Sola Scriptura versus Sola Ecclesia


The Roman Catholic argument against Bible Christianity is that without an infallible interpreter, the Scriptures cannot be comprehended. This is an argument against the perspicuity of Scripture.

James White

In the following video, James White presents closing arguments against a Roman Catholic apologist and demonstrates the absurdity of the view that the task of “interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #100).

The Baptist Position

A great summary of the historic protestant position is found in the London Baptist Confession of Faith (para 1.7):

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them.

The historic Protestant position has always been that although there are very difficult things found in the Scriptures, those things related to our salvation are plain and clear. Though the Spirit has uniquely gifted particular men with the ability to teach the church, ultimately, men will be judged based on our faith in Christ, NOT our faith in our leaders. Says Charles Hodge:

That the obligations to faith and obedience are personal. Every man is responsible for his religious faith and his moral conduct. He cannot transfer that responsibility to others; nor can others assume it in his stead. He must answer for himself; and if he must answer for himself, he must judge for himself. It will not avail him in the day of judgment to say that his parents or his Church taught him wrong. He should have listened to God, and obeyed Him rather than men.

Additionally, Baptist have always held that the Scriptures may only be properly understood with the help and aid of the Holy Spirit. The following quote is from Martin Luther’s The Bondage of the Will:

But, if many things still remain abstruse to many, this does not arise from obscurity in the Scriptures, but from our own blindness or want of understanding, who do not go the way to see the all-perfect clearness of the truth… Let, therefore, wretched men cease to impute, with blasphemous perverseness, the darkness and obscurity of their own heart to the all-clear scriptures of God…. no man sees one iota in the Scriptures, but he that hath the Spirit of God.

The Scriptures are addressed to people, not to church officers. The Scriptures are commanded to be read to the people and the people are commanded to act on them and to teach them to their children. Quoting Charles Hodge again:

[The Prophets] said, “Hear, O Israel,” “Hearken, O ye people.” Thus, also, the discourses of Christ were addressed to the people, and the people heard him gladly. All the Epistles of the New Testament are addressed to the congregation, to the “called of Jesus Christ;” “to the beloved of God;” to those “called to be saints;” “to the sanctified in Christ Jesus;” “to all who call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord;” “to the saints which are in (Ephesus), and to the faithful in Jesus Christ;” or “to the saints and faithful brethren which are in (Colosse);” and so in every instance. It is the people who are addressed. To them are directed these profound discussions of Christian doctrine, and these comprehensive expositions of Christian duty. They are everywhere assumed to be competent to understand what is written, and are everywhere required to believe and obey what thus came from the inspired messengers of Christ.

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