The approach to authority is very different in the ancient Church than in the modernist Protestant church. The Catholic Church follows the “Word of God alone” while the Protestant ecclesiastical groups follow Sola Scriptura which states that only God’s written word is authoritative. The latter is a sixteenth century man made doctrine designed to destroy the unity of the Church and fragments the entire body of Christ by exponentially increasing schisms caused by accepting only part of God’s word by the Protestants. Sola Scriptura is not a doctrine for a better understanding of the Logos but instead is designed to circumvent the legitimate authority of the Church given by Christ.
It is the belief of the ancient Church that is the Magisterium of the Church that has the authority given by Christ to expound on, recognize and guard the Word of God. The Word of God is not only the written Scriptures but all that is handed to the Church by the Holy Spirit. In so doing and carrying out her responsibility the Church is the true servant of the Word.
God’s people have never been Sola Scriptura advocates. In Jesus’ day the orthodox Jews were not, nor were Jesus or the apostles. The continuation Sola Verbum Dei is a theological continuation of God’s Word from the Old Covenant to the New. The only ones who believed in anything resembling Sola Scriptura were the Sadducees who were the theological liberals of their day. We know that the first century Christians did not believe in Sola Scriptura by the teaching of St. Paul in Holy writ:
(2Th 2:15 DRB) (2:14) Therefore, brethren, stand fast: and hold the traditions, which you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle.
The Church teaches that the Word of God is the Logos:
(Joh 1:1 DRB) In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God: and the Word was God.
(Joh 1:2 DRB) The same was in the beginning with God.
(Joh 1:3 DRB) All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.
(Joh 1:4 DRB) In him was life: and the life was the light of men.
So the question among Christians should not be what is the Word but instead how is the Word revealed to man. To the Protestant the Word is only revealed in written form called Sola Scriptura. To the Catholic Christian the word has a much broader meaning and is revealed to man in more than a written form where men were inspired to reveal God’s Word. Catholics believe that inspiration is not only personal as with the biblical writers but is also revealed to and through the Church such as in the Ecumenical Councils and through the authority exercised through the Church to recognize, guard, interpret and teach the Word. The Church throughout history has faithfully exercised her authority to guard the word of God against the attacks of heresies, such as Sola Scriptura.
If it is God's will that the Church be divided why did Christ pray in His last prayer in the garden that we all be one?
Update 2: Kait,
"The Bible declares itself to be God-breathed, inerrant, and authoritative. We also know that God does not change His mind or contradict "
The Bible also declares that the Sacred Traditions are equal to the written Word and that the Church is the "bulwark and ground of the truth". Why should one not believe these teachings in Scripture in favor of a more prejudicial interpretation limited to favorable proof texts instead of understanding the Scriptures as a body of work without contradiction?
Best Answer: Catholics are right.
Ironically, Scripture Alone Disproves "Scripture Alone"
Gen. to Rev. - Scripture never says that Scripture is the sole infallible authority for God's Word. Scripture also mandates the use of tradition. This fact alone disproves sola Scriptura.
Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15 - those that preached the Gospel to all creation but did not write the Gospel were not less obedient to Jesus, or their teachings less important.
Matt. 28:20 - "observe ALL I have commanded," but, as we see in John 20:30; 21:25, not ALL Jesus taught is in Scripture. So there must be things outside of Scripture that we must observe. This disproves "Bible alone" theology.
Mark 16:15 - Jesus commands the apostles to "preach," not write, and only three apostles wrote. The others who did not write were not less faithful to Jesus, because Jesus gave them no directive to write. There is no evidence in the Bible or elsewhere that Jesus intended the Bible to be sole authority of the Christian faith.
Luke 1:1-4 - Luke acknowledges that the faithful have already received the teachings of Christ, and is writing his Gospel only so that they "realize the certainty of the teachings you have received." Luke writes to verify the oral tradition they already received.
John 20:30; 21:25 - Jesus did many other things not written in the Scriptures. These have been preserved through the oral apostolic tradition and they are equally a part of the Deposit of Faith.
Acts 8:30-31; Heb. 5:12 - these verses show that we need help in interpreting the Scriptures. We cannot interpret them infallibly on our own. We need divinely appointed leadership within the Church to teach us.
Acts 15:1-14 – Peter resolves the Church’s first doctrinal issue regarding circumcision without referring to Scriptures.
Acts 17:28 – Paul quotes the writings of the pagan poets when he taught at the Aeropagus. Thus, Paul appeals to sources outside of Scripture to teach about God.
1 Cor. 5:9-11 - this verse shows that a prior letter written to Corinth is equally authoritative but not part of the New Testament canon. Paul is again appealing to a source outside of Scripture to teach the Corinthians. This disproves Scripture alone.
1 Cor. 11:2 - Paul commends the faithful to obey apostolic tradition, and not Scripture alone.
Phil. 4:9 - Paul says that what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do. There is nothing ever about obeying Scripture alone.
Col. 4:16 - this verse shows that a prior letter written to Laodicea is equally authoritative but not part of the New Testament canon. Paul once again appeals to a source outside of the Bible to teach about the Word of God.
1 Thess. 2:13 – Paul says, “when you received the word of God, which you heard from us..” How can the Bible be teaching first century Christians that only the Bible is their infallible source of teaching if, at the same time, oral revelation was being given to them as well? Protestants can’t claim that there is one authority (Bible) while allowing two sources of authority (Bible and oral revelation).
1 Thess. 3:10 - Paul wants to see the Thessalonians face to face and supply what is lacking. His letter is not enough.
2 Thess. 2:14 - Paul says that God has called us "through our Gospel." What is the fullness of the Gospel?
2 Thess. 2:15 - the fullness of the Gospel is the apostolic tradition which includes either teaching by word of mouth or by letter. Scripture does not say "letter alone." The Catholic Church has the fullness of the Christian faith through its rich traditions of Scripture, oral tradition and teaching authority (or Magisterium).
2 Thess 3:6 - Paul instructs us to obey apostolic tradition. There is no instruction in the Scriptures about obeying the Bible alone (the word "Bible" is not even in the Bible).
1 Tim. 3:14-15 - Paul prefers to speak and not write, and is writing only in the event that he is delayed and cannot be with Timothy.
2 Tim. 2:2 - Paul says apostolic tradition is passed on to future generations, but he says nothing about all apostolic traditions being eventually committed to the Bible.
2 Tim. 3:14 - continue in what you have learned and believed knowing from whom you learned it. Again, this refers to tradition which is found outside of the Bible.
James 4:5 - James even appeals to Scripture outside of the Old Testament canon ("He yearns jealously over the spirit which He has made...")
2 Peter 1:20 - interpreting Scripture is not a matter of one's own private interpretation. Therefore, it must be a matter of "public" interpretation of the Church. The Divine Word needs a Divine Interpreter. Private judgment leads to divisions, and this is why there are 30,000 different Protestant denominations.
2 Peter 3:15-16 - Peter says Paul's letters are inspired, but not all his letters are in the New Testament canon. See, for example, 1 Cor. 5:9-10; Col. 4:16. Also, Peter's use of the word "ignorant" means unschooled, which presupposes the requirement of oral apostolic instruction that comes from the Church.
2 Peter 3:16 - the Scriptures are difficult to understand and can be distorted by the ignorant to their destruction. God did not guarantee the Holy Spirit would lead each of us to infallibly interpret the Scriptures. But this is what Protestants must argue in order to support their doctrine of sola Scriptura. History and countless divisions in Protestantism disprove it.
1 John 4:1 - again, God instructs us to test all things, test all spirits. Notwithstanding what many Protestants argue, God's Word is not always obvious.
1 Sam. 3:1-9 - for example, the Lord speaks to Samuel, but Samuel doesn't recognize it is God. The Word of God is not self-attesting.
1 Kings 13:1-32 - in this story, we see that a man can't discern between God's word (the commandment "don't eat") and a prophet's erroneous word (that God had rescinded his commandment "don't eat"). The words of the Bible, in spite of what many Protestants must argue, are not always clear and understandable. This is why there are 30,000 different Protestant churches and one Holy Catholic Church.
Gen. to Rev. - Protestants must admit that knowing what books belong in the Bible is necessary for our salvation. However, because the Bible has no "inspired contents page," you must look outside the Bible to see how its books were selected. This destroys the sola Scriptura theory. The canon of Scripture is a Revelation from God which is necessary for our salvation, and which comes from outside the Bible. Instead, this Revelation was given by God to the Catholic Church, the pinnacle and foundation of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).