Cath has posted her response here. She says “Sola scriptura is not a claim that everything which the apostles taught by word of mouth was written down” and “the claim has never been that the Bible contains all truth or everything that God has ever revealed.” In that sense we seem clearly to disagree because Cath would seem to be saying that some of God’s revelation has become inaccessible to us. The Catholic Church holds that everything that God revealed for the salvation of man (public as opposed to private revelation) which we call the Deposit of Faith is preserved in tact and in full in the Church until the end of time. We are commanded in Scripture to hold fast to all that is handed down both that which was written down and that which was passed on by word of mouth. If one concedes that not all that was handed on by word of mouth was written down then one has to concede that God has provided a means for its preservation and our adherence to it. For one cannot will the end without willing the means and God cannot fail in His purposes. Thus the non-scriptural content of the Deposit, including the canon of Scripture itself, must be preserved (Tradition) and the means by which it is preserved and guaranteed (Magisterium) must be instituted by Christ and endure as infallible. We do not hold that the Church relies on herself in defining in Faith and Morals rather she relies on the Deposit (scriptural and oral) and on the negative guarantee that the gates of hell will not prevail against her and Peter’s faith will not fail. She is not the recipient of continuing revelation. Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle. Thus the only probative sources for the Magisterium to draw upon are Scripture and the writings of the Fathers (those Catholic authors who wrote near enough to the death of the last Apostle to count as evidence for oral tradition). The nature of the evidence differs in that Scripture is inspired so if a single verse teaches x then x is true whereas the Fathers have to be unanimous in interpreting Scripture in a certain way for their interpretation to be binding otherwise its just persuasive.

On the canon, the fact that Our Lord appeals to the prophets does not prove that there was a universally accepted canon in His time (and we know there was not) still less that it was the sixteenth century Protestant one. The NT scriptures are appealed to by the pre-fifth century fathers and we know (because they say so) that there was no universally accepted canon in their day. Of course Our Lord knew which books were inspired because He inspired them. Cath describes this point as “the strategy of discrediting the Jewish Scriptures” but it is nothing of the sort. Denying sola scriptura is not a denigration of Scripture it is just a proper identification of what Scripture is and what it seeks to accomplish. Cath presumably does not make the Islamic claim that the Scriptures are uncreated. This is not her discrediting Scripture it is just the truth about what Scripture is and is not.

In regard to 2 Timothy it is clear that Timothy was constituted in God’s covenant by the oral teaching of living persons and then given the scriptures “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” In fact here we have all three Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium: “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, [Tradition] knowing from whom you learned it [Magisterium], and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus [Scripture].” It is true that Scripture can “make the man of God complete, and fully equipped for every good work” but he needs Tradition and the Magisterium to make him a man of God in the first place. Even in the unusual event that he encountered the Gospel and assented to it merely through picking up a copy of the Bible without oral preaching he would still be relying upon Tradition and the Magisterium because they identified the inspired books and compiled them. Scripture claims that Scripture provides doctrine and instruction to make a man of God perfect but not that it makes him a man of God or that it contains all the inspired doctrine and instruction there is to be had.

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