Daily Bible Nugget #161, 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The Nugget:

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

My Comment:

The Scriptures are profitable both for doctrine and practice. This passage of Scripture is the most complete description of what the Bible is, and what the Bible is for. The Bible is the verbally inspired word of God. The Bible does not merely contain the word of God; the Bible is the word of God. The Bible is profitable for doctrine. The word “doctrine” means “teaching,” but the focus is teaching about God and the Christian life. The Bible is profitable for reproof. If you read it carefully, the Bible will reprove any shortcomings you happen to have. It is profitable for correction. If you are mistaken in your understanding of Bible doctrine or Christian living, the Bible will furnish you the needed correction–if you will read it diligently. This is the basis of my saying the Bible is a self-correcting Book. Most people are content to remain in their error and won’t give the Bible a chance in their lives. They spend more time on Facebook than they spend reading the Bible according to current news reports. They spend much more time and effort following sports than they do reading the Bible. Eternity will demonstrate with utter finality the foolishness of such wrong choices. The Bible is profitable for instruction in righteousness. It gives God’s declaration about how we ought to live. People, particularly non-believers, especially atheists and their Freedom from Religion Foundation in Wisconsin, are deathly afraid of the message of the Bible. Some of the “one true churches” are as afraid of the Bible as the atheists are. Cardinal John Henry Newman wrote a piece declaring there is no verse in the Bible that teaches the sufficiency of Scripture. By the “sufficiency of Scripture” is meant that the Bible contains all that is necessary to know to experience salvation and eternal life. Since Cardinal Newman denies this, that is good evidence he does not know how to read. Well, he’s dead now, or I’d offer him a chance to use my reading program. Clearly, 2 Timothy 3:17 declares the opposite of what Cardinal Newman stated, for God’s Word says the Bible is given so that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. That is an express statement asserting the sufficiency of Scripture. Any church or denomination that denies this truth is a false cult. The evil influence of Cardinal Newman continues today, long after his death. That is why I am so strident in my criticism of people like him that teach falsehood. His teaching directly led to the falling away from the truth of the Bible [or at least from his original Protestantism] of a personal acquaintance of mine, Mr. Dave Armstrong, who has subsequently become a major apologist for the Roman Catholic Church. Mr. Armstrong says several times in his books that he is thankful he is no longer a Protestant, because now he can go by the official teaching authority provided by his new-found faith in the Roman Catholic Church [without having to deal with conflicting positions of other authorities]. The problem I see with that is that such a stance directly violates what is taught by 1 Timothy 3:15-17.

[I have added material above in brackets and made corrections on 2-9-14 based on the input from Dave Armstrong's comments which may be read below; I am thankful for his kindness in responding to this post almost immediately after it was posted!]

For those who desire to DIG DEEPER into this subject:

(1) Consult the cross references given in Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible on page 1414 for 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

(2) Consult the cross references given in The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge on pages 1434-1435 or in Logos 5 Bible software for 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

(3) Lacking access to those two resources, consult the cross references for this passage as I have developed them as given below:

2 Timothy 3:16. All scripture. Each of the NT writings as we have them today were recognized as divinely inspired and authoritative by the original recipients; the canon of the NT did not await the decisions of the Council of Hippo, 393 AD and of Carthage, 397 AD. These Councils did not determine Canonicity but merely affirmed what had already been recognized since the last book, the Book of Revelation, was written. Thus the Roman Catholic Church did not give us either the Bible or the NT. 2 S *23:2. Ps 102:18. +*119:160. Mt 21:42. 22:31, 32, 43. 26:54, 56. Mk *12:24, 36. Jn *10:35. Ac 1:16. 28:25. Ro 3:2. +**15:4. Ga 3:8. 1 T **5:18. He 3:7. **4:12. Ja 2:23. 1 P 2:6. 2 P **+1:19-21. is. FS63B3, Ge +2:10. This grammatical construction involves two predicate adjectives connected by and. The Revised Version (1881) changes one of these predicate adjectives to an attributive position, which is incorrect. The Revisers do not misconstrue this construction in the other passages where it occurs. For the same grammatical construction see Ro 7:12. 1 C 11:30. 2 C 10:10. 1 T 1:15. 2:3. 4:4, 9. He 4:12, 13. In the Authorized Version text this “is” is given in italics, showing there is no word for it in the Greek, and it has therefore to be supplied. The Revised Version (1881) omits this “is,” and reads “Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable,” thus suggesting that some Scriptures are not inspired. The American Standard Version (1901) follows the Revised Version (1881); the New American Standard Version (1960) gives this rendering as a possibility in its margin. There are nine other passages which present exactly the same construction in Greek, and not one of these has been altered by the Revisers (of 1881). Had they done so in the same manner as they have done in this case, the result would have been as follows: Ro 7:12, The holy commandment is also just. 1 C 11:30, Many weak are also sickly. 2 C 10:10, His weighty letters are also powerful. Similarly with the other passages, which are 1 T 1:15 (the faithful saying is also worthy of all acceptation). 2:3 (this good thing is also acceptable). 4:4 (every good creature of God is also nothing to be refused), 9. He 4:12 (the living word of God is also active), 13 (all naked things are also opened). “It is true that the A.V. rendering is given in the margin of the R.V., but it is difficult to see why that should be disturbed” (Companion Bible). This is another instance where the Scripture’s own teaching about itself has been adversely affected in some modern translations (see Jn 5:39n and 8:31). Ps +*119:89. Jn 5:39. 8:31. given by inspiration of God. or, God-inbreathed. Gr. theopneustos (S#2315g, only here), divinely breathed in (Strong). The Scriptures found in the Bible alone are absolutely divinely inspired by God. T#40. Ex 20:1. Dt 4:8. *29:29. 2 S 23:1, 2. 2 K 17:13. 2 Ch 34:21. 36:21. Ne 9:30. Jb 32:8. 36:4. Is +**8:20n. Je 1:9. *36:1, 2. Ezk *1:3. Zp 1:1. Zc 7:12. Ml 4:4. Mt 1:22. Lk 1:70. 24:44. Jn 1:23. +*5:39. *10:34, 35. 14:26. 16:13. 19:36, 37. 20:9. Ac 1:16. 3:18. 7:38. 13:34. 28:25. Ro 1:2. 3:2. 4:23. 9:17. +*15:4. 1 C 2:4-10, 12, 13. 6:16. 9:10. 14:37. Ga 1:11, 12. 3:8, 16, 22. 4:30. 1 Th 1:5. **2:13. He 1:1, 2. 3:7. 9:8. 10:15. 2 P **1:18-21. 3:16. 1 J 4:6. Re 14:13. 22:19. and is profitable. or, useful. or, beneficial. FS52A2. Correspondence (Extended Alternation) F/S 372. Extended alternation when there are still only two series, but each series consists of more than two members. Here, four members may be discerned: The Word of God is profitable (statement) for (A) doctrine, (B) reproof, (C) correction, (D) instruction; therefore (consequence), (A) preach the word, (B) reprove, (C) rebuke, (D) exhort. This figure occurs frequently throughout Scripture, but since the format of the Treasury does not lend itself to the display of this structure, only this example is given. See the margins of the Companion Bible for additional examples. Passages cited as illustrating this figure in F/S 368-372 are Ps ch. 66, 72, 132. Ro 2:17-20. 1 Th 1:2-10 with 2:13-16. 4:13–5:11. T#1024, T#1111. Ps *19:7-11. +**119:97-104, 130. Je *23:22, 32. Mi +*2:7. Ac 20:20, *27. Ro 4:23. +**15:4. 1 C 12:7. Ep 4:11-16. 1 Th **+2:13. 1 T +4:8. for doctrine. or, teaching. The teaching we are to believe about Jesus Christ, God, the plan of salvation, all doctrinal teaching, is to be based upon the content God provides in the Bible. A natural corollary ought to be evident: we are not to believe any doctrine that does not correspond with the teaching of the Bible, and we are not to get our doctrine from any source but the Bible (1 Th 5:21n). See on ver. *10. Dt 6:4-9. Ps **+119:97-100. Is +*8:20n. 28:9. +**29:24. 1 C 14:6. 1 T **+4:6g, 13, 16. *5:17. T *2:12. for reproof. The original word bears the meaning “correction,” “censure,” “conviction.” 2 T *4:2. Ps 38:14. 39:11. +*141:5. Pr *6:23. 15:10, 31. Jn *3:20. 16:8-11. Ac 2:37, 38. 16:30, 31. Ep *5:11-13. 1 T 5:20. T 1:9, 13. 2:15. He 11:1g. for correction. The word literally means “restoration to an upright or a right state; hence correction and improvement” (Frank E. Gaebelein, The Christian Use of the Bible, p. 33). Ps **+119:9. Je *23:29. Da *12:3. Jn 21:15-17. Ga *6:1, 2. for instruction. Gr. paideia (S#3809g, Ep 6:4). FS41, Ge +10:1. Gaebelein cites Thayer (Lexicon, p. 473), “whatever in adults also cultivates the soul, especially by correcting mistakes and curbing passions; hence instruction which aims at “increase of virtue,” thus “education in righteousness” (The Christian Use of the Bible, p. 34). 2 T +*2:25. Dt 4:36. Ne 9:20. Ps **+119:7-11. Pr *4:10-13. Mt +*13:52. Ac 18:25. Ro 2:20. +**15:4. 2 C 10:3-6. T *2:11-14. in righteousness. Ex +*18:21. Le +**19:2-4, 9-18, 20, 26-37. Dt +*16:20. Ps +**15:2-5. Is +*66:4. Je +*10:2. 22:13, 16. +*48:10. Ezk +*16:49. Am +*8:5. Mi +**6:8. Ml +**3:5. Mt +*23:23. Lk +*16:10. Ac +*6:3. 1 C +**6:9-11. T **2:11-14. He *5:13. +*12:14. Ja 2:23. 1 J **2:15-17.

2 Timothy 3:17. the man of God. Dt 33:1. Jsh 14:6. Jg 13:6, 8. 1 S 2:27. 9:6-8, 10. 1 K 12:22. 13:1, 4-8, 11, 12, 14, 21, 26, 29, 31. 17:18, 24. 2 K 1:9-13. 4:7, 9, 16, 21, 22, 25, 27, 40, 42. 5:8, 14, 15, 20. 6:6, 9, 10, 15. 7:2, 17-19. 8:2, 4, 7, 8, 11. 13:19. 23:16, 17. 1 Ch 23:14. 2 Ch 8:14. 11:2. 25:7, 9. 30:16. Ezr 3:2. Ne 12:24, 36. Ps 90:title. See on Ps **119:98-100. Je 35:4. 1 T +6:11. 2 P 1:21. perfect. or, fitted. Gr. artios (S#739g, only here), fresh, that is, (by implication) complete (Strong). Jb 36:4. 2 C 13:9. Ph 3:15. Ja 1:4. throughly furnished. or, perfected. or, equipped. Gr. exartizō (S#1822g, only here and Ac 21:5), to finish out (time); figuratively to equip fully (a teacher) [Strong]. FS41, Ge +10:1. Holy Scripture is the only source of doctrinal and spiritual authority for the Christian. This passage teaches the sufficiency of Scripture: Scripture furnishes all that the Christian must know to be saved and to grow in grace, and tells us all we need to know to live a life which is well pleasing to God. No source of doctrine or revelation outside of Scripture is valid, for such a source would be adding to the written word of God, which is absolutely forbidden by Scripture (Re +*22:18). Cardinal John Henry Newman thinks otherwise. He states: “The Church would always be the living teacher. It is a mistake to limit ‘Christ’s word’ to the written word only or to suggest that all his teachings were reduced to writing. The Bible nowhere supports either notion.” And that is not what this text of Scripture claims. This text of Scripture teaches the Bible is sufficient to equip the man of God, and sufficient to bring a person to salvation. Cardinal John Henry Newman is attacking a “straw man” and himself asserting a false claim. This is an example of the heresy Paul warned us against (Ac 20:29, 30). The Church is not our teacher: the Bible is. That is not to say that a church may not teach about Jesus Christ, for genuine churches focus upon the balance of truth given us in the New Testament and Scripture as a whole, but we are to test the truthfulness of all teaching by checking it against what is written in the Bible. Cardinal Newman further states: “It is quite evident that this passage furnishes no argument whatever that the sacred Scripture, without Tradition, is the sole rule of faith; for, although sacred Scripture is profitable for these four ends, still IT IS NOT SAID TO BE SUFFICIENT.” (Newman, Inspiration, p. 131). Apparently, Cardinal Newman simply did not know how to read the Bible accurately. The very passage Cardinal Newman is discussing is the central Bible text which asserts THE ABSOLUTE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE! For him to flat-out deny the teaching of this text shows he simply had an axe to grind, and was not properly conveying the meaning and teaching of this Bible text. This is the chief text in the entire Bible on the subject of the sufficiency of Scripture. To deny this, as Cardinal Newman did, shows an inability to read the Scripture and take it for what it most plainly says. The claim of the Roman Catholic Church to possess additional teaching from Jesus Christ in the form of unwritten Tradition not found in the New Testament is not true (2 Th 2:15n). Such a claim by the Roman Catholic Church is heresy. It is also a lie. This very text of Scripture teaches we must go by Scripture alone. This is a position logically derived from the statements of the Bible itself, starting here (see also Ps 119:104, 105, 130. Is 8:20. Je 23:28. Mk 12:24. Jn 5:39. **20:31. Ac 17:11, 12. 1 Th 5:21n. 1 P 2:2. 2 P 1:19. 3:18). The Bible as we now have it is complete: there are no additional sources available today which contain genuine communications from Jesus, his original twelve disciples, or the Apostle Paul, that are essential and necessary for a person to have saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, words which legitimate scholarship agrees are genuine and from the time of Christ. All we have, and all we need, is contained in the 27 primary source documents of our New Testament, and the 39 books of the Old Testament, and nowhere else. T#1112. 2 T +*2:21. Ne 2:18. Ps **+119:104, 113, 128. Is +**8:20n. Je *23:28. Mt 13:52. Lk +6:40. Ep +*4:11-14. good works. 2 T +2:21. Ex 35:29. Mt 20:2. 26:10. Mk +14:6. Jn 15:16. Ac 9:36. Ro 12:2. 2 C *9:8. Ep **2:10. 1 T 5:10. T 1:16. **2:14. 3:1, 8. He *10:24. 1 J +**2:3n.

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46 Responses to Daily Bible Nugget #161, 2 Timothy 3:16-17

  1. ken sagely says:

    2 tim 3.16-17 all scripture is given by inspiration of god, and is profitable for
    doctrine, for reproof ,for correction, for instruction in righteousness: vs 17
    that the man of god may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

    encouraging cross refs.
    1. jn 10.35 if he called them gods, unto whom the word of god came, and
    the scripture cannot be broken:
    2. mt 22. 42 jesus said unto them, did ye never read in the scriptures, the
    stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner:
    this is the Lords doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
    3. mt 22.31 but as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that
    which was spoken unto you by god, saying
    4. mt 22.43 he saith unto them, how then doth david in spirit call him lord, saying,
    5. mt 26. 54-55 but how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
    6. mt 26.55 in that same hous said jesus to the multitudes, are ye come out as against
    a thief with swords and staves for to take me? i sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me,
    7. mt 26.56 but all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
    8. mk 12.24 and jesus answering said unto to them, do ye not therefore err, because
    ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of god?
    9. mk 12. 36 for david himself said by the holy spirit, the lord said to my lord, sit
    thou on my right hand, till i make thine enemies thy footstool.
    10. jn 10.35 if he called them gods, unto whom the word of god came, and the
    scripture cannot be broken.
    11. ac 1.16 men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the
    holy spirit by the mouth of david spake before concerning judas, which was guide to
    them that took jesus.
    12. ac 28.25 and when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after paul
    had spoken one word, well spake the holy spirit by isa the prophet unto our fathers,
    13. ac 28. 26 saying go unto this people, and say, hearing ye shall hear, and shall not
    understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:
    14. rom 3.2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the
    oracles of God.
    15. psm 19.7 the law of the lord is perfect, restoring the soul: the testimony of the lord
    is sure, making wise the simple.
    16 psm 19.8 the statues of the lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment
    of the lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
    17. psm 19.9 the fear of the lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the lord
    are true and righteous altogether.
    18. psm 19.10 more to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter
    also than honey and the honeycomb.
    19. psm 19.11 moreover by them is servant warned: and in keeping of them there
    is great reward.
    20 psm 19.14 let the words of my mouth, and meditation of my heart, be acceptable
    in thy sight, o lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

  2. Hi Jerome,

    Hope you are well! I saw your brother on New Year’s Day.

    I noticed that one of your tags for this is called, ” Dave Armstrong–Roman Catholic Apologist refuted”. That’s very interesting, because I don’t see any direct refutation of any of my arguments here. What you have written certainly doesn’t refute either myself or my arguments, since they are utterly ignored.

    I’ve now written two entire books about sola Scriptura: 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura, and Pillars of Sola Scriptura: which critiqued the biblical arguments (what I was most interesetd in) of the prominent historical defenders of this doctrine, William Whitaker (1548-1595) and William Goode (1801-1868); also a portion of a third book, and chapters in several other books. I also have a very extensive web page on the topic (the one I’ve written more about than any other).

    Most of that was available online for free, but you didn’t touch any of it, yet you claim that you have “refuted” me. I’d be happy to send you both of my books in e-book form (pdf, mobi, or ePub) via e-mail for free, if you like. You are also free and welcome to be the first Protestant to attempt to refute any part of either book. There’s always a first for everything . . .

    Two more things: the correct name is John Henry Cardinal Newman, not “Cardinal Henry Newman.” His first name isn’t Henry. But I guess if you think a person is “evil” you don’t bother to even get his name right, huh?

    Secondly, you say about me, “Mr. Armstrong says several times in his books that he is thankful he is no longer a Protestant.”

    Your readers are entitled to know (in fairness, and full disclosure) that I have also very often expressed public thankfulness and great appreciation for my Protestant background. For example, I have had a paper up almost six years, entitled, “Gratefulness For My Evangelical Protestant Background and the Wonderful Teachings and Blessings Obtained Therefrom (Rev. Dick Bieber et al)”. Sounds very hostile, doesn’t it?! In it I write things like the following:

    “I greatly admire and respect conservative, orthodox Protestantism. I once was an evangelical Protestant, and praise God for that experience, which was exceedingly beneficial to my spiritual advancement and theological education.”

    “That in turn led me to considerable reflection upon the evangelical Protestant period of my life (1977-1990): how much it taught and formed me; the innumerable blessings and benefits I received, and how many wonderful Protestant teachers contributed to my Christian life, and even (indirectly) to my present Catholic apostolate of apologetics and evangelism. It is always good to ponder our experience and the paths through which God has led us, in His mercy and by His grace.”

    The paper is filled with effusive praise for this period of my life and the teachers I was blessed to have, and all that I learned.

    Now imagine yourself writing that much praise about the Catholic Church (had you ever been part of it)! You couldn’t do it, because your view of my communion is infinitely lower than mine of Protestantism. I have great respect for it, but in your eyes I am barely still a Christian, if at all. You write:

    “His [Cardinal Newman's] teaching directly led to the falling away from the truth of the Bible of a personal acquaintance of mine, Mr. Dave Armstrong . . .”

    I’ve done no such thing. I follow the Bible more so than ever, love and venerate it, teach from it all the time, accept all that it teaches. I’m even presently putting together a version of the New Testament, edited from six existing versions, called Victorian King James Version. I’ve just learned some new things that I was never taught as a Protestant, that are in there, too.

    All I ask is that if you claim to have “refuted” me, that you do me the courtesy of actually interacting with arguments that I made. Jut presenting your view may be compelling and wonderful, but it’s not automatically a refutation of someone else. As it is, what you have provided above, I’ve seen a hundred times and have refuted most of it several times over in scores of papers and in ten or more books of my 43.

    May God bless you abundantly,

    Your brother in Christ,

    Dave Armstrong

  3. P. S. I posted my comment above on my Facebook page (which is public), with a brief introduction, and link to your article. You are welcome to come comment there if you like. You’ll be treated with respect (just as you were in my house all those years ago). I don’t allow insults on any of my pages:

    https://www.facebook.com/dave.armstrong.798/posts/728627077172280?stream_ref=10

  4. Cardinal [John] Henry Newman wrote a piece declaring there is no verse in the Bible that teaches the sufficiency of Scripture. By the “sufficiency of Scripture” is meant that the Bible contains all that is necessary to know to experience salvation and eternal life.

    Here you confuse material sufficiency of Scripture with formal sufficiency. Cardinal Newman and all Catholics deny formal sufficiency, because that is basically equivalent to the rule of faith of sola Scriptura, or the notion that Scripture is the only infallible and final, absolutely binding authority in Christianity. We deny that because the Bible never teaches it (nor did the Church fathers), and the Bible teaches much about the authority of the Church and tradition.

    Your second sentence, however, describes the material sufficiency of Scripture, and Newman and Catholics generally do believe in that (I do, myself). So when you claim he denied material sufficiency, you falsely represent his thinking. As the editor of The Quotable Newman, I happen to have passages on hand that prove you are wrong about this:

    . . . at least as regards matters of faith, it does (as we in common with all Protestants hold) contain all that is necessary for salvation; it has been overruled to do so by Him who inspired it. By parallel acts of power, He both secretly inspired the books, and secretly formed them into a perfect rule or canon. . . . It is enough that Scripture has been overruled to contain the whole Christian faith, and that the early Church so taught, . . . (Tracts for the Times #85, Sep. 1838)

    Doubtless, Scripture contains all things necessary to be believed; but there may be things contained in it, which are not on the surface, and things which belong to the ritual and not to belief. Points of faith may lie under the surface, points of observance need not be in Scripture at all. (Tracts for the Times #85, Sep. 1838)

    The Tracts nowhere say that anything need be believed in order to salvation which is not contained in, or [cannot] be proved from Scripture. (Keb., 207; Letter of 4 March 1843)

    Of no doctrine whatever, which does not actually contradict what has been delivered, can it be peremptorily asserted that it is not in Scripture . . . It may be added that, in matter of fact, all the definitions or received judgments of the early and medieval Church rest upon definite, even though sometimes obscure sentences of Scripture. Thus Purgatory may appeal to the “saving by fire,” and “entering through much tribulation into the kingdom of God;” the communication of the merits of the Saints to our “receiving a prophet’s reward” for “receiving a prophet in the name of a prophet,” and “a righteous man’s reward” for “receiving a righteous man in the name of a righteous man;” the Real Presence to “This is My Body;” Absolution to “Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted;” Extreme Unction to “Anointing him with oil in the Name of the Lord;” Voluntary poverty to “Sell all that thou hast;” obedience to “He was in subjection to His parents;” . . . (Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, Part I: ch. 2)

    Nor am I aware that later Post-tridentine writers deny that the whole Catholic faith may be proved from Scripture, though they would certainly maintain that it is not to be found on the surface of it, nor in such sense that it may be gained from Scripture without the aid of Tradition. (<i<Ibid.., Part II: ch. 7, sec. 4)

    Again, there is another principle of Scripture interpretation which we should hold as well as you, viz., when we speak of a doctrine being contained in Scripture, we do not necessarily mean that it is contained there in direct categorical terms, but that there is no satisfactory way of accounting for the language and expressions of the sacred writers, concerning the subject-matter in question, except to suppose that they held concerning it the opinion which we hold,—that they would not have spoken as they have spoken, unless they held it. For myself I have ever felt the truth of this principle, as regards the Scripture proof of the Holy Trinity; I should not have found out that doctrine in the sacred text without previous traditional teaching; but, when once it is suggested from without, it commends itself as the one true interpretation, from its appositeness,—because no other view of doctrine, which can be ascribed to the inspired writers, so happily solves the obscurities and seeming inconsistencies of their teaching. (Difficulties of Anglicans, ii, Letter to Pusey, ch. 3, 1865)

  5. Jerry says:

    Dear Dave,

    I’m glad you found my little blog! I appreciate your taking time to leave some comments! Despite any disagreements theologically we may have, I keep you and your family in my prayers. I always enjoy receiving the beautiful Christmas greetings you send out each year too.

  6. Jerry says:

    Dear Dave,

    Thank you for offering to send me an electronic version of a couple of your books that have a bearing on these issues.

    I have purchased perhaps ten of your books as a set or collection in conjunction with Logos Software. You have come out with another title since then that was included in a subsequent collection that featured other authors. I was most interested in your title then, but did not believe the other works by other authors would assist me that much in my studies.

    Last year I visited Barnes & Noble bookstore in Port Huron. Pastor Moss had mentioned a new edition of the Bible called The Catholic Answer Bible. The store did not have it in stock, but I bought it and they mailed it to my home when became available. It is nicely done. I wish there were a fine Bible edition instead of just a paperback available. In any case I have it on the shelf of the end table right by my reading chair in the living room and I have been looking at it. It has a number of references to the new(er) official catechism of the Roman Catholic Church. So, on my next trip to Barnes & Noble, I bought a hard-bound copy for reference to use in conjunction with your Catholic Answer Bible.

    I have been contemplating doing a series here at this website in a new category to be titled “The Catholic Answer Bible Answered.”

    Currently I am in the midst of a large project to greatly expand the cross references beyond what I provided in The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. I am as far as 2 Peter 1:11 this evening.

    So, it will be a short while before I engage in major new debate, but I am ready and willing. I am better equipped with information than I was in 1992. But as you know, I am always excited to learn more, and to be corrected when I am in error.

    Thank you for your input on this thread.

  7. That would be quite a feat, to “greatly expand the cross references beyond” your book! It would surely be an all-time record for Bible references.

    I’ll send you files of my two books on the topic to your e-mail.

    God bless!

    Dave

  8. Thanks for purchasing my other books, by the way.

  9. Jerry says:

    Dear Dave,

    You commented:

    Here you confuse material sufficiency of Scripture with formal sufficiency. Cardinal Newman and all Catholics deny formal sufficiency, because that is basically equivalent to the rule of faith of sola Scriptura, or the notion that Scripture is the only infallible and final, absolutely binding authority in Christianity. We deny that because the Bible never teaches it (nor did the Church fathers), and the Bible teaches much about the authority of the Church and tradition.

    It is my contention, as you well know, that the Bible itself does teach sola Scriptura, the notion that the Bible is the only infallible and final, absolutely binding authority in Christianity.

    You say “The Bible never teaches it.”

    Back in 2009 I posted an answer to a Roman Catholic poster on the Internet who presented something like 20 unanswerable proofs against sola Scriptura, saying in the post and ultimately on his website, that no Protestant had ever answered his 20 arguments. Well, I took that afternoon and evening to do so. He no longer posted on the thread at Timebomb2000 in the religion section that he started about this issue. I don’t think I persuaded him, but now he can no longer truthfully say no Protestant ever answered his arguments.

    Well, I just checked my Logos Library under Armstrong, Dave, and the following two books you mention are not part of my Logos collection:

    I’ve now written two entire books about sola Scriptura: 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura, and Pillars of Sola Scriptura: which critiqued the biblical arguments (what I was most interesetd in) of the prominent historical defenders of this doctrine

    I’d be happy to send you both of my books in e-book form (pdf, mobi, or ePub) via e-mail for free, if you like.

    I would love to receive the two books in ePub format and/or PDF format so I can study them and be one of the first Protestant readers to attempt to refute your position, if it should prove to be incorrect. I have the Calibre E-book management software on this computer so I should be able to access the content easily.

  10. The one book I only have in doc, but the second has been sent in both PDF and ePub.

    Not “one of the first” but THE first, in terms of these two books. :-)

  11. He no longer posted on the thread at Timebomb2000 in the religion section that he started about this issue. I don’t think I persuaded him, but now he can no longer truthfully say no Protestant ever answered his arguments.

    I know the feeling very well. James White: the leading anti-Catholic apologist (reformed Baptist) on the Internet, has never yet answered the final 36 pages of our debate through the mail from 1995. It’s nearly 19 years now that I’ve been waiting for that (I stopped holding my breath after a few years). I posted the entire thing on my website in 1997 and it has been up ever since, while it’s never been seen on his website. Meanwhile, he constantly gloats over opponents whom, he says, haven’t posted some debate or other with him, thinking that this is a sure sign of his victory.

    Now I have an entire book devoted to debates of his stuff or refutations (almost 400 pages: Debating James White), and he hasn’t yet touched it with a ten-foot pole: never even mentioning it, that I’m aware of. I think it’s probably his wisest course of several bad choices. :-) The book has been out for more than three months.

  12. That debate with White was about the definition of Christian, and why Catholics must be Christians if Protestants also are. It makes up the first 100 or so pages of the book about him.

  13. Jerry says:

    Dear Dave,

    I have tangled with James White myself, though he is not aware of it I’m sure.

    My scholar friend, Malcolm Lavender, criticized James White, basing the criticism on a careful and extensive appeal to Greek grammar (in depth, by the way). I became aware of this interchange when I helped Malcolm edit a response in answer to the attempt by James White to make short shrift of Malcolm’s knowledge of Greek grammar.

    Later (2005) Malcolm published his book, The Potter’s Freedom to Love the World: A Refutation of Dr. James R. White. I helped Malcolm with the editing of this book, and I wrote at his invitation a Forward to the book.

    Dr. Malcolm Lavender has now prepared a new translation of the Greek New Testament which more accurately than ever before preserves the nuances of the Greek grammar, especially involving grammatical mood and voice, and many other matters. I have as before served as an informal editor of his work, and have the entire translation on this computer. The Lavender Translation is planned to be ready for publication later this year.

    As a staunch Calvinist, James White defends the doctrine of limited atonement. I believe such a doctrine is contrary to Scripture.

    I’m glad there is no evidence in the Bible that we all have to pass a final examination in systematic theology in order to enter heaven! That way, as we both trust in Christ for our salvation and believe the Bible to be God’s Word, there is real hope for both of us. Do you suppose God will send at least some of us to “re-education school”? I must admit I don’t have “chapter and verse” for that idea!

    It has been a blessing today to hear from you again. I shall continue to keep you and your family in prayer that the Lord’s guidance and richest blessings be upon all of you.

  14. Thanks so much for your prayers.

    I hadn’t heard of that book. It sounds excellent. In one of my books I devote over 100 pages refuting TULIP, but Catholics do believe in election and predestination of the saved; just not of the reprobate. I’ve also written two books in response to Calvin’s Institutes.

    So we agree on those things.

    It will be sort of fun in heaven, I think (and fascinating and humbling) , as we all learn definitively what is true and what isn’t. :-) I look forward to seeing the change of behavior of not a few folks who have claimed I am going to hell, when they see I’m there (assuming that I make it) and will be for eternity: how they now then act completely differently (sin being disallowed). And I’m sure it will work the other way around, too. If I see a mass murderer who underwent a deathbed conversion to Christ, then that will take some getting used to as well!

    It will be wonderful to see people acting the way God always intended for them to act, and to see the transformation in ourselves, as sins are purged away.

  15. Jerry says:

    Dear Dave,

    I now see you have made a very kind post on this thread while I was composing this one, I would suppose. Below is a little of my argument regarding the subject of material as opposed to formal sufficiency. I started this morning by doing a search of the resources in my Logos library for those terms. Only a few results, all but one in books written by you. The terms must not be in common use in the usual works on Biblical, Systematic, or Dogmatic Theology like those I have in abundance in my “Gold” level Logos 5 software.

    I note with interest that Dave Armstrong in one of his books I have in my Logos software library states the following regarding 2 Timothy 3:15-17, noting especially his explanation of “material sufficiency of Scripture” (with which he and I agree) and “formal sufficiency” which I defend and he denies. Note that Dave has written this in the form of a dialog, where “P” is the Protestant speaker, and “C” is the Roman Catholic speaker.

    Is the Bible the Ultimate Rule of Faith?

    P: The Bible presents to mankind the entirety of God’s special revelation, and sufficiently provides everything we need to know for salvation and obedience to God.

    C: I believe in the material sufficiency of Scripture myself, and this is an acceptable Catholic position. I deny that Scripture is formally sufficient as an authority over against apostolic succession, biblically consistent and biblically based Tradition, and the Church (however the latter is defined). I deny that Scripture itself teaches either formal sufficiency or sola Scriptura. This will constitute your burden of proof.

    P: The most important text in support of sola Scriptura is 2 Timothy 3:15–17. In v.15 we are informed that the sacred writings are “able to instruct you for salvation.” In v.17 Paul tells us that the teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness that comes from the Bible makes us complete and equipped for every good work. I contend that Paul refers to Scripture in a categorical sense, without precise personal knowledge of the later-determined canon.

    C: However, by equipping for every good work it does not follow that Tradition and Church are thereby excluded. Catholics (who understand their faith) abide by this passage as much as Protestants do. The Bible is wonderful, etc., and we believe it is materially sufficient, as you do. All we are saying is that this passage in no way proves Scripture Alone. If the Apostle Paul is teaching sola Scriptura here (which I deny), then he certainly contradicts himself in many other places in his biblical writings. I assume that Church and Tradition are present implicitly in 2 Timothy 3:15–16, based on topically cross-referencing to other Pauline passages on authority, apostolic Tradition, and the Church. Even if you deny that, you still cannot establish (logically) that 2 Timothy 3:15–16 compellingly teaches sola Scriptura. It does no such thing. This is eisegesis, pure and simple, and an anachronistic hermeneutic of special pleading (i.e., reading a notion which originated in the 16th century back into the biblical text). That this is considered the very best argument for sola Scriptura is a startling indication of the utter biblical bankruptcy of the doctrine—itself one of the pillars of Protestantism. Protestants say it is a pillar; I say it is the Achilles’ Heel of your system.

    Armstrong, D. (2007). Bible Conversations: Catholic-Protestant Dialogues on the Bible, Tradition, and Salvation (pp. 21–22). Dave Armstrong.

    I would say, “Nice try, Dave, but your argument is not compelling, and certainly not true to the Bible.”

    In no particular order, I make the following observations:

    (1) You yourself state that it is your assumption that “Church and Tradition are present implicitly in 2 Timothy 3:15–16, based on topically cross-referencing to other Pauline passages on authority, apostolic Tradition, and the Church.”

    I have had some experience with topical cross references related to 2 Timothy 3:15-17. I have furnished the references I have collected so far immediately above at the end of this “Daily Bible Nugget #161.”

    To the best of my certainly fallible recollection, I do not recall that I have furnished at 2 Timothy 3:15-17 any cross references to such matters extraneous to this text as “authority,” “apostolic Tradition,” or the “Church.”

    Perhaps you have some Scripture references you are willing to share with me for my consideration. I’ll take them into consideration even if I determine they are not exegetically relevant to the explanation of this passage.

    We likely differ on the matter of authority. I assert that doctrinal authority resides in the text of Scripture. Paul asserts in this very passage that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine.

    I suspect you would place authority in an institution, namely, the Roman Catholic Church. Of course, the Orthodox Greek Catholic Church might differ with you about which Church (if any, in my estimate) goes back to the original Apostolic Church, such that the Roman Catholic Church, for years the equivalent of a missionary outpost of the Eastern Church, is surely a “Johnny-come-lately.”

    But as for authority, the words of Jesus in Matthew 20:25-28 are instructive, particularly Matthew 20:26,

    Mat 20:26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

    That the Apostles understood this directive of Christ is evident in their subsequent comments recorded in the Bible at 2 Corinthians 1:24 and 1 Peter 5:3,

    2 Corinthians 1:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

    1 Peter 5:3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

    As for “apostolic Tradition,” we all have access to that in the 27 primary sources which comprise our New Testament. There is no “apostolic Tradition” recorded in any other source (outside the NT) from that time.

    Like the term “sufficiency,” which you have made a distinction between “material sufficiency” and “formal sufficiency,” the word “Tradition” is a word which is used to convey altogether different notions without distinguishing the special use made of the term in a given case.

    The notion that there are verifiable, documentable, examples of Apostolic Tradition that have come down to us separately from the records preserved in the New Testament is incorrect. The only words of Jesus or any of the Apostles of the New Testament we have access to now are to be found in the 27 primary source documents, nowhere else.

    “Tradition” is also used to refer to the continuous ongoing development of Christian doctrine. That is not the Biblical usage of the word at all, and is a separate and unrelated matter.

    Now to briefly address the issue that sparked your interest in this particular “Daily Bible Nugget #161, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.” I inserted a “tag” which made reference to you, “Dave Armstrong–Roman Catholic Apologist refuted.”

    My thinking at the time when I thought up that “tag” is this. Cardinal Newman is mistaken in his assertions pertaining to what is taught and what is meant by what Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Considering that you were greatly influenced by Cardinal Newman’s writings to convert to Roman Catholicism, and considering that you agree with his teaching about this verse, if I refuted him, I refuted you.

    Cardinal Newman wrote:

    Cardinal Henry Newman thinks otherwise. He states: “The Church would always be the living teacher. It is a mistake to limit ‘Christ’s word’ to the written word only or to suggest that all his teachings were reduced to writing. The Bible nowhere supports either notion.”

    The church surely would always be the living teacher. But where do the teachings Christ commanded be taught reside? In our time, the only authentic teachings of Christ are preserved in those pesky 27 primary source documents we call the New Testament, no where else. While it is certain that Christ spoke many more words in terms of word-count than are recorded in Scripture, the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the New Testament to record what God willed for us to know. The writers expressly state that while much more could have been written, yet “these are written” that “ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31). So, yes, this fits your term, “material sufficiency.” But what Cardinal Newman wrote, best as I can figure from the very limited context Google Books permitted me to view at the time I searched to document this quotation cited on several Roman Catholic websites–none of which cited any more words than I have from this context in Newman’s book on Inspiration. But his words have no direct bearing on the meaning of what Paul expressed in 2 Timothy 3:15-17, except to contradict them by positing a “straw man argument” not relevant to the text.

    Cardinal Newman further states: “It is quite evident that this passage furnishes no argument whatever that the sacred Scripture, without Tradition, is the sole rule of faith; for, although sacred Scripture is profitable for these four ends, still IT IS NOT SAID TO BE SUFFICIENT.” (Newman, Inspiration, p. 131).

    Perhaps Cardinal Newman had reference to a special meaning for the term “sufficient,” a meaning akin to your “formal sufficiency.” It would not have been possible for me to discern this from the limited context I was permitted to see online via a Google Books search. But even if he meant “formal sufficiency,” a term he did not use here, he is still mistaken.

    That we are to go by the whole of Scripture as our sole rule of faith is quite clear from Isaiah chapter 8. In that chapter some had lost patience with having to wait to hear from God, so they turned to what we would call extra-biblical sources of information or guidance. The Lord through Isaiah sternly reproved them for turning aside from Scripture with the words,

    Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

    I believe this text provides the justification for the belief that we must go by the Bible alone and in its entirety. I believe this text teaches that whatever is taught must be verified by checking it against what the Bible itself teaches. If any individual or church or denomination teaches contrary to what the Bible itself declares, such a teaching authority is in error. Apparently Paul advocated that what was taught in a church should be judged by those who heard the teaching, virtually on the spot (see 1 Corinthians 14:29). I believe the principle underlying this text in Isaiah holds for all time: what is taught must conform to the law and the testimony–the written Word of God as available by Divine revelation at and to that time. I believe the canon of Scripture was closed with the writing of the Book of Revelation, and that there has not been and shall not be any further divine revelation until the return of Christ at His appearing and kingdom (2 Timothy 4:1).

    Now, I cannot explain how I got Cardinal Newman’s name wrong. Perhaps I was up too late at the time and frustrated with Google Book’s absurd limitation on how much of Cardinal Newman’s book I was allowed to see. Surely his books were written long enough ago that the copyright is long since expired, so they ought to be public domain. I have found that when that happens, sometimes when I go back a few years later access is allowed. In any case, I did not purposely misrepresent his official name, you may be sure.

  16. I assert that doctrinal authority resides in the text of Scripture.

    Of course it does. No one is saying it doesn’t.

    Paul asserts in this very passage that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine.

    Of course it is. No one is saying it isn’t.

    I suspect you would place authority in an institution, namely, the Roman Catholic Church.

    The Catholic view of authority is what we call the “three-legged stool”: Bible-Church-Tradition: all harmonious with each other; no contradictions. What the Church teaches and what true apostolic tradition teaches (as opposed to false traditions of men) is, we believe, in compete harmony with Scripture. We don’t feel the slightest need to pit any of these three against each other, as Protestants do. Holy Scripture, after all, teaches that there is an infallible Church and a binding apostolic tradition. We don;t believe in sola ecclesia, or put the Church in the position that you guys place the Bible. These are all myths and misconceptions.

    The Protestant-Catholic discussion on authority is not “Bible vs. Church” (with you guys on one side and us on the other); the issue is, rather, whether Church and tradition are also infallible authorities, in conjunction with the Bible. Catholics don’t deny biblical authority. We believe it is inspired revelation, just as you do. We’re the ones who compiled the Bible, canonized it, and preserved it for 1500 years before anyone ever heard of Protestantism. There were even 14 translations into German in the 70 odd years between the invention of the movable-type printing press and Luther’s Bible (to smash one myth about that).

    That’s why all these “proof texts” for sola Scriptura are almost always completely irrelevant, because the argument made is one that Catholics already agree with (the Bible is inspired , great, wonderful, able to teach and correct, etc., etc.). No one ever said otherwise, so this doesn’t prove anything with regard to sola Scriptura as the rule of faith.

    Sola Scriptura is not equivalent to “biblical authority” or “love of the Bible.” One can love and revere the Bible (as Catholics do), accept that it is revelation and wholly inspired and reject sola Scriptura, on the grounds that the latter is not itself taught in the Bible, and was a late-arriving false tradition of men, 15 centuries after Jesus Christ. That’s what my two books on the topic are about.

  17. Virtually everything Cardinal Newman wrote is available online, for free, at the Newman Reader:

    http://www.newmanreader.org/Works/index.html

  18. As for the Newman quote you reference above, I submit that even the little you have of context makes it clear what he is talking about, which is “the rule of faith” (formal sufficiency) : not whether all true and necessary doctrines can be found in Scripture (material sufficiency). In other words, he’s saying that Scripture is not the sole infallible authority. Again, that has to do with the rule of faith, which is called “formal sufficiency” of Scripture.

    The four things he was referring to are in the passage itself: 1) instruction or teaching, 2) refuting errors, 3) rebuking men of corrupt morals, and 4) forming men in righteousness.

    I cited a larger portion of the passage in my first book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, which was partially written all the way back in the early 90s, and completed in May 1996. Here it is:

    It is quite evident that this passage furnishes no argument whatever that the sacred Scripture, without Tradition, is the sole rule of faith; for although Sacred Scripture is profitable for these four ends, still it is not said to be sufficient. The Apostle requires the aid of Tradition (2 Thessalonians 2:15). Moreover, the Apostle here refers to the Scriptures which Timothy was taught in his infancy. Now, a good part of the New Testament was not written in his boyhood: some of the Catholic Epistles were not written even when St. Paul wrote this, and none of the books of the New Testament were then placed on the canon of the Scripture books. He refers, then, to the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and if the argument from this passage proved anything, it would prove too much, viz., that the Scriptures of the New Testament were not necessary for a rule of faith.

    It is hardy necessary to remark that this passage furnishes no proof of the inspiration of the several books of Sacred Scripture, even of those admitted to be such . . . For we are not told . . . what the Books or portions of “inspired Scripture” are.

    [Footnote] Newman, John Henry Cardinal, “Essay on Inspiration in its Relation to Revelation,” London: 1884, Essay 1, section 29. Emphasis in original. In Newman, On the Inspiration of Scripture, ed. J. Derek Holmes and Robert Murray, Washington, D.C., Corpus Books, 1967, 131.

  19. I made my own (possibly original?) analogical and cross-referencing argument right after this, in that book:

    In addition to these logical and historical arguments, one can also differ with the Protestant interpretation of this passage on contextual, analogical, and exegetical grounds. In 2 Timothy alone (context), St. Paul makes reference to oral Tradition three times (1:13-14, 2:2, 3:14). In the latter instance, St. Paul says of the tradition, “knowing from whom you learned it.” The personal reference proves he is not talking about Scripture, but himself as the Tradition-bearer, so to speak. Elsewhere (exegesis), St. Paul frequently espouses oral Tradition (Romans 6:17, 1 Corinthians 11:2,23, 15:1-3, Galatians 1:9,12, Colossians 2:8, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 3:6). The “exclusivist” or “dichotomous” form of reasoning employed by Protestant apologists here is fundamentally flawed. For example, to reason by analogy, let’s examine a very similar passage, Ephesians 4:11-15:

    Ephesians 4:11-15 [RSV] And his gifts were that some should be apostle, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are able to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

    If the Greek artios (RSV, complete / KJV, perfect) proves the sole sufficiency of Scripture in 2 Timothy, then teleios (RSV, mature manhood / KJV, perfect) in Ephesians would likewise prove the sufficiency of pastors, teachers and so forth for the attainment of Christian perfection. Note that in Ephesians 4:11-15 the Christian believer is equipped, built up, brought into unity and mature manhood, knowledge of Jesus, the fulness of Christ, and even preserved from doctrinal confusion by means of the teaching function of the Church. This is a far stronger statement of the perfecting of the saints than 2 Timothy 3:16-17, yet it doesn’t even mention Scripture.

    Therefore, the Protestant interpretation of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 proves too much, since if all non-scriptural elements are excluded in 2 Timothy, then, by analogy, Scripture would logically have to be excluded in Ephesians. It is far more reasonable to synthesize the two passages in an inclusive, complementary fashion, by recognizing that the mere absence of one or more elements in one passage does not mean that they are nonexistent. Thus, the Church and Scripture are both equally necessary and important for teaching. This is precisely the Catholic view. Neither passage is intended in an exclusive sense.

  20. I made a similar argument, in analyzing Paul’s use of words, in a later paper:

    Sola Scriptura vs. Ephesians 4 & St. Paul’s Word Selection: Scripture(s), Tradition, and Church (+ Body)”

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2010/03/sola-scriptura-vs-ephesians-4-st-pauls.html

    You’re a big cross-reference guy. You might want to give this a read. I think you’ll be surprised by Paul’s choice of words, and the relative frequency of what he talks about. It sure doesn’t suggest sola Scriptura, I’ll tell ya right now . . . so you can brace yourself before reading. :-)

  21. Jerry says:

    Thank you, Dave, for your kindness in furnishing such good links to further resources. Looks like I’ll have enough material to upgrade my education!

  22. Jerry says:

    I took a peek at the online resource to Cardinal Newman’s writings. I found the volume pertaining to the inspiration of Scripture. I found this statement from that volume most interesting:

    15. Surely, then, if the revelations and lessons in Scripture are addressed to us personally and practically, the presence among us of a formal judge and standing expositor of its words, is imperative. It is antecedently unreasonable to suppose that a book so complex, so systematic, in parts so obscure, the outcome of so many minds, times, and places, should be given us from above without the safeguard of some authority; as if it could possibly, from the nature of the case, interpret itself. Its inspiration does but guarantee its truth, not its interpretation. How are private readers satisfactorily to distinguish what is didactic and what is historical, what is fact and what is vision, what is allegorical and what is literal, what is idiomatic and what is grammatical, what is enunciated formally and what occurs obiter, what is only of temporary and what is of lasting obligation? Such is our natural anticipation, and it is only too exactly justified in the events of the last three centuries, in the many countries where private judgment on the text of Scripture has prevailed. The gift of inspiration requires as its complement the gift of infallibility. (On the Inspiration of Scripture, 1884)

    Note particularly this part of his statement:

    as if it could possibly, from the nature of the case, interpret itself.

    Now on this point I differ in opinion and experience as to whether the Bible can interpret itself. I have stated repeatedly that the Bible is a self-interpreting Book. One way to both see and experience this is to make use of cross references in Bible study. Studying the Bible in this manner will let you see to how great a degree–surely far more so than is commonly supposed–the Bible explains itself.

    I would suppose that Cardinal Newman may never have made use of The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, though it was certainly available in his day.

    See the remarks of Bishop Horsley I have given elsewhere on this site about the vital usefulness of consulting cross references in Bible study as a sure guard against being led astray by false teachers. [see http://www.realbiblestudy.com/?p=26 He pointed out that once a person has experienced learning from the study of Scripture itself (by consulting all the related Scriptures), such a person will not easily be convinced of another, later, wrong interpretation offered by someone else. It is a preventative against being “carried about with every wind of doctrine” spoken of by Paul at Ephesians 4:14.

  23. I have always found the Bible to be clear and essentially “self-interpreting” whenever I studied it. Cardinal Newman, however, is referring mostly to the fact that pope do not agree on what it’s clear teachings are.

    This is self-evident in the massive internal contradictions of Protestantism. You guys claim that the Bible is self-interpreting enough to arrive at truths, yet you can’t agree as to what they are.

    Thus, Protestants split into five camps on a question as basic as baptism:

    1) Infant regenerative (e.g., Lutherans, Anglicans).

    2) Infant non-regenerative (e.g., Presbyterians).

    3) Adult regenerative (e.g., Church of Christ; Disciples of Christ).

    4) Adult non-regenerative (e.g., Baptists, Assemblies of God).

    5) Not necessary at all (Quakers, Salvation Army).

    So which is the true view? Which is clearly taught in Scripture, through cross-referencing?

    I say #1 is the answer, and that it is clearly taught in Scripture (as I have shown, myself, many times); but I have church teaching and early Church teaching (tradition) to solidly back me up).

    You choose another (I believe your position is #2 or else #4), and claim it is clearly taught in the Bible, but since you don’t have an authoritative Church or Tradition to back you up, the next Protestant contradicts you, and appeals to the Bible as well; so it is a vicious circle and can’t be resolved. If you opt for #2, men as great as Luther and Wesley and C. S. Lewis disagree with you. If you choose #4, both Luther and Calvin are against you, and in fact, both advocated death on grounds of sedition, for those holding such a position.

    And so on and on it goes in Protestantism: always arguing and never arriving at the truth in so many areas. This reminds one of what the Apostle Paul warned about:

    2 Timothy 3:6-7 (RSV) For among them are those who make their way into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and swayed by various impulses, [7] who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

    If Protestants can’t figure out and agree on what is true on a host of issues such as baptism, how is the system a whit better than these “weak women” Paul describes, or those he describes elsewhere as “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles” (Eph 4:14)?

  24. Jerry says:

    Dear Dave,

    I am glad you chose to use the issue of baptism as an example of many viewpoints of various Protestant or non-Roman Catholic groups disagree on.

    I have studied this issue most thoroughly, and likely could win a debate, hands down, against any position which is not true to the plain teaching of the Bible (in its original language, not just English translation).

    I assisted Dr. Robert Countess some years ago now in his efforts to have the five volumes in four of James W. Dale on baptism republished. I was able to assist him because (1) I possessed a set of what were then very scarce volumes, and (2) I had studied them thoroughly. In fact, when the publisher lost the index to one of the volumes I prepared a new index more accurate than the original for their potential subsequent use. I furnished copy from which to make new plates, and wrote a “blurb” that is on the back cover of the first volume as published by P&R and/or Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers.

    My Blurb:

    Classic Baptism is a volume calculated to utterly shatter the widespread unfounded contemporary mythology surrounding the meaning and usage of the original Greek words underlying our English word baptism. Dale’s original five volumes (bound in four) constitute the most massive, thorough, accurate, and authoritative study ever made of this word–examining all the known occurrences of baptize. Absolutely a must reading on this controversial subject! Dale writes in a clear and refreshingly irenic spirit in this volume which will delight and inform scholar, student, and layman alike.” Jerry Smith, Editor, Mott Media

    I have studied far more than just the works of Dale. In my personal library here I have a four-foot shelf devoted to the subject. Many of the books I have were inherited from my elderly friend Uncle Frank Burrell, who lived on Fort Street just around the corner from where I once lived at 711 Hubbard, about 8 blocks west of the Ambassador Bridge. It was Uncle Frank who interested me in the subject when I, then a member of Highland Park Baptist Church, believed in immersion. He asked if I would be willing to read just one book on the subject. I said I certainly was willing. So he loaned me a copy of Hughey’s work, The Scriptural Mode of Christian Baptism. I read that volume most carefully. The Biblical argument Hughey made was sufficient to take all the water out of my baptistery! So that is a brief note on how I got started on studying the issue.

    I have presented the findings of my research on this subject in my notes in The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge.

    As an experienced champion high school (Cass Technical High School, won city championship, which back then included teams from the whole region of southeastern Michigan) and university (where I participated in the debate program at Bob Jones University, earning my letter in debate and won the men’s championship), I determined to present the evidence as strongly for each claimed-to-be-Biblically-supported side of the issue. I have attempted to present the strongest case possible for each of several conflicting views.

    So, if you are a Baptist and believe in immersion, you will want to study my note at Romans 6:4 which presents the strongest case in behalf of that mode.

    If you don’t believe in immersion, and favor sprinkling, you will want to study my note at Colossians 2:12.

    If you are of the Roman Catholic persuasion, and want to see an instance when the infallible teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church (the Magisterium?) is absolutely in error, you will (or maybe you won’t!) want to thoroughly study notes and references given at John 3:5. I find it very strange and telling that a Church would proclaim infallibility and then teach a mistaken interpretation of this text. It might be a good thing that they have not ventured to provide very many such official interpretations of specific verses that all Roman Catholics are required to believe. Yet, since that is the case (you documented that in one of your books I have in a quotation from the Catholic Encyclopedia), that really tends to take away the supposed advantage of following a one true church that provides all the answers so you don’t have to flounder between differing opinions like the Protestants do with their alleged 20,000 different denominations (or whatever the figure might now be–the number is irrelevant to the issue of whether the Bible is truly understandable and can be definitively interpreted in a manner which can be shown is correct).

    Of the five views you suggest, here is the score card based on careful study of the relevant texts of Scripture and their cross references that pertain to each:

    1. Infant regenerative. Incorrect. Baptismal Regeneration is a mistaken view; the physical rite has no regenerative value. Consider notes and references at Acts 2:38 and Galatians 3:27 for starting points, or any other supposed proof-text thought to support this doctrine. See also my note at Mark 16:16 and cross references.

    2. Infant non-regenerative. CORRECT. See Acts 16:15 notes and references.

    3. Adult regenerative. Incorrect. See number 1.

    4. Adult non-regenerative. CORRECT. Acts 8:38 and cross references.

    5. Not required at all. Incorrect. See Matthew 28:19 where the command is given but never retracted elsewhere in Scripture.

  25. Jerry says:

    Here is a statement regarding the clarity of Scripture which states the truth better than I can, apparently from the Faithlife Study Bible blog article today titled “How to Study the Bible”:

    While we may wish that the Bible was entirely clear, students of literature would never expect that from other important books. When it comes to the Bible, it should be obvious that we have to study the Bible in order to understand it.
    Some writing—a newspaper story, for example—might be understood by almost any mature reader. Other writing—such as a Shakespeare play—might require readers to consult dictionaries, study guides, and other aids because of the nature of the language and the subject matter. Yet other writing—a calculus textbook, for example—might require years of prior study as well as patient, focused effort in order to appreciate even a single page. The Bible contains literature at all these levels: some parts any reader can follow, some parts require some help, and some are difficult enough that even seasoned scholars struggle to comprehend them.

    This is to be expected. A book claiming to be authored by the One whose thinking and communication can range from the simplest level to far above human understanding should require serious effort from seekers of its truth. It is naïve to think that the Bible differs from all other literature in being automatically comprehensible, or that our good intentions and love of God will make irrelevant the need to study in order to appreciate the quality of ideas He has put into writing for us.

  26. So the other guys get it wrong because they don’t study enough, as you did? Yet the Bible remains self-interpreting and perspicuous?

  27. . . . John 3:5. I find it very strange and telling that a Church would proclaim infallibility and then teach a mistaken interpretation of this text.

    Now, what did the Catholic Church say regarding John 3:5? Canon II on baptism, from the Council of Trent condemned anyone who “saith that true and natural water is not of necessity for baptism.” It then notes that John 3:5 is wrongly used metaphorically toward that end (denial of the necessity of water for baptism), and forbids such use.

    Thus, what the Church required Catholics to believe, is something that is noncontroversial: that you would agree with yourself. Water is necessary for baptism. DUH!!! I’m unaware of any Christian group that would deny this, excepting those that don’t (quite absurdly) baptize at all. Therefore, your “argument” here against this teaching of the Church is much ado about nothing.

    If you want cross-texting for John 3:5, sure; I’ve done that, in a paper years ago:

    ***

    Titus 3:5: he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

    Compare this to John 3:5:

    Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, unless a man is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (cf. 3:3: “unless a man is born again …”)

    The two passages are almost exactly parallel:

    Titus: “saved” / John: “enter the kingdom of God”
    Titus: “washing of rebirth” / John: “born of water”
    Titus: “renewal by the Holy Spirit” / John: “born . . . of the Spirit”

    What is “washing” in one verse (with two other common elements) is shown to be “water” in the other. Thus, baptism is tied to salvation, in accord with the other verses above. The evidence is strong.

    1 Corinthians 6:11 is also similar to Titus 3:5:

    And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    So the “justified” is the parallel of “kingdom of God” and “saved” in Titus 3:5 and John 3:5; “washed” goes along with “washing of rebirth” and “born of water,” and all this was done by the “Spirit.” Once again, it is a striking parallelism (now for three passages).

    ***

    It might be a good thing that they have not ventured to provide very many such official interpretations of specific verses that all Roman Catholics are required to believe.

    Yes it is, which is why Catholic Answers put out a short tract entitled, “Scripture Passages Definitively Interpreted by the Church.” It explained that only seven (and possibly nine) verses have been required to have a certain meaning. Big wow. The Church is not standing over every Catholic, making sure they interpret single verses in a certain way. That’s one of the 3,876,198 myths about us.

    Any Protestant worth his salt, who studies Protestant special pleading about sola Scriptura, is, in effect, “required” to believe in certain interpretations of those prooftexts, under pain of being “against the Bible” or not a bona fide “Bible believing Protestant” if they do not. Try arguing, for example, with a Calvinist about his (their) interpretation of Romans 9. You think they’re not required to believe certain things about that chapter? Do you think they’re not “required” to believe that the numerous passages on apostasy and falling away mean a certain (eisegeted) thing, contrary to far more plausible, sensible Arminian / Wesleyan interpretations?

    It’s the same with any Protestant denomination; the only difference is which prooftexts are favored, or which are the “pet verses.” So there is really no difference here. It’s a double standard to think that there is. I have every bit as much freedom to exegete the biblical text as you do. And I’ve done so, on a popular level, for 33 years now, both as a Protestant and as a Catholic.

  28. “that really tends to take away the supposed advantage of following a one true church that provides all the answers”

    The “answers” that the Catholic Church provides are doctrines and dogmas that it proclaims to be true: something not all that different from what every Protestant denomination does: they all have creeds or confessions or statements of belief. We just have more that are required, and they are binding in a way that, technically, they are not in Protestantism (given the theoretical — in practice, rarely actually allowed — ability of every Protestant to dissent on the grounds of Bible Alone).

    But it’s beyond silly to chide us because we supposedly have some infantile system whereby no man need think about anything or study the Bible (I know what is thought about my Church: maybe not by you, but by many many Protestants), simply because the Church requires beliefs in various dogmas.

    The Calvinists were extremely dogmatic against the Arminians at the Synod of Dort, weren’t they? There was no latitude of interpretation or freedom there. Yet all we hear about is the (assumed arbitrary, outrageous) dogmatism of the Catholic Church at the Diet of Worms in 1521, because she refused to bow down and kiss Luther’s feet and acknowledge that he was right in 50 areas or more (as I have documented) where the Church was allegedly wrong.

    Lutheranism (despite all the Bible alone rhetoric at its inception) has its Book of Concord with all of its dogmas, which is believed to be fully in harmony with Scripture (and is binding on Lutherans who actually try to uphold that tradition). The Calvinists have the Westminster Confession and 39 Articles. Assemblies of God have their “16 Fundamental Truths” (and I always denied the “enduement of power” clause — where all must speak in tongues to “prove” that they are filled with the Spirit –, which is unbiblical, which is why I never became a member of that denomination, even though I got married there and attended for four years).

    There is plenty of “dogma” and “non-options” in Protestantism, too, yet it’s the Catholic Church that is derided because we have dogmas and beliefs, too, that are required to be believed. And that is, of course, because many of ours are falsely regarded as “unbiblical” or “excessive” or “corruptions.”

    Well, my very career specializes in showing that our beliefs are far more able to be supported from Holy Scripture than any set of Protestant beliefs can be.

  29. I don’t have your book. I gave it to a Baptist friend as a gift way back in 1997. I regret it now, but I’m sure she and her pastor husband have made very good use of it!

  30. Jerry says:

    Dear Dave,

    Is the text of the Catholic Answers tract you mention that specifies which 7 or perhaps 9 texts of Scripture have been officially interpreted by the Roman Catholic Church available? That would be good reference material to have at hand. Is it available as a PDF or other electronic document form?

    Now, you mention a number of differences among Protestants and Christians at large about various and sundry doctrines. Some of these I would like to comment on later.

    I would suppose that some of the differences are non-critical, having nothing to do with salvation and eternal life. Perhaps the form of church government might fit under this one. So also would be the mode of Christian baptism.

    The Bible original language words for baptism are non-modal words: they tell what was done, but do not specify how it was done. Therefore, all modes are potentially valid. Yet there is one mode which, surprisingly, is not supported by Scripture, namely immersion. There are no cases of immersion in water of persons in Scripture for a religious purpose in either the Old Testament or the New Testament. That is an absolute. No one has yet ventured for long to argue otherwise with me on this point, though all are welcome, and I trust I am gentle and respectful of others’ views. But what counts in a case like this is evidence that conforms to the grammar of the Bible text.

    Now, as for John 3:5, that has nothing to do with water baptism because the water in that passage is clearly metaphorical as a symbol for the Holy Spirit. This fits the context of what Jesus was driving at in His discussion with Nicodemus. Recall that Jesus was surprised that Nicodemus, a teacher in Israel (a member of the Sanhedrin), did not immediately understand the spiritual truth Jesus was discussing and understand exactly where in the Old Testament these precise truths were declared (Ezekiel 36:25-27).

    The reference, therefore, in John 3:5 is to what has been called by some “real baptism” accomplished by the Holy Spirit, in contrast with ritual water baptism which requires, we both agree, actual physical water in its administration by a human administrator who is present for the task. There is no human administrator of the rite of ritual water baptism in view in the context of John 3:5.

    I do not know what Bible software you have at hand. I use the free resource, e-Sword, from http://www.e-Sword.net, I believe the site address is. I also use Logos 5 software. My book in electronic format is available in the Logos 5 software.

    I am always willing to share with you my expanded references that sometimes go far and above over what is available in the New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. I am still working on it. I finished 2 Peter chapter 1 this afternoon. My wife Sue tells me I am now 97.3% done in terms of completed chapters.

    For your reference, here is what I have thus far for John 3:5,

    John 3:5. Verily. ver. 11. Jn +1:51. 6:26, 53. 13:16. Mt +5:18. 2 C 1:20. I say unto thee. Mk 14:18. Except. FS184C, Mt +4:9. Jn 6:53. a man. Lk 11:13. Ga 4:29. born. ver. *3. Is *44:3, 4. Ezk *36:25-27. Mt *3:11. 28:19. Mk *16:16. Ac +*2:38. Ro +*6:3, 4n. Ep **5:26. T *3:4-7. 1 P *1:2, 23. *3:21. 1 J 5:6-8. of water. Jn 1:33. 7:38, 39. 13:10. Ps *119:9, 11. Ezk **36:25-27. Mk 16:16. Ac +*1:5. +*2:38. 8:36. 10:47. 11:16. +*22:16. Ep *5:26. T 3:5, 6. He +*10:22. 1 P 1:23. *3:20, 21. 2 P 3:5, 6. 1 J 5:6, 8. Re 22:1, 17. and. FS93A, Ge +1:26. Hendiadys; or, Two for One F/S 657. Two words are used (water, Spirit), but one thing is meant (Spirit). By this figure water and spirit are joined by “and.” There is no of in the Greek, supplied here by the translators. There is no article to either of the two nouns. This figure gives the meaning, “born of water, even the spirit.” That only one thing is meant by the two words is clear from verses 6 and 8, where only the Spirit (the one thing) is mentioned. The figure may also be understood to mean “born of spiritual water,” where the “spiritual water” is, by the figure Metonymy, put for the Holy Spirit Himself, as is clear from Jn 7:38, 39. The reference is to the real baptism by the Holy Spirit which is the one indispensable condition of entering the kingdom of God (Ro 8:9. 1 C 12:13), not to the water of ritual baptism (Ac 1:5n). of the. Jn *1:13. *6:63. Mt 3:11. Mk 16:16. Ro 2:29. 8:2, 10. 1 C *2:12. *6:11. 1 J *2:29. *5:1, 6-8. Spirit. Gr. pneuma, FS121A1, Lk +1:17n. Jn 1:33. 6:63. Ge 1:2n. Ps 51:10. Ezk **36:26, 27. Mt **3:16. 1 C +*12:13. 15:45. Ga 4:6, 29. T 3:5. cannot enter. ver. 3. Jn 13:8. Mt *5:20. +7:21. *11:21. *18:3. 19:23. 28:19. Mk 10:23. Lk 10:13. *13:3, 5, 24. Ac 2:38. +*3:19. +*14:22. Ro 8:8. *14:17. 1 C +**6:9, 10. 2 C *5:17, 18. Ga *6:15. Ep 2:4-10. 2 Th 2:13, 14. Re 21:27. 22:14, 15. the kingdom. ver. +*3. Mt +*8:11, 12. +*21:43. Lk 10:9.

  31. Is the text of the Catholic Answers tract you mention that specifies which 7 or perhaps 9 texts of Scripture have been officially interpreted by the Roman Catholic Church available? That would be good reference material to have at hand. Is it available as a PDF or other electronic document form?

    Here is an article along those lines from their website:

    “Are Catholics free to interpret Bible verses without the Church’s approval?”
    http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/are-catholics-free-to-interpret-bible-verses-without-the-churchs-approval

    I cited an older one that seems to no longer be there. Here it is:

    Scripture Passages Definitively Interpreted by the Church

    Many people think the Church has an official “party line” about every sentence in the Bible. In fact, only a handful of passages have been definitively interpreted. The Church does interpret many passages in Scripture to guide her teaching. Other passages are used as the starting point and support of doctrine or moral teaching, but only these few have been “defined” in the strict sense of the word. Even in these few cases the Church is only defending traditional doctrine and morals.

    It is important to realize that the parameters set by the definitions are all negative, that is, they point out what cannot be denied about the meaning of a passage but do not limit how much more the passage can be interpreted to say. In other words, the Church condemns denials of a specific interpretation of the text, without condemning meanings over and above but not contradictory to it.

    All of the following passages were definitively interpreted by the Church at the Council of Trent, for each has to do with justification or the sacraments, issues that divided Catholics and Protestants.

    1. John 3:5 “Unless a man is born of water and Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.”

    The Church condemned the denial that the words of Jesus mean that real (natural) water must be used for a valid baptism. Other symbolic meanings in addition to the literal sense of real water can be found in the text, perhaps, but none are acceptable that deny the need for real water at baptism.

    2. Luke 22:19 and
    3. I Corinthians 11:24– “Taking the bread, he gave thanks, broke it and gave it to them, saying ‘This is my body given for you: do this in remembrance of me.”

    The Church condemned the interpretation of these passages that denied that Jesus, in commanding his apostles to “Do this in memory of me” after instituting the Eucharist, conferred priestly ordination on them and their successors enabling them to offer His body and blood. More could be understood by the command to do this in remembrance, but that much could not be denied or contradicted by other interpretations.

    4. John 20:22-23– “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven; whose sins you do not forgive, they are not forgiven,” and
    5. Matthew 18:18– “Whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

    The Church condemned the denial that in these two passages Jesus conferred a power exclusively on the apostles authorizing them and their successors in the priestly office to forgive sins in God’s name, and condemned the proposal that everyone could forgive sins in this sense.

    6. Romans 5:12– “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…”

    The Church condemned the denial of original sin to which all mankind is subject and which baptism remits, citing this passage to be understood in that sense.

    7. James 6:14– “Is anyone of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

    Definitively interpreting these passages, the Church condemned the denial that the sacrament of the anointing of the sick was instituted by Christ and promulgated by the apostles against those who deemed it a human invention of the later Church.

    In addition, the decree of Vatican I about Christ establishing Peter as head of the Church — which cites Mt 16:16 and John 1:42 — is a defined doctrine, even though the phrasing about the use and interpretation of the scripture cited is more implicit than explicit, by comparison with the above Scripture passages.

  32. You still haven’t answered my simple questions:

    “So the other guys get it [baptism] wrong because they don’t study enough, as you did? Yet the Bible remains self-interpreting and perspicuous?”

    You also passed over my cross-referencing John 3:5 to 1 Corinthians 6:11 and Titus 3:5. I think that is altogether relevant data. You like to match Bible words up (so do I; I love it); well, why not ideas as well, and these three passages seem to have close parallels.

    I’m delighted that you won all these debating awards in the past. It would take someone like that to give the defense of the altogether indefensible sola Scriptura a shot. I’ve yet to see a biblical argument that establishes its central tenets and definition to the slightest degree.

    You can give it the old college try, like hundreds of Protestants for 500 years, but no one (no matter how skillful at debate) can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. :-)

  33. Vincent’s Word Studies says that John 3:5 definitely refers to baptism (non-regenerative, of course, as a good Presbyterian):

    Verse 5

    Born of water and the Spirit

    The exposition of this much controverted passage does not fall within the scope of this work. We may observe,
    1. That Jesus here lays down the preliminary conditions of entrance into His kingdom, expanding and explaining His statement in John 3:3.

    2. That this condition is here stated as complex, including two distinct factors, water and the Spirit.

    3. That the former of these two factors is not to be merged in the latter; that the spiritual element is not to exclude or obliterate the external and ritual element. We are not to understand with Calvin, the Holy Spirit as the purifying water in the spiritual sense: “water which is the Spirit.”

    4. That water points definitely to the rite of baptism, and that with a twofold reference – to the past and to the future. Water naturally suggested to Nicodemus the baptism of John, which was then awakening such profound and general interest; and, with this, the symbolical purifications of the Jews, and the Old Testament use of washing as the figure of purifying from sin (Psalm 2:2, Psalm 2:7; Ezekiel 36:25; Zechariah 13:1). Jesus’ words opened to Nicodemus a new and more spiritual significance in both the ceremonial purifications and the baptism of John which the Pharisees had rejected (Luke 7:30). John’s rite had a real and legitimate relation to the kingdom of God which Nicodemus must accept.

    5. That while Jesus asserted the obligation of the outward rite, He asserted likewise, as its necessary complement, the presence and creating and informing energy of the Spirit with which John had promised that the coming one should baptize. That as John’s baptism had been unto repentance, for the remission of sins, so the new life must include the real no less than the symbolic cleansing of the old, sinful life, and the infusion by the Spirit of a new and divine principle of life. Thus Jesus’ words included a prophetic reference to the complete ideal of Christian baptism – “the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 5:26); according to which the two factors are inseparably blended (not the one swallowed up by the other), and the new life is inaugurated both symbolically in the baptism with water, and actually in the renewing by the Holy Spirit, yet so as that the rite, through its association with the Spirit’s energy, is more than a mere symbol: is a veritable vehicle of grace to the recipient, and acquires a substantial part in the inauguration of the new life. Baptism, considered merely as a rite, and apart from the operation of the Spirit, does not and cannot impart the new life. Without the Spirit it is a lie. It is a truthful sign only as the sign of an inward and spiritual grace.

    6. That the ideal of the new life presented in our Lord’s words, includes the relation of the regenerated man to an organization. The object of the new birth is declared to be that a man may see and enter into the kingdom of God. But the kingdom of God is an economy. It includes and implies the organized Christian community. This is one of the facts which, with its accompanying obligation, is revealed to the new vision of the new man. He sees not only God, but the kingdom of God; God as King of an organized citizenship; God as the Father of the family of mankind; obligation to God implying obligation to the neighbor; obligation to Christ implying obligation to the church, of which He is the head, “which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all things with all things” (Ephesians 1:23). Through water alone, the mere external rite of baptism, a man may pass into the outward fellowship of the visible church without seeing or entering the kingdom of God. Through water and the Spirit, he passes indeed into the outward fellowship, but through that into the vision and fellowship of the kingdom of God.

    http://www.studylight.org/com/vnt/view.cgi?bk=42&ch=3

  34. Jerry says:

    Dear Dave,

    I am enjoying our exchange of ideas.

    Thank you for furnishing considerable context for the Newman quotation which until I received help from you I had no access to.

    I did visit the Newman studies site you kindly provided a link for. You may have noticed I quoted Newman from that site, but I think the 1884 work I found on “inspiration” is not at all the book I originally sought information from. I’ll have to figure out how to get to that book, because I did not see its title on the site, and I do not recall or presently have the information that would tell exactly which volume of his collected works contains that book. Or is it not a book, but an essay in a book?

    You still haven’t answered my simple questions:

    “So the other guys get it [baptism] wrong because they don’t study enough, as you did? Yet the Bible remains self-interpreting and perspicuous?”

    I maintain that the other guys indeed get baptism wrong because they have not studied the issue carefully and closely enough. Anyone who has not fully investigated the philological considerations that pertain to the original Greek word(s) underlying our English word used in translation (actually, almost transliteration), namely “baptism,” will come up short when discussing this issue.

    Then, one must carefully consider the idioms of Greek grammar and usage to get it right. Those who believe in immersion think that the English expression describing Jesus as going down to or into and coming up out of the water prove immersion. Such expressions found in English prove no such thing in Greek. There is a Greek construction (used in John 20:6, for example) that if used in conjunction with a baptismal narrative would clinch the argument for immersion–but that construction is NEVER used in connection with water baptism.

    Now, as for Vincent, I find his work on Word Studies very helpful. But like the rest of us, he is not infallible, and once in a while, like at John 3:5, he goes off on a wrong or mistaken track. Vincent is in error here because (1) he does not account for the presence of Hendiadys here; (2) he does not account for the expectation that Jesus surely legitimately had, namely, that Nicodemus, as a teacher of the Jews, should have been but was actually unaware of the Biblical basis for what was expressed by Jesus when discussing the new birth, a passage in Ezekiel 36:25. (3) In reference to the Ezekiel 36:25 passage, it might be somewhat of a stretch to equate this promise of inward spiritual renewal and cleansing promised Israel in the future to the rite of Christian baptism presently practiced. (4) Vincent has no idea what is referenced by the expression Jesus used here, “enter into the kingdom of God,” because he does not understand the kingdom of God as taught by Christ and the rest of Scripture, evident when he says in part:

    But the kingdom of God is an economy. It includes and implies the organized Christian community. This is one of the facts which, with its accompanying obligation, is revealed to the new vision of the new man. He sees not only God, but the kingdom of God; God as King of an organized citizenship;….

    The doctrines of Scripture are interestingly interconnected. Like you said, not just words, but ideas. And like I continue to stress, we must account for the grammar involved, and take into account whatever figures of speech occur in the context. That is what makes cross reference Bible study exciting and interesting. I have supplied in the New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge the identification of figures of speech throughout the Bible, identifying each one where it occurs, and listing all the occurrences of a specific figure usually at its first occurrence where it is also carefully defined. Those figures are God’s own emphasis marks.

    Vincent says:

    3. That the former of these two factors is not to be merged in the latter; that the spiritual element is not to exclude or obliterate the external and ritual element. We are not to understand with Calvin, the Holy Spirit as the purifying water in the spiritual sense: “water which is the Spirit.”

    I don’t usually like to be found in agreement with Calvin, but in this case the two words “water” and “spirit” are by the Figure Hendiadys a case where two words are used, but one thing is meant, namely “born of water, even the Spirit.” Vincent either missed or denied the Figure.

    So, even great students of Scripture, and noted authors like Vincent at that, are handicapped when it comes to arriving at the correct understanding of John 3:5 when they fail to (1) fully account for the presence of figures of speech, and (2) are not fully studied on related Bible teachings, such as those concerning the kingdom of God.

    I will admit that Vincent brings forward excellent cross references pertinent to issues in understanding John 3:5 when he says,

    Water naturally suggested to Nicodemus the baptism of John, which was then awakening such profound and general interest; and, with this, the symbolical purifications of the Jews, and the Old Testament use of washing as the figure of purifying from sin (Psalm 2:2, Psalm 2:7; Ezekiel 36:25; Zechariah 13:1). Jesus’ words opened to Nicodemus a new and more spiritual significance in both the ceremonial purifications and the baptism of John which the Pharisees had rejected (Luke 7:30). John’s rite had a real and legitimate relation to the kingdom of God which Nicodemus must accept.

    I’m not so sure that Nicodemus at the time had any clarity regarding connecting what Jesus was saying to the ministry of John the Baptist’s use of water. Nevertheless, the Scripture references he gives are right on target.

    You also passed over my cross-referencing John 3:5 to 1 Corinthians 6:11 and Titus 3:5. I think that is altogether relevant data. You like to match Bible words up (so do I; I love it); well, why not ideas as well, and these three passages seem to have close parallels.

    As a matter of fact, I like your connections. They are in the New Treasury (at least the expanded one I’m working on). I am planning, at your good suggestion, to supply the Ephesians 5:11-15 reference at 2 Timothy 3:17 with a contrast sign (%), a symbol often used, to designate a passage relevant but on a different aspect of the subject.

    “Yet the Bible remains self-interpreting and perspicuous?”

    Indeed it does. Once the evidence is in (and on more complex subjects, the homework is adequately done first), the Bible is self-interpreting, and most understandable.

    I’m delighted that you won all these debating awards in the past. It would take someone like that to give the defense of the altogether indefensible sola Scriptura a shot. I’ve yet to see a biblical argument that establishes its central tenets and definition to the slightest degree.

    You can give it the old college try, like hundreds of Protestants for 500 years, but no one (no matter how skillful at debate) can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

    I now recall that the “board name” of the Roman Catholic poster at TimeBomb2000 is “Cub.” He uses that name in postings elsewhere, and I seem to recall on his own website. I mention that because you might recall encountering his defense of Roman Catholicism. I think I saved his 20 proofs for asserting “The Bible Alone Denies The Bible Alone” or something along that line. I’ll have to find them on this computer somewhere and then figure out where to post them for you to see how I did defend Sola Scriptura and how I answered all 20 of his proofs to the contrary.

    I hope I answered your “simple questions” this time.

    Thank you again for your willingness and faithfulness in helping upgrade my education!

  35. Jerry says:

    Dear Dave,

    After considerable searching all evening I found my saved file, “To Cub re 21 points answered.”

    I saved it directly off my TimeBomb200 post on December 10, 2008. The formatting is not likely to be compatible with WordPress, but in any case, here is the raw document (I went ahead and hopefully inserted correct formatting). As I look at it now, Cub is nowhere up to your level of argument or expertise on Bible matters, so I do not attribute these arguments to you!

    12/10/08. To Cub re 21 points answered

    Dear Cub and all,

    I most certainly DO believe in Scripture, and Scripture alone, as the only authoritative source for information about the faith God requires of us.

    Cub posted 21 points for someone to answer, and no one has taken on the task. I can understand that. That is a huge amount of material to cover.

    I will attempt to answer the points, though the clock may well stop me before I have covered them all.

    (1)

    1. Show me please, where in Holy Scripture one can find the phrase “Scripture Alone”. You can’t as it is a Protestant fabrication originating with the apostate, Martin Luther.

    This is faulty logic in posing this question in the manner you have, and you very well know this.

    The Bible believing Christian position is that the Bible is the sole authority for matters of doctrine and direction for Christian living. While the Bible does not use these words to express this truth, any more than it states “Scripture Alone,” this is a position which is logically derived from the statements of the Bible itself.

    2Ti 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
    2Ti 3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
    2Ti 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
    2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
    2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

    Note that even at the time Paul wrote, there was a definite problem from evil men and seducers, and a problem with people deceiving others and being deceived themselves.

    The answer Paul propounded to Timothy to this problem was a direct appeal to the written word of God found in the Bible.

    Paul asserted that a person can be saved through a knowledge of the Scriptures, even as Timothy possessed from a child, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    It is by this Scripture, declared to be profitable, that a man is thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

    Paul taught, therefore, the divine inspiration and SUFFICIENCY of the Holy Scriptures, both in matters of faith and life: what one believes, and how one lives.

    There is much more in the Scriptures themselves which assert the same truth. I’ve dealt somewhere on these threads with this issue before. Consider such texts as Psalm 119:130, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Such a statement clearly teaches the perspicuity of Scripture. The Bible everywhere teaches and assumes that it is understandable. Psalm 119:104, “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.” Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

    The appeal of the Bible itself is to the usefulness of studying Scripture to learn what God wants us to know as to doctrines to be believed, and what God wants us to know about how we are to live.

    Other texts pertinent to this issue include Isaiah 8:20 and Jeremiah 23:28 and many more texts which can be found by using Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible.

    Jesus condemned the Sadducees for not knowing the Scriptures, declaring they were in great error (Mark 12:24).

    What is properly to be inferred from all such statements in the Bible itself, found in the Old Testament and the New Testament? Surely, Jesus himself commanded to “Search the Scriptures” (John 5:39), and the Bereans were commended for doing so when they checked up on the truthfulness and accuracy of the teaching of the Apostle Paul (Acts 17:11, 12).

    Peter himself in his second letter (2 Peter 1:19) urged his readers, and by extension, us today, to take good heed to the prophetic Scriptures, for they are a light to guide us through the dark places.

    As new Christians Peter commanded us to “desire the sincere milk of the word” by which we are enabled to grow spiritually (1 Peter 2:2). In his second letter he urged us to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” in the immediate context of warning against those who twist the Scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:18 and preceding context). Clearly we are to grow in grace and knowledge through the careful reading and study of the Scriptures, not church tradition!

    (2)

    2. Show me please, where in Holy Scripture one can find the phrase ‘Faith Alone’. You can’t as it is another Protestant fabrication originating with Martin Luther, when he added the word ‘alone’ to Rom 3:28.

    Once again, this is a faulty challenge, falling short in terms of logic and Scripture. Just because the exact words you propose are not found exactly written that way in the Bible in any of its English translations, does not deny the validity of the position which is properly derived by carefully drawn inference through the study of Scripture.

    Here is the text of Romans 3:28,

    Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    More to the purpose would be the following text of Scripture from Ephesians 2:8-10,

    Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
    Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

    And another text, Galatians 2:16,

    Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

    And another passage I recall relates to this concept, Romans 4:4,

    Rom 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
    Rom 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
    Rom 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
    Rom 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

    We are justified before God, therefore, on the basis of our faith, not works. James does speak of our being justified by our works, but this is before man, not God. Works follow and prove our faith, but works are not the basis of our justification before God. Any one who knows how to read can certainly perceive from the Scriptures cited immediately above that this is the teaching of the Bible, not Martin Luther, and not any church. To believe otherwise is not to have saving faith, but to be eternally lost, and without Christ.

    (3)

    3. Show me please, where in Holy Scripture that the father of Protestantism (Martin Luther), and indeed contemporary Protestants, have the right to delete seven canonical books of the Bible. You can’t. (Deu 4:2; Prov 30:5-6; Gal. 1:8; Pet 3:15-16; Rev. 22: 18-19)

    As a matter of fact, I have a number of so-called Protestant Bibles here that include 14 books that are “extra,” commonly called the Old Testament Apocrypha. So don’t tell me who has removed them and who hasn’t.

    The point is, these books were NEVER a part of the Hebrew canon of Scripture, but were added to the Greek Septuagint when that translation was made of the Hebrew Scriptures for Greek speaking Jews in Alexandria, Egypt, and elsewhere where Greek was known, and Jewish merchants and others were not able to read the Hebrew Scriptures.

    Though the so called “seven” books are included in Roman Catholic Bibles, these books are not on the same level in terms of divine inspiration, as the Hebrew Scriptures are.

    The Roman Catholic Church did not add these books to the Old Testament, the translators of the Greek Septuagint did. Jerome, who translated the Greek Septuagint into Latin to form the Latin Vulgate, did not accept them as inspired Scripture on the same level as the books contained in the Hebrew canon, and I believe he was correct in his judgment. The books are fine pieces of religious writing, but are not equal to the books we otherwise have in our divinely inspired Hebrew and Greek Scriptures.

    All Bible believing Christians are most justified in rejecting them, for they formed no part of the official Jewish canon of Scripture. Remember that Jesus was a Jew, and the Old Testament is a Jewish book, and God used the Jewish nation to produce the Hebrew Scriptures which form the basis of the Old Testament of our Christian Bible.

    Since these books formed no part of the original Hebrew canon, no ostensibly Christian church, Romanist or Protestant, has a right to declare them to be divinely inspired Scripture, for this is indeed adding to the text of the Bible without divine authority.

    (5)

    5. Show me please, where in Holy Scripture Protestants were given the right to establish ‘churches’ in addition to, and opposition to, the true Church established by Jesus Christ. You can’t. (Mat 16:18; Mat 18:17))

    Since the Roman Catholic Church was unknown in the Apostolic Period of the First Century, surely it has no authority to call itself the One True Church that was established by our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Read the New Testament, the history contained in the book of Acts. Churches were founded in many different cities over a wide region by means of the preaching of the true Gospel of Christ as it is strictly contained only in our New Testament documents, the only primary source of information anyone possesses today regarding these matters.

    If one reads the New Testament ALONE, without denominational annotations, one will see that the churches met in the homes of believers, such as Aquila and Priscilla, and a number of other house churches mentioned in the New Testament.

    They followed the Biblical pattern established by Jesus Christ (Matthew 18:20), who very pointedly taught against hierarchy, telling his disciples that “it shall not be so among you” (Matthew 20:26). That the disciples learned this well is established by the recorded statements found in the New Testament: 2 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Peter 5:1, 3; 3 John 9-11.

    (6)

    6. Show me please, where in Holy Scripture it states that the Bible is the ‘pillar and bulwark of truth’. You can’t. (1Ti 3:15)

    Once again, this text (1 Timothy 3:15) is being misapplied, misinterpreted, and this question or challenge is, again, another example of mis-stating a Bible truth in a manner which denies what the Bible elsewhere abundantly teaches, though in different terms.

    Certainly the Holy Scripture does not mean to designate any false or apostate church as being the so-called “pillar and ground of the truth.” The Roman Catholic Church is completely contrary in its teachings regarding salvation to what the Bible clearly teaches.

    No where does the Bible teach that saving grace is dispensed by the so-called One True Church by means of participation in its seven Sacraments.

    That is the heresy termed sacerdotalism, a heresy that may in Bible terms be called the Galatian heresy (because in principle this is what Paul wrote about in his letter to the Galatians), a heresy which results in immediate and direct loss of salvation the moment anyone who thinks they are a Christian believes or practices or teaches it.

    See Galatians 5:1, 4,

    Gal 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

    Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

    The truth that leads to eternal life is to be found in the Bible alone, not any church or denomination. All churches and denominations and religious groups of any kind are subject to error, and probably all of them wittingly or unwittingly teach error on at least some points taught in the Bible, perhaps largely because they have not done their homework when it comes to careful, intensive, accurate Bible study.

    Saving truth is found in the Bible. We are not directed to find the one true church, but we are directed to believe the truth as it is contained in the Bible itself, which contains the only true doctrine.

    At the time Paul wrote that the “church is the bulwark of the truth,” he had reference to the fact that the church (1) contained living eye witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ bodily from the dead, and (2) had received as a complete body of truth at that time, never to be supplemented later, the truth “once delivered unto the saints,” as Jude puts it (Jude 3). The fact that the truth was “once for all” delivered (the meaning of the particular Greek word used here) indicates it was absolutely complete, not subject to further development or change; the fact that it was “delivered” (Paul uses a similar term in 1 Corinthians 15:3) means it was a complete, self-contained body of truth; the fact it was “delivered unto the saints” indicates this truth was delivered to and received by Bible believing Christians, saved individuals, not a church with a hierarchy or a denomination, but given to and received by ordinary, every-day believers.

    Paul gives stern warning to the Ephesians, amongst whom he spent three years teaching, that there would arise from among themselves men, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them, wolves, not sparing the flock (see Acts 20:29, 30). We see the results today of those early false teachers whose woeful results are still evident today in every church that sets itself up as an authority higher than the Bible, making false claims to be the One True Church established by Christ. Jesus Christ did NOT establish a hierarchy! Study Matthew 20:20-28 until you get the message!

    (7)

    7. Show me please, where in Holy Scripture Jesus established a book. You can’t. (Mat 16:18; Mat 18:17)

    Yet again, the way this challenge is proposed is itself a fallacy. The Bible does not have to have its own special chapter and verse which states that Jesus Christ established a book. But it is clearly legitimate and possible to show texts, which by proper inference, indicate this is what Jesus Christ authorized to be done through the working of the Holy Spirit.

    You, as a Roman Catholic, ought to be utterly ashamed of the constant denigration of Scripture you evince as you propose these challenges. No truly born again, saved, Bible believing Christian would ever knowingly engage in such disparagement of the Bible, the written Word of God, in a manner to discourage the reception and belief of the Bible itself as the divinely appointed means by which all must come to a knowledge of salvation in Christ.

    Jesus said, as recorded in John 16:12-15,

    Joh 16:12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
    Joh 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
    Joh 16:14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
    Joh 16:15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

    Clearly, the truths the Holy Spirit wished communicated were given to the inspired writers of the New Testament, and these truths were recorded there, and are still there yet, for any and all who wish to read. The necessary truths are clearly available nowhere else.

    We have the Book.

    Anything regarding spiritual matters not recorded in that Book is surely not to be believed. Otherwise, Scripture could not be accounted as “sufficient.” But Scripture declares itself to be sufficient. It does not say that any church is sufficient.

    (8)

    8. Show me please, where in the Gospels, Jesus stated “Thou art Peter, the rock, and upon this rock I will write my Bible”. You can’t. (Mat 16:18)

    Roman Catholics constantly dredge up the same mistakenly interpreted “proof texts” to support their obviously apostate church.

    Read the context. NONE of the disciples there on the scene understood Jesus to be granting any privilege which they themselves did not share.

    Peter immediately (as usual) stuck his foot in his mouth when he attempted to rebuke Jesus himself (Matthew 16:22).

    Luke appears to have recorded two instances, one before, and one certainly after, the incident recorded in Matthew 16:18.

    Luk 9:46 Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.

    Luk 22:24 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.

    Clearly, there is no evidence in the New Testament that the disciples ever understood Jesus to have placed Peter in a position of authority over them, or there could not have been such a discussion even close to the time of the Last Supper where they were arguing amongst themselves who should be the greatest.

    If Roman Catholicism is right (and it absolutely is not), the question was already settled, and no discussion could have arisen about the matter who was greatest.

    Who was the head of the original New Testament Church? Not Peter. James was in charge. See Acts 15.

    Peter was not the “rock” Jesus alluded to; his name means a small stone, or piece of rock. Jesus is the “rock” upon which all is founded. The text may also properly be understood to mean the rock of Peter’s confession as to Who Jesus really Is, something God revealed supernaturally, not something Peter or anyone else thought up at the time on their own.

    No where, of course, does Scripture say “and upon this rock I will write my Bible.” But clearly, if it were not for the written Word of God we have in the Bible, none of us today would ever know the truth it presently contains.

    (9)

    9. Show me please, where in the Gospels Jesus told His disciples to write anything down. You can’t. (Mat 10:1-15)

    You must face the fact that the disciples DID write down the things in the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament.

    You are arguing that the Bible is irrelevant and useless, that the disciples wrote it without authority, divine or otherwise. Your argument, of course, is nonsense. We HAVE the Bible, and I trust, if there is any true tidbit of Christian faith in you at all, we both agree that the New Testament is the verbally inspired written Word of God.

    But you persist in constantly denigrating its absolute authority, which shows, if this is a position derived from your church, that your church is not only wrong, it is apostate.

    John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

    I invite you to believe not my words, but the words contained in the Gospel of John, which by its own testimony are sufficient to bring you to the true belief that constitutes “life through his name.”

    (10)

    10. Show me please, where in Holy Scripture Jesus told His disciples to spread the Faith by publishing a book. You can’t.

    But they did.

    It is solely by means of faith in the message of the Bible that any person can come to saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

    It may be that many individuals have heard rather than read this message, but if the message heard is not in strict accord with the message written, it leads to spiritual death, not life.

    Once again, your challenge is unbiblical, and denigrates the divine authority and purpose of Scripture as revealed in the statements contained in the Bible itself. You and your church are on extremely dangerous ground with this attitude, for such an attitude against the Bible marks apostasy, not truth.

    (11)

    11. Show me please, where in Holy Scripture it states that the Bible comprises 100% of the Faith. You can’t. (Joh 20:30-31; Joh 21:25; Joh 16:12-15)

    Show me, please, any part essential to the Faith “once delivered unto the saints” that is not in the Bible. You can’t.

    Since the Bible is complete, and we agree on the 27 books of the New Testament, there are NO sources available to you or anyone else today which contain genuine additional communications from Jesus or his original 12 disciples or the Apostle Paul that are both essential and necessary for a person to have saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and are words which legitimate scholarship agrees are genuine and from the time of Christ.

    The New Testament contains all we need to know about Jesus Christ. There are NO other primary source documents beyond the 27 New Testament books we already have.

    Once again, the challenge is another proof of the apostasy of the Roman Catholic Church, for it is apparently trying to claim it has such information when it clearly does not.

    The One True Church was on the spot when Jesus expounded from all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself both on the road to Emmaus to the two disciples, and shortly thereafter again to the whole group of disciples (Luke 24:27, 44).

    Kindly furnish me a link to that information, for it certainly was possessed by the original One True Church, and surely they were not so careless or derelict as to lose it. Therefore, the One True Church, if its claims and pretenses are valid, has the information, and is eager to share it.

    (12)

    12. Show me please, where in Holy Scripture, Jesus told His disciples “except for you Protestants, Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained. You can’t. (Joh 20:21-23; 2Co 5:18)

    Once again you have cited a favorite “proof-text” which Romanism always appeals to, but the passage is taken out of context and otherwise misrepresented.

    The correct interpretation of this passage is that the disciples, all of us today, are authorized on the basis of the message recorded in God’s written Word the Bible, to declare the truths that lead to eternal life. Those who accept these truths have their sins remitted; those who refuse to believe the straightforward truths of the Bible do not have their sins remitted. The sins are remitted, not by man, but by God. Mark 2:7

    Attention to the special tenses of the Greek verbs used in this text will demonstrate that what sins are remitted are those which have already been remitted in heaven.

    (13)

    13. Show me please, where in Holy Scripture, Jesus told His disciples “This is My Body; This is My Blood. Except for you Protestants, do this in remembrance of Me”. You can’t. (Luk 22:19-20 1Co 11:24-25)

    Here again, Roman Catholics and their apostate “One True Church” prove themselves to be such because they are unable to recognize the figures of speech in the Bible.

    Two figures are at work, perhaps three. The chief figure is metaphor. When Jesus said “This is my body” he used the word “is.” He said it while he was physically present with them. Very obviously, the physical bread he referred to was not his own physical body, for he was not suggesting to pious Jews that he was instituting cannibalism. The word “is” by metaphor means “represents.”

    So for the reference to His blood. He wasn’t standing there bleeding to death of self-inflicted wounds. The “blood” by metaphor represents His sacrifice for our sins. I explained this in minute detail on a thread started by Warren early last year in answer to his alleged Jewish objections on this very issue.

    Jesus said in John, “I am the door.” Does he thus have literal hinges, and even a doorknob? The absurdity is equal. Learn to properly recognize and interpret the well known figures of speech found throughout the Bible.

    (14)

    14, Show me please, where in the Gospels, Jesus stated “Truly, Truly except for you Protestants, unless you eat My flesh and drink My blood, you have no life within you.”. You can’t. (Joh 6:47-58)

    Here again, Romanism resorts to false exegesis, and misinterpretation of the Scriptures. The events in John 6 occur well before the institution of the Last Supper or Communion and have no possible reference to it. “Eating” and “drinking” are well-known metaphors for receiving and believing the Word of God. Read the context in John 6 itself.

    Such absurd interpretations of Scripture are surely the marks of at least a mistaken, but more likely an apostate Church.

    (15)

    15. Show me please, where in the Gospels the Blessed Mother of God states “All the world, except for Protestants, shall call me blessed.”. You can’t. (Luk 1:48)

    And what does this have to do with the price of tea in China?

    Mary, while truly blessed, as declared by the angel, is not to be placed upon a pedestal and venerated after the fashion of the apostate Roman church. That is one sure evidence of apostasy, because reading the New Testament alone, there is absolutely no evidence of Mariolatry in its pages. Such emphasis is absolutely absent.

    (16)

    16. Show me please, where in Holy Scripture, it states that “Everything that Jesus did is contained in the Bible.”. You can’t. (Joh 21:25)

    Show me you know anything Jesus did that I have not already learned from the 27 books of my New Testament. YOU CAN’T.

    Furthermore, your challenge is false, for no one is claiming (except your church) to have or need any information about Jesus that is not already presented in the Bible.

    (17)

    17. Show me please, where in Holy Scripture, it states “So faith comes from what is read, and what is read comes by the preaching of Christ. But I ask, have they not read? Indeed they have; for “The Bible has gone out to all the earth, and the Bible to the ends of the world.” You can’t. (Rom 10:17-18)

    Faith indeed comes by hearing the Bible and its message. Faith may also equally come by reading the Bible. It does not come from anywhere else.

    If you did not get your faith by reading and/or hearing the doctrine of the Bible itself, you do not have saving faith.

    You need to hear, study, read, and receive “the engrafted Word, which is able to save your soul” (James 1:18, 21). Peter said the same thing (1 Peter 1:23).

    Once again, you ought to be utterly ashamed of yourself for so denigrating the written Word of God. That can only be the mark of an apostate and an unbeliever.

    (18)

    18. Show me please, where in the Gospels Jesus told anyone not to keep the commandments, as all one has to do is state ‘I accept Jesus as my Lord and personal Savior’, and he is forever ‘saved’. You can’t. (Mat 19:16-19)

    This is a challenge made by someone who is abysmally ignorant of the Bible and its truth. Clearly, one is not saved by keeping commandments. I already gave much Scripture above about that.

    And just what commandments are you referencing?

    You need to go back and start reading the Bible. Start with Luke 18:13 and its immediate context, and go on from there:

    Luk 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

    Jesus infallibly proclaimed that the publican “went down to his house justified.”

    (19)

    19. Show me please, where in Holy Scripture it states that, except for Protestants, good works are necessary. You can’t. (Mat 7:21, Jam 3:14-26, Phi 2:12-13, Rev 3:15-16, Joh 15:1-2, 1CO 3:9; 2Co 5:10; Mat 25:31-46; et al) (Refer to Note 1 below).

    This has already been answered above. Good works are the fruit, not the basis, of saving faith.

    As to your footnote 1, John 3:16 contains the verb “believeth,” which in Greek and English is in the present tense. Greek verbs have aspect, so the belief that results in salvation is a continuing belief, not a one-time so-called act of faith. Jesus plainly said it is possible to stop believing (Luke 8:13). The doctrine of “once saved, always saved” is false, for it contradicts the doctrine in Scripture that warns against the real possibility and danger of apostasy.

    (20)

    20. Show me please, where in Holy Scripture it states that the Jesus will leave the Church alone as orphans for about 1,500 years until the Protestants arise, delete seven books of the Bible, and proclaim ‘Scripture Alone’ and ‘Faith Alone’. You can’t. (Joh 14:18)

    This is so much Romanist propaganda and falsehood.

    True belief originated at the time of our Lord Jesus Christ. It continued in individuals, not institutions, particularly hierarchical ones. It continued throughout the world independently of the Roman church and its apostate bishops.

    Anywhere the Bible was read and believed, there was the true church, just as it is today. It certainly is not, and never has been, in the Church of Rome, except to the believers Paul addressed in his letter to the Romans.

    (21)

    21. Show me please, where in Holy Scripture it states that the gates of Hell will prevail against the Church for about 1,500 years until the Protestants arise and delete seven books from the Bible, and proclaim ‘Scripture Alone’ and ‘Faith Alone’. You can’t. (Mat 16:18)

    Yet another dreadful reference to that mistakenly interpreted “proof text.”

    The gates of Hell have not and will not prevail against the true church of Jesus Christ which is composed only of genuinely saved, born again believers in Jesus Christ. Those will be raptured or as the dead in Christ resurrected upon His return to forever live and reign with Him in his eternal earthly kingdom, where Jesus will reign personally forever sitting upon the earthly Throne of David in Jerusalem (Isaiah 24:23; Luke 1:32, 33; Revelation 11:15).

  36. I maintain that the other guys indeed get baptism wrong because they have not studied the issue carefully and closely enough. Anyone who has not fully investigated the philological considerations that pertain to the original Greek word(s) underlying our English word used in translation (actually, almost transliteration), namely “baptism,” will come up short when discussing this issue.

    Then, one must carefully consider the idioms of Greek grammar and usage to get it right. Those who believe in immersion think that the English expression describing Jesus as going down to or into and coming up out of the water prove immersion. Such expressions found in English prove no such thing in Greek. There is a Greek construction (used in John 20:6, for example) that if used in conjunction with a baptismal narrative would clinch the argument for immersion–but that construction is NEVER used in connection with water baptism.

    That’s not self-interpreting and perspicuous, but requires in-depth, scholarly research, clearly out of the reach of the average Bible reader, which in turn, rather spectacularly confirms my position, and the Catholic one: that without serious guidance (Church authority and/or such scholarship), the Bible can easily be misinterpreted (for various reasons and motivations), as indeed it is (leading to the multiple hundreds of mutually contradictory Protestant denominations).

    You can’t have it both ways: talk the time-honored but timeworn, inane rhetoric of sola Scriptura, perspicuity and self-interpretation, while at the same time noting that for the issue of baptism alone, one is required to “fully investigate[d] the philological considerations that pertain to the original Greek word(s)” and “carefully consider the idioms of Greek grammar and usage” in order to “get it right.” This is absolutely classic! Thanks so much for the illustration, which pretty much nails down my contention in this case (one which is typical of dozens of doctrines). I couldn’t have argued it better myself. You’ve made it awful easy to establish this point.

  37. While it might be fun in some ways to reply to the 21 arguments and your rebuttals, there’s no point in my dealing with someone else’s average-level attempt at Catholic apologetics and your answers to those, when I have written two books on the topic, with far more subtlety and nuance and comprehensiveness than these arguments.

    Our “time” will soon draw to a close, anyway, because my policy since 2007 has been not to debate theology with anti-Catholics (which it has been amply confirmed that you are, from my searching your site today), since little constructive ever comes of it. The premise (Catholicism isn’t Christian) is so utterly absurd and viciously circular for a Protestant to assert (as I proved at length in my lengthy 1995 debate with James White: that he ran, terrified, from), that it reveals extremely serious distorted, fallacious, wrongheaded thought at the level of many premises, making true dialogue impossible.

    None of that is a “personal” judgment at all. It’s strictly a matter of principle and time-management and wise stewardship of time under God. R. C. Sproul, for example, told James White (as the latter reports) that Catholics aren’t worth debating because they don’t deserve that serious of a consideration. They disagree on that. He’s applying the same principle, though with false premises.

    I think there are arguments not worth the trouble getting into (minus any personal vitriol towards the persons involved), because I am a proponent of classical dialogue, along the lines of Socrates and Plato: who held that a dialogue really only succeeds in the end if the two people are friends and have some degree of respect for each other’s positions. We may be friendly acquaintances, but you have no respect for my position and falsely, unjustly put me in a box as a Pelagian, idolatrous infidel on my way to hell if I continue to accept all Catholic teachings, as I do (by your own stated criteria, as I examined today).

    That makes constructive dialogue impossible. I’ve enjoyed it, as you have, so far, but we’re basically just talking past each other, not influencing each other in the slightest.

    I have dozens of past debates and dialogues on my Anti-Catholicism page, lest anyone thinks my reasoning here is either fear or inability (and of course those charges have been made). If James White, the king of anti-Catholics, thinks my refutations of his garbage are so terrible and insufficient, he is welcome to try to refute them. But thus far, not a word; not one peep out of him.

    However, the exception to my policy that I am willing to make is if someone makes a serious and on-topic attempted refutation of my books. I’ll always defend my books unless it is a crazy wild goose chase, where the person replying is all over the ballpark with his preaching and sanctimonious condemnations of Catholicism.

    If someone actually stays on topic and provides replies to my actual arguments in my books (in this case, on sola Scripura), including you, then I will reply back, showing how the counter-argument fails, or if it succeeds, conceding that it does in that instance. Since I have 100 arguments in my one book, if one is shown to be fallacious or contrary to fact, there are still 99 more to contend with: not the end of the world or reason for me to go back to Protestantism. The critique hasn’t collapsed if 1% of it is shown to be no good.

    So I will do that with you , if you like, on the topic of sola Scriptura only, because that is your specialty, and one of mine (that I’ve written more about than anything else in my apologetics, by quite a margin).

    Since you have expressed high interest in both of my books on the topic, perhaps that will be an agreeable arrangement to you.

  38. I did visit the Newman studies site you kindly provided a link for. You may have noticed I quoted Newman from that site, but I think the 1884 work I found on “inspiration” is not at all the book I originally sought information from. I’ll have to figure out how to get to that book, because I did not see its title on the site, and I do not recall or presently have the information that would tell exactly which volume of his collected works contains that book. Or is it not a book, but an essay in a book?

    It’s confusing because what I cited from Cardinal Newman in my first book is apparently some sort of footnote to his tract on inspiration, that is in some versions and not others. Thus, it’s not (amazingly) on The Newman Reader site, which has just about every word he ever wrote.

    Here is the full footnote information again:

    “Essay on Inspiration in its Relation to Revelation,” London: 1884, Essay 1, section 29. Emphasis in original. In Newman, On the Inspiration of Scripture, ed. J. Derek Holmes and Robert Murray, Washington, D.C., Corpus Books, 1967, 131.

    Here is the exact book it’s from (I have it in my library), from Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/Inspiration-Scripture-Newman-Editor-D-Editor-R/dp/B00CRG79MC/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392326149&sr=1-3&keywords=On+the+Inspiration+of+Scripture%2C+newman

    Right now, there are two used copies available for $10: not bad for a fairly rare, possibly out-of-print hardcover.

    The exact title on p. 129 is “Note” for section 29 of the Essay, entitled, On the Phrase ‘Auctor utriusque Testamenti’ in the Councils. What I cited was actually a sort of footnote to a footnote (for section 8), on p. 131.

    The editor of the whole book says that it is in “A” but not “B”: two slightly different versions of the Essay on Inspiration.

  39. Jerry says:

    Dear Dave,

    Great minds may be thinking alike!

    I have been thinking of adding a new “category” to be titled “Dave Armstrong Discussions” to make it easier to get back to what we’ve said and shared here on this site.

    In all cases, I much appreciate your gracious input. It is always enlightening.

  40. Jerry says:

    Dear Dave,

    I believe God calls us to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3). I believe God calls us to warn anyone we see who is in danger or is mistaken or is going astray (Ezk 3:18, 19; 33:8, 9; Le 19:17; Ac 20:31). Therefore, I have not been anti-catholic, but anti-error, which as I read my Bible is exactly what God calls us to be. I have indicated, on my part, complete openness to correction should it be found I am mistaken in what I believe the Bible teaches or of what I understand or misunderstand about the Roman Catholic church.

    I have repeatedly commended the doctrinal and practical living stances the Roman Catholic Church proclaims when they are in full agreement with the Bible. When invited by a group of Roman Catholics to assist them in the defense of Bible truth against other on-line participants at the TimeBomb2000 religious forum who were of the Arian or materialist theological persuasion, I did so. The Roman Catholic participants profusely thanked me, and so did their acknowledged leader with the interesting board name “Cardinal,” who sent me a PM (private message on-site email) thanking me for my strictly Biblical stance defending their position.

    That entire defense is posted here on my site as a series proving the Bible teaches consciousness after death starting with Luke 23:43.

    When I taught at Cass, my Roman Catholic students fully thought that I am Roman Catholic, and accused me (as a result of class discussion of Anton Chekov’s story “The Bet”) of foisting my religion on them to my department head–who wisely asked them, “What religion to you think Mr. Smith is?” They unanimously replied, “Roman Catholic.” Miss McLin replied, “If that is your judgment, then certainly Mr. Smith has not been foisting his religion upon you!” By the way, Miss McLin was my English teacher at Cass when I was in the tenth grade. It was she who enrolled me in debate class for my eleventh grade year. She told me, “God may one day have you serve Him in Christian ministry, so I want you to learn how to do public speaking and debate.”

    One of those students who had complained against me came to my classroom years later on her last day of school and gave me her graduation picture. She asked that I read what she wrote to me on the back before she left my room. Here is what I read: “Mr. Smith, You were my first teacher at Cass. I remember I came into your class late because I had to get my schedule. I had a grudge against you that whole semester and made it plain in your eyes. I would now like to pass that off as immaturity and inconsideration. I graduate in a few days and I ask your forgiveness. I have heard many good things about you. God stay with you! Jane, 1970.” That evening my brother Martin and I in our apartment got on our knees and prayed for Jane and her salvation. I learned several years later that Jane went up to the University of Michigan and was led to Christ the very next day by one of the sorority sisters at the Christian sorority house where she was to stay.

    Another Roman Catholic student wrote on her graduation picture, “Dear Mr. Smith, You have helped me see the light. No one could ever give me a gift more precious than that. You were always there when I needed a friend to talk to. Thank you, Love, and God bless you, Pat.”

    Never have I ever suggested to any Roman Catholic that they ought to choose a different church to attend. I leave those decisions to God and the individual as the Holy Spirit may lead them. Now, if this to you represents me being anti-Catholic, so be it. But God will judge differently, I’m sure.

    I do believe I have so far successfully met and refuted your position on the sufficiency of Scripture and related or illustrative issues you brought forward.

    First, I must suspend my judgment regarding the distinction you make regarding “material sufficiency” and “formal sufficiency.”

    Cardinal Newman in his work as cited does not use the term. I at present have no way of knowing if he was aware of the term in his day. So, taking his word at face value, it appears to me he is in direct denial that 2 Timothy 3:17 teaches the sufficiency of Scripture.

    The distinction between “material sufficiency” and “formal sufficiency” might be an example of the rule of interpretation I have called “necessary inference.” At present I do not think it is. An example of a Bible doctrine which is a proper example of “necessary inference” would be the doctrine of the Trinity. It can be derived from and proven from Scripture.

    Until I learn more about it, I would judge that “material sufficiency” and “formal sufficiency” are arbitrary material constructs which exhibit the fallacy in interpretation sometimes called “over-reading” into the text that which is not really there.

    I am glad you do accept “material sufficiency” as something taught by the Bible. As far as I understand the term “formal sufficiency,” I think I would consider that a valid Bible doctrine arrived at by necessary inference.

    Now, you kindly brought forward as an example of apparently irreconcilable differences that cannot be settled definitively by Scripture alone the subject of baptism.

    I thanked you for your choice of issue, a choice not affected by any prompting from me. It is a subject I have carefully studied. I am still studying the issue. I have signed up at Logos for a large set of classic Biblical studies on the subject, and am eagerly awaiting the time they become available to me. I have also signed up for many Roman Catholic studies some months ago, and several of those have apparently gone into production this week. It will still be a while before I receive them, I’m sure.

    In further discussion of the baptism issue, you brought forward John 3:5. You further supported the variations in approach to baptism that are supposedly not reconcilable by direct approach to Scripture itself by citing the interpretation of noted Presbyterian scholar Marvin Vincent given in his useful work on Word Studies.

    I refuted Mr. Vincent, noting what was there in the text that he totally overlooked, and what was elsewhere in Scripture that he also did not properly take into account, rendering his interpretation unsatisfactory if not incorrect. I provided you a summary statement of what the correct interpretation must be.

    You countered with the observation that my interpretation proves your point, that John 3:5 can only be correctly interpreted by an appeal to careful scholarship from outside the text of Scripture itself, therefore justifying an official designated teaching authority, such as is provided by the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. I had pointed out, and you verified in precise detail, that the Roman Catholic Church has most wisely refrained from making very many pronouncements about interpretations of particular texts of Scripture which must be received by Roman Catholics. One of those few texts is John 3:5.

    The problem with the interpretation required to be believed for John 3:5 is that it is a mistaken reading of John 3:5. What the Roman Catholic Church asserts of baptism, that the physical element water must be employed in ritual water baptism, is most certainly true. The problem is that John 3:5 is not about ritual water baptism at all, but is about real baptism accomplished by the Holy Spirit apart from any physical water or an administrator of the rite.

    So, what has now been demonstrated?

    First, it is possible to go to the Scripture itself and by as much careful study as needed, arrive at a correct interpretation and understanding of an otherwise disputed passage of Scripture. I demonstrated that by refuting Vincent.

    How do I know that it is my interpretation that is correct, and not other alternatives suggested by other authorities? I taught English at Cass Technical High School for nearly a decade. The students at Cass Technical High School, as you know since you went there, were at that time selected because they were gifted and talented students. In the process of teaching poetry, I developed a set of poems which I arranged as a series of lessons from easy to hard. I let students attempt to explain each poem in a composition. Then we discussed the interpretations, always varied and interesting, that students proposed. We arrived at a conclusion regarding which interpretations were better than others. While one of my graduate school professors at Wayne State University was in utter shock that I had the audacity to suggest in our seminar that there are rules of interpretation which can assist us in arriving at a correct, defensible interpretation of a poem or any other work of literature, I affirmed against her judgment that I am correct and that she is very wrong in saying this is not how we properly teach literature to students. I guess she had never closely studied I. A. Richards’ book, Practical Criticism: A Study of Literary Judgment. It turns out that I have developed a process parallel to and as sophisticated as Mr. Richards independently of his work. My start in this direction was the first reference book I bought about the Bible as a teenager, Milton S. Terry’s work on Biblical Hermeneutics.

    Since I as the teacher could objectively evaluate the work of students as to the quality and correctness of their interpretations of poetry, there must be and actually are principles by which to guide such judgment. In a nutshell, the best interpretation accounts for all the features, all the imagery, present in the poem. The same basis of judgment applies to judging the correctness and adequacy of an interpretation of a verse or passage or doctrine in the Bible.

    My conclusion is, therefore, that the interpretation of John 3:5 I have provided is more adequate and more supportable from the text, the immediate context, and the whole of Scripture than either that of respected scholar Marvin Vincent or generally respected Biblical scholarship of the Roman Catholic Church’s official position on this verse.

    Bottom line: on this point at least, noted and respected Roman Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong stands refuted–as I originally suggested in my “Google tag” for this post.

    Nevertheless, I count Dave Armstrong as fully a dear brother in Christ, and highly commend his written works and his stand for Bible truth and the Word of God.

  41. Dear Jerry,

    As I already mentioned, please let me know if you critique one or both of my books on sola Scriptura. I must respectfully disagree with your claim that you have refuted the arguments I’ve made in our recent exchanges. In many instances, you simply stated your positions with little or no relation to mine, which is neither dialogue nor debate, since there was little or no direct interaction with the opposing position.

    The “Jesus vs. Tradition” topic provides the classic illustration of this. I gave my counter-argument to your negative claims, and you “replied” by simply restating the standard “anti-tradition” arguments, with no reference to the arguments that I had just provided . It’s understandable. We Christians tend to be preachy proclaimers. We have truths to share as we deeply believe them, and would rather proclaim than defend. And we tend to fellowship with folks who believe as we do, so we’re not used to hearing other views..

    I’m an apologist, so I engage in dialogues and defense all the time. I naturally fall into that mode, rather than the preachy thing. I’ve never been a “preacher”. This is why I rarely give talks. I’d rather dialogue with people; talk to them, do the back-and-forth. Even when I’m on the radio (as I have been, some 25 times now: several of those being live national shows with calls), I do interviews, not straight talks. Preaching and proclamation are fine. God likes those, too, and wants us to do them. But they are not dialogue and debate.

    So there are methodological differences between us. But in any event, I can’t agree that I have been refuted, seeing that many of my arguments went unresponded-to. The debater must respond to opponents’ arguments! Certainly you know that, with your background, so it is doubly curious and puzzling to me why you haven’t applied that knowledge of what a true debate entails, to my arguments. But if you are willing to do so in the future, you have my 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura to play with. :-)

    My old argument (from the early 90s) about five views of baptism, that I brought up, wasn’t for the purpose of debating baptism itself. It is a classic example of Protestant disunity on basic Christian doctrines (and practices) and how nothing Protestants can do within their system is able to overcome it. Whether you think you have proven your view of baptism or not has nothing whatever to do with my point there. It was just one illustrative example of many similar ones that could have been used. You simply say that the other guys are wrong, you are right, and that’s the end of that!

    But of course, it doesn’t solve the problem (that I was driving at) at all, because there are other folks equally as “certain” as you are about their views, and there is no way to resolve it since all parties appeal to the Bible. And that was the whole essence of my argument. If you can’t see that you haven’t resolved the difficulty in the least (haven’t even tried), others surely will: which is the beauty of presenting opposing views and letting readers decide which is more plausible and worthy of belief.

    When you disagreed with Cardinal Newman, you dismissed him cavalierly, saying that he can’t read [the Bible]. But you didn’t give any indication that you even grasped what his argument was in the first place. You weren’t aware, first of all, of the basic distinction between material and formal sufficiency, that (as I showed, with six examples), many Protestants understand and write about. Thus, you misunderstood and (undeliberately) misrepresented Newman, and I proved early on that he made this distinction and accepted material sufficiency (with several of his own statements, compiled in my book of his quotations), whereas you denied that.

    Like many Protestants, you seem thoroughly confused as to the status of Catholicism. In several of your past papers, you were sure that it is a “false cult.” Lately, you seem less sure, and present contradictory remarks on the topic. You say I am “fully a dear brother in Christ,” which I appreciate and am delighted to see (for your sake), and of course reciprocate, as Catholics regard all baptized trinitarian Protestants in the same way.

    You say that you “highly commend [my] written works and [my] stand for Bible truth and the Word of God.” Yet, when we began, just a few days ago, you stated: “His [Cardinal Newman's] teaching directly led to the falling away from the truth of the Bible [or at least from his original Protestantism] of a personal acquaintance of mine, Mr. Dave Armstrong, . . .”

    How can I be criticized for falling away from the Bible a few days ago, yet now I am commended for standing for Bible truth and the Word of God? Perhaps you can explain these wildly divergent interpretations of the course of my spiritual / theological life.

    Your other statements about Catholicism that I found on your site provide further internal difficulties in your position. In August 2012 you wrote:

    “It is my belief that while there may be some Roman Catholics who are genuinely saved because they have truly placed their faith in what our Lord Jesus Christ did for them on the Cross, I suspect most Roman Catholics have followed the teaching of their church, which I believe is utterly mistaken on salvation matters.”

    Alright. You can’t have it both ways. If the Catholic Church is “utterly mistaken on salvation matters” and someone accepts wholeheartedly all its teachings, as I do, I don’t see how that person can be saved or be a brother in Christ, because they have a false soteriology and understanding of what is required to be saved: i.e. (by this erroneous thinking), a “different gospel.” One has to reject that in order to be a good Christian (to be a good Christian you have to be a bad Catholic, and if one is a good Catholic, he can’t be a [good] Christian).

    Of course I have fully placed my faith in our Glorious Lord and Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and His death on our behalf on the cross. I did that in 1977. This is Catholic teaching. Your problem is that you don’t realize that it is Catholic teaching (minus the false element of supposed “instant salvation”), so that to believe this (grace alone / non-Pelagianism) is no contradiction at all to anything the Catholic Church teaches.

    You said Cardinal Newman has an “evil influence.” He’s my “theological hero.” His arguments were crucial in my conversion (though not the biblical ones; rather, his historical analyses about development of doctrine). So how can I love his writings so much, yet escape from the same negative description that you give him? You even claimed that you refuted me because you (supposedly) refuted him; precisely because you know that I like his thought so much. Yet he has an “evil influence” and I am a “fully a dear brother in Christ”? Is Cardinal Newman that also?

    I wholeheartedly accept all Catholic teachings, that the Church decrees as binding upon Catholics. Therefore, according to you (or at least your writings within the last few years) I can’t be saved and can’t be a Christian. How could I be, if Catholicism teaches a false soteriology and I accept it? Is Catholicism a Christian system, just as all the Protestant systems are, or not? Unless you make that determination, your analyses on this topic will continue to be hopelessly muddled and self-contradictory.

    As a professional apologist, I can assure anyone that the Catholic Church teaches salvation by the work of Christ through faith in Him and grace alone; but most people understand so poorly what we teach, that they continue to falsely claim that we believe in salvation by works, or Pelagianism.

    Again, in August 2012, you wrote specifically about me: “I am most concerned that for anyone to turn from Biblical Christianity to belief in the Roman Catholic faith is tantamount to committing apostasy.” So which is it? Am I an apostate or dear brother in Christ? At that time, you didn’t sound very delighted that anyone would become a Catholic. But now you say, “Never have I ever suggested to any Roman Catholic that they ought to choose a different church to attend.”

    How can you say that to become a Catholic is to forsake biblical teaching and commit apostasy, and to adopt the views of a communion that is “utterly mistaken” about salvation, yet also say that Catholics are fully brothers in Christ and that Catholics shouldn’t leave the Catholic Church? Either your views have changed or this is vicious self-contradiction. And again, being a master debater, you know what internal inconsistency is.

    You referred to “the apostasy of Roman Catholicism” and “Roman Catholicism has an entirely false salvation plan” and “the Roman Catholic faith preaches a ‘different gospel’ than the New Testament does” and “I believe the Bible officially declares the Roman Catholic Church to be a false cult, for the Roman Catholic Church directly denies what the Bible clearly and absolutely declares.” Yet here I am in that Church and you say I’m a good Christian who teaches the word of God and should stay here (because you would never suggest otherwise? You concluded:

    “One would think that anyone who understood the difference between the two systems or plans of salvation would never fall prey to the false apologetic of Roman Catholicism. But this sacerdotal heresy still represents a very fatal danger to those who fall victim to its false reasoning.”

    Okay! Either you are one very confused man (regarding Catholicism and the relationship of individual Catholics to biblical truth and salvation) or you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth. I don’t conclude the latter for even a second, in charity; therefore, the former seems to be the only other possibility: unless and until you clear up these massively contradictory statements. And I don;t see that you can do so; thus, you ought to follow the direction that you seem to be pulled in (that Catholicism is a fully Christian system and one can be saved if they accept all of it).

    The latter position has the distinct advantage of being true rather than false. That’s always a good thing when one is bandying about different opinions. . . . Truth (in proportion to how much of it we espouse) has a way of eliminating internal contradictions.

  42. Here’s another approach to this passage that is food for thought: mostly from Cardinal Wiseman, who was a contemporary of Cardinal Newman’s. I expanded upon it by further cross-referencing:

    Biblical Arguments Against the Supposed “Proof ” of Sola Scriptura in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 on the Basis of the Phrases, “Man of God,” “Profitable for Teaching,” Etc.

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2012/01/biblical-arguments-against-supposed.html

  43. Jerry says:

    Dear Dave,

    Just so you know, I have been reading the interesting book you shared with me in ePub format. I have by no means abandoned my intention of studying, and as needed, replying to your work.

    I had a chance to read some from the ePub book the other day because there was no telephone service or Internet access because a main fiber optic cable that connects my telephone exchange to the outside world was accidently cut. So, I read from your book since it is here on my computer and doesn’t depend on my being on line for access.

    You will recall I mentioned I am working full time on my major project to expand the cross references available for Bible study. It is an exciting project. Today I am working on 2 Peter 2, what I call Step 6, part 1. There are 8 steps I follow to work through each chapter. Step 6 is the longest because it has 8 parts in itself.

    Now that our discussions are not directly visible on my main page, I plan to create a category with a title something like “Dave Armstrong Discussions” for ease of future access.

    I continue to keep you and your family in my prayers. May God’s richest blessings remain upon all of you.

  44. Jerry says:

    Dear Dave,

    If I understand your statements immediately above, you were saved in 1977. That of course is well more than a decade before you converted to Roman Catholicism.

    I said:

    “It is my belief that while there may be some Roman Catholics who are genuinely saved because they have truly placed their faith in what our Lord Jesus Christ did for them on the Cross, I suspect most Roman Catholics have followed the teaching of their church, which I believe is utterly mistaken on salvation matters.”

    I don’t have at my command all the technical theological terms or labels that pertain to this issue. Nevertheless, it is my current understanding that in the Roman Catholic Church the grace of salvation is dispensed by the Roman Catholic Church, so that salvation is received by partaking of the sacraments. This might be called sacerdotalism.

    For example, years ago, if I were to ask a Roman Catholic if he is saved, he would say “Yes.” If I asked further about the basis for believing he is saved, he would respond, “I was baptized Roman Catholic.” Or, if I were to ask a Roman Catholic, “Are you born again?” he would answer, “Yes, I was baptized.” At least back in those days, few if any ever responded with a statement reflecting what most Evangelical Christians would respond, “I have accepted Christ as my Savior, and have a personal relationship with him.”

    Now perhaps these limited interchanges I had years ago are not representative of the actual case at large. But then, and until now unless shown otherwise, it would seem that the Roman Catholics I encountered had a faith based on grace received by participating in the sacraments, through which as the Roman Catholic Church apparently teaches, the needed or necessary grace is received.

    Now in my reading of the New Testament, I see the Evangelical position reflected directly on its pages, but I do not see a system of ritual ordinances we call sacraments as a means of receiving the grace of salvation there at all.

    That is why I have stated I believe many Roman Catholics are actually genuinely saved, born-again Christians in the Evangelical sense. Though they are undoubtedly faithful Roman Catholics loyal to their church, participating regularly in the Roman Catholic sacraments, yet that participation is not what the Bible in the New Testament sets out as the way an individual comes to know Christ, comes to be “in Christ,” comes to possess the everlasting life Jesus promised in John 3:16 and John 5:24.

    Therefore, I have concluded that many in the Roman Catholic Church are saved in spite of rather than because of the program of sacraments set forth by the Roman Catholic Church as the means of grace. I would suppose, based on what little I know or have experienced by direct contact with Roman Catholicism, many Roman Catholics have yet to experience the joy and assurance that comes from having a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ, though I am surely thankful for every Roman Catholic who has had this blessed experience.

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