Saint Thomas Aquinas

Thursday, April 12, 2012

James White: Sola Scriptura and Other Authorities

James White: Sola Scriptura and Other Authorities

    I wanted to make a brief comment on the recent post put up by the pretended “Reformer” apologist James White regarding Sola Scriptura. White explains that for him, Scripture is not the only “authority” for him or his “church,” but that there are other authorities he follows for his doctrines such as the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. He then continues on to say that Scripture is the only “infallible” rule of authority regarding doctrine. White opines, “It is necessary to recognize that Sola scriptura speaks to the Scripture's role as the sole infallible rule of faith for the church, not the sole rule of faith period. Any church that is confessional in its expression and practice would be in violation of this less than accurate definition of Sola Scriptura. For example, my own church utilizes the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith as an accurate and sufficient representation of our doctrinal beliefs. And yet, it could be argued that we are using this as a source of authority, which would violate the inaccurate definition of Sola Scriptura.”

    If you look closely at what White is saying, you can see the fallacy very easily. For one, if you press Dr. White on the London Confession, he will only claim that everything in it comes from Scripture. In other words, this other “authority” is not really an authority at all, but a summarization of what he and those who think like him, think Scripture means. In other words its a written interpretation of what they think the Scriptures mean, yet for White, it is not “infallible” in its claim to do so. In other words, White is saying that the Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith he has, but he does not know what they mean for certain. This violates every rule of logic, and ends up going in an endless circle of probabilities. The man-made doctrine of Sola Scriptura in regards to James White and his claims, is nothing more than a good guess on the doctrine presented by God in His Written Word. The London Confession of which he speaks is regarded as an “authority” for him, but only an uncertain “authority.”

    I would elaborate a bit further on this if I had the time. For now let us ask the important question regarding Divine Revelation, which gives us all Christian dogma and doctrine. The first question is, if you are going to follow an “authority” which is not guaranteed to present God's doctrine in certain terms, what good is it? If we contrast this circle of probabilities with the infallible “authority” in which Christ gave us to present Himself and His Divine Revelation infallibly, we can see that we have two completely different modes of thought regarding the certainty of doctrine, despite the idiotic claims of some Protestants like James Swan and his buddies. These two paradigms are of a completely different nature. One deals in certainty, the other in probabilities.

    Let us examine one doctrine to demonstrate the difference. Let us look at John chapter 6 regarding Jesus’ words concerning His Body and Blood. The Catholic Church being a divine institution is infallible in her authority to proclaim what Jesus taught regarding His Body and Blood. Remember, the Church taught this doctrine before Scripture (The New Testament) was even written. So the Church infallibly communicated this doctrine from Christ by Oral Tradition. The teaching is that Christ gives Himself to us literally, in His complete Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist. The Church then of course also infallibly recognizes the New Testament Scriptures, which are also infallible, because they are a product of the infallible Church as God’s Written Word given within His Church, not outside of it. So we have an infallible means, the Church, to know the infallible end, God’s Word, Oral and Written, or if we break it down further, Christ Himself. James White however has no infallible means to know the infallible end which he seeks. He rightly claims that Scripture is infallible, but he is also claiming that he can never know for certain what it means. This same comparison can be made for all core doctrinal beliefs of the true Christian faith.

The Catholic Church is not confused in teaching what Christ teaches on Baptism, yet the Protestant heretics are divided on what Scripture means concerning Baptism, and we can go on and on concerning salvation, justification, sanctification, marriage, sexual morality, etc. In order for an authority to be worthy of being followed concerning our salvation and the teaching of God’s Divine Revelation, it must be certain, that is it must be infallible, otherwise it is quite worthless. Probability will not suffice in regard to Christ's teaching to mankind, and it makes no logical sense to believe that Christ gave us an infallible written text with no infallible means to communicate it to man infallibly, which is precisely what James White is telling us. So, if White is going to hold that he follows this man-made London Baptist Confession as an authority, but claims that it is not an infallible authority, why even bother? It is nothing more than man-made probability in regards to what mere men think Scripture means. If the Church is not the infallible bulwark which Christ built to communicate His infallible teachings, then all you have is a mere probability. Where will you put your faith? In man’s fallible means of uncertain creeds or “confessions”, or in Christ and the infallible Church in which He gave us? Do you believe that God communicates Himself to mankind infallibly in both the means and the end? That is, Christ being the end, and the means, the Church in which He communicates Himself. For the Catholic, we have Christ who is God, His infallible Word, which He gave to us first by Oral Tradition. Later some of this Tradition was given in Written form, the New Testament. It is all being infallibly communicated by Christ through those whom He sent within the Church in which He gave us. Therefore, there is nothing regarding the authority or teaching given to us by Christ that is uncertain for Catholics, it is all certain, or infallible. Contrast this to White's belief and you have two completely different mindsets regarding God's truth.

2 comments:

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

Unless you have oral tradition I don't see how you can understand some scriptures. For an example, take the primacy of Peter. I, like many Protestants, believed that the rock in Matthew 16:18 was Peter's confession of faith, not Peter himself. A reading of the early chrch fathers showed me that Peter was the rock, not his confession. That was on of the factors leading up to my converison.

Tabernacle of David said...

James White is continually refuted by Bob Sungenis. Great job on this one, Bob! http://www.catholicintl.com/index.php/component/content/article/49-mary-and-the-saints/880-james-white-and-qthe-seven-popes-who-denied-the-immaculate-conceptionq-