Go to Antithesis Root Page

Jones' Closing Statement

If we step back from the details of the debate for a moment, we can see that one prevailing issue on both sides is now very clear: there is no place in all of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, in which we find an actual non-revelatory, non-inspired, yet infallibly binding, body or source of doctrinal explications. Please do not confuse this statement with previous disputes about oral revelation. There is a marked distinction between inspired oral revelation and uninspired, though infallible, oral explications (Mr. Matatics has himself provided this distinction). We both agree that Scripture speaks of inspired oral revelation. We both (now at least) claim to agree that Sola Scriptura does not preclude inspired oral revelation. The basic dispute, then, is not the irrelevant claim of whether Scripture speaks of inspired oral revelation alongside itself as a norm, but whether Scripture endorses uninspired, though infallible, oral explications as a supreme norm equal to its authority.

This latter question is now easily answered: No. This answer is drawn from Mr. Matatics' own case, in that, much if not all of his Biblical arguments against Sola Scriptura are made up of claims to the effect that Scripture speaks of inspired oral revelation. He has repeatedly attempted to rebut the Biblical case for Sola Scriptura by appealing in diverse ways to the oral revelation of the pre-Mosaic patriarchs, Moses, subsequent OT prophets, Christ, and the apostles. Since Sola Scriptura includes such inspired oral revelation, and Mr. Matatics now claims to agree, then none of these instances count against Sola Scriptura -- Progress!

With that set of claims out of the way, we can then see that Mr. Matatics nowhere even attempts to find in Scripture a body or norm of uninspired, though infallible, oral explications parallel to Rome's Sacred Tradition. Such a normative tradition (note, not inspired oral revelation) is completely foreign to the pages of Scripture, and, therefore, has no Biblical precedent, parallel, or place (except, of course, Pharisaical traditions).

His most basic response to my ongoing request for a Scriptural basis for uninspired, though infallible, oral explications is found in his latest reply where he argues: "Jones says `the OT does not contain anything close to a body of authoritative tradition or an infallible institution on par with Scripture,' he [Jones] still sidesteps the inspired, infallible institution of the office of prophet...." Precisely wrong. Inspired prophets and apostles, as Mr. Matatics himself has told us, are not parallel to non-revelatory, uninspired Roman Catholic explications. The two are in different categories, and, hence, as noted above, all of Mr. Matatics appeals to inspired oral revelation are completely irrelevant as evidence against Sola Scriptura. In my last essay, I appealed to Mr. Matatics: "Where is this body of priestly tradition? Give examples of authoritative appeals to it.... Point to...appeals to it which set it on par with Scripture." In return, we received silence.[1]

As I've argued since my opening essay, the dispute between Protestants and Roman Catholics regarding Sola Scriptura is not a dispute between evidence for oral vs. written revelation but rather a dispute between the supremacy of oral/written revelation (the inspired Word of God) vs. non-revelatory, infallible explications. Given this latter distinction, we can easily see why Mr. Matatics' perennial accusations of Protestant question-begging fail.[2] He's simply in the wrong debate.[3] In order for Mr. Matatics to make his case against Sola Scriptura he needs to demonstrate that Scripture speaks of God's Word, not as oral and/or written, but as uninspired, non-revelatory, and yet infallible. Furthermore, the Biblical case for Sola Scriptura is easily sealed by providing Scriptures which demonstrate God's Word (temporary oral or written) is a Christian's sole and supreme norm, to the exclusion of texts endorsing uninspired, yet infallible explications. This has been an easy task, buttressed both by the evidence of redemptive history and a waterfall of prooftexts (at least three dozen for Mr. Matatics' request for one).[4]

Given the absence of non-revelatory, yet infallible explications on par with Scripture, Roman Catholicism rests its claims on a very late and novel, let alone Scripturally unprecedented, foundation. We are supposed to believe that in all of redemptive history, from creation to the apostles, God's Word alone is supreme, but that as soon as the apostles pass away, then uninspired, non-revelatory, yet infallible explications immediately stand on par with Scripture. Yet, as we've seen, Scripture itself clearly forbids such a novel change in doctrine.[5]

In conclusion, then, the Roman Catholic Biblical case against Sola Scriptura has pointed out many of the texts speaking of inspired oral revelation but those, we now agree, are irrelevant. Mr. Matatics also agrees that inspired oral revelation ceased with the passing of the apostolic era, hence, there is no need to prove that oral revelation has ceased. What the Scriptural evidence does show, and Mr. Matatics has never disputed, is my original point that the sole and supreme norm invoked by persons in both Old and New Testaments is God's Word (oral and/or written), in opposition to non-revelatory, uninspired, yet infallible explications. As we've seen, the evidence for this claim is abundant, like a waterfall, and, hence, once we clear away all the debris, we see that Scripture very clearly teaches the very ancient truth of Sola Scriptura. We are now able to draw the inference from my very first statement: since Sola Scriptura is Scriptural, and it precludes Roman Catholicism as a system of theology, we ought to wholeheartedly reject Roman Catholicism.[6]


Notes

[1 ] Mr. Matatics also attempts to appeal to various allegedly extra-biblical traditions found incorporated into the New Testament but these don't fulfill the conditions of "uninspired, thought infallible explications" because they are either (i) not even authoritative works as Mr. Matatics himself agrees, for instance in regard to Jude 9, 14f., or (ii) not necessarily received apart from divine inspiration, or (iii) simply stand as summary doctrinal locutions. Whatever the case, they do not fit the category in question.

[2 ] In the previous essay Mr. Matatics strangely denies that he refutes several of his own charges against me, and so I direct the reader to page 52 to read his own statements where he twice claims that I can avoid a certain charge, and then he goes on to cite my own case in rebuttal.

[3 ] I gladly receive Mr. Matatics latest claim that he doesn't believe that Sola Scriptura precludes oral revelation, since it removes many of his previous objections, but he is quite wrong to suggest his arguments never assumed that view. In both essays he makes such blatant claims as, "If scriptura includes oral as well as written teaching, then there is nothing left to argue about: Catholics now affirm Sola Scriptura too!"(p. 52). Similarly, his claim that "there was no scripture during the patriarchal period...therefore...[these] hardly serve as examples of Sola Scriptura." (p.52). Thus, my charges weren't "trumped up," as he says; instead, he has apparently back-pedalled on the issue.

[4 ] Several other points are worth noting: (1) Mr. Matatics still has yet to make his case against Sola Scriptura actually contradict my case, though now we are told that points 1-6 were not intended to contradict it but only to demonstrate that the "trajectories" conflict with Sola Scriptura. Well, at least we finally have a contradiction. (2) Mr. Matatics claims that his appeal to John 5:19 is irrelevant to his basic claim and then goes on to defend this irrelevance in four more paragraphs. His basic rebuttal of my point rests upon mistaken logical formulation of the claim. I direct the reader to John 5:19 to compare. (3) In all honesty, his critique of my previous essay's second footnote, his points 1-6, doesn't even come close to restating my arguments accurately. (4) Given my discussion in this response, my citations of II Tim. 3;16; II Pet. 1:2, etc. are not question-begging. (5) Mr. Matatics regularly cites James 1:4 in order to refute the Protestant appeal to II Tim. 3:16, but this is a category mistake in which he conflates the ethical and the epistemological.

[5 ] Nevertheless, Mr. Matatics may grant the novelty of Roman doctrine but argue that the post-apostolic church was given this new standard beside God's Word. Yet his earliest footnotes in support of this point still do not uniquely support a Roman Catholic understanding of ordination, teaching authority, Peter's position, etc. Nor does Paul's references to Timothy and Titus in filial terms uniquely support Mr. Matatics' claim, given the wide use of such language for persons not holding church office. He has failed to supply even a foundation for Rome's novel view of revelation.

Moreover, Mr. Matatics attempts to salvage his case from II Thess. 2:15 by arguing that the central issue is infallible transmission not apostolic succession. First, by his own appeal to an infallible church, he explicitly continues his question-begging use of this passage. Second, his claim that our "only ground" for trusting Biblical manuscripts is the Roman Catholic church, belies his own concession that God promises to preserve His Word, which at least includes written revelation. Who needs fideism or textual criticism when God Himself makes a promise? Has Roman Catholicism now led Mr. Matatics to reject the sovereign providence of God as well? Third, my argument against apostolic succession doesn't in fact assume succeeding apostles but only their teaching authority. Hence, Mr. Matatics is still stuck with a non-foundational foundation.

[6 ] Mr. Matatics spills plenty of ink in an attempt to take personally my comments about the complexities of human experience. Everyone can see that his opening appeal to his past is intended to gain a special hearing and buttress his case. A sentence can explain background, but his four paragraphs with rather heavy-handed condescensions are obviously supposed to make the reader support his case. My point was explicitly logical in aim, namely, that such appeals have no place in a serious debate and to point out that experience is messy in that its complexities give us no clear cut directions. If Mr. Matatics doesn't want people to challenge all parts of his case, then he shouldn't invoke his past experience. Nevertheless, given this, I can't help be amused when he opens his latest essay by claiming that he will not question my integrity or intelligence and then proceeds to describe me as speaking mumbo-jumbo, too dull to grasp issues, superficial, irresponsible, sloppy, too simple to check texts, silly, unable to grasp basic lessons, befuddled, desperate, and a slow-witted retriever. I would hate to see him insult me.


7-18-96 tew
Return to CRTA