Customer Reviews: Not by Scripture Alone: A Catholic Critique of the Protestant Doctrine of Sola Scriptura
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on April 25, 2006
Well here's one Protestant at least who's not going to bombard this book with criticisms and complaints--seeing as how these reviews are meant to discuss the book, not the plethora of beliefs held by whichever reviewer. I'm not really sure what some of these Protestant reviewers were expecting when they picked up the book.

That being said, I'm in no danger of converting, and yet I definitely think this book warrants 4 stars. Prompted by discussions with my Catholic roommate I was referred to this book. It didn't dispell all the historical and theological "myths" that Protestants propagate (most of which I would say aren't myths), but it did lay out a very solid argument from historical, theological, and biblical grounds. Any Protestant looking for a solid Catholic critique on those three grounds of the Protestant position should definitely pick this one up and be challenged by fairly solid scholarship. I especially appreciated hearing a thoughtful critique of 2 Timothy 3:16 and other scriptural passages used to defend Sola Scriptura (Chapter 3).

Bottom line, I don't think Sungenis and his companions are right, but I think he makes a good argument that Protestants need to hear and address. If you want a good and concise Catholic argument on this issue--seek no further.
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on June 26, 1999
When a Protestant discusses the faith with a Catholic the words, "show me where it says that in the Bible" will always come up. By saying this, the Protestant assumes that everything concerning faith and morals is WRITTEN explicity in the pages of Scripture. But is this assumption itself a biblical teaching?. To the surprise of most people the answer is no! The Bible nowhere states or implies that the Bible alone is the only rule of faith for the believer. Do you think differently? Then you must read this book. "Not by Scripture Alone" is a thorough review of how Scripture should be used in the life of a believer. Those who hold to the idea of Sola Scriptura, have rejected the biblical teaching of an authoritative Church (Matt 18:17) and Apostolic Tradition (2 Thes 2:15). This book handles all the issues one by one and demonstrates that a true Bible-believing Christian can not believe in the Bible Alone theory. I congratulate the authors of this fine book. I know that this book will help people come home to the fullness of the Christian faith that can only be found in the Catholic Church. Reviewed by Gospel Truth Ministries.
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on August 5, 1999
Well it probably won't, but this is the most complete book available on the issue of Sola Scriptura. I heard many arguments on both sides of the debate before I read this, and every one of them and more is examined in detail in this book. Bible verses are thouroughly examined in their context, and varying translations are even discussed rather than quoting from the English translation that best supports the apologist's point of view, as many others have done. Frequent quotations from Protestant authors throughout the book and the inclusion of the transcript of a formal debate between Patrick Madrid and Douglass Jones in the appendix allows the reader to hear arguments on both sides of the story. The size of the book may be a turn off to some, and there is some redundancy from the multiple authors, but the book is still very much worth while. For someone who is new to studying Catholic/Protestant dividing issues, I would recommend first reading a conversion story such as Scott Hahn's or David Currie's, to get your feet wet before plunging into the deep end with this book.
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on August 9, 2000
I am currently a non-denominational Christian. Who through the guidance of God the Holy Spirit is searching for the True Church. Mr. Sungenis and his fellow authors in this book have indeed taken me a step closer to this truth. First of all I would like to respond to the Protestant who wrote that this book was completely ridculous. I will by no means judge someone or their character. But I would like to say that this book is one of the BEST ever written on the matter of is Scripture Alone the final authority on Faith and Morals. I say it is the best ever that I have read. And I have read numerous Protestant commentaries upholding the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Through this book and my study of Tradition and the early Church Fathers I have come to see that Sola Scriptura is a novel idea. If you are a Protestant and express disbelief then please do not judge your Catholic brothers in Christ but read this book for yourself. I would also like to respond to the man that equated Catholocism with a cult like the Mormons and Jehova's Witness. If you have any knowledge of Church History you can easily see that this claim is completely ABSURD. As the authors of Not By Scripture Alone are so kind to point out. That the Catholic Church is the church that has the longest historical background. As well as firm roots in the Bible. Matt 16 shows this, as does 1 Thess 2:15. It is a Protestant church that can easily be equated as a cult. I say this with complete love for my Protestant brethren to see. Just look! their our currently 28,000 Protestant denominations now. 28,000 Protestant denominations! Which one is the true denomination? Let my Protestant bretheren provide answers to that. IF by some chance Sola Scriptura is the truth. Then answer me? Which of the 28,000 denominations has the correct interpretation. Is it the Calvinist denominations that hold to absolute predestination. Is it the Luthrean denominations that hold to Baptismal Regeneration and the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist? Or is it the Free Will Methodist denomination. The Free Will denom and Calvinist hold mutually exclusive views. IF Sola Scriptura is true then why are their 28,000 denominations. Why cannot everyone agree? Please my Protestant brother that equated Catholocism with a cult, recant this charge. Or provide true biblical, or traditional evidence that can back up this claim. If you cannot or any other Protestant cannot. I reassert my claim that Sola Scriptura is just a myth. Please brothers everywhere read this book and look for yourselves.
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on January 8, 2000
Recent scholarship on the subject is brought in and analyzed. Among these works is most notably the books Sola Scriptura! edited by Don Kistler and Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences by Norman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie. However, several other sources of Protestant apologetics are utilized as well. The best Protestant arguments from these works are shown to be based on flawed pre-suppositions and circular logic. This work is not perfect either as Patrick Madrid's work in chapter one is weak in spots. (Hopefully Bob Sungenis will edit out the 'canon fodder' argument of Madrid in subsequent releases.) But the rest of the chapters amply compensate for this. That is really the only complaint I have with the work as Madrid's work in the two written debates is more in tune with the rest of the book. As this work shows in detail, the arguments of Protestant apologists prove to be either:
a) Developmentally challenged. (The good arguments are always stopped short of a logical conclusion that is fatal to the Protestant position.)
b) Logically self-refuting or
c) The foundation of the Protestant position is shown to be purely arbitrary.
While there is a bit of overlap; nevertheless each author covers a different angle to this topic which makes for very interesting reading. The tone of the book is charitable also, which is important with any work dealing with a topic this finely nuanced. This book is detailed, complete, and almost too much in a way (it leaves no stone unturned) but this is important considering the division that has resulted over the centuries because of the subject of sola scriptura. As far as I am concerned Catholics and other Apostolic Christians cannot go far enough in exposing this doctrine for what it is. Sola Scriptura is an unbiblical (Scripture doesn't teach it), unhistorical (no one in the first 1500 years of Christian history held this doctrine who was orthodox), illogical (the doctrine is internally contradictory and arbitrary), and unworkable (the ecclesial problems have created thousands of warring sects within Protestantism) man-made tradition. It should thus be rejected by anyone who claims to be a "Bible-believing Christian."
If you are Protestant I would ask you to please approach this subject prayerfully and with an open mind. If you do this and apply the simple rules of logic and reason consistently, the evidence speaks for itself. You will find inexorably that Sola Scriptura implodes!
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on September 4, 2001
This compendium of critiques of sola scriptura is not for the faint of heart. At close to 600 pages, including appendices, it delves into minutiae in a way that only a debate society member could love.
At issue: If Scripture is the only infallible authority for resolving matters of faith and morals, and is formally sufficient for teaching, where does Scripture teach this doctrine?
We are treated to arguments by no less than seven different (obviously intelligent and well-informed) authors, expounding the Catholic position that Scripture does not teach this. The Church affirms that Scripture is materially, but not formally sufficient, and therefore requires an infallible interpreter (the Magisterium) to avoid the chaos of denominationalism that results from individual interpretation (as evidenced by the splintering of Christianity since the Reformation).
Robert Sungenis spends close to 60 pages on 4 verses (2Tim 3:16, Acts 17:11, 1Cor 4:6, and Mk 7:5-13) in the chapter entitled "Does Scripture teach Sola Scriptura?" That's a lot of exegesis!
Then there's Point/Counterpoint: Protestant Objections and Catholic Answers, where 75 objections (mostly by James White, and Geisler and MacKenzie)are addressed in excruciating detail in close to 90 pages (with detailed explanatory footnotes).
Patrick Madrid addresses the issue from a logical perspective, Philip Blosser from the philosopical and practical, and Joseph Gallegos from the Tradition and Church Fathers viewpoint.
A particularly interesting contribution by Robert Fastiggi discusses the history and view of sola scriptura held by the leaders of the Reformation. This encompasses the Lutheran, Calvinist, Anglican, and the so-called "Radical" or Anabaptist perspectives.
This book (or collection of books)makes essentially the same argument from many perspectives using essentially the same evidence; and that is what makes it somewhat tedious. There is no doubt that it is well researched -- the information is certainly complete and it is an indispensible reference if you are inclined to head-butting. The results, I fear, would be the same as those documented in Appendix 3 -- a formal debate between Catholic Patrick Madrid and Protestant Douglas Jones.
Madrid asks where Scripture teaches sola scriptura, and Jones asks why an infallible Church. Each claims to have answered the other, and the debate continues.
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on April 8, 2001
This book is the best I've seen in regards to the Authority issue. This book is a great "next step" for those who have only read primers on the issues, such as Keating's Catholicism and Fundamentalism. What you will find here is about 600 pages of intense interaction with the Biblical and historical data pertaining to the proper role of Scripture in the life of the Christian believer.
The best part, to me, was the section dealing with the famous verses in Scripture that protestants often use to show that the Bible teaches this doctrine. The arguments are more than adequately refuted, and in some cases, the reader is shown how these verses (especially the case of the Noble Bereans) actually support the Catholic doctrine! Did not the "less noble Thesselonians" also look to Scripture alone? Did they, based on their private interpretation, reject the *oral* teaching of Paul? Yet it was the Bereans, who although very wise to make sure Paul's oral Tradition harmonized with Scripture, ultimately accepted a Truth that was not explicitly there: that Jesus Christ of Nazereth is the Messiah.
To all those who say that the authors rely on straw-men arguments in the point-counterpoint section, I say this: try reading the book! The points given in the Point-Counterpoint section, far from being straw men, are VERBATIM quotes from Protestant apologists! If these protestant apologists do not fairly represent sola scriptura to you, the point of this book is all the more enforced: sola scriptura = doctrinal anarchy. In the very beginning of the book, the authors acknowledge that there are many definitions of Sola Scriptura. It would have been impossible to cover them all in detail. Rather, they provide arguments that refute all possible definitions of sola scriptura by implication and logical deduction.
A very highly recommended read for those who are serious about learning the true Catholic position. This book will for sure be too weighty for those who only like to read Pop tabloid theology (Dave Hunt, Jack Chick, Tim LaHaye etc), but is rather a work for the serious inquirer.
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on May 13, 2004
Perhaps the primary difference between Catholics and Protestants is what they consider to be valid spiritual authorities. The Catholic Church has always believed in the Bible as well as Sacred Tradition while Luther and Calvin introduced the concept of sola scriptura (the Bible alone) as the final authority. This book, written by a man who converted from Protestantism to Catholicism, presents the biblical and historical rationale for the Catholic position as well as responding to the common Protestant objections to the Catholic position. It is a "must have" for any Catholic interested in defending his faith.
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on December 6, 2000
Imagine a society where every one was able to read a penal law book and decide for themselves what the law means, without taking into account legal precedent, history, the constition or legislative intent. One could almost imagine in such a society a legal case where a defendant before the court could argue that he didn't break the law because the meaning of the word "IS" is questionable at least as it pretains to the law in question. (Haven't we gone down this road already?) Such is the anarchy that the protestant doctrine Sola Scripture has unleashed on those of the Christian faith. In "Not by Scripture Alone" Robert Sungenis puts forth a powerful argument refuting all the arguments for the protestant tradition of "sola scripture." Nowhere in the bible is the doctrine of sola scripture supported in fact the opposite is quite true, in the old testement one tribe was given responsibility to interpet and administer God's laws (the Levite's) In the new testement that reponsibilty was given to Peter and the other apostles and thier appointed succesors. Of the hundreds of arguments made in this book a few are indeed circular as a previous reviewer noted however the vast majority are Well founded and reasoned with solid scripture and history to back them up. Those who argue for sola scripture simply can't come up with enough history and Scripture to refute the facts presented here with out themselves resorting to circular arguments.This is an excellent and thought provoking book for anyone interested in biblical doctrine.
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on November 15, 2000
...of 'Not By Scripture Alone'. It punches holes and sinks the Flagship of our misled Protestant brothers and sisters. This book illuminates the murky waters of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura with truths that withstand scrutiny. Anyone that reads this --that has a mind that is not closed or deluded -- will walk away saying "Amen". Which brings to mind the review that mentions circularity -- "Because Rome says so". It is very obvious that this reviewer either did not read the whole book or is self deluded, because on pages 57 through 60 -- that question is answered. I wonder if that is why they remained anonymous?
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