THE ISSUE OF AUTHORITY
Sola Scriptura, an Impossible Theory

December 2000By Thomas Storck

Thomas Storck is a Contributing Editor of the NOR and author, most recently, of Christendom and the West: Essays on Culture, Society and History.

One of the major differences between Catholics and Protestants concerns the question of authority. Where can the final authority for Christians on matters of faith and morals be found? The answer of most Protestants is clear: in the Bible alone. For example, the Baptist Confession of 1677 stated, “The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.” Or as the sixth Article of Religion of the Church of England states:

Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.

And as an amusing little anti-Catholic tract published by Chick Publications puts it, the new Christian believer should look for “a church where…the Bible is the final authority.”

Such reliance on Scripture is often referred to as the doctrine of sola Scriptura, Latin for “by Scripture alone.” But sola Scriptura is not taught by the New Testament, and is in fact contrary to what is actually taught by both the New Testament and the earliest Fathers concerning the rule of our faith.


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