I am continuing my dialogue with Garret, a Reformed Baptist. Here is my explanation to him of why his beliefs are self-contradictory:
Given that you believe the canon to be inerrant, I am going to demonstrate how your arguments contradict each other.
First some definitions:
* Sola Scriptura teaches that:
a. the Church does not speak infallibly in its traditions, but only in Scripture.
b. There are no deficiencies in Scripture that need to be filled with by tradition.
c. “The New Testament which was the ‘inscripturisation” of the apostolic proclamation, together with the ‘older Scriptures,’ was the source of revelation and the authoritative doctrinal norm….Yet neither the Church nor the regula fidei were considered second sources of revelation…”
d. So we see that sola Scriptura holds that there is no public revelation outside of the sacred Scriptures.
* An “inerrant” canon of Scripture means that every single book chosen to be in the canon was inspired by God, and that there are no other books that God inspired which were omitted from the canon. (In our discussion, we are focusing on the NT canon since we both agree on that one.)
Now, here is your problem:
1. You believe in sola Scriptura.
2. You also believe you can selectively accept the canon of Scripture from Tradition.
3. You believe that this canon is inerrant.
4. But you stated that your basis for knowing the canon was the historical testimony of the bishops of the Church
5. But the historical testimony, which produced various differing canons over the first 300 years of Christianity, is not a basis for knowing that the final canon chosen was inerrant.
a. Supporting point: You also believe that the Church “fell into many heresies in the early centuries” (like the Communion of Saints and Purgatory), so the Church 1) was clearly not protected by God from error in her teachings and 2) a historical testimony about a doctrine does not mean it is true–it could be seriously false as you think the above two teachings are.
6. Therefore, your beliefs in sola Scriptura and that you can selectively know truths from Tradition (e.g. that the canon is inerrant) are self-contradictory.
If you are interested in such a discussion, reading the rest of the comments leading up to this point would be helpful.
The difficulty for the Protestant who holds to sola Scriptura is how he knows that the canon of Scripture is inerrant. RC Sproul, a well-known Protestant, famously admitted that the canon was “a fallible collection of infallible books”–that position is consistent with the Protestant belief in sola Scriptura but supremely unsatisfactory since it admits that the basis for knowing saving truth (the books of the Bible) may contain books that are not inspired and therefore not trustworthy! (It also could be missing books that were inspired which is also bad.)
Note to Garret: Please do not reply to this post to answer my challenge to you but rather to the other post so we can keep the thread of dialogue in one place.