One of the claims we sometimes hear from Rome’s apologists these days is that the Scriptures are materially sufficient, but that they are not formally sufficient. This sounds better, no doubt, than simply saying that the Scriptures are “insufficient.” In a series of posts, Pastor David King and I (TurretinFan) are exploring the topic of the sufficiency of scripture in the backdrop of Roman Catholic claims to the contrary. In fact, we were spurred on to do this series based on a challenge from one of the contributors of a popular Roman Catholic blog. The series is on-going, with one more post planned.
At present, we have introduced the topic and explained what the Reformed position is. This is probably the most key part of the series, in that our Roman opponents would prefer that our position would be something like “there is no place for the church,” or “the church does not help us interpret Scripture,” or something like that. Of course, our position has a very high view of the church – it just does not make the church the rule of faith and life – the ultimate authority. Instead, our rule of faith and life is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.
The second post in the series is really the next most important post. Having identified what our position is, in the second post we explain that what we believe is what the Scriptures teach. Scripture’s own testimony as to its own clarity and illuminating power are conclusive. It is readily apparent from Scripture that Scripture teaches its own formal sufficiency.
The next four posts set forth the early Christian and patristic era testimonies. They show that what we say about Scripture, what Scriptures says about itself, was recognized and understood in the early church, both in the East and West. What we hope yet to provide is a post addressing “scholarly” opinions on the subject. After all, some of our theologically opponents (especially those who cannot handle the Scriptural arguments or patristic evidence) like to claim that if what we are saying is true, we are the first to make this observation.
In any event, I just want to share these posts with those who have an interest in Sola Scriptura, both as it relates to explaining the Reformed position, as well as defending it from Scripture, and showing that historical theology abundantly demonstrates that it was the view of the early church.
Introduction – Explanation of Formal Sufficiency
Scripture’s Own Testimony Regarding Formal Sufficiency
Early Christian Writers (1st – 2nd Centuries)
Third Century Fathers
Fourth Century Fathers
Fifth Century Fathers – This section is actually quite massive (larger than the preceding sections combined).
There are also a couple of miscellaneous posts on the same theme. One relates to a view of “Partim-Partim Sufficiency” that is of less interest these days, since Rome’s advocates argue for Material Sufficiency (Rome has yet to tell them which – of the two opposing views held within their ranks – is correct). The other post makes the point that if you deny formal sufficiency, you’re basically insulting Jesus, the same way you would be if you said he had a speech impediment. Jesus can and does speak clearly to us in Scripture, telling us what we need to know to be saved.
To the Glory of God!