressed even this expression to Timothy, `O Timothy, guard that which has been entrusted to thee,’ and again, `That good thing which was committed unto thee, keep.’ What is this deposit?” Tertullian says. “Is it so secret as to be supposed to characterize a new doctrine? Or is it a part of that charge of which he says, `This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy,’ and also that precept of which he says, `I charge thee in the sight of God who quickeneth all things and before Jesus Christ who witnessed a good confession under Pontius Pilate that thou keep this commandment.’ Now what is this commandment and what is this charge? From the preceding and succeeding context it will be manifest that there is no mysterious hint, darkly suggested in this expression about some far-fetched doctrine, but that a warning is given against receiving any other doctrine than that which Timothy had heard from himself, as I take it, publicly, `before many witnesses’ is his phrase.” So Tertullian says, no, this isn’t some secret doctrine, this isn’t some oral tradition that contains some other revelation than what we have in Scripture. No, no, no, no.
This is all what is taught by the Apostle Paul and, is what’s taught by the Apostle Paul the same as what we have in Scripture? Well, I ‘d like to refer you to a passage. Look at 2 Thessalonians 3:6. 2 Thessalonians 3:6. What do we have here? Well, it’s interesting, here’s one of those passages that talks about tradition, or teaching. 2 Thessalonians 3:6, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother that is idle and does not live according to the teaching or the tradition you received from us.” Oh, well, here’s this oral tradition, this oral tradition we need to keep! Really? No. Look back at 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 14 as well as 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. Paul is referring back to the tradition he had already delivered to them, that is, in writing. As we will see, the term “tradition” normally refers to that which was orally preached, but it’s the same message. In fact, in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 as we will see in the next time we have some time together, it’s talking about the gospel. Not oral traditions somehow passed down through the episcopate, not oral traditions that you have to have to have the completeness of God’s revelation. No. We are talking here about the gospel itself, the teaching of the gospel, which, of course, is found in the New Testament.
And so I just simply point out to you: Mr. Madrid did not even begin to refute the information I presented to you. He simply said, “Well, it doesn’t teach that.” I presented to you the references, the terms, their meaning. I gave you an exegesis of the passage that you can follow along. I invite you to look at it. Thank you.
PM: Return rebuttal (10 minutes): Ah, Mr. White, Mr. White, Mr. White. I’m reminded of Jesus’ words to Martha. Mr. White, you are anxious and concerned about many things, but only one thing is important. That you show us in the Bible where it teaches the sufficiency of Scripture. And I’m going to hold you to that, tonight. I was going to say I was going to hold his feet to the fire, but that might have bad connotations, you know, with the Inquisition, and all that. I’d like to begin my remarks simply by just going through the few points that Mr. White brought up and try to respond to them as briefly as I can, but hopefully as effectively.
Number one, let me point out that Mr. White blundered badly into Error #1, for most of his rebuttal period, by confusing formal and material sufficiency, or by, perhaps, not remembering what I told him, and told the audience, with regard to the material sufficiency position of the Catholic Church. I’ll restate it again, so that Mr. White can keep that in mind. The Catholic Church does not need to prove that everything that is in oral tradition, is not found in the written tradition. Our position is that everything that is in oral tradition, is in Sacred Scripture, it’s in written tradition. Everything.
Mr. White brought up the Assumption. He could bring up any doctrine he might like, none of which would be the topic of our debate, tonight, but at some future point perhaps, we could discuss where those doctrines are found. The Assumption, for example, since he brought it up, I’ll just refer to it. Revelation, chapter 12, Mr. White. It’s a very commonly used passage for Catholic apologists. I don’t know why you would have missed that. The woman clothed with the Sun was seen not only by modern Catholic apologists as Mary’s Assumption, but also the early Church Fathers, which Mr. White is so fond of bringing into the picture. I’d be more than happy, in some future point, to demonstrate, in a different debate, how the early Church Fathers viewed Revelation 12. They exegeted that passage to mean that Mary had been brought up into Heaven in a special way. But, that’s another topic.
Mr. White is resting his case on the say-so of a few Protestant Greek scholars. That to me is not an infallible source of authority, Mr. White, the Bible is. Now, I didn’t mean to denigrate the Biblical language, and I’m sorry that you took it that way, when I said that your argument was irrelevant. What I meant was, that you can use all the Protestant Biblical scholars’ citations that you want to show that a word means something, but, notice that the word “sufficient” came as the third or fourth definition, or the third or fourth meaning, that was assigned to this word. It was not the primary meaning.
I am not going to debate what this Protestant Greek scholar may or may not have said. First of all, they’re Protestant, so they’re naturally going to give a spin to something that a Catholic scholar might see something different in. Now Mr. White might respond by saying that, “Well, Greek is Greek, Mr. Madrid, you can’t argue on the basis of ideology or politics.” I’m going to save that for some future point, simply because we don’t have the time to go into what the Catholic scholars say on that issue. So I’m not going to go into that now.
Mr. White says that no other passage can be used to deflect II Timothy 3:17. Well, Mr. White, I used James 1:4 to deflect II Timothy 3:17, in fact, not really to deflect it, but simply to hold up a mirror to it, and show that you’re misusing it. You’re saying, that because the man of God is equipped, and sure it does use a different Greek word there, but the sense is that you’re arguing for an implication, here, Mr. White, because he can be equipped for every good work, therefore, it implies that he doesn’t need anything else.
Now, Mr. White failed, utterly, to interact with my use of James 1:4. He just simply dismissed it, out of hand, and he said nothing can be used to deflect it. I want Mr. White to tell us why James 1:4 cannot be interpreted, under his principle, to mean that perseverance in good works, and perseverance under persecution, which is what James is talking about, why that doesn’t mean sufficiency. I want him to tell us about that.
I didn’t say that Mr. White would commit all the errors, although he is prone to do so. But, he has committed a few of them, tonight. So, I don’t want him to read too much of what I said about the errors, into his own personal situation. He mentioned the same old argument about there cannot be two ultimate authorities, one subjugating one to the other. If you don’t like the example of the Gospels, then I can move on to a different one.
What about Jesus and Scripture? When Jesus was walking the earth, Jesus was, and is, God, the ultimate authority. And yet, Mr. White would have no compunction in saying, that the Word of God is the ultimate authority. Well did the Bible cease being the ultimate authority when Jesus was on the scene? In one sense, Mr. White is going to have to argue, if he wants to make his case stick, even barely, that Jesus constantly referred to Scripture as the court of last appeal. Well, that undercuts his position. Because if Jesus is referring to an authority outside of Himself, then what does that say about Jesus? Was Jesus the ultimate authority? I say, yes. Was the Word of God, in that sense, that Mr. White wants to assign to it, the ultimate authority? Mr. White would say, yes. Well, he’s got a quandary there, then, folks, because I’ve just demonstrated two ultimate authorities.
I also mentioned the prophets, Isaiah, and the prophet Jeremiah. Mr. White failed to interact with that. Jeremiah and Isaiah were both, in their own sense, ultimate authorities. He did not address that.
He says that my analogy breaks down, regarding the bike shop, because “the man of God,” is obviously implying that the man of God, in this analogous sense, can ride a bicycle. Well, if that does not suit Mr. White, I’d be happy to use an analogy of his own choosing. And that would be the analogy that he uses, again, on page 42 of his book, Answers to Catholic Claims. He says, “Yet the rest of the passage” (again, here’s the “screaming verse”) “literally screams sufficiency. If they are not sufficient, how then can they make the man of God complete, fully equipped” (in bold print) “for every good work?” “If I have the ability to fully equip someone for a military mission” (Mr. White says) “then, am I not sufficient as an equipper? Of course! Then the objection carries no weight” (the Catholic objection). Well, I’m afraid that Mr. White has dug himself a little deeper in by using that analogy, so, I’ll switch to that one, if he doesn’t like the bicycle one.
If somebody goes into the military (and many of you, in this room, have been in the military), when you get there, you’re issued a uniform, a helmet, a rifle, ammunition, not all at once, of course, but you’re issued ammunition, maybe hand grenades, maybe you’re assigned to a tank unit. You are issued all sorts of equipment. And to follow Mr. White’s analogy, you’re fully equipped by the U.S. military to carry out a military operation. But, the military also has to train the soldier, to fire that rifle, to know how to throw a hand grenade, and when to throw a hand grenade, how to drive the tank, when to duck when the bullets are coming, how to thrust with the bayonet. I could go on and on! I could bury Mr. White in his own analogy! The fact is, just because the military fully equips the soldier to carry out his mission, does not mean the soldier is necessarily ready to do it. He needs support things also. And that is the training and the guidance the military will teach him. “This tactic works.” “This tactic does not work.” All of that is necessary so that the military man may be truly complete and equipped for every military work.
I’ll go further. Mr. White is talking about how, “the man of God,” that phrase used there in II Timothy 3:17, implies that the man can ride a bike. We’ll just go back to that for a moment. Well, let me ask you, Mr. White, is Pastor Wagner a “man of God,” in your opinion? Do you think he would qualify under that rubric? If he is, then is he rightly dividing the Word of God when he baptizes babies? This denomination, Mr. White, baptizes babies. Mr. White’s denomination does not. They would say, and I think Mr. White, if he’s going to be honest with us, tonight, would have to admit, that he would see that as a misuse of God’s Word, by arguing for infant baptism.
Mr. White is in another quandary, here. He says, “Well, sure, it assumes that the man of God will know how to use the Word of God.” It doesn’t, folks! If Pastor Wagner’s a man of God, and if James White is a man of God, we’ve got a problem, then. And, I’m not implying that either one is not a man of God, don’t misunderstand. I’m simply saying that one argues for the position of infant baptism, based on what Scripture says. The other one denies that, based on what Scripture says. So, Mr. White’s appeal to II Timothy 3:17 as just presupposing that they’ll know what to do with the Word of God, falls flat.
Let me give you another example. What about the Lutheran minister who believes in baptismal regeneration, based on what the Bible alone says? Remember, Martin Luther, the founder of that denomination said, sola scriptura, “the Bible alone.” So, the Lutheran minister is going by what Scripture says, he believes, Scripture teaches about baptism. He believes in regeneration. Mr. White, I can assure you, his hair will stand on end when he hears that preached by somebody. Because, he, as a Baptist, is anathema on the issue of baptismal regeneration. He will tell you, in no uncertain terms, that the Bible does not teach baptismal regeneration.
Well, then, Mr. White has another dilemma on his hands. Is the Lutheran minister not a man of God? Now, unless Mr. White is going to tell you, “Well, on every issue that they agree with me on, then they’re men of God. But if they disagree with my interpretation of Scripture, they cease to be men of God. Or, maybe they never were men of God in the beginning.”
Well, maybe, Mr. White is simply wrong in his interpretation of II Timothy 3:17. He will admit to you, and if he doesn’t, I will be happy to assert it, that he is not infallible. He can make mistakes. How does he know that he’s right on this interpretation? He doesn’t know! He can only hope, he can only assert, he can only assume. Why should I accept his fallible, errant, human interpretation of God-breathed Scripture, over and above what Pastor Wagner might say? Or, what Paster Noch might say? Or, the Lutheran minister? Why? Ask yourself that question, tonight. Thank you.
Second Rebuttal Period
JW: Rebuttal (10 minutes): I’d like to point that in Mr. Madrid’s closing statements the term “divide and conquer” rings through my mind in regards to saying, “Well, you’ve got these Protestants who believe this and these Protestants who believe that. And you see there’s these contradictions between these Protestants. So obviously it means that the Word of God is not sufficient to decide such issues, and we need my authority. We need to believe in the bishop of Rome is the infallible interpreter of all these things.” And I go “Well, that’s very interesting but it certainly doesn’t seem that Paul believed that.”
But notice what Pat is trying to say. He’s trying to say that the word “equip” has to actually mean “resulting in our inerrancy.” When you think about it, that’s what he’s trying to say. You see, if it is possible for Christians to disagree on an issue, then obviously you need some other authority! And I have to laugh because I think of the Roman Catholics that I talk to, every single one of which says, “Hey, my position is the Roman Catholic position!” and say “He’s a heretic.” “But I’m a Roman Catholic! Yes indeed!” There is just as wide a variety of opinions amongst those who call themselves Roman Catholics and appeal to the same documents as there is amongst Protestants. So it doesn’t seem to solve anything for Mr. Madrid if he says, “Well, you need this other authority” because even with that other authority Roman Catholicism ends up with all these differing opinions, and all these differing understandings of their own documents that they write to then somehow interpret the Scriptures. It’s very interesting that that takes place.
The point is not that what 2 Timothy 3:16 is saying is that all you gotta do is read the Bible and you’ll be inerrant. That’s not what it says. The man of God must do what? He must study. He must work. He must immerse himself in the Word of God. What does Psalm 1 say? He meditates upon the Word how often? Day and night. Why would you need to do that if it was just, “Well, it’s just simple….right on the face of it!” No. There’s work required. But that doesn’t mean that I need the bishop of Rome to stand up here and say “You must believe what I say!” But that’s exactly what the Council of Trent said. Let me read it:
Furthermore to check unbridled spirits it decrees that no one relying on his own judgment shall, in matters of faith and morals, pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine, distorting the Holy Scriptures in accordance with his own conceptions, presume to interpret them contrary to the sense which Holy Mother Church, to whom it belongs to judge of their true sense and interpretation, has held and holds, or even contrary to the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, even though such interpretations should never at any time be published.
So Trent says, “We have this authority, and we alone!” We need to remember what Rome is really saying. It’s interesting. John O’Brien, a Roman Catholic writer, in a very popular book called The Faith of Millions said, “Far from being hostile to the Bible, the Catholic Church is its true mother. She determined which are the books of religion from the many writings circulated as inspired in the early Christian ages and assembled them all within the covers of a single book. She is not the child of the Bible, as many non-Catholics imagine, but its mother. She derives neither her existence nor her teaching authority from the New Testament.” And the same writer had earlier written, “Great as is our reverence for the Bible, reason and experience compel us to say that it alone is not a competent nor a safe guide as to what we are to believe.”
No, that isn’t what Paul said. And please keep in your mind: Mr. Madrid said, “Oh, those are Protestant scholars!” But he hasn’t shown us one single shred of lexical evidence from any source, Catholic, Protestant, or atheist, to refute the definitions of a[rtios” and exartivzw I’ve given to him, and if he cannot, he loses the debate. It’s that simple.
Now, Mr. Madrid says, “Well, Mr. White, you need to look at James 1:4. You need to tell us…how do you understand James 1:4? I mean, you just pointed out that the same term isn’t used in James 1:4 that’s used in 2 Timothy chapter 3. Well, it may be important that we understand that it is a different term and hence it has different meanings.” And it’s interesting to me: Mr. Madrid is sort of Catholic Answers’ corollary to myself in the sense that we both deal with Mormonism. In fact, I’m going to be heading up to the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints right as soon as I leave from here, heading up there to debate two BYU professors on radio about the doctrine of God. And it’s interesting: one of the passages that Mormons like to use in regards to the doctrine of God is Matthew 5:48. And this is one that Pat knows real well. “Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” The same term is used in Matthew 5:48 that’s used in James 1:4. And now how would Mr. Madrid explain what Matthew 5:48 is saying to a Mormon? Well, he’d say, “You need to understand here that we are not talking about identity. To be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect does not mean that we become gods. The term tevleios” refers here in this context to having a fullness of moral attributes, because we are talking here in Matthew 5…it’s the Sermon on the Mount. God the Father is perfect in that way, and we are called to be perfect, morally. And so the context determines the meaning of the passage.”
Well it’s the same thing in James 1:4. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete. What is that? We’re talking about sanctification. We’re not talking about the man of God in the Church of God teaching and exhorting and rebuking. We’re talking about in a man’s personal life the completion of the work of sanctification in him. We are being what? Conformed to the image of Christ. And when one is like Christ, one is tevleios“, one is perfected by that.
So the point again is, we need to look at the context of passages. And at 2 Timothy chapter 3, what’s the context? The context is the man of God functioning as the man of God in the Church of God. Doing what? Teaching, rebuking, exhorting, etc. and etc. And Paul says the Scriptures are able to sufficiently equip the man of God to do this. The Scriptures are sufficient. And in light of this, then I point out again: the Scriptures do not present to you the concept of Papal Infallibility, the Immaculate Conception, or the Bodily Assumption of Mary, even though Rome says “You must believe these things!” Now if it is a good work for the man of God to stand in the Church of God and teach those things, we have a contradiction between Roman teaching and Scriptural teaching.
Now, Mr. Madrid said that I was constantly confusing formal and material sufficiency. No I wasn’t. Go back and listen to the tape (this is all being taped this evening); go back and listen to it. I was just discussing the things that Pat himself had brought up. And then he brought up Revelation chapter 12. He said, “Well this is Mary!” I’d like you all to read Revelation chapter 12. I’d like you to take a chance to look at it this evening, and you’ll find out yes, modern Roman apologists definitely say that this was Mary. You will find that you are certainly not forced to that conclusion, but even if you said you were, he did say that, “Well, this is always how its been understood.” I think any of you that are familiar with the early Church know that that is not the case at all. That is not the case at all. That’s just simply untrue.
Now, we then went back to this ultimate authority issue, and Pat said, “Well OK, let’s use a different analogy. Let’s talk about Jesus and the Bible! Is Jesus the ultimate authority or is the Bible the ultimate authority?” And again I have to point out to Mr. Madrid. What is the nature of Scripture? The very first comments I made to you this evening was what: the doctrine of sola scriptura is based upon what? The inspiration of Scripture. The Scripture is God-breathed. Now when Jesus teaches, who is He? He is God. What are His words? You see, there is no difference with regards to the nature of what the Lord Jesus teaches and what the Word of God teaches. So if Mr. Madrid wants to use this argument then he has to show us that the teaching magisterium of the Church and the oral tradition are God-breathed, or you cannot join them together. And of course I don’t believe that he wants to attempt to do that. I would….He says, “Hey, we’d be glad to do that, we’ll be glad to debate that!” I’m here to tell you I am glad to accept that challenge right now, anytime that he wishes to do that. If Mr. Madrid wishes to undertake to defend the Roman Catholic doctrine of tradition, he has an open challenge from me before you all to do that. I’d be glad to do that anytime that he wishes to do so.
I wish to refocus in the last thirty seconds of my time, our attention. What is the thesis this evening? Does the Bible teach the doctrine of sola scriptura? I have shown you two passages, 2 Timothy chapter 3, Matthew chapter 15, that present this doctrine. I have gone into the passage, I have exegeted them, I have given you solid, Biblical reason for accepting that truth. So far all Mr. Madrid has been able to say in regards to that information is, “Well, those are Protestants saying it.” We must hold to the topic of this evening: The Bible does teach sola scriptura. Thank you.
PM: Return Rebuttal (10 Minutes):
Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of the country of England, used to have very sharp conversations with other public figures, one of whom was George Bernard Shaw, the great playwright. Once Shaw wrote to the Prime Minister and he, in this little note, he said, “Dear Mr. Churchill. Enclosed are two tickets to the opening night of my latest play, one for you, and one for a friend, if you have one.” Now, the Prime Minister wrote back, he sent the tickets back, he said, “Mr. Shaw, I regret that I cannot attend the opening night of your play. However I would like to attend the second showing, if there is one.” Now, I bring that up because it’s a clever jest, its a clever quip, but it doesn’t, I don’t believe, do justice to the relationship that existed between those two men. I’d like to reverse that tonight and simply say that Mr. White and I are not here tonight to give you a presentation or some sort of a beauty pageant about who is the more forceful or the more colorful debater. What matters is, as Mr. White was kind enough to point out just a moment ago, does the Bible teach sola scriptura?
Now he made an awful lot of claims, the last one I think I need to address first. He said that all I did in my last 10 minute rebuttal was to say that Mr. White has not addressed, has not shown us, any of these verses. Well, Mr. White, I did an awful lot more than that. I brought up a lot of arguments that he neglected to deal with. I asked him about the man of God issue. I can see why Mr. White would want to avoid that issue. I can see why he wouldn’t want to have to publicly say, “Well, in this case, Pastor Wagner is wrong” or “Pastor Noch is wrong, and I am right.” Because ultimately that is what he would be forced to say. Mr. White is confusing the issue by telling you that he goes by God’s infallible, inerrant word, which it is of course, he’s confusing the issue when he says, “Therefore, that’s all I need, and I know what to do.” Because two things are at work. 1) He’s presupposing that he is the man of God that is spoken about in 2 Timothy 3:17, and 3:16, that’s a presupposition, and he actually has to assert, 2) that if you misuse Scripture, you are not a man of God, because that, remember, was the fundamental argument that he brought forward when he didn’t like my bike-riding analogy.
Let’s move forward. He talked about dividing and conquering. Well, I find that amusing. It was not dividing and conquering, Mr. White, it was simply explaining the fact that Protestantism is a house divided. In fact, it is not even a house, it’s a collection of individual people living all over the landscape theologically, none of whom agree in every detail about what Scripture means. They all claim to go by the Bible alone. Mr. White leveled a snide remark about the Papacy, that the Pope in Rome was what the Catholics looked to. I find that interesting because he tied Paul into that, and if you read your Bible, Mr. White, you’ll notice that in Galatians 1:18, after Paul had converted to the true faith, where did Paul go? He went to Peter. He made a journey to go see Peter. Why would he do that? What would be the point of it? I think it was because he wanted to check his doctrine against what the Church taught, not just against what he knew in the Old Testament.
He talks about the Catholics being divided. No, Mr. White that’s not true. There are individual Catholics who may say and do any given thing. He brought up the fact that there are people who would say that I am a heretic. Well there are a lot of people who would call me a lot of things, some of them I can’t repeat tonight, but the fact is that what an individual Catholic may or not say about what the Church teaches is irrelevant. Mr. White is confusing the issue here, as he done on so many other points. I can bring you Denzinger, the Enchiridion Symbolorum, which Mr. White may have, in his research library. There the Church’s doctrines are formally spelled out. He has Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. I can go to what the Church officially teaches and say, “I don’t care what my opinion may be or any other person around me who claims to be a Catholic may be, I know what the Church teaches.” I may not like it, I may disagree with it, but at least I know what it teaches. How many of you can do that with Protestantism? I defy you…You can’t, sir. I defy you to go to Evangelical Bookstore, actually, in San Diego, and look at all the different books with all the different opinions dealing with fundamental doctrine. There is not just a panorama of different views, there are fundamental disagreements over key, life-or-death issues that effect the Christian, that are going to have an effect upon his eternal destiny, and I brought up two of them, and Mr. White neglected to deal with either one, cause I think he doesn’t know how to answer it. Baptismal regeneration and the baptism of infants. I am not equating the two as having equal importance. I can bring up many other examples, and I’ll do that later in the evening. But the fact is, Mr. White has no answer to that. He can only go say that he goes by what his opinion is of Scripture. That is a misuse of the Bible. That is not what Jesus intended for Scripture. Mr. White is unfortunately a part of that vast majority of people out there who see the Bible as their private play toy. Now if that sounds pejorative, I’m sorry, but that’s the fact. Mr. White will quote the Bible to teach what he wants to be taught. He will teach what his position is over against what other Protestant ministers say with equally good credentials say, who are also going to the Word of God. It boils down to a dispute over Mr. White’s opinion versus their opinion. I don’t think that is what Jesus intended for His Church.
He says that I can’t refute the Greek translations. Well of course! I didn’t bring a Greek library with me tonight. I didn’t bring all sorts of linguistic apparatuses to throw at you to try to build my case based on what this scholar or that scholar might say. I brought the Bible. I believe in going by what God’s Word says. And Mr. White’s position, you have to remember, is, he wants to have it both ways. He’s telling you on one hand, Scripture’s sufficient. Well that means that Scripture is perspicuous (slapping hands together), that you can look at it and see what it means. And that you can tell what the Bible means. Mr. White is then saying, well, not in this case. Because in this case you need Greek lexicons, and you need this scholar to prove what this word means, and that scholar to prove what that means. If Mr. White is going to be consistent he has to argue for the perspicuity of Scripture. If its sufficient formally for all doctrine it must be able to on the face of it tell us what it means. I don’t believe Mr. White can prove that, especially in the area of baptismal regeneration.
Mr. White has, I’m afraid once again, strayed off the course. I’d like to bring him back to it. In fact, I think that he’s going to drive smack-dab into a brick wall at this point, and that brick wall is the canon of Scripture. This is an insurmountable problem for Mr. White’s position. Let me tell you why. Mr. White, he’s up here tonight, waving his Bible around, quoting Bible verses, telling me what the Bible means. How does he know what the Bible is? These 27 books in the New Testament, from Matthew to Revelation, we’ll just stick to those for the moment, since we have a dispute over the Old Testament. Where did these come from? How does Mr. White know that these are inspired? How does Mr. White know that Matthew wrote Matthew? Now I’ve listened to his debates. Obviously I’ve prepared for this one by looking at the things that he wrote and hearing the things that he says, and very often he’ll come back with the thing, “Well, I don’t need to know if Matthew wrote Matthew. I mean I know that its Scripture. Scripture testifies to me. It is self-authenticating” is one of his favorite arguments. The Scripture, in one sense, is self-authenticating, but in the sense that we are talking about here tonight, as far as its formal sufficiency is concerned, it is not self-authenticating. I would defy Mr. White to read the letter to Philemon or 3rd John and tell me what in those letters screams out at him, “This is inspired!” Then I’d ask him to take a look at the book of Chronicles, maybe the first twelve passages, the first twelve chapters, and tell me what about those genealogies is leaping out at him and saying, “This is inspired.” Folks, Mr. White, Mr. White, Mr. White is a thief. Mr. White, in the context of this debate tonight, he has stolen a tradition from the Church, from the Catholic Church, which many Councils, Rome, Hippo, Carthage, Carthage again, the Pope, Pope Damasus, these were in the late 4th century, the Church officially defined what the canon of Scripture was. Mr. White accepts that. If he didn’t accept it, he wouldn’t have these 27 books in his New Testament. But he won’t admit that. He claims that Scripture is sufficient. Well let me ask you, ladies and gentlemen, where does the Bible give us an inspired table of contents? Where does it tell us which books belong and which don’t? And the reason this question is so important, and the reason Mr. White can’t answer this question, is because it sinks his argument. Mr. White’s position is there is no revealed truth outside of Scripture. The canon of Scripture is part of revealed truth, folks. That is part of God’s revelation to the Church. If God’s revelation is in Scripture, it is also, His revelation includes what Scripture itself is. There is an example, Mr. White wanted an example, I just gave him one, of a tradition that is not contained in Scripture that is part of oral, pardon me, which is part of divine revelation, and which is binding. That’s not in Scripture. Mr. White has to deal with that issue. Thank you very much.
Cross Examination Period
First Question from James White to Patrick Madrid:
White: Mr. Madrid, assuming that teaching that the Pope is infallible is something that the man of God would do in the Church, could you please explain how, in the light of 2 Timothy 3:17, “Scripture equips the man of God for every good work,” how the Scripture equips you to teach this doctrine?
Madrid: Let me ask you to restate it, I’m not sure I understand the thrust of your question.
White: OK, I’ll repeat it. Given that, we would assume that teaching that the Pope is infallible is a good work, how, in light of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that says the Scripture is able to thoroughly equip the man for every good work, how is that the Scripture equips you to teach the doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope?
Madrid: OK, if I understand your question correctly, let me answer by saying that one of the good works that is implied, it’s actually explicated there, is teaching sound doctrine. And part of sound doctrine, part of the full counsel of God, Mr. White, is the authority of the Bishop of Rome. Now, I know that you do not accept or agree with the various Bible verses that can be brought forward by the Catholic apologist to support that position. That simply makes my case. The Catholic is using Scripture in the proper method that Jesus intended, in harmony with what the Church has always taught, and in harmony with the tradition and authoritative teaching that the Church has handed down. Therefore, this doctrine, pardon me, this verse, assists me as a man of God in teaching sound doctrine. I don’t have to rely on my own private authority on what I think the Bible means. I could be wrong, you could be wrong. I’m able to look at the context of Scripture in the over-all life of the Church and see how the Church interprets it.
I go further and say that the very fact that you ask that question, at least the implication of that question, proves my point. You’re saying that the Catholic position on the Biblical authority of the bishop of Rome, the Catholic position based on Scripture, is erroneous. You’re saying, and I’ve heard you say it many times in debates with Gerry Matatics and in other things that you’ve done, that the Catholic position is simply wrong. That these Scriptures don’t in fact teach that. Well, that proves my point. If Scripture were sufficient, formally sufficient, Mr. White, cause remember I did say it was materially sufficient, if it was formally sufficient then there would be no dispute. If Scripture could interpret it’s own meaning for us, there wouldn’t be this debate tonight. Pastor Wagner would not be holding to a doctrine of infant baptism which you reject. That very fact disproves your question, or your claim about the formal sufficiency of Scripture.
White: Well, first of all, of course, the point is that the teaching of the infallibility of the Bishop of Rome is a traditional teaching. It comes from tradition primarily. It is not found in Scripture. You’ll never find a reference to the Bishop of Rome or anything even regarding that in Scripture. The early Church didn’t believe it, and I’ve debated that, and would be glad to have more debates on that.
But notice what was again just said. And I did address this…Mr. Madrid said I didn’t but I did. What we are hearing here is if the Scripture was sufficient to equip the man of God, then there would what? No difference of opinion. Everybody would just lock-step in line. Right? That’s what we are being told. Seemingly, that not only ignores issues that are not central to the faith, but it also ignores the fact that as I said the man of God studies the Word of God. And men of God have to study the Word of God throughout their entire lives. And they grow and learn and that’s the work of the Spirit in their lives. Seemingly someone wants to short-circuit that entire process.
Madrid: Well Mr. White, I am not trying to short-circuit anything. I’m simply trying to explain that you, have, failed, I guess, to grasp the importance of your question, because it undercuts your position. The fact is, God’s inspired Word does not rely on us for its inspiration, it does not rely on us for the fact that it is inerrant, and I believe that it is inspired and inerrant. But the fact is, God gave us the Scriptures to be used. Now that presents a problem, because you want to use Scripture, and the only way you can use it is by interpreting it. Now, you are fallible. God’s Word is infallible. The problem is that when you approach God’s Word and you want to interpret it, over against what the Church teaches, you are in effect saying that your interpretation should be trusted. What I want to know is, why should your interpretation be trusted? You talk about men studying for many years. Of course. Catholics study for many years for the same purpose. The fact is, ultimately it comes down to your opinion against someone else’s opinion. We know what the Bible says, Mr. White….
First Question from Patrick Madrid to James White:
Madrid: OK. I don’t think I’ve ever said the phrase “Mr. White” so many times in one space of time. [Laughter]. Mr. White, I’m holding in my hands a copy of an early work known today as the Book of Thomas the Contender. You may be familiar with it. It claims to be written by the Apostle Matthew. You probably would not say that this book belongs in the Bible since, if I opened your Bible, it would probably not have it there. Given your assertion that Scripture is self-authenticating, would you regard this book as self-authenticating? Bear in mind that it attempts to authenticate itself by claiming to have been written by the Apostle Matthew.
White: There are a whole host, of course, of books that were written primarily in the second century, in fact almost all of them were written in the second century, that were gnostic gospels and various other sundry things like that. And we’re being asked, “Well why don’t you accept this as Scripture?” And this all goes back to the whole issue of canon. We need to recognize what’s being said here. We are being told that, “Well, you see, without a church authority you can’t know what the canon is. Without an infallible authority you can’t know what the canon is.” And of course I would say, “Well how do you know it’s an infallible authority to begin with?” because we get on this long, big circle that goes around and around and around and never actually answers the question. Because you might find another church that claims infallible authority up in Salt Lake City that has a different canon than that which Mr. Madrid has. But they claim infallible authority, too.
But, anyways. We are told that—you know, you are asking me why don’t I believe that this is part of Scripture. Well, first of all, I believe canon is determined by inspiration. God is the author of canon. Men are not the author of canon, God is the author of canon. So God is the one who determines the canon. So the issue is not whether this is canonical Scripture or not, the issue is, how do we as human beings recognize what is and what is not inspired Scripture? We need to keep these things straight because there are some people who seem to think that the church has the power to create canon and of course it does not. No council that ever sat in the early church said, “We, by choosing these books, are making them canon Scripture.” They didn’t say that. OK? But in 18 seconds how do I know it’s not? Well, first of all it is contradictory to that which is tqeopneustos (theopneustos”). And since it is contradictory to that which is qeopneustos and inconsistent therewith—it is not testified historically—I do not know of any Christians who ever accepted it. And it is contradictory to that which we have, I don’t accept it as Scripture.
Madrid: As well you shouldn’t, Mr. White, as well you shouldn’t. I found it interesting though that part of your appeal was to tradition. That nasty word again. You said it was not testified to by other Christians. It was not historically regarded as Scripture. Here again Mr. White is engaging in filching Catholic tradition but not admitting that he’s actually taking it. He’s using it, but he won’t admit it. That’s what going on here.
Second of all, he says that without an infallible authority you can’t know what the canon of Scripture is. Well Mr. White says, “This is our only infallible authority.” So Mr. White, here it is. Where does the Bible tell you wish books belong in the Bible? He can’t tell us that. There’s no inspired table of contents. It’s like a dog chasing his tail. He says “I believe Scripture is inspired, it’s the only infallible authority.” Well how do you know that infallibly? Well because the Scripture. Well where does the Scripture tell you that? Well it doesn’t. So he just has to go around in circles and he won’t admit that he’s appealing to the tradition of the church. The fact is he has those 27 books in his Bible because the Catholic Church said those were canonical.
White: I have the 27 books in my Bible because the Holy Spirit of God inspired them long before there was ever a man in Rome who called himself the Vicar of Christ. [Madrid interrupts: No argument, no argument.] The Catholic Church did not give me that in any way, shape, or form. He says I’m filching tradition. No, I love the term tradition. I just don’t like the way that the Roman Catholic Church centuries after the early church redefined it to substantiate their own claims to supremacy! The meaning of the “tradition” in the Bible and the early church is not what the Roman Catholic wants to say it is. It means something completely different. And then he said that I somehow said without an infallible authority you can’t know, or something, I did not even recognize what I supposedly was saying. But we go back again to what’s being said. Mr. Madrid wants to say, “Well, look, you need some golden index here, and you’re relying on me to tell you what Scripture was.” No, I am not relying upon him to tell us what Scripture was. In fact, I think what I’ll do is in my next question I’ll illustrate exactly how that is.
Second Question from James White to Patrick Madrid:
White: Mr. Madrid, I’ve asked you this before. How did the Jewish man 50 years before Jesus Christ know that the books of 2 Chronicles and Isaiah were Scripture? Would you like me to repeat that?
Madrid: No, I think I got that. Thank you. The Jewish man of the 50 year period before Christ knew that that Scripture, 1 and 2 Chronicles, was inspired because the Old Testament church, the Old Testament people of God, regarded it as Scripture. It had the official pedigree of coming from a prophet and it had always been regarded that way. So he would draw not only on what his internal testimony was of what those books say, but he would also base what his position was on what the constant teaching of the Old Testament people was as well. As you remember, they regarded 1 and 2 Chronicles as Scripture. What I’d like to ask you, though, is, and whether we do it now or later, is your choice, later in the debate tonight—is you keep going back to this issue of how does he know, how does he know? Well, that’s what I want to throw back at you. How do you know? Let’s take it out of the Old Testament, Mr. White, and bring it back to the New Testament. And let’s settle once and for all how you know that those 27 books belong in Scripture. How do you know that they are inspired? How do you know Matthew wrote Matthew? What is your authority to know that? If you reject the Catholic Church that’s fine, that’s your choice. I think you do so at your own peril. But if you reject the Catholic Church you have to furnish us with some other source upon which you base your testimony that those words in that Bible—in that 27 books of the Bible—are God’s words.
Now, I don’t want to give anyone the false impression as I think you were trying to do earlier that I believe that the Catholic Church rendered the Bible as inspired. You know that that is not the Catholic position. You know Mr. White that the Catholic Church does not claim to have made the Scriptures canonical simply because she chose those books. That is a red herring. It’s false. The Catholic Church recognized the canon of Scripture. The Catholic Church received the word that was given to her by her husband, Jesus Christ, and as you well know, the Church hears and recognizes the voice of her husband. So it is the Church, Mr. White, I assert, who recognized [Moderator: “Time.”] I have 24 seconds left…the Church recognizes her husband’s voice and she preaches that to the world. You, if you reject the Church, have to fall back on something else. What’ll it be? The Muratorian Fragment? The Church Fathers? This or that Greek scholar, perhaps? Your own personal interpretation? You have to tell us tonight what your authority is, Mr. White.
White: First of all, in sticking to the actual question that I asked, we are told that the Old Testament Church told the man that Isaiah and 2 Chronicles were Scripture. Now that’s interesting, because, does that mean the Old Testament Church was infallible? That is the same Old Testament Church that taught the Korban rule, I think, yes, the same Old Testament Church. Oh, that’s the same Old Testament Church that rejected the Apocryphal books and never believed they were Scripture but you say that they are Scripture and place someone under the anathema that doesn’t believe those things. So I guess the Old Testament Church was fallible which means that you can have a fallible authority to tell you that something is Scripture, because it’s very plain that the Lord Jesus held everyone responsible for reading Scripture. In fact, in Matthew chapter 22, he said to the Sadducees, “But about the resurrection of the dead, have you not read God said to you?” And Mr. Madrid keeps saying, “What’s your authority?” Listen to what Jesus says. He says to these men, “Have you not read what God said to you?” If God speaks to you, you do not ask Him for His business card. God’s Word is theopneustos, it’s His speaking.
Madrid: Mr. White the only thing worse than beating a [White joins Madrid in finishing the sentence in unison] dead horse is beating the wrong dead horse. And I’ve used that line before [White: “Yeah.”], and I wish you had learned from it. You keep going around in circles. You are not giving us an answer. You keep saying that when God speaks to us we know His voice. Well that’s what I said about the Church. And you’d have to show me where the Bible teaches that every individual Christian is going to know and recognize Scripture in all its parts. You talked earlier about the Mormon. Now the Mormon claims that God is witnessing to him. So, Mr. White, this is Mormonism that you are putting forth here. You are asserting that it is your burning in the bosom, perhaps, if you like that phraseology, it’s what you think should be in Scripture. I think ultimately you are like a ship cut adrift—you have no anchor—you have no way of knowing, other than the fact that you accept the Church’s teaching but won’t admit it.
Second Question from Patrick Madrid to James White:
Madrid: Catholics and Protestants agree that Scripture gets its authority from God, and the Holy Spirit witnesses as to which books belong in the Bible, whether He does so corporately, through the Church, or privately, to each individual Christian. Would you admit that by appealing to the witness of the Holy Spirit and by your earlier admission that you would appeal to the testimony of the early Christians, would you admit that you are appealing to something outside of Scripture itself to know with an infallible certitude what Scripture is?
White: It’s very interesting that when sola scriptura is debated against Catholic Answers and others, when the sufficiency of Scripture to function as the sole rule of faith for the Church is established, the argument very quickly turns away from the actual topic of the debate to the issue of, “Well, canon. We need to talk about canon!” They are related issues, but they are not the same issue, and I would be glad to debate canon issues with Mr. Madrid, too. But now Mr. Madrid is saying, “Well, look, you are violating sola scriptura, you’re violating sola scriptura, with regards to the canon of Scripture itself, and hence you are being inconsistent Mr. White. Well you know its interesting, we could with much profit point out that Mr. Madrid’s argument is completely circular, and in fact I will do that in just a moment. But, am I violating sola scriptura to say, for example with reference to the Gospel of Thomas, or some other gnostic writing, of the second century, well, you look at it and you see that it is contradictory to Scripture, and you see that no one has ever believed that it was Scripture, and hence you don’t believe that it is Scripture. Is that a violation of sola scriptura? It seems that Mr. Madrid is saying that it is! [Mr. Madrid interrupts: “I am.”] But is it? Isn’t it interesting that the Apostles themselves utilized the very same standards? For example, Paul in recognizing that there is truth outside of Scripture, quotes from pagan philosophers, but no one would think that Paul was, by citing a pagan philosopher, adding it to the canon of Scripture, was he? No. He didn’t accept it. On what basis? On what basis did Paul or Peter or any of the others, not accept the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha? Because Rome said it didn’t belong there? Because there was some infallible Old Testament Church? Not at all. They did not utilize the standards Mr. Madrid does.
Madrid: Well, I guess that’s your admission that you can’t answer the question, Mr. White. You’ve talked for two minutes about this that and the other, but you haven’t given us the answer to how you know which books you belong in the Bible. You still haven’t said why or how you know. Those 27 books, Mr. White, do have an awful lot to do, I think, with the issue of sola scriptura because if you want to get in front of this audience and say, “The Bible alone,” you’d better be prepared to tell us what the Bible is, and why you accept these books as Scripture. That’s what I want from you, sometime tonight. Just remember, you have a room full of Catholics here tonight. There are some Protestants, but you have a lot of Catholics. Now is your golden opportunity! Now you can show the Catholic world how you arrive at this infallible certitude about Scripture using something outside of Scripture to get to it. That’s your dilemma. And I’m going to hold you to it before the end of the night.
White: It’s very interesting. God worked with God’s people in the Old Testament to bring about the canon of the Old Testament, a canon different than Rome’s by the way. And now we are being told, “Well, God just couldn’t do that in the New Testament. And Mr. White, if you don’t have some infallible authority then you can’t recognize what God says.” Now he wants to make it sound as if what I am saying is that I go out and I get in the lotus position and I go, “Ummmm, is Matthew Scripture?” That’s not what I’m talking about doing. I believe that God does work with His people. I believe that God has always worked with His people. And I do believe that people recognize that which is inspired, but I believe He works with His people as a whole, and they never take that to mean that they have the authority to create canon. But Mr. Madrid, none of this has anything to do with the fact that Scripture says it is sufficient to equip the man of God. And I’m going to hold you to that this evening.
[At this point Mr. White should have been allowed to ask his third question, but Mr. Madrid asked if it was his turn, and the moderator mistakenly allowed him to proceed.]
Madrid: Well since we are holding each other so much tonight Mr. White, I’d like to hold you to that issue, but I would like to inject another element into it which I alluded to before. The Gospel of Matthew nowhere claims to have been written by Matthew, yet you believe it was. Your Bible says it was written by Matthew. We could select John for that matter, or Mark. How do you know that Matthew wrote Matthew, and what is your basis for accepting it? Is it because he was an apostle? Or because he had the approval of an apostle, in the case of Mark or Luke? How do you know? What is your basis?
White: Well again we stray from the topic, but it is a common question that is utilized all the time. Well, how do you know Matthew wrote Matthew? Well, the question I have to ask is since Matthew doesn’t say that Matthew wrote Matthew, do I have to know Matthew wrote Matthew? Where is it said that to be born again you must believe that Matthew wrote Matthew? I haven’t found that, and since the book of Matthew doesn’t say that Matthew wrote Matthew, I don’t recall being told that I had to believe that. Now, do I believe that Matthew wrote Matthew? Ya, I do. You know why? Well, because I study the issue, and I go back and I look at history, and its the same thing with what was said earlier on. Mr. Madrid, you accused me of violating sola scriptura because I exegeted the passage in the original languages! “Look, he’s not appealing to the Bible, he’s appealing to the Greek!” Well what was the Bible written in? That’s what I am appealing to. So, when we look at John, for example, you can examine the Gospel of John, and you can . . . there’s all sorts of discussions about . . . pointing out how the identity of John is revealed in the Gospel of John. But there are people who disagree with that. And it is not something that means that I am going to call that person a non-Christian if he says, “Well, I’m not really sure that Matthew wrote Matthew.”
Now, did Matthew write Matthew? I certainly think so. There’s a lot of good evidence for it. But does that mean that I’m violating sola scriptura to go back and examine church documents and examine church history and examine the text? No, of course not! That’s not a violation of sola scriptura at all. And so you say, “Well, you can’t know that Matthew wrote Matthew unless the Roman Catholic Church tells you so!” Well, that’s interesting, because Christians knew, or claimed to know, that Matthew wrote Matthew long before there even existed a Roman Catholic Church, or even existed anyone in Rome who claimed to infallibly speak for Christ! So I’m not sure how they managed to do that, and if they did manage to do that, why can’t I do that tonight? Well, I guess I can’t.
Madrid: Mr. White the reason its a commonly utilized question by Catholic apologists is because you can’t answer the question, just as you just demonstrated right now. You don’t have any answer for the question. How do you know Matthew wrote Matthew? You gave us your hunch, based upon your study, although you’ve never seen the actual autographs, as I have not seen them—none of us in the room have seen them. You’re relying, by the way, on that transmission of an accurate transmission of those documents by the Catholic Church, Mr. White. [White: “Not at all.”] By the Catholic Church down through the ages, it can be demonstrated very conclusively. You are relying on that but you won’t admit it. You say that you don’t have to know why or if Matthew wrote Matthew. I find that very curious. Because if it can’t be established that this book was written by an apostle under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then why should we accept it at all? After all, this book [referring to the Gospel of Thomas he had referred to earlier] claims to be written by an apostle, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and you say we should not accept it. And I don’t see any substantive difference between your saying we shouldn’t accept this one and we should accept this one. The only connection is that you don’t have an answer for either.
White: I’m tired of it being said that I’m not answering questions after I answer them, but I’d invite anyone to take this book, take a look at it, and then read the Gospel of Matthew and reflect upon Mr. Madrid’s recent words that there is no difference in what I’m saying between the two. There most obviously is. But again, who is the author of canon? I have answered the question. Who is the author of canon? Men or God? Is it Rome or God? It is God. So the question is, recognizing that which is inspired, not infallibly determining who wrote the Gospel of Matthew. Now I would return the question to you. In fact that is what I’m going to do in just a moment. You keep saying, “Well, without this infallible authority. . . .” Mr. Madrid, how do you know that Rome is infallible? I can show you fallible, fallible, fallible statements over and over and over again from Roman Pontiffs. They’ve made many mistakes. So how do you know that? You’re using an argument that is circular, and goes back to what is used by everyone, and saying, well, I’m the final authority, which is really what Rome is claiming.
[ Discussion about how lost both debaters, and the moderator, are as to who has asked how many questions. Decided (wrongly) that each has one question left to ask. ]
White: Well, Mr. Madrid, I guess I’ll just have to ask the question I was just asking. I’m going to turn the question back on you now. I don’t think it’s necessarily on sola scriptura. But, how do you know that the Roman Catholic Church upon which you can trust?
Madrid: This is how I know, Mr. White. I can look independent of what I see in Scripture. In fact, I’m not going to even treat Scripture as an inspired document for the moment, just for the sake of argument. I’m going to look at whether or not a man named Jesus Christ lived. Can I prove that historically? Yes. Can I prove that Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead and appeared to many people who as eyewitnesses claimed that He died and rose from the dead? I can prove that. In two minutes I can’t prove it for your satisfaction, but I think we would all agree that those things are true. I can demonstrate through non-Christian, unbiased sources, in fact sometimes actually biased against the Christian position, that Jesus Christ instituted a church. We can look at the writings of these early Christians, not only the apostles but also the men and women in the post-apostolic era. I can look at the Scripture and see what, independent of whether or not I believe it is inspired, I can look and see a description of the church that Jesus established. All of you know the verse in Matthew 16 verse 18, “On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Mr. White and I would argue all night long over what the rock is, but the fact is Jesus established a church. The next point is that as I look at Scripture I see that the church is described as having certain functions, certain attributes, certain characteristics, certain jobs that it has to perform, and I can compare and find out, well, historically, yes, I can show that that was done, through the writing of the Scriptures. So if I believe that Jesus is God, and I believe that His promise is true that He founded a church, then I have to say, this is the next step, I have to say, does that church, is there a church today which fits that description which is doing all the things that Jesus said. If that’s true, if I can find that, and I have, by the way, it’s the Catholic Church, then I know that what is described here in this book is the same church that I see today. So when that church tells me, Jesus said in Luke 10:16, “He who listens to you listens to Me, he who refuses to hear you refuses to hear Me,” when I hear that Church speak I know that it is Jesus speaking through the church.
White: God’s ultimate authority is determined at the end of the longest, most easily contested chain of syllogistic arguments? That is how one knows God’s ultimate authority is through a process—you’ll find this on pages 126 through 127 of Karl Keating’s book—I think very well done by Mr. Madrid in repeating it—it ends with the statement “The Catholic believes in inspiration because the Church tells him so—that is putting it bluntly—and that same Church has the authority to interpret the inspired text.” That is where the ultimate authority lies? I could dispute, quite easily, factually, Biblically, and historically, ever single step that he just took! That is what’s being presenting to us tonight as to what is to replace the Christian recognizing the Scripture as God-breathed and hence accepting God’s speaking in His Word and the testimony of Jesus Christ as the ultimate authority? That is what we are to replace that with? I certainly hope no one is willing to do that.
Madrid: Well Mr. White, I think the essence of this argument boils down to one issue. In my case I’m appealing to the church to tell me that this Scripture is what it claims to be. That Matthew wrote it. That it came from the apostles in the case of the other books. That it’s trustworthy. That its inerrant. I believe all of that because the church witnesses to me that it’s so. But I see that you have the same problem. You in a sense caricature, or have a pejorative comment for my appeal to authority. Well you have the same problem, Mr. White. You appeal to this authority independent of its context in the church, and say that you just know that it’s inspired, you just know that it’s God’s Word, but you haven’t given us any evidence for that knowledge. You haven’t pointed us in any direction other than your own personal studies, or your Biblical lexicons that you may turn to. But as we all know, Mr. White, you are fallible. Your opinion on this issue, I’m afraid, is worthless. I want to know with certitude. And I would much rather trust the church that has taught for 2000 years than what you say about the Bible.
Fourth Question from Mr. Madrid to Mr. White.
Madrid: Mr. White, you claim that sola scriptura is true, or pardon me, your claim that sola scriptura is true requires you to say that all apostolic traditions, or at least all of them that the church was meant to have, are recorded in Scripture. Thus far tonight you have merely made this assertion, but you haven’t cited any verses to prove it. Please cite for us some texts from Scripture requiring us to say that all such traditions which are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, and elsewhere, that all these traditions must be written down.
White: It seems, Mr. Madrid, you weren’t listening to my presentation very closely because I mentioned 2 Thessalonians 3:6, that uses the term tradition, that refers to back to what Paul had written in 1 Thessalonians 5:14. There are numerous others such as 1 Corinthians 11:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:5, and 2 Peter 1:12-15, that all make the same point, and that is, that what is preached by the individuals that are writing, for example, Peter or Paul, what was preached to them is now consistent with what they themselves are saying. For example, in 1 Corinthians 11 he says that he has delivered to them that which he has also received. He has delivered it to them in both ways, as 2 Thessalonians says, he has preached it to them, he has written it to them.
But I want everyone to notice what is going on here. It is the Roman assertion that what is in these supposed apostolic traditions is different than what we have in the New Testament. Mr. Madrid just says it’s my job to prove that what’s in the apostolic traditions is the same. Well wait a minute, wait a minute. Who here is alleging the necessity of some separate source of information? It’s Mr. Madrid. And so I want to turn it around to Mr. Madrid, and say, Mr. Madrid, I challenge you demonstrate on the basis of Scripture that was is in your supposed traditions is what is referred to in places like 2 Thessalonians 2:15 or 2 Timothy 2:2! That is a challenge that I have laid before many a Roman Catholic apologist and have not received an answer to. It is the assumption that underlies the position. And that assumption must be addressed.
The simple fact of the matter is we see in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 that the tradition that he speaks of there is the gospel of Jesus Christ! And you can’t tell me that’s not contained in the pages of Scripture! And hence you show me a tradition, sir, an apostolic tradition, that is binding upon Christians, that is not found in the pages of the New Testament. Show us that apostolic tradition that we are told we must follow, that we must accept, and then we can move from there.
Madrid: OK, Mr. White, I’ll be happy to take you up on your challenge, and here it is. This canon of the New Testament is part of apostolic tradition, it is not found in Scripture, and it is binding. You believe in a closed canon. You believe that if we add to the word of God, we are committing a sin. You would believe that the Mormons are wrong for adding the Book of Mormon to the word of God. You believe that revelation ceased at the death of the last apostle. Now, the canon of Scripture is something that I promised to hold you to, which you have not yet addressed, at least you haven’t given us an answer. That is one apostolic tradition that is binding, Mr. White, and its not found in Scripture. It’s divine revelation, and it’s binding on the consciences of Christians, who as you would say, hear the voice of their Savior and recognize it, there it is. How do you answer that?
White: Well it’s quite easy. Well it’s quite easy. First of all an apostolic tradition must exist since the time of the apostles, but Mr. Madrid has been telling us that we had to wait until the end of the fourth century until we knew what the canon of Scripture was! How did that happen? Remember, apostolic traditions in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 are what? Already delivered. So your timing is all off. Furthermore, Mr. Madrid, the apostles did not believe that the Apocrypha was inspired Scripture, so you seemingly are going against what you call a binding apostolic tradition. And so I say no, you have not accomplished this. I challenge a Roman Catholic: show me where the Thessalonians were taught the Bodily Assumption of Mary. Trace it through history. Show me where the Thessalonians were taught these doctrines that Roman Catholicism has defined on the basis of tradition. Show me where they believed in the authority of the bishop of Rome as the infallible Vicar of Christ. The early Church did not believe that! They had no idea of that doctrine, and yet Paul says that these traditions were already delivered. Where are they? No, they were not already delivered, Rome has made them up over time.
James White: The only reason you didn’t applaud was because you’re too hot to move your arms.
This evening we gathered to debate the issue, “Does the Bible Teach the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura?” And I have, in my opening statements, and in my comments that came afterwards, done my best to make sure that we stick to that subject. But despite my best attempts we have gone into all sorts of other issues. We’ve gone into hearing the Roman Catholic say that he believes the Bible is inspired because the church tells him so, which of course is a very circular argument—the church claims to have authority ’cause it appeals to Scripture, but it says that Scripture is inspired because the church says so, and so it’s a very circular thing. They’ve tried to call it “spiral” but, spirals are circles depending on which direction you look at it from. So it’s a very circular argument that is being presented to us in regards to the position taken by Mr. Madrid, and I would like to submit to you, please thing about it: all the objections that Mr. Madrid has raised in regards to canon issues and so on and so forth, if they are valid, are equally valid against himself. And an argument that you use that, when turned on your own position, destroys your own position, is not a valid argument. It’s not a valid argument.
What have we heard from Mr. Madrid in regards to my presentation on 2 Timothy 3:16-17? Well, we’ve heard, “Well, you’re trusting in Greek lexicons!” No, I’m not trusting in Greek lexicons. Mr. Madrid said that I brought all this fancy Greek stuff but Mr. Madrid brought the Bible. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew with a little bit of Aramaic thrown in there for good measure. The New Testament was written in Greek. And all I did was I went to what Paul said and demonstrated that what Paul said teaches the doctrine. Mr. Madrid has provided us with no counter citations. He has provided us no reason to think that the Protestant scholars I cited were in any way unfair, biased, going over board. He’s provided us with no Catholic scholars that say “Oh no, the [tape was changed at this point and some words were lost]. . . . exartizw means, he’s provided us with none of that.
At the beginning of the debate I laid out what I had to do. I had to demonstrate that the Bible is a rule of faith, that it teaches it’s sufficient to function as the sole rule of faith, and that it in fact teaches that it does function in that way, and I did those three things. So what was Mr. Madrid’s response? Well, he’s gone off after every other topic there is to go after. Canon issues, . . . and “Well how do you know that” type of situations. And well wait a minute, let’s go back to what the Scripture said. And the Scripture says, the Scriptures are sufficient for the man of God for doing the works of God.
Now, I want to take the time, since I promised it over and over again, to walk you through a passage that I think will help us to understand this, and this is 2 Thessalonians 2:15. I hope you’ll turn with me there, even though it’s late in the evening, I hope you’ll still turn with me there. Starting at verse 13, “But we ought to give thanks to God always for you, brothers loved by the Lord, for God chose you from the beginning for salvation through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through faith in the truth. Unto which he called you by our gospel, so that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast in traditions which you were taught either by word or by letter of ours.” What do we have here? This is really the primary passage that is utilized by Roman apologists to defend the concept of the oral tradition. We’re told, “Well see, what you’ve got here is you’ve got oral tradition and you’ve got written tradition, the two-fold tradition, just like we’ve always been saying.” This is a command to stand firm and hold fast a single body of traditions already delivered to the believers. There is nothing future about the passage. The Thessalonians have already heard what Paul has preached. This is a single body of traditions that is taught in two ways–orally, that is when Paul was personally with the Thessalonians and he preached to them, and by Epistles, that being the first letter to the Thessalonians.
Now what does orally refer to? For the Roman Catholic to use this passage to support his position, two things must be established. First, that the oral element refers to a specific passing on of revelation to the power of the episcopate and secondly, that what is passed on is different in substance from what is found in the New Testament. With reference to the first issue, we know that the context of the passage is the Gospel message itself. Look again at verses 13 and 14 and how Paul speaks of God’s work of salvation in the Gospel. The traditions of which Paul speak are not traditions about Mary or papal infallibility. Instead, the traditions Paul is talking about is simply the Gospel message itself. Note what he said in his first epistle to the Thessalonians about what he had spoken to them. “And for this reason, (I Thessalonians 2:13) we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of man but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” This is God-breathed revelation. And notice also that if we do a terrible thing and look at the Greek in this passage, the term stekete, that is translated as “standing firm” here in II Thessalonians 2:15, is used by Paul elsewhere. For example, in 1 Corinthians 16:13, notice what it says, “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be men of courage, be strong.” Paul exhorts the Corinthians to stand firm in what? In the faith. That is the context of his statement in II Thessalonians 2:15 as well. There is nothing in the passage that even begins to cause a person to think when Paul taught orally that’s when he must have taught them about the oral traditions, about Mary, the Immaculate Conception, the bodily assumption, and Papal infallibility, even though there probably wasn’t even a bishop in Rome at the time. But he passed it on anyways, and then that was passed on down through the power of the Epistles. That is what we are being asked to believe and I don’t believe it. And I don’t have any reason to believe it.
The same thing happens when we look at Matthew 23, another passage that is frequently used by Roman Catholics in regards to the issue of well, here’s a passage that violates sola scriptura. In Matthew 23 you have the discussion of Moses’ seat. It has been alleged the concept of Moses’ seat in Matthew 23:1-7 is the passage that I would ask you to read, that it is in fact a refutation of the concept of sola scriptura. Not only is this concept not found in the Old Testament, but Jesus is alleged (550) this extra-biblical tradition. Is this sound exegesis? Is this passage being properly understood when used this way?
First we note that the passage has spawned a plethora of differing understanding among scholars, including Roman Catholic scholars. But a few items immediately remove the Roman apologists’ interpretation and application from consideration. First, Moses’ seat refers to the seat in front of the synagogue, on which the teacher of the law sat while reading the Scriptures. Some scholars dispute that but most say that that’s the case. Synagogue worship, of course, came into being long after Moses’ day and so those who attempt to make this an oral tradition going back to Moses are engaging in wishful thinking. Beyond this, we are here only speaking of a position that existed at this time in the synagogue worship of the day. Are we truly to believe that this position was divine in origin and hence binding upon all who would worship God? It certainly doesn’t seem the New Testament churchans do it this way because the New Testament church did not adopt it and did not have Moses’ seat.
We first note that interpreters such as Urimeus and Carson would view this passage as engaging in biting irony. Read the rest of this passage and it is harsh, harsh stuff. The Jewish leaders have presumed to sit in Moses’ seat, suggested by (573) and Zahn, focusing on the use of the aorist tense of the verb, “to sit.” They sat themselves in this place but not properly. Such an understanding is entirely in line with the context, but I am more prone to accept Gundry’s understanding in which he says the following, “So long as sitting in Moses’ seat qualifies the speaking of the scribes and Pharisees all things whatever does not include their interpretive tradition, but emphasizes the totality of the law. They do keep their traditions. They do not practice what they speak while sitting on Moses’ seat. Hence their traditions are not in view. Though elsewhere Matthew is concerned to criticize the scribes’ and Pharisees’ interpretations of the law, here he concerned with the necessity of keeping the law itself. As usual, his eye is on the anti-nomianism of the church.”
So, what do we have here? Jesus simply refuses to overthrow the current form of worship that is engaged in the synagogue at this time because there is nothing in it like there was in the Korban rule that violated the Scriptures. But we know, and from Matthew 15, that all traditions were held up to what standard by the Lord Jesus Christ? Oh, but the Roman Catholic says, “Oh, but those are human traditions, ours aren’t.” The Jews didn’t believe the Korban rule was a human tradition. They didn’t believe that the rules in Matthew 15 about washing the hands. Those were the traditions of the elders. They have divine authority. Well, Rome claims the same thing. And I say to you, that we must take their traditions and examine them by Scripture, just as Jesus taught in Matthew 15. For example, the Roman Catholic Pontiff has taught the following, I guess this would fall under the concept of sacred tradition, “Consequently we declare, state, define and pronounce that it is altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” That’s interesting. There are hundreds of years when there was no Roman Pontiff. Oh, there’s always been a bishop of Rome. Well, that’s not actually the case, sometimes there were three. But the point is there was hundreds of years when the bishop of Rome never claimed what Rome teaches about him today. So how could anyone have been saved? I don’t know. The point is you examine what this thing says in light of what? Do you just simply bow down before it and say, “Well, that’s my ultimate authority, so therefore I accept it?” Or do you examine the tradition in the light of Scripture and do what the Lord Jesus said to do in Matthew 15.
The debate this evening was on whether the Bible teaches sola scriptura. Not on canon issues, not on how the Church recognizes inspiration. And the reason that I focused so much in my presentation upon that very issue is because basically I knew that’s what Mr. Madrid wanted. At least I thought so. Mr. Madrid didn’t want to go off into all sorts of church history stuff and so on and so forth. And so I focused my presentation on where the Bible teaches it because Catholic Answers keeps asking, “Show us one verse,” and when we do what do they do? What has been the response in showing Mr. Madrid the one verse? The response has been, “Well, that’s just Protestant scholars, that’s just fancy Greek, I brought the Bible.” No, my friends, remember the pieces of the debate and ask yourself the question: Has Mr. Madrid refuted 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and Matthew 15. If he has not, no matter what other neat things he said, he has not actually engaged the debate. That is where it lies and I am going to challenge it to him again in his closing statements. Focus on the issue and deal with those passages. Thank you very much.
Madrid: I’d like to close my remarks with a word of thanks, first of all, to all of you for your patience in this warm room. The still air, I know, has been uncomfortable for all of us, but I’m grateful for your sitting here and being willing to wait through all of these arguments. I’d also like to thank you, Pastor Wagner. I know that hospitality is hard to come by these days and I appreciate you inviting us into your church this evening. I need to cover a couple of points of old business before I move into my formal remarks.
First of all, I want to clarify something that I think Mr. White misunderstood. I did not earlier in the debate issue a challenge to him for another debate. And I don’t want him or anyone else to make the mistake of thinking that I am thundering challenges to debate. I said earlier that that issue that we had talked about could be debated at a future point but I didn’t specify by whom. So, please don’t misunderstand that remark as I think Mr. White did.
Second of all, I have not gone after all sorts of other issues. If you remember, I’m not the one who brought up the chair of Moses. I am not the one who brought up tradition. I am not the one who brought up the Church contradicting itself. I am not the one who brought up any of those things. Mr. White did. None of those things have to do with whether or not the Bible teaches sola scriptura. He obfuscated, I’m afraid. He brought up issues which he claims are related to whether or not the Bible teaches sola scriptura, but I don’t think they are. And yet, the fundamental issue that has to, on which his position has to pivot, is can you tell me with a certainty what the Bible is? And Mr. White has failed, utterly failed to give us an answer as to what his reason is for knowing that those 27 books belong in the New Testament. We’re not talking about the canon of the Old Testament, Mr. White. We all know that there is dispute on that issue. Lets deal on the issue we do agree with–the 27 books of the New Testament. He has not answered that question. Don’t forget that.
Mr. White likes to, in his closing remarks, say that I did not stick to the issue and that I did not deal with his translation or his interpretation of II Timothy 3:16-17. I did deal with it, and as he is fond of saying, roll the tapes back for yourself and look at what I said and look at how I showed that he was misapplying the meaning. He was seeing a meaning in II Timothy 3:17 that’s not there. That he was saying that it implies that the man of God is sufficient, yet he excludes the role of the Church in helping that man of God properly use that equipment that he’s given. Oh, yes, I did answer that question. I did deal with that verse. And Mr. White can say anything he wants, but really the burden of proof tonight is not on him or me, it’s on you, because you’re the one that has to stand before God some day. You’re the one who has to be judged on the basis of whether or not you accepted His word or rejected.
You’ve heard the truth tonight about sola scriptura. You’ve heard that it’s false. You’ve heard that it can’t be established in Scripture. No matter all the fancy gyrations and all the other things that Mr. White engages in, he simply has not proven the issue. At least he has not to my satisfaction. I don’t believe he has proven it to the satisfaction of any honest person in this room who is willing to say, “Is there a verse which teaches sufficiency?” II Timothy 3:16-17 does not teach sufficiency, folks. I think we’ve shown that.
Second of all, I think Mr. White, as I listen to his arguments, he’s very reminiscent of Wiley Coyote, you know. I feel like the Roadrunner tonight. Here we have Mr. White as Wiley Coyote springing all these traps for me, trying to bring me down. He’s got this ACME box of anti-Catholic arguments that he can use. But notice that just like Wiley Coyote Mr. White is thwarted at every turn. He holds up the Bible and says , “This disproves Mr. Madrid’s position,” but he can’t even tell us what is in the Bible–whether or not it’s supposed to be there. He can’t tell us with certainty what the Bible is and how he knows that that is the Bible.
He unbelievably spent a lot of time in II Thessalonians 2:15, so in my remaining moments let me please just address that. Mr. White made a number of errors, a number of blunders. Let me point out a few of them.
1.) He argues that all tradition must be separate from Scripture. No, that’s not the case. If he had been listening carefully he would have heard what I said in my opening remarks that the Catholic position is the material sufficiency of Scripture. Everything that is taught in all tradition is found at least implicitly, if not explicitly, in Scripture. Now, Mr. White may dispute the Scriptures that I’ll bring up to prove those doctrines but that’s a different issue. The fact is, it doesn’t have to be separate from Scripture. It doesn’t have to be something that’s outside of Scripture in the sense that he is talking about.
Second of all, he asked for examples of revelation which is binding and is found outside of Scripture. I gave him several. One of them, which he hasn’t answered, is the canon of Scripture. That’s an apostolic tradition. The reason it’s an apostolic tradition is because the apostles told the Church, “Hey, I wrote this book.” That sounds to me like an apostolic tradition, Mr. White. And it was preserved by the Church and Mr. White follows it and he accepts it but he won’t admit it. That’s the key thing for you to remember.
In II Thessalonians 2:6-7 Paul alludes to something that he doesn’t explain. He says that there is something restraining the man of lawlessness. And then he says to the Thessalonians, “You know what I’m talking about.” I don’t think Mr. White could establish from Scripture alone what Paul is talking about. That’s found in tradition. The early church fathers are very clear as to what Paul was talking about was the rule of law, civil law, civil society and the order that it establishes, holding back the man of sin. Now, we could debate that issue, but that is, in fact, in apostolic tradition, that is preserved outside of Scripture.
Mr. White says there’s no evidence that Paul intended for all traditions to be continued. But Paul said in II Thessalonians 2:15, “Stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you have been given.” Now I want to address that, because I that’s where Mr. White really failed.
1.) The word that Paul used there is paradoseis. That implies handing on. That means handing on. The Latin word, the Latin cognate for that is tradere, the Latin infinitive verb, and that means “to hand on.” So the very word that Paul is using implies a continuation of this.
Mr. White would be hard-pressed to harmonize his interpretation of this passage with Paul’s express command to hand on tradition in II Corinthians 2:2. How is he going to explain that? Paul says,. “Hand on this tradition” and it’s oral. We’re not denying that Scripture is part of tradition. We’re not denying that Scripture is part of the tradition that the Church handed on. Mr. White is denying that all tradition plays a part but he’s going smack dab in the face of what Scripture says.
Finally, Mr. White, you made a lot of emphasis about the word, stekete and you said that if, or at least you implied, that this means that this oral tradition is not to be handed on any further. It once for all delivered and that’s it. Well, notice the problem with that. If this disproves the continuation of handing on this oral tradition, it also disproves the handing on of the written tradition as well, because in that passage, Paul says stand firm and hold fast to both. stekete. Stand there. Hold onto it. So if that disproves the transmission of oral teaching, it also disproves the continuation of written teaching as well.
The problem of the canon was brought up many times and Mr. White did not address that.
I think that in my closing remarks I’d like to focus on something that all of you are familiar with and all of you know, at least down in your heart of hearts, is at least an indication that sola scriptura is not true. You can open your Yellow Pages when you get home tonight and look at all the different so-called Bible-believing denominations which claim to go by the Bible alone, none of which agree on not only the essentials, I mean not only the non-essential issues, but also the essential issues. Salvation. Can you lose it once you get it? What about infant baptism? What about the Lord’s Supper. What about baptismal regeneration, Mr. White? Whole segments of Protestantism disagree with you that issue. What about tongues and prophesy and miracles? B.B. Warfield, one of your mentors, wrote vociferously against that. Many Protestants hold to it. What about the perpetual virginity of Mary? Luther and Calvin believed in her perpetual virginity. Mr. White doesn’t. There is confusion reigning among Protestantism, all of them claiming to go by the Bible alone and none of them being able to meet entirely on what the Bible means. Now Jesus, pardon me, Paul said in I Corinthians 1:10, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” Sola scriptura has been a blueprint for anarchy, folks. Just trace the historical record back to the time of the Reformation and look at all the competing sects that have arisen.
In my final minute I want to say that I didn’t come here to win arguments, I came here to share the truth. I came here to invite you all to the fullness of the truth which is found in the Catholic Church. And I’d like to use the words of a famous Catholic apologist, Edmund Campion, who is a priest. He was formerly a Protestant, then he converted to the Catholic church. He wrote this letter and I hope you’ll give me a couple seconds over–if I go over 10 or 15 seconds. [Discussion about how much time is left. The moderator informs Mr. Madrid that 2 minutes are remaining.] I would like to use his words to make my own tonight because I know that many of you are not Catholic and I know that many of you run the risk of going to Hell if you do not accept the truth that Jesus Christ is offering to you. If you leave this room tonight and you suppress the doubt that may be in your heart about what Mr. White is saying tonight or the questioning that may be in your heart about whether or not the Catholic Church is the true church, you have to answer to God at some point. You don’t have to answer to me or Mr. White. I’m inviting you to consider, to study, to pray about the Catholic position. No, Mr. White, I don’t mean that in the Mormon sense of the word. I mean that in the Biblical sense of the word. Here’s what Edmund Campion said. I say this to all of you and I also say it respectfully and with some affection for Mr. White.
“Many innocent hands are lifted up to Heaven for you daily by those Catholics around the world, those Catholic apologists whose posterity shall never die, which beyond the seas gathering virtue and sufficient knowledge for the purpose are determined never to give you over but either to win you for Heaven or to die upon your pikes. Be it known to you that we have made a league, all the Catholics in the world, whose succession and multitude must overarch all practices of the Protestant world. We cheerfully will carry the cross you shall lay upon us and never despair for your recovery. While we have a man left to enjoy your (842) or to be wrapped up in your torments, or consumed with your prisons, the expense is reckoned, the enterprise has begun, it is of God, it cannot be withstood. So the faith was planted, so it must be restored. If these my offers tonight be refused and my endeavors can take no place, and I, having run thousands of miles to do you good, shall be rewarded with rigor, I have no more to say but to recommend your case and mine to Almighty God, the searcher of hearts who sends us His grace and set us in accord before the day of payment. To the end, we may at last be friends in Heaven when all injuries shall be forgotten.”
I pray tonight that you don’t leave this alone here and that you continue to search for the truth and I hope to see all of you in Heaven some day. Thank you very much.