John Hallman, a regular commentator here, gives me many of my article ideas. I really do appreciate it as it gives me a real argument to work out and show the flaws of some Protestants' arguments. In the Facebook comments section of my article The Church and Authority: Part 3, John said “If we adhere to the Word of God, which is solely contained in the only God-inspired source we have, the Bible, we are true Christians.” The implication here is that Catholics are not Christian because they do not believe that the Bible is the sole, God-inspired source we have. Maybe I will get a list from him of what all constitutes to be a Christian, since I thought faith alone sufficed in his theology.
*The Protestant Argument:
Premise 1: In order to be a true Christian you have to believe that the Bible is the sole, God-inspired source we have.
Premise 2: Catholics do not believe that the Bible is the sole, God-inspired source we have.
Conclusion: Therefore Catholics are not Christian.
First off, nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Bible is the sole, God-inspired source we have. This is a traditional construct of man which contradicts the Bible. The burden of proof lays with John on this. He must demonstrate that the Bible is the only source of the Word of God. Secondly, the question we actually need to answer is whether the Word of God is only contained in the Bible. John himself doesn’t even believe this (in words yes, in practice not really) but for arguments sake we will answer it.
The Bible itself indicates that the Word of God is contained in Scripture:
2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (KJV)
2 Peter 3:15-16: “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (KJV)
The Bible itself indicates that the Word of God is contained in Tradition as well (both Old and New Testament):
Matthew 4:4: “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (KJV)
1 Thessalonians 2:13: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” (KJV)
There are many more references to “Word of God” or “Word of the Lord” that refer to tradition and I could add more here but I want to keep this short.** In fact, I had a tougher time trying to find Scripture passages that referred to the Word of God as Scripture rather than what Catholics call Tradition.
Some may say that Sacred Tradition contradicts the Scriptures because they tell two us different doctrine such as Sola Fide and the necessity of works and faith to be saved. Those that hold that Sola Fide is what the Scriptures teach also say that Catholics commit eisegesis and read our beliefs into the text.
***The New Protestant Argument:
Premise 1: Catholics pull interpretations of Scripture from Sacred Tradition.
Premise 2: Catholic interpretation contradicts the Protestant interpretation.
Conclusion: Therefore, Catholics commit eisegesis by reading Sacred Tradition into Scripture.
The conclusion assumes that the Catholic interpretation is wrong (begging the question) but the Protestant interpretation could be very well wrong instead. In fact, since Catholics are pulling from the Word of God in Sacred Tradition, in order to better understand Scripture because “some things in them hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16), it makes more sense that this is not a case of eisegesis since the interpretation is already contained within the text since the Word of God cannot contradict itself. The Protestant has put himself in a position that they now have to refute Sacred Tradition as being the Word of God or 2 Peter 3:16 as being untrue. Protestants try to do both by saying Scripture is easy to understand and not accepting Sacred Tradition.
Protestants also have no problem saying the Scripture has been preserved and is inspired by God. I do not disagree with them (in as much as the copyist has correctly translated them) however, if God can preserve Scripture then surely he can preserve Sacred Tradition as well. This would make sense since both are the Word of God.
In closing, it would seem remiss to hold “Christianity” hostage over something that directly contradicts the Bible. In order for a “Bible only” belief to be true it must be contained within the Bible itself. As we see, this belief cannot be contained in the Bible because the Word of God is more than just the Bible itself. Instead, as I pointed out above, this runs contrary to Scripture, it would actually make more sense that those who held the “Bible Only” belief were not Christians since they are acting in contradiction to Scripture. Luckily for them, we Catholics still call them our brothers and sisters in Christ and show charity which we do not receive from some of them. It also makes sense to use the Word of God (Sacred Tradition) to understand the Word of God (Holy Scripture). To not do so would render much more confusion than is necessary as we see with somewhere around 30,000 different Christian traditions.
Premise 1: The Word of God is not contradictory
Premise 2: Scripture is the Word of God and should be used for Doctrine and morals.
Premise 3: Tradition is the Word of God and should be used for Doctrine and morals.
Conclusion: Therefore, both Scripture and Tradition are the Word of God and should be equally used (for Doctrine and morals) and do not contradict one another.
*Argument courtesy of implications of John Hallman’s comments.
**If you would like these verses, feel free to ask in the comments section and I will post them.
*** Argument courtesy of Jim Drickamer.
If you have a suggestion for an apologetic article please leave a comment and I will do my best to get to it or a similar topic. I will also credit you with the question