I actually started this article a bit ago, but when the "Protestant Canon of Scripture" discussion started leaning toward a sola scriptura discussion, I held off a bit before posting it. I post it now:
Sproul writes: "The Bible does not have specific text that suggests that the Bible alone is our final authority in all matters of faith and practice." There are others, in fact a non-Catholic friend of mine on the Locutus Webboard asked about sola scriptura at NTRMin and "DTK" openly stated "no where in the Bible are these answers stated as posed," but it is rare to see a proponent of sola scriptura, in so many words flat out admit there is no specific text which suggests the Bible alone is (their) final authority in all matters of faith and practice. Kudos for RC Sproul on that. He goes on to say, "Those who delight to point this out, however, typically Roman Catholics and the eastern Orthodox, typically miss the point. First, their energies more often than not are aimed at the Anabaptist error that we call solo Scriptura." First off, let me say I do not delight in this for it is a sad truth he speaks here. How many millions have been bamboosled by the lie of sola scriptura? There can be no joy in knowing how many souls have been taken down this false path.
The next point I'd make is "sola" and "solo" are really two conjugations of the same word in Latin, one has masculine form the other has feminine form. When put with the feminine noun of "scriptura" - only "sola" is appropriate. Secondly, being Latin, "scriptura" would not be capitalized. This isn't really against what RC Sproul is saying, just how he's saying it - and I can accept what he's saying, these are just a couple pet peeves of mine. For the sake of the argument, I'll "make no more hay" over the use of "solo scriptura" in this response. Sproul uses this differentiation between those who use Scripture as their final authority and those who would essentially use Scripture as the only authority. In actuality, those whom he would say adhere to the Anabaptist error are indeed adherents to sola scriptura - whereas a more accurate term for folks like Sproul would be fina scriptura since Scripture is not the only authority but it is the final authority. In that respect whether you're calling it sola or solo scriptura - it is a-historical as well as reprehensible and ignorant to cling to the "sole" authority concept.
RC Sproul goes on to say:
Sola Scriptura, like the Scriptures themselves, recognizes that God has gifted the church with teachers and pastors. It recognizes that the church has progressed and reached consensus on critical issues in and through the ancient ecumenical creeds. It affirms with vigor that we are all standing on the shoulders of giants. But it also affirms that even these giants have feet of clay. And there is where the Bible does in the end teach sola Scriptura.
I missed something there... where does the Bible teach sola scriptura? Let's try to get this straight, the Bible allegedly affirms "these giants have feet of clay," and supposedly from that "this is where the Bible does in the end teach sola Scriptura (sic)." This is a complete non-sequitur. Just because an authority has "feet of clay" (man), that is not an affirmation of anything being a sole or even final authority.
Sola Scriptura (sic) is a biblical doctrine not because the Bible says so. That would be a tautology- the kind of argument we find in that collection of lies the Book of Mormon. Instead the Bible is our alone final authority because it alone is the Word of God. It has been attested, authenticated, by God Himself. Miracles serve as the divine imprimatur, the proof that this is a message of God. This is how Nicodemus reasoned when he said, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). This is also how Jesus Himself reasoned when He first forgave the sins of the paralytic lowered through the roof. In response to the unspoken charge that He had blasphemed, Jesus told the man, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house” (Matthew 9:1-8).
Let us first ask how finding the explicit teaching that Scripture is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice is a tautology. A tautology is a needlessly repeated statement which does not provide additional force to the comment (eg. "a necessary requirement" or "one after the other in succession" or "to reiterate again" how about "joint cooperation?"). If there were a passage in Scripture which said, "Scripture is the final authority on all matters of faith and practice" where's the tautology? The point is, whether it is a tautology or not, it is not recorded in Scripture, period.
I'll leave the accusation upon the Book of Mormon alone for now not that I disagree, just that it seems an emotional and unsupported appeal to stir up anti-Mormonism. The appeal would have substance if he gave us a couple of examples of these lies. Unsubstantiated claims (whether I agree with them or not) should be avoided - so I am.
This brings us to the statement, "the Bible is our alone final authority because it alone is the Word of God." And we must ask, where does the Bible itself teach that the Bible alone is the Word of God? God spoke through the Prophets, was every word they spoke inscripturated? Scripture itself also promises that the Holy Ghost would be with His Church, guiding the Church to all truth until Jesus returns again in glory - is the Holy Ghost mute? Sproul uses Nicodemus as an example of Scripture teaching that Jesus is of God based upon the miracles Jesus did, "for no man can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." Again with the non sequitur! The fact that one does signs and wonders does not automatically equate to God being with him or the voice of God speaking through him! Scripture even tells us that Pharoah's magicians performed signs and wonders matching Moses up to the final plague, does that mean Pharoah's magicians were with God because they performed signs? The Beast/AntiChrist of Revelation 13 is mortally wounded and heals itself!
"The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing." [2 Thes. 2:9-10]So signs and wonders are not the true sign that someone is with God or not! They could be, but based on that alone you have a 50/50 chance.
Sproul goes on to say:
I would be quite content to add as a second infallible and inerrant authority the ancient creeds of the church under the following conditions. First, those who gathered to formulate these creeds would need to have their message authenticated by miraculous works. Let them raise men from the dead.
We must answer to Sproul with 2 Thes. 2:9-10.
Second, we must add those creeds to our Bibles. If both sources are equally authoritative, why do we separate them?
Why must these be added to the Bible? Sproul already concedes there is no Scripture which states or even suggests that the Bible alone is the final authority on matter of faith or practice, so why insist upon this "solo" mentality?
Sproul even states:
In like manner, I’d be content to add as a second infallible and inerrant authority the statements of the Pope when He speaks ex cathedra. First, however, let him raise men from the dead. Second, let us add his words, assuming he would even tell us what they were, to our canon.
We must answer to Sproul with 2 Thes. 2:9-10 again. Signs and wonders do not a prophet make! Signs and wonders do not equivocate to one who speaks for God.
Next Sproul echos the same tome which anyone who has been around apologetics at all has seen:
But wait, there’s more. I want an authoritative list, in both instances of what these messages are. Ask someone Orthodox to show you exactly where you can read their infallible tradition and you will receive slippery ooze. Ask someone Roman Catholic for a list of infallible papal or consiliar statements, and you will receive the same.
Now, whereas we do have lists - no pope or council has seen it necessary to have an infallible list of dogmatic teachings. You can turn to Denzinger's Enchiridion Symbolorum et Definitionum (Sources of Catholic Dogma) or Dr. Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma as rather exhaustive lists; but let us ask RC Sproul to provide us with the authoritative list of books which should be compiled into what he now calls The Bible! In asking us to provide such lists, he defeats his own position because Scripture alone does not provide us with the authoritative list of what IS Scripture! In fact, when on the subject of sola scriptura, as the Protestant final authority, it is a bit of a diversion to throw out a table-turning question to Catholics, or a red herring tactic to divert attention from where sola scriptura lacks even the capability to declare what necessarily comprises the Canon of Sacred Scripture. On the other hand, Catholicism does not declare a single final authority in all matters. For some matters, even most, Scripture is sufficient; however Scripture is silent on many matters, especially those involving moral decisions with modern technology, such as cloning and in vitro fertilization.
I will add, whether or not the Catholic Church has an infallible list of infallible documents has no bearing on the sola scriptura debate. I maintain that the Scriptures are inerrant, however I would not say they are infallible. People come up with fallible interpretations of Scripture all the time - which does not affect the inerrancy of Scripture - but Scripture does not interpret itself and even warns us that Scripture is hard to understand and can be interpreted to ones own destruction (St. Peter speaking of St. Paul's Epistles, 2 Peter 3:16).
Sproul begins to wrap it up here:
Finally, there is this problem. In both instances, Rome and Orthodoxy, you run headlong into the problem of the infinite regress. That is, those who are less strident in their views on tradition, who deny that tradition carries additional content to the Scripture, instead argue that tradition gives an infallible and inerrant interpretation of Scripture. Okay. Where then can we find an infallible and inerrant interpretation of the interpretation? Assuming we could succeed there, of course, we would need an inerrant interpretation of the interpretation of the interpretation. Ad nauseum.All Sproul provides here is a slippery slope argument. The fact of the matter is, Scripture itself tells us that the Holy Ghost would be with Jesus' Church until the end of the age. Did "the age" begin or end in 1517? No, and if we were to accept it "began" there - then we'd have to also accept that for nearly 1500 years the Holy Ghost was not with His Church - or that His Church did not exist for that period of time. Either way, it would make the promise of Scripture to be false for "until He returns again" does not exclude that 1500 year period.
And Sproul concludes this article with:
No, the Bible is God’s Word. It is perspicuous, understandable. It says what it means and means what it says. It is attested by the miraculous power of God. And it is all these things, alone. It alone, all by itself, equips us for every good work. Flee anyone who tells you that more is required to understand, or more is required to obey.
Again, we must remind Sproul of his concession - The Bible does not have specific text that suggests that the Bible alone is our final authority in all matters of faith and practice. Nowhere does it teach that it (the Bible) alone, all by itself, equips us for every good work. Miracles alone are not absolute evidence something comes from God.
In short, not only does Sproul concede this debate from the onset - his rationalizations are proven to be illogical and not competent to stand under criticism. Anyone who has believed what RC Sproul teaches on this subject should flee from him.