We can disseminate all sorts of information, either what we learn directly or what is gained from reliable sources. The doctrines of Reformed Protestants depend on the Scriptures being wholly and solely sufficient. This is in actuality a non-biblical doctrine, and therefore must subsist on a logical fallacy. In comparison, when one reads the Lord of the Rings trilogy they do not assume they have sufficient means to explain the entirety of the world created by J. R. R Tolkien. Instead they would admit that they would need an outside source, perhaps all of his journals, or the man himself to conclude and understand all that is Middle Earth. While it can be important to know and understand the particular time in history that Tolkien writes in, or that the Hobbits and Elves aspire to this goal or that. It is even useful to discover within a story the multilayer plots unraveling, yet all of it could not be without some level of exegetical work. Instead the Reformed Christian desires that the only authority they need can be found in the Holy Bible that all doctrines and matters of faith must come from it.
This would appear in this kind of argument:
- We need an authority
- Gods revelation is the authority we need
- Scripture alone is Gods revelation
Therefore Scripture alone is the authority we need.
Examining “Scripture alone is God’s Revelation” we can point out that in times past God spoke through the prophets, and gave His revelation through them. At the time these prophets did not write anything down, and therefore all revelation is not simply from Scripture. It appears as a form of circular argument that ends in some silly reason to “agree to disagree,” which the true Christian cannot succumb to. It is because as a Catholic we have the real answer to where the Bible came from, and why it is inspired: the Church says so, because Jesus said so. While this is itself an apparent circular argument it cannot be. Simply from a stand point on reason alone we can prove it. Jesus Christ, historically, was a real person, died and rose from the dead. He gave authority to eleven men, and started a Society with Peter as the Head. We can look to the Scriptures and see that Christ says, “as the Father sends me, so I send you,” or “whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven…” or “you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it…” to say but a few. In fact we can examine one in which Jesus proves where authority lies,
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” (Matt 18:15-17 NRSV)
It is evidenced even from Scripture that the intention of authority would be found in the Church. Instead one can appeal to the Church Fathers, they are the early leaders of the Christian faithful, and have much to say on such matters. That it is to the Church we must go, and hear from her mouth the Word of God. One such Father of the early Church is named Irenaeus, and he dealt much against the Gnostics. This group of people manufactured their own gospels, and other writings and called them sacred Scripture. Many were proficient in Greek to give good arguments to support their claims.
“Those, therefore, who desert the preaching of the Church, call in question the knowledge of the holy presbyters, not taking into consideration of how much greater consequence is a religious man, even in a private station, than a blasphemous and impudent sophist. Now, such are all the heretics, and those who imagine that they have hit upon something more beyond the truth, so that by following those things already mentioned, proceeding on their way variously, in harmoniously, and foolishly, not keeping always to the same opinions with regard to the same things, as blind men are led by the blind, they shall deservedly fall into the ditch of ignorance lying in their path, ever seeking and never finding out the truth. It behooves us, therefore, to avoid their doctrines, and to take careful heed lest we suffer any injury from them; but to flee to the Church, and be brought up in her bosom, and be nourished with the Lord’s Scriptures.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5,20:2 (A.D. 180).
Instead we are to go to the Church, the one that can through time prove her lineage not only to the Apostles, but to Christ himself. Clearly Saint Irenaeus is writing of a time before the New Testament was formed, yet after the time in which all those letters and Gospels had been written. Instead how could this Saint know he was following the correct scriptures, other than by remaining with those who, actually had authority to do so. Irenaeus belonged to a lineage that traced itself back to John the Apostle, and understood that the Fullness of Truth rested with the Ones Christ gave authority to. As we will see Ephraim will spell out centuries later some very key points that he dealt with. Mainly with sects, that is to say groups of people who had belonged to these Apostolic Churches that was the Catholic Church, branched off and formed their own societies.
“While (the sects) mutually refute and condemn each other, it has happened to truth as to Gideon; that is, while they fight against each other, and fall under wounds mutually inflicted, they crown her. All the heretics acknowledge that there is a true Scripture. Had they all falsely believed that none existed, someone might reply that such Scripture was unknown to them. But now that have themselves taken away the force of such plea, from the fact that they have mutilated the very Scriptures. For they have corrupted the sacred copies; and words which ought to have but one interpretation, they have wrested to strange significations. Whilst, when one of them attempts this, and cuts off a member of his own body, the rest demand and claim back the severed limb…It is the church which perfect truth perfects. The church of believers is great, and its bosom most ample; it embraces the fullness (or, the whole) of the two Testaments.” Ephraem, Adv. Haeres (ante A.D. 373).
In time past even those who created sects and divisions within the whole of Christendom did so by modifying and even reinterpreting what Scripture says to suit their own ends. That they created warped ideas and terms in the very books held Sacred by the Catholic Church to promote their doctrines. The Bible consists of 73 books, which is proven by the very Catholic Church that declared what was Scripture. The Old Testament in its fullness is embraced by the Christian, as is the entirety of the New Testament. The Reformed Christian removes seven books, not at the behest of the Holy Spirit, but at the behest of themselves. Even worse many of them have made translations of their own handiwork to promote their own doctrines. The Bible belongs to the Catholic Church, and she said it holds 73 books, and therefore by the right of her authority that number stands in its fullness.
It is at last a desire of all to have a God to worship, and a desire to serve Christ. However, no human can truly grasp the humility involved. Instead those within the Catholic Church get a view of it, and those outside of it embrace their egocentrism. Submitting not to Scriptures as they claim, but instead to any that they call Pastor. At last the Pastor himself claiming a deeper knowledge of scripture has at last only one appeal and that is to himself. In the words of Aaron of the Hebrews, “Behold your God, the one who has taken you from the land of Egypt.” Instead of looking to the One God that Moses was to be the mouth piece for, the Hebrews constructed a thing of gold, and worshipped it. Likewise not looking to the authority given by Christ to the Society that he founded, the Catholic Church, any can create for themselves any falsehood and call it truth. Instead they call what they have already warped as the Truth, yet cannot even abide by it and let it dictate their lives, instead they must follow their interpretation of those words, in a simple image, the final authority the Reformed Christian wants is themselves.