Sola Scriptura/ By Scripture Alone!
by Christine Egbert
Most Christians know that the battle cry of the Protestant Reformation was “Sola Scriptura,” a Latin phrase that means “by Scripture alone.” What most do not know is that during the Council of Trent, the Reformers were on the verge of winning the debate with the Roman Catholic Church that Scripture ALONE must be the basis for all Church doctrine, until Archbishop of Reggio pointed out the Reformers’ hypocrisy. What was this hypocrisy? Claiming to stand on Scripture alone, these Reformers observed the Roman Catholic Church’s Sunday Sabbath. But I’ll save the details of this sad bit of history for the end of my article. Now, let’s begin!
These “protesting reformers” rightly professed that Scripture, and Scripture alone, contained all knowledge necessary for salvation and holy living. They also professed that Scripture was clear concerning these things, and that ordinary folks, without benefit of a Priest, could read and understand God’s Word. In fact, they stated as much in their Westminster Confession of Faith.
WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH
Chapter 1, Section VII.
All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.
HAS ANYTHING CHANGED?
Today most Evangelical denominations make the same claim, declaring that Scripture must interpret Scripture. And that is so true! The problem is, like those Rabbi’s whom Yeshua admonished (Matthew 23: 2-3), they say, but do not do! More about this later…
In contrast to chapter 1, section 2 of the Westminster Confession, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says this:
77 “. . . Indeed, the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time. 78 This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture,though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes. The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition…”
“Life giving presence of this tradition?” Really? Since when do “traditions” give life?
REFORMERS APPEAL TO SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY
By appealing to Scriptural authority, the Reformers attempted to correct doctrinal errors and so-called Apostolic Traditions wherever these doctrines and traditions conflicted with God’s Written Word.They rightly declared all teachings that deviated from Scripture to be heretical. The problem is, like those formerly mentioned Rabbis who sat in Moses’ seat, the reformers failed to live up to what they professed.
Martin Luther once said, “God’s Word shall establish articles of faith, and no one else…” Yet Luther and others failed to renounce that anti-biblical Roman Catholic doctrine which replaced Yah’s seventh day Sabbath with Sunday!
TYPES AND SHADOWS
Just as Scripture holds many types and shadows of the Messiah (men like Joseph and David) history is littered with men and “systems” that are types of the antichrist. These types always seek to change Lord YHVH’s “times” and “laws.” Men like Constantine and systems like the Roman Catholic Church are two examples.
The Roman Catholic Church replaced the weekly Sabbath, which was set apart and made holy on the 7th day of Creation, with Sunday. Sunday, a day never sanctified by God, was so-named because of sun-god worship! Over and over, the Roman Catholic Church tossed out YHVH’s instructions, substituting manmade tradition, and sadly, except for a few whom I will tell you about in a later article, these Reformers, while shouting ‘Sola Scriptura!’ from the rooftops, continued to follow Rome’s heresies.
IS ALL TRADITION WRONG?
No! Traditions can be wonderful! It’s only when man made traditions oppose God’s word that they are EVIL! Unfortunately, today most Christians will argue that after Messiah’s resurrection the Apostles changed the fourth commandment from the seventh day Sabbath to Sunday.They base this on a few poorly translated verses that mention the disciples gathering together on the first day of the week, rather than what it actually states in the Greek: “On ONE of the Sabbaths” (See my article titled: “Acts 20:7 Says What?”)
Throughout Scripture there are hundreds of direct commands to observe and to keep Holy His Seventh-Day Sabbath! How intelligent and sincere Christians can seriously think a few vague references codified a change away from YHVH’s Sabbath would be laughable, if it weren’t so pathetic.
Let’s look at one of these verses from the King James.
1Co 16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
Now let us examine the same scripture translated by the International Standard Version, which does a much better job.
1Co 16:2 After the Sabbath ends, each of you should set aside and save something from your surplus in proportion to what you have, so that no collections will have to be made when I arrive.
When this was written, and for 300 years afterwards, believers observed Shabbat as a day of worship and rest. Monetary concerns were never dealt with on the Sabbath. It makes sense that once Sabbath had ended at sundown, believers would remain for fellowship, and at that time they could take up a collection.
Rome Mocks Protestants For Their Inconsistency
Over and over, the Roman Catholic Church has publicly mocked Protestants for claiming to abide by Sola scripture, by Scripture only, while continuing to submit to the Roman Catholic Church’s 4th Century decree which changed the Christian Sabbath to Sunday.
SUNDAY WORSHIP IS THE MARK OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
A hundred years ago the Catholic Mirror ran a series of articles in which they proved that Protestants who observe Sunday as the sabbath have submitted to the Roman Catholic Church’s authority to change God’s law. Below are some excerpts dated from September, 2, 9, 16, and 23, 1893 from the editor of the Catholic Mirror of Baltimore, Maryland. The Catholic Mirror was the official organ of Cardinal Gibbons and the Papacy in the United States.
Although the articles were not written by the Cardinal himself, he sanctioned them. In effect, Rome was demanding to know by whose authority did Protestants observe Sunday as the sabbath, the Bible or the Papacy.
EXCERPTED FROM CATHOLIC MIRROR, SEPTEMBER 1893:
The Protestant world has been, from its infancy, in the sixteenth century, in thorough accord with the Catholic Church, in keeping “holy,” not Saturday, but Sunday. … that they have been teaching and practicing what is Scripturally false for over three centuries,by adopting the teaching and practice of what they have always pretended to believe an apostate church, contrary to every warrant and teaching of sacred Scripture. To add to the intensity of this Scriptural and unpardonable blunder, it involves one of the most positive and emphatic commands of God to His servant, man: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
No Protestant living today has ever yet obeyed that command, preferring to follow the apostate church referred to than his teacher the Bible, which, from Genesis to Revelation, teaches no other doctrine …Let the Bible decide whether Saturday or Sunday be the day enjoined by God. …we shall enter on the discussion of the merits of the arguments wielded by both sides.…It resolves itself into a few plain questions easy of solution: 1st Which day of the week does the Bible enjoin to be kept holy? 2nd Has the New Testament modified by precept or practice the original command? 3rd Have Protestants, since the sixteenth century, obeyed God’s command by keeping “holy” the day enjoined by their infallible guide and teacher, the Bible? And, if not, why?
Over three centuries since, he (Martin Luther) plausibly represented to a large number of discontented and ambitious Christians the bright prospect of the successful inauguration of a “new departure,” by the abandonment of the Church instituted by the Son of God, as their teacher, and the assumption of a new teacher, the Bible alone, as their newly fledged oracle.
Of course we have not the least sympathy with what is here said about Luther. Only the Lutherans think that Luther had all the truth, but his was nevertheless a grand work. He was a Christian hero. Had his work only been continued as it began, papists would not now be taunting “Protestants” with the inconsistency of professing to accept the Bible alone and then following the traditions of the Catholic Church. ED.
MORE RIDICULE FROM THE MIRROR
The Israelites and Seventh-day Adventists are witnesses of their weekly desecration of the day named by God so repeatedly, and whilst they have ignored and condemned their teacher, the Bible, they have adopted a day kept by the Catholic Church. What Protestant can, after perusing these articles, with a clear conscience, continue to disobey the command of God, enjoining Saturday to be kept, which command his teacher, the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, records as the will of God?
The history of the world cannot present a more stupid, self-stultifying specimen of dereliction of principle than this. The teacher demands emphatically in every page that the law of the Sabbath be observed every week, by all recognizing it as “the only infallible teacher,” whilst the disciples of that teacher have not once for over three hundred years observed the divine precept!
That immense concourse of Biblical Christians, the Methodists, have declared that the Sabbath has never been abrogated, whilst the followers of the Church of England, together with her daughter, the … Episcopal Church of the United States, are committed by the twentieth article of religion, already quoted, to the ordinance that the Church cannot lawfully ordain anything “contrary to God’s written word.”
WHAT DOES GOD’S WRITTEN WORD SAY?
God’s written word enjoinsHis worship to be observed on Saturday absolutely, repeatedly, and most emphatically, with a most positive threat of death to him who disobeys. All the Biblical sects occupy the same self-stultifying position which no explanation can modify, much less justify.
How truly do the words of the Holy Spirit apply to this deplorable situation! “Iniquitas mentita est sibi”—“Iniquity hath lied to itself.”
Proposing to follow the Bible only as teacher, yet before the world, the sole teacher is ignominiously thrust aside and the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church, “the mother of abomination,” when it suits their purpose to so designate her, adopted, despite the most terrible threats pronounced by God Himself against those who disobey the command, “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath.”
WHY WAS SUNDAY ADOPTED?
The Protestant world at its birth found the Christian Sabbath too strongly entrenched to run counter to its existence; it was therefore placed under the necessity of acquiescing in the arrangement, thus implying the Church’s right to change the day, for over three hundred years. The Christian Sabbath is therefore to this day, the acknowledged offspring of the Catholic Church …without a word of remonstrance from the Protestant world.
THE 2ND PROPOSITION
Let us now, however, take a glance at our second proposition, with the Bible alone as the teacher and guide in faith and morals.This teacher most emphatically forbids any change in the day for paramount reasons. The command calls for a “perpetual covenant.”
The day commanded to be kept by the teacher has never once been kept, thereby developing an apostasy from an assumedly fixed principle, as self-contradictory, self-stultifying, and consequently as suicidal as it is within the power of language to express. Nor are the limits of demoralization yet reached. Far from it!
Their pretense for leaving the bosom of the Catholic Church was for apostasy from the truth as taught in the written word. They adopted the written word as their sole teacher, which they had no sooner done than they abandoned it promptly, as these articles have abundantly proved; and by a perversity as willful as erroneous, they accept the teaching of the Catholic Church in direct opposition to the plain, unvaried, and constant teaching of their sole teacher in the most essential doctrine of their religion, thereby emphasizing the situation in what may be aptly designated “a mockery, a delusion, and a snare.”
THE COUNCIL OF TRENT
The position and claim of the Catholic Church is that “the Bible is interpreted by the Church and according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.” This was the main issue in the Council of Trent, which was called especially to consider the questions that had been raised and forced upon the attention of Europe by the Reformers. The very first question concerning faith that was considered by the council involved this issue.
TRUTH OR TRADITION?
There was a strong party even of the Catholics within the council who were in favor of abandoning tradition and adopting the Scriptures only, as the standard of authority. This view was so decidedly held in the debates in the council that the pope’s legates actually wrote to him that there was “a strong tendency to set aside tradition altogether and to make Scripture the sole standard of appeal.”
But to do this would manifestly be to go a long way toward justifying the claims of the Protestants. By this crisis there was developed upon the ultra-Catholic portion of the council the task of convincing the others that “Scripture and tradition” were the only sure ground to stand upon. If this could be done, the council could be carried to issue a decree condemning the Reformation, otherwise not.
THE DEBATE OVER SOLA SCRIPTURA
The question was debated day after day, until the council was fairly brought to a standstill. Finally, after a long and intensive mental strain, the Archbishop of Reggio came into the council with substantially the following argument to the party who held for Scripture alone:
“The Protestants claim to stand upon the written word only. They profess to hold the Scripture alone as the standard of faith. They justify their revolt by the plea that the Church has apostatized from the written word and follows tradition.
Now the Protestants claim that they stand upon the written word only, is not true. Their profession of holding the Scripture alone as the standard of faith, is false.
The written word explicitly enjoins the observance of the seventh day as the Sabbath. They do not observe the seventh day, but reject it. If they do truly hold the scripture alone as their standard, they would be observing the seventh day as is enjoined in the Scripture throughout.
Yet they not only reject the observance of the Sabbath enjoined in the written word, but they have adopted and do practice the observance of Sunday, for which they have only the tradition of the Church. Consequently the claim of ‘Scripture alone as the standard,’ fails; and the doctrine of ‘Scripture and tradition’ as essential, is fully established, the Protestants themselves being judges.” –all above excerpts from the Mirror are edited for clarity.
SUNDAY IS PROOF!
It is seldom that I agree with the Roman Catholic Church, but here I must. For Protestants have clearly rejected Scripture, bowing instead to the authority of the Roman Catholic Papacy, when it comes to Sunday Sabbath, Christmas, and Easter. That’s why now, at the end of days, the Holy Spirit is blowing once again throughout Christendom, inspiring believers from every denomination to “seek the old paths and walk in them,” (Jer 6:16) We who know the TRUTh must “earnestly contend for that faith that was once delivered to the Saints.”
Reformers had the newly invented printing press to aid them. We, the RESTORERS, have the Internet. Let us use it wisely to spread the TRUTH, until every Christian is fully aware of “…those things wherein there is no profit” that we have inherited from our 4th century Gentile Church Fathers. (Jer 16:19)