11. A Dialogue with a “Bible-only” Christian on Sola Scriptura
David: John 3:3,6 explains the meaning of john3:3,5 Go one more verse. jesus is not talking about baptisum with ordinary water, he is talking about the water at birth.
J. Salza: David, you don't know what Jesus is talking about because you weren't there when John wrote John 3:5,6. The only way you can know what John meant is by asking John. But John died, so that is not possible. So what do you do? The
next best thing is to read the writings of those John taught about John 3:5. For example, John directly taught Polycarp, who taught Ireneaus. These two men write that John 3:5 is about water baptism. So, who am I to believe? You? Or the men that the Apostle John directly taught?
If you read the early Church Fathers, they were unanimous in their belief that John 3:5 was about water baptism. So David, you need to interpret the Scriptures in light of the teaching tradition and authority of the Catholic Church who gave you the Scriptures.
David: I think your a little confused about who gave the scripture! God is the only who gives scripture! and he is the only one who gave it, not the catholic church. The bible is the word of god! not the word of the catholic church. The catholic church is not the one who saved the scripture for the rest of us over the century's. It is god who save the scripture, not the pope. I talk to a few catholics and asked then if they even read there bible "They said no". Then I ask them if they know anything about the "CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH" they said no, they never even heard of it! Then I asked them if they would like to know what it saids? They said "not really". I read it and I know more than they do, and I'm not even catholic.
J. Salza: David, you are misunderstanding my point. God is the author of Sacred
Scripture. The Catholic Church even teaches that the Holy Ghost dictated the words to the sacred authors. The Bible is the infallible Word of God. That is not the issue.
The issue is: How do you know what are the inspired Scriptures? The Bible doesn't have an inspired table of contents. The only reason why you know what books are inspired is because the Catholic Church determined the canon of Scripture. The Bible doesn't tell us what books belong in the Bible. The Church tells us. So if you believe that the 27 books in the New Testament are inspired, you are accepting an infallible decision of the Catholic Church.
Remember, an effect can never be greater than its cause. If the canon of Scripture is infallible (which it is), then it must have come from an infallible source (which it did).
David: You give to much credit to the catholic church! You should give more credit to god for he is the one who determines everything. The bible is his book! he is the author and he determines what goes in it and what comes out of it. No church on earth has that authority not even the one I go to. God determines what you believe! Scripture was canonical at the moment they were written.
J. Salza: David, you are only proving my point. God determines what is inspired. The
Bible is God's book. Yes. But if God determined the canon of Scripture (which He did), then how did He let us know about it?
The answer is that He did it through His Church. If you study history, you see that the canon was determined by the Catholic Church at regional councils in Rome, Hippo and Carthage in 382, 393 and 397 A.D. Even Protestants admit this history.
So, unlike what you are contending, the Bible didn't just fall out of the sky. God did not give us an inspired table of contents. There were 50 different "gospels" floating around Judea during the first centuries of the Church. It took an authority to determine what was inspired and what was not inspired. God gave this authority to the Church, just like He gave the same Church the authority to define the dogmas of God and Christ which even you believe (the Trinity, dogmas on Christology).
Please pray about this.
David: what church is gods church? The cannon was determined by god alone! If history is written correctly the catholic was only the instrument. Your right the table of contents is probly not inspired. Man is only the instrument by which the scripture was created (written) he had nothing to say about what goes in it or how it was put together. God was incharge from start to finish. Now maybe he chose to the catholic church to put it together at a certain period in time, that I could belive. The catholic church was that instrument. I Know what you trying to say! The catholic church does not control how the scripture is to be read or understood! Then would be under the control of man.
J. Salza: David, you have correctly admitted that the Catholic Church was the
instrument that God chose to reveal the canon of Scripture. The precise instrument was Pope Damasus, who made the determination of the canon.
Please answer this question: If God gave the Catholic Church the authority to infallibly determine the canon of Scripture, then isn't it possible that God gave the same Church the authority to determine other doctrines of the faith?
David: I could believe that the catholic church was choosen to put it together " if
history was written "correctly". We all known history isn't always written correctly. Yes I could believe the pope damasus did do it "but" I don't believe he did it as a man (human) making his own decision as to what whent into the bible itself "God did" he used him to put it together. God was in control always do you really think he would let man mess up his book. The only one who determines the cannon of Scripture is god. Anything outside of scripture is questionable!
You can have outside stuff! But in order to believe it, it would have to have some reference to scripture. You mentioned other doctorine what doctorine is that? I attend church at calvary chapel. In have been researching other religons making sure that I am on the right path to salavation "like the bible tells us to". I am not trying to convince anyone to change there religous beliefs, I'm trying to get them to convince me to change mine "in truth" not deception. I have not found them yet. "The bible is the only truth". Remember jesus said "Upon this rock you will make ""My"" church. I don't think he mentioned the Catholic church. People tend to fill-in the "My" with there own church. I've have been in churches that say they are the only church.
J. Salza: David, I hope I can be of assistance to you. First, you are operating under a premise that isn't true. The premise is: "It must be in the Bible in order for it to be true." No where does the Bible teach such a thing.
Instead, the Bible teaches that the gospel comes to us through both the written (Scripture) and unwritten (oral) traditions. The gospel in her fullness has been entrusted by Christ to His Church. St. Paul says that the Church, not the Bible, is the pinnacle and foundation of the truth (1 Tim 3:15).
You mentioned Matthew 16:18-19 which is a very important verse. In this verse, Jesus says that He will build His Church upon the rock of St. Peter, to whom He gave the keys to the kingdom of heaven and the authority to infallibly bind and loose. The only Church that claims and proves to have been built upon Peter is the Catholic Church. In fact, the Catholic Church was the only Church around for 1500 years until Luther started the Reformation.
If you read what the early Church Fathers of the first centuries said, you will find that they all believed in the Catholic Church which Christ built upon Peter and His successors. Pope Damasus, who determined the Bible canon (as part of His binding authority which Jesus gave in Matt 16:19), was the 36th successor to Peter. The Catholic Church is the only Church that claims and proves to be the one Jesus established.
You can't read Scripture in a vacuum. You must study what the early Church believed. Once you do, you will find that all the Fathers believed in baptismal regeneration, the Eucharist, and the papacy, among other things. Christianity is not a religion of the book; it is a religion of the Word of God, which is found both in the written and oral traditions that we have received from the apostles through the Catholic Church.
David: Everything in the bible is true! As far as salavation goes the bible is the only word! Who is the church? Christ is the church also the body of belivers, also the word (bible) these are all one church. Do you think he gave peter the only key to heaven. I'm sure christ has one two! It all over that he saids "he is the way no one can to the father except thru him". When he told peter to build his church! I still don't see where he said the catholic church. I can see a clain that the catholic church said peter was talking about them! But I don't see the proof! When I see the catholic church mentioned in the bible that they are the one and only church, I will summit myshelf to there teachings. The passages you mentioned are not directed toward the catholic church they are directed toward the belivers in christ. Maybe you need more than one perspective on the interpatation of what the bible actually saids. The whole book is a message form god. The book is the word of god. That is the only thing he left us, the bible started in genisus and ended in revalation after that there is know more.
J. Salza: David, what you need to do is read what the early Church said about Matthew 16:18-19. Not what your 21st century Protestant pastor says. ALL THE FATHERS held to the Catholic view of the papacy! There was not one single dissenter. Some of these men were trained DIRECTLY by the apostles (e.g., Ignatius,
Now, I assume that you are a reasonable person. So tell me, don't you think it behooves you to investigate what the direct successors to the apostles said about the papacy? Or would you rather remain ignorant? Do you really think you know better than the successors to the apostles? Don't let your pride get in the way.
David: I guess I'm ignorant then. I don't have pride I just have the bible! The bible is truth and truth will set you free. Your still relying on history that was written by man. There has been know new addition of the bible since the ending of revelation "The Completion". But you know what I'll give you the benefit of the dough where can I find this information and I will research it.
J. Salza: I never said the Bible wasn't the truth, nor did I say that there is any new
revelation that came after the death of the last apostle. You tend to put words in my mouth.
What I did say is that the Bible never makes the claims about itself that you do. The Bible never says it is the only authority for Christians. But you do. If you are going to make such an assertion, then you have to back it up with book, chapter and verse. If the bible is the only authority, then surely the bible must tell us so.
I will save you time checking. The Bible never says it is our only authority. Instead, the bible says that God has given us His revelation through both the oral and written word, which has been entrusted to the Church. If you really want to be faithful to the bible, then follow what the bible teaches.
David: Ok! you listen to the catholic church! and I'll keep listen to the bible as my only source of instruction on how to achieve salvation. The bible never commands you to listen to it, but if that's the word of god I think you should, after all he is the creatorand when the creator speaks you listen. I don't need a bible verse to tell me that. I do trust the written word! where is the oral word! What oral word do you mean?
J. Salza: David, you are not listening to me. YES, you should read the Scriptures! It
is the Word of God. But the Bible doesn't say that it is the ONLY source for God's Word. Instead, it says that God's revelation comes to us through both the written and unwritten traditions (2 Thess 2:15).
Since the Catholic Church determined what the written tradition is, she also determines what the unwritten tradition is. This is the Church that Jesus built upon the rock of Peter. It is as simple as that.
David: You can't base a whole belief over one verse! because it could be taken out of context! The bible itself is whole message! When I first heard that verse I though he meet a rock "like one you pick-up from the ground, but as I found out that was the not the case. In matthew 16:16 I I'm pretty sure he was talking about him (christ) as being the the rock not petter. Here are some other verse in the bible that say christ is the rock 1Corinthians 10:4. psalm 18:31, deuteronomy 32:3-4, psalm 62:1-2, Psalm 94:22. christ is the only rock we can count.
J. Salza: David, you have to study how to exegete biblical texts.
Christ is the only rock, but He shares His rock status with Peter. Like I keep telling you (but you ignore), the early church Fathers were unanimous in their belief that Peter is the rock of Matt 16:18.
You emphatically state "the bible is the whole message!" I will ask you one more time: WHERE DOES THE BIBLE SAY IT IS THE WHOLE MESSAGE, THE ONLY
AUTHORITY FOR CHRISTIANS?
If you cannot answer this question by giving me book, chapter and verse, you
will know why this dialogue is over.
David: Christ is the rock! he is the church! The church in one body the body of christ! We all share the rock! (the members of the church) Not just peter. If peter is the rock of matthew 16:18, them how come knowwheres else in the bible does it say that?. It always saids christ is the rock. Everything revolves around christ, not man (read the bible). Some men where chosen above others to help spread the of the word, because of there detication to god. When you say early church fathers! how early are we talking about?
The bible doesen't say that! not directly, but it is inplied but what jesus is saying. It is repeated over and over again, he is the way and the light. Ok what other authority is there? If tradition is also a big part of gods plan for his church! well then I guess I can start my own church and one of my tradition is to bring me a pizza every sunday night before service, you are going to say where in the bible does it say I have to that! Nowheres. Do you see how wide open that is for anykind of made up traditions. The bible is the only way we can test truth.
If you want to end this conversation! we can do that! But let me say in closing. Go to calvary chapel (Or some other good church) and here the word of god in truth! you won't be disapointed. I have already been exposed to the catholic church thru my wife, it looks inpressive but looks can be decieving.
J. Salza: David, my brother, you do not know Scripture like you think you do. Jesus
calls Peter the rock (Cephas, which is the Aramaic transliteration for "rock") in John 1:42.
Read the Fathers during the first five centuries of the Church. THEY ALL believed in the Catholic view of the papacy. That is because the Catholic Church was the only Church around during that time.
Tradition refers to the oral teaching that the apostles handed on to their successors. It is this tradition that has been preserved in the Catholic Church. Do you think that when the last letter of Scripture was written, the apostles told the churches to erase from their memory everything that they had been taught by them? God's word comes to us through both the oral and written tradition, and these are found only in the Catholic Church.
Study the Fathers on my website, and if you are looking for the truth, you
will find it.
David: Your right (cephas) it does mean "rock". That doesn't really change anything. He is the first believer to present the gospel to gentiles. God used him as a foundation for the first church (the start), Like a foundation for a building, once the foundation is built the rest of the building is constructed on top of it. Once his task was complete that was the end of his role. Where in the bible does it say he had any successors and that he would hold that role (office) forever. He disappears from view after that.
I'm just starting my research on church history! I really can't say much about yet! our knowledge of history is not cast in stone, that's one reason I take like a grain of salt.
I have know problem with oral teaching or even tradition for that matter, but only as long as there bible based (reference in the bible). There is know way of knowing what they said outside of what they said in the bible. If your talking about something somebody said 2000 years! there is know way 2000 years later you will get the same message word for work. That's impossible, but not for god! that's why he left us the bible.
I don't not all of scripture! but I do know the basics! and if you don't have a firm grasp on the basics your in trouble. How are you going to be able to know the rest of it. I do some teaching here and I know that for a fact.
J. Salza: David, I really can't believe some of the statements you make. Like "once
Peter's task was complete, that was the end of his role." Have you read Acts? As soon as Jesus ascended into heaven, Peter led the Church. He is the one who made infallible decisions (e.g., Peter's decisions on apostolic succession and circumcision). EVERY Church Father wrote that Peter was the Vicar of Christ, the man with the keys to the kingdom, God's representative on earth.
Regarding your statements about oral tradition, have you read 2 Thess 2:15? St. Paul commands us to obey oral tradition. Are you saying that St. Paul is commanding us to do the impossible? Because we can't really know what the tradition is? Shame on you. We know what the authentic, apostolic oral tradition is because Christ entrusted it to the Church.
For your information, 78% of the New Testament has corruptions. There are textual variants almost everywhere. How do you know what the true Scripture is? The fact is, in the absence of an authority to tell you what the true Scripture is, you don't know. You cannot know, because you are not infallible. The Church, however, is infallible, because Christ gave her that authority. Thus, we know the oral and written tradition because the Church tells us what they are. This does not diminish the fact that we are dealing with God's Word. To the contrary, it preserves and protects God's Word, because it doesn't leave it to the subjective whim of its readers.
David: OK! who's church is it? peters or christ? if its christ he makes the rules (written or oral). If its peter's he makes the rules (written or oral). Since christ said it was his church he must make the rules "Upon my church". Now since christ is god
and the bible is his book telling us what to do in order to go heaven, we should listen to him (the bible). Like I said is from god not peter (man). If its not in bible I will question it. Who said peter was the first pope?
J. Salza: READ the Scriptures. It is Christ's Church and He makes the rules. But Christ delegates His authority to His Vicar while He is in heaven. That is why Jesus told Peter: "Whatever you bind or loose on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven" Mt 16:19. David, did you prayerfully read that passage? And did you read how all the Fathers interpreted that passage? Jesus gives Peter the authority to rule and govern His Church while He is in heaven. Kingdoms are governed by people, not books. If you believe that the Bible tells you how to get to heaven (and it does), then follow what the Bible actually says. Listen to Peter and his successors, for they speak in the
name of Jesus Christ Himself. Who said Peter is the first pope? The Fathers of the Church (the men of the first seven centuries who received the teachings from the apostles and handed them on to their successors).
David: I'm not guite sure what that passage means yet! Peter I'm sure has some authority (he was choosen)! But how much and what kind I'm not sure yet! I not going to say he had the authority to determine who did and didn't go to heaven. Are you sure you are understanding that verse correctly? Are you sure you are following what the bible teaches. Why do need the bible to prove any point for you, it's just a book. You still haven't pointed out where the bible said peter was the first pope! If there is such an office. You still haven't point out where in the bible does it say peter had a sucessors? If you can't prove this in scripture, I have to question it, I have know other choice. Give me some more evidence. Who are the fathers that interpeted MT 16:19?
J. Salza: David, you are still operating under the presupposition that "it must be in
the Bible to be true." The Bible doesn't say that. The Bible doesn't give us the canon of Scripture, yet you believe in the canon. The Bible doesn't mention the word "Trinity" but you believe in the Trinity. The Bible doesn't say what you have to do to have a valid marriage, but you believe that you can have a valid (or invalid) marriage.
I don't need the Bible to prove anything for me. If the Bible was never written, we would still have the Christian faith because Christ left us a Church. God has given us His Word through the Church in both the written and unwritten tradition.
If you want to study what the Fathers said about Peter and the papacy, I recommend two books: "Jesus, Peter and the Keys" and "Upon this Rock." I will have a book out on the papacy in 2007. You can also look at the many quotes I have on my website at www.scripturecatholic.com
David: The bible doesn't mention the word "bible" either, but we believe it to be the
word of god. No it doesn't say what a valid marriage is. It does say we have to obey the laws of man! Everybody has to get a marriage license from the state they live in. Man said your married your married "that's the law" even in the eyes of god. The bible does tell us how we are to conduct our shelf in a marriage, and what it considers grounds for a divorce.
A church without the word "Bible" would not be a church of god! It would be a
church of man. Without the bible there would be no church at least not the one as we know it. Christ is the church! Just as this earth is his, and just as we are his, he paid the price for us he owns us. You are right books don't rule kingdom's, It is what is written inside them that rule kingdom's. I haven't been back to your web site since we first started this dialog. John I will start with your website in my research of the early church.
J. Salza: David, the fact that the Bible doesn't teach us every single point of Christian doctrine proves my point that you look outside the Bible for authority as well. You, David, do not rely solely upon the Bible for your understanding of Christianity, even though you claim you do. The fact is, you also follow the oral tradition that has been handed on to us through the Church. That oral tradition includes the canon of Scripture which you accept, even though the canon of Scripture is not in the Bible. I wish, after all this time, you could at least admit that much.
Your statement "without the Bible there would be no Church" is plainly wrong. If your statement were true, then we would not have had a Church until 382 A.D. when the canon of the Bible was determined. Yet we know the Church existed since Jesus' Ascension as history, tradition and the Scriptures affirm.
David, how did the Church exist for 400 years if there was no Bible?
David: It tech's us everything we need to know to be a good Christian! It teaches everything we need to know to obtain salvation, That's the most important thing isn't it? It teaches us how we should act as good Christians if we want to belong to the church of Christ. Without the bible everything would be handed down orally! There would be know way of testing the truth. Let me give you an example of what I mean!
I teach sometimes at the college, I give oral instruction along with a demonstration and they have book as reference in case there is any confusion, in a sense the book holds me to a correct oral instruction. The book is my test on weather my oral instruction is correct or not. The same way for the bible it test our oral instruction "meaning are we correct with what we are teaching them (orally or written)! Lets check the bible" for the test of truth. I do write instruction in my own words that are not in the same format as the book! but the information and the meaning are the same. I am still researching the early church, But what I have read so far that there was some confusing in the church after the original apostles left the earth
to be with our lord.
J. Salza: David, it is the Church, not the Bible, that serves as the "test" of whether
or not something is true. That is why Paul calls the Church, not the Bible, the pinnacle and foundation of the truth (1 Tim 3:15).
It is not true that “everything we need to know to be a good Christian” is in the Bible. What about in-vitro fertilization? Surrogate motherhood? Stem cell research? These are questions of life and death, heaven and hell. But they are not in the Bible. So what does David do to resolve these life and death questions? Does he appeal to the divinely-appointed authority that God has given us? Or does he make his own fallible judgments and risk losing his soul?
Let me use your analogy to prove your conclusion is erroneous. You teach your college students orally. The students get together and have different interpretations of what you said. So they decide to check their different interpretations against your textbook. But because your textbook is so old and has been translated and retranslated thousands of times in hundreds of different languages, they discover that almost 80% of the words in your textbook have textual variants (which is the case with the New Testament).
Some translations support Student A's argument, but other translations support Student B's argument. So what are the students to do? They have to go back to you, the teacher, and get the right answer. The text cannot resolve the dispute. They need a living and breathing authority to resolve the question. The text is only a dead letter until it is made alive by the one who has the authority to interpret it.
This is why Jesus Christ left us His Holy Catholic Church. The Church interprets, preserves and protects God's Word, whether the oral or written tradition, so that the faithful know what is true and what is false. God didn't leave us a book to be our sole, governing authority. The book necessarily requires someone to interpret it authoritatively. This is why Saint John says that we discern truth and error, not from reading the Bible, but by listening to the Church.
Thank you for providing an example that explains why we need the Church as
David: How would you know he even said that if you didn't have the bible (scripture). How would you know there was even an apostle name Paul if there was know bible (scripture) to give you that information, "You Wouldn't". You would have to rely on some written or oral account of the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ form some other reliable or possibly unreliable source "you don't know". Having a good teacher and a good textbook = They won't have many different interpretation. Some teachers are better than others. Some textbooks are better than others, you have to have the right combination. My textbook may be translated into other languages and there may be some textual variants,but the message is the same in all languages. There is only one way to draw a line you start at point A and go to point B. The wording is a little different in some version of the bible, that has to do with the translation from the different languages but the underlining message is the same, and that is what is important.
I though Christ left us "The church of God" That's what Paul called it. I guess he really meant "The Holy catholic church". The sole governing authority is god!
the church belongs to god! Jesus said that himself "My church". The bible (scripture)
is the word of god and if you want to be part of his church, the bible tells you how to do it. lets define what the bible is! the bible is a book, inside that book you have scripture "the work of god". I guess you don't have to call it the "Bible". You can call it "scripture" if you want. Or you can call it the "book of scripture" what ever you
want. It talks about how to be a good Christian and how to obtain salivation.
J. Salza: David, you are very wrong once again.
1. "How would you know that if it isn't in the Bible?" Okay, David, let's play by your rules. How do you know who wrote the Gospel of Matthew, or Mark, or Luke or John? Since the Gospels don't "give you that information," how do you know the authorship of the Gospels? Answer this question directly.
2. You say "some teachers may be better than others." This is true. But by whose standard? Yours? Or God's? God promised Peter that whatever he bound or loosed on earth would be bound or loosed in heaven. That is a promise of infallible teaching authority. So, David, God ensures that His representative is "better than the others." We have the promise of God Himself.
3. "The message is the same in all languages." Really? Then how come some Protestant churches believe that John 3:5 refers to baptism, and other Protestant churches believe that John 3:5 has nothing to do with baptism? Is that because "the message is the same in all languages?" Obviously not. Jesus was making a statement about what it takes to get to heaven. This is a statement about eternal life or eternal death. The stakes are pretty high, wouldn't you say, David? And yet, without an authority to tell us the meaning of John 3:5, we have nothing but pious opinions. Guess what? If we take Jesus at His Word, the faction that misinterpets John 3:5 doesn't go to heaven. They go to hell.
David, is this how God wants the salvation program to work? To have mass confusion among the faithful, where we all bicker about interpretations of Scripture, even on those verses that bear upon our eternal destiny? I don't think so. He gave us a Church to resolve these questions. The Church is the pinnacle and foundation of the truth (1 Tim 3:15).
David, you live in a world of comfortable religious subjectivism. You decide what Scripture means. You decide if its faith alone, or faith plus works, or grace, or repentance, or faith plus repentance, or faith plus works plus repentance, or faith plus love, or love plus works, or repentance plus works, etc. You are the final judge. You have annointed yourself your own pope. This is not part of God's plan. It is of the devil. You must submit to the leaders that God has put over you. May God give you the grace to see this truth.