First, I am writing off the top of my head, nothing here is prepared. I know that there are people out there far better then me who can give statements in doctrine. I would invite others to google the old protestant statements of faith such as the Westminster, or the 1689 2nd LBC. If I mistate the doctrine, I am willing to take correction. Hopefully correction will come from authoritative sources in defining the doctrine.
For those who deny sola scriptura, I find that most attacks on the doctrine of sola scriptura are on the basis of misconceptions or misrepresentations of the doctrine. Here is my concise definition.
* Sola scriptura teaches---The bible, genesis to revelation, is the only infallible and inerrant source for doctrine and practice.
- This does not mean that the bible is the only source of truth. The bible does not tell us the speed of light. It does not tell us the exact number of books in the bible. Nor does it have to give us all truths. It makes the claim that it gives us sufficient truth (2Ti 3:17) That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.
- This does not mean there cannot be teachers and leaders. However it does mean that those teachers and leaders are not to be seen as infallible or inerrant. Some assemblies place less emphasis on teachers and leaders, some place greater emphasis on leaders, that is not the point. The point is that while we have teachers and leaders in some form, they are not infallible or inerrant.
- This doctrine also teaches that the apostles taught the infallible and inerrant word of God in oral fashion. However, since the apostles are dead, infallible oral teachings have ceased.
- This doctrine can still affirm tradition, but never infallible tradition. Traditions can still happen, but traditions are subject to the word of God.
* Sola Ecclesia--- The Church alone is the only source of infallible teaching and doctrine. This is the position of the Roman Catholic Church. They generally use terms like "sacred tradition." While the Bible is infallible in this doctrine, this teaching also claims that the Roman Catholic Church infallibly says what the scriptures mean. Of course then the final authority is not with the scriptures, but Rome. There are different kinds of theories on "sacred tradition." Some Roman Catholics have admitted development in doctrine and practice, others make the claim that all doctrine and practice goes back to the first century and Christ.
* Classic protestantism--- I will be using this term. By this term I am not referring to either liberal protestantism or any of the cults such as mormonism. Liberal protestantism is a completely different religion or world view. They do not view the scriptures as having every word and all of the scriptures as inerrant. Mormonism is much more like Roman Catholicism then protestantism in its source of authority. They have there own infallible people in Salt Lake City, not Rome. By the term Classic Protestantism I am referring to any denomination or group that agrees with sola scriptura.
Now to the comments of Elisa
What I will say here is what the Church teaches and what I believe with all my heart.
The typical person who believes in sola scriptura would say... "here is what the scriptures teach and what I believe."
The fullness of truth. And that comes only through Christ, His Church and His Holy Word.
The unspoken part here is that the Roman Catholic Church is the only infallible interpreter of his word. This is different from what classic protestants say of themselves. Classic protestants recognize that we are fallible as individual people, and fallible as a group. Now and only by diligence in paying close attention to the grammar of each passage of scripture, and comparing scripture with scripture can we arrive at a correct position on doctrine or practice.
The Holy Spirit can and does speak to all men. As the Holy Spirit did in the Old Testament, before Abraham and in the moral law written on the hearts of all men.
Romans 1:20 and 2:14: "Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. . . .For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law."
St. Faustina in the last century said that when Jesus appeared to her, He said that at the hour of death He appears to all men. (This is not public revelation, but private revelation and no Catholic has to believe this. But I do and the Church approves of it.) God is outside of time and space and a single moment can be like a thousand years to Him. If Jesus presents Himself to that individual in the moments between life and death and that person accepts Him, then they will be saved and no one may know they died a Christian.
The proposition here is stated in the first line. It is that the HS speaks to all men. This proposition is defended by quoting Romans 1:20 and Rom 2:14. The quoting of these text is completely non-sequitur. Let me deal with each text.
* Romans 1:20 speaks about General revelation in nature. Romans 1:20 does not even mention the Holy Spirit. Nature is a universal revelation of the attributes of God to everyone. We can see the glory of God in the far off distant stars. This revelation is not a special act of the HS whereby he wispers in each persons ear, it is just simply speaking of God revealing himself by his creative acts when the world began. It would be good to quote all of Romans 1:20 and not just the first part. This would show what this revelation in nature accomplishes for God.
Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse:
The object of this revelation is so that all men will be without excuse. We cannot say we could not see God in nature, it was there all along, but mankind universally rejected this revelation. This can be seen from the context. Read the rest of Romans 1!
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; Men do not accept this truth in nature, they hinder it, they subvert it, they put it down and hide it. The result of this revelation is not the speakings of the HS, but the condemnation of men.... "God gave them over."
* Romans 2:14 Rom 2:14 (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves;
This verse speaks of the extent of the depravity of sinful human nature. We are totally depraved in that sin nature affects all parts of our being... our emotions, our will, our motives. But this does not mean we are as sinful as we could possibly be. A pagan mother in deep dark heathenism still loves her children. Drug addicts can still rehabilitate themselves because somewhere deep down inside they know their lives are all messed up. There is a conscience still left in mankind. This is what verse 14 calls "do by nature then things of the law..." Verse 15 says that this is the "law of God written in the hearts."
This knowledge of good and evil will not spare mankind, but condemn mankind in the end.
Rom 2:16 in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ.
So then, this is not the secrete whisperings of the HS in some world wide special revelation (special revelation is what the OT prophets received in visions and dreams).
A point here---- In some ways this is a different issue. I maybe should have snipped it and discarded it from the discussion. The issue is that of authority. If only the Roman Catholic tradition is infallible, then what is this HS whisperings to all men worldwide? Is this a fallible whispering? I must admit I wonder what kind of fallible whispering the HS might make?
Now for a positive presentation of a correct view of the authority of the scriptures.
2Ti 3:16 Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness.
2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.
The point of verse 16 is that the term "inspired" is found only with reference to the scriptures. Now when I use the term inspired, I am actually thinking of the greek term πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος. This term θεόπνευστος (inspired) never occrurs with reference to the Church. The Church is a teacher of the scriptures, but never an infallible or inspired teacher of the scriptures.
If at any time, I see the word θεόπνευστος with regard to the Church, I will admit error on my part concerning this doctrine. The Church is not inspired to infallibly teach doctrine. Please demonstrate this in the scriptures.