Top critical review
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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.